Dutch director Theo van Gogh is so identified with political martyrdom -- having been murdered by a radical Islamist -- that it comes as a bit of a surprise to sit down to a screening of INTERVIEW, the American remake of his movie of the same name, and discover that it's a comedy...sort of. Like Talk to Me, it uses humor to get you hooked, and gets a bit more serious later on. But no War on Terror metaphors...sorry, rabid bloggers.
It's directed by, and stars, Steve Buscemi, who, unlike some other actor-turned-directors, is usually best when directing himself (see Trees Lounge).
Buscemi is Pierre, a hard news journalist seemingly being punished for unmentioned sins by being assigned to do a puff piece on a vapid blonde starlet, the solo-monikered Katya (Sienna Miller). They don't exactly hit it off -- he knows and cares little about her career; she challenges him to be interesting, at which point he gets confrontational and insulting. She walks out; he gets a cab. One convenient plot development later, they're both back in her loft, where the rest of the story unfurls.
There are numerous coy references to the late van Gogh that verge on the campy -- an obsessive fan named Theo, a moving van owned by a company called "Van Gogh," a gratuitous Amsterdam-related bit of trivia for Katya. But as things move along, that stuff melts away, and it's all about two people feeling each other out and trying to find a weakness; she is not just a bimbo, and he's no mere alky journo.
It may be an illusion, but I swear Buscemi starts getting younger looking while the two of them spar, only to get uglier and wrinklier afterwards, in scenes by himself. If I'm not imagining this, it's a great use of lighting, and a decent metaphor for how we feel when we're drunk versus how we look in the light of day.
Pierre: "What makes a man attractive?" Katya: "A scar." Pierre: "Why?" Katya: "Because most women have one too."
No surprise that Buscemi can carry off this kind of performance, but Miller holds up her end, and is a magnificent tease. It could have played horribly, like, say, Bug, but it doesn't.
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Meanwhile, in non-movie news, I'm loving the "Target Red Room" this year -- last year's had only two toilets, one of which was well-hidden, and that was a disaster. Lines were so long that you could start your beer at the back of the line, and you'd still have to hold it in a bit till you reached the front.
This year, it's in a three-story building that used to be a Tower Records back in the early '90s. Three toilets. Also pool tables, air hockey, PS 2, X-BOX, and ping-pong.
The computer terminals aren't there, though -- now they're in the ticket office. Red Room has wi-fi, I think...but I cannot as yet afford a laptop, nor would I want to lug one around.
Action figure find of the week: Jakks Pacific's Mike Tyson figure (with removable clothes!), based on his 5-second cameo in Rocky Balboa. Only 7.99 at Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash. They're pretty reasonable on some of the other Rocky figures too, if you're looking for some of the newer ones.