Monday, March 27, 2006

Ask the Dust

by Jackrabbit Slim

Robert Towne, in his adaptation of John Fante's Ask the Dust, seems to be more interested in taking us to a place than telling us a story. This film doesn't flow from point to point, it herks and jerks and turns on dimes, bewildering and boring this viewer. Instead, I was left with the real taste of what it would have been like to live in Los Angeles in the 30s. A downtown boarding house, a beach house in Laguna, a shack in the desert, all of these are vividly rendered, but the tale, about a young writer who comes to L.A. to seek his fortune, I found frustrating.

And it's not Colin Farrell's fault! I actually found him to engaging and interesting, and marveled how he eliminated all aspects of his Irish brogue. Less successful is Salma Hayek, as the Mexican waitress he becomes involved with. I think Hayek is not entirely to blame, as the script requires to change moods and attitudes constantly. The two characters bicker and insult each other, and though I know there are relationships built on mutual contempt, this one I couldn't buy. There are generous shots of Hayek frolicking stark naked in the surf, which is a good thing.

There is also a strange sequence involving another woman in Farrell's life, played annoyingly by Idina Menzel.

I have not read the source material, so it could be that the book was as shapeless as the script.


Blogger Nick said...

Film looks boring as dog shit. Not seeing it.

3/27/2006 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

I don't have much of an opinion on "Ask the Dust," but I'm sure I'll get it on Netflix just b/c it's directed by Towne. I thought that "Without Limits" was very underrated, so I'll give this one the benefit of the doubt.

On a side note, as I was flipping through the channels yesterday, I cam upon "The Border," directed by Tony Richardson ("Tom Jones") and starring Harvey Keitel and Towne's pal Jack Nicholson. I didn't want to watch the rest of it having missed the beginning, but the few minutes I saw were really good. Anyone seen it?

3/27/2006 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

I think I mostly agree with you, Slim, except that I (again) thought Farrell was a weak link. There's a moment where Hayek says that he's so angry all the time, and I thought, "Oh, anger? That's what that is?"

But like you, I think Towne is largely to blame for the constant shifts in mood.

3/27/2006 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger jaydro said...

The Border was pretty good when I saw it about twenty years ago. Not sure if it would hold up--would it defy the '80's movie curse as seemingly only some David Lynch movies can?

3/27/2006 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

Looking at imdb, it appears that Jack Nicholson actually has a pretty good track record during the '80s

Batman (1989)
Ironweed (1987)
Broadcast News (1987)
The Witches of Eastwick
Heartburn (1986)
Prizzi's Honor (1985)
Terms of Endearment (1983)
The Border (1982)
Reds (1981)
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)
The Shining (1980)

3/27/2006 01:15:00 PM  

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