Friday, May 19, 2006

Roll me over, Domino

Although the 2005 bounty hunter flick DOMINO was supposedly based on a "true" story (just like The Amityville Horror or the Iraqi War), it's just a whole lot easier to turn off your brain completely and try to regard it as pure pulp fiction.

Which, come to think of it, is sorta just like The Amityville Horror or the Iraqi War.

Anyway, even then it's a hard slog. Still, it's easier to swallow this cinematic turd as a hopped-up cartoon than to try to take seriously the over-the-top pretensions of director Tony "Top Gun" Scott's "impressionistic interpretation" on the life of beautiful public school-educated English girl turned ass-kicking gun-toting LA bounty hunter Domino Harvey.

Yes, Domino Harvey was the daughter of acclaimed actor Laurence Harvey, and yes, after stints as a fashion model and pampered Beverly Hills brat, Domino Harvey did indeed become a take-charge Los Angeles bounty hunter, kicking down doors and hauling assholes back to jail. But evidently that wasn't enough for the ham-fisted film maker and his screenwriters, Richard Kelly and Steve Barancik-- nope, they had to get "creative."

First mistake? The miscast yummy-as-ice-cream Kiera Knightley as the hard, thin-lipped, chisel-faced Domino (in the DVD special feature interview, she looks like an ex-Hitler Youth member). The real Domino, while undoubtedly attractive in a chilly fashion-model Eurotrash way, was also saddled with a major drug problem, a penchant for violence and more issues than a magazine stand -- a far cry from the pouty-lipped, puppy-eyed girl-next-door Knightley, a usually more-than-competent actor, who portrays Harvey as an essentially good but mixed-up kid. Picture Bambi with a gun trying to over-compensate by screaming a lot.

Oooh, the angst...

But Scott's biggest mistake was dumping the psychological complexity and dark messiness of Domino's life, and trying to transform it into a dumbed-down, tricked-up guns-a-blazing caper flick that -- ironically -- came out a noisy, convoluted mess anyway. But whereas Domino's contradictions and complexity were the product of real-life, the film's sloppiness reeks of simple cinematic ineptness, weak writing and glaring artificiality.

So instead of something like the similarly themed, flawed but ultimately compelling character study of THE HUNTER starring the late Steve McQueen, we're subjected to a frenetic blend of redundant and frequently laughable dialogue, pointless montages, artsy-fartsy jump-cut edits, gratuitous violence that gives gratuitous violence a bad name, vapid narration and every other annoying ham-handed straight-outta-film school gimmick you can think of, the net result about as pretentious and unwatchable a film as you could get from a "name" director, possibly the stupidest crime flick since Brian diPalma's equally brain-dead FEMME FATALE.

Supposedly, before she died (of heart failure, in her bathtub, supposedly full of enough drugs to stun a rhinoceros, at the ripe old age of 35, shortly before the film was released), the real-life Domino gave a thumbs up to this portrayal.

Which may just be all the proof you need that she was seriously fucked up.

But no matter how fucked up she was, she deserved better than this...

(By the way, yes, I'm alive. Sorry about that... as I suspected, this blog stuff is as time-consuming as everything else in my life, but I will try to do better --HAH! I've said THAT before!!!! --- , on the off-chance somebody actually gives a damn...)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You mean, I was supposed to take this flick as FACT?!

Well shit on me man, I was just entertained by it.

(Or was that the wrong thing to be?)

8:33 PM, May 19, 2006  
Blogger Daniel Hatadi said...

I've not heard great things about DOMINO anywhere, but I still plan to watch it at some point, if only for the appearance of Tom Waits.

Just to prove that I read all the way to the bottom of the post ... I give a damn. :)

2:52 AM, May 21, 2006  
Blogger Kevin Burton Smith said...

Well, Robert, that's just the thing. Even as pure dumb pulp fiction, it left a lot to be desired.

Even the most outrageous over-the-top pulp fiction (like, say, your beloved Race Williams) works best when there's a least a hint of logic and narrative consistency holding it together.

Like, where did all the flying money come from? Sure, it looks way cool, but didn't we see them emptying the briefcases before that scene?

This is the sort of film just dying for a MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATRE 4000 treatment.

And yes, Daniel, Tom Waits' pop-up is one of the few highlights of the film, although if you blink you may miss him.

Wasn't he also briefly in THE TWO JAKES? He keeps it up, he could become the new Elisha Cook Jr. of crime.

10:06 AM, May 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey, if some people can find sperm in someone hair and suspend their belief that it can make a woman's hair stand on end (something about mary) and that its actually fun, the to watch Domino & see falling money without purpose is just as reality-suspending. You shut down logic, and enjoy the ride, but remember to turn the logic back on when the lights come up. (and why you gotsa pick on race williams man!) :-)

12:01 PM, May 21, 2006  
Blogger Daniel Hatadi said...


5:21 PM, May 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, Tony Scott is rapidly becoming the most irritating director going and yeah, most of the movie was a bag of shite, but there are moments that I enjoyed. The vaudeville interplay of Mena Suvari and The Walken, Mickey Rourke's spittle and of course, Mr Waits (coming onscreen to "Jesus Gonna Be Here"). But if you want to see the Waits appearance, it's on YouTube. No sense in paying money for five minutes.

As for his cameos - I still have a soft spot for Waits' performance in The Fisher King

3:21 AM, May 22, 2006  
Blogger Kevin Burton Smith said...

robert wrote:

"... if some people can find sperm in someone hair and suspend their belief that it can make a woman's hair stand on end (something about mary) and that its actually fun, the to watch Domino & see falling money without purpose is just as reality-suspending."

Except, uh, SOMETHING ABOUT MARY was an intentional comedy. If DOMINO was supposed to be a comedy, that's a whole other area in which it failed.

He also wrote:

"(and why you gotsa pick on race williams man!) :-)

Au contraire, mon frere. The Race Williams stories, for all their exuberance, follow their own internal logic. At best you may have to turn off your suspension of disbelief -- not your entire brain and everything you've ever learned about the human race in your entire life. The Race Williams stories, flawed as many of them are, are still entertaining, action-packed, rip-snorting reads.

The artificial and terminally self-conscious DOMINO, except for a few choice bits, most of which Ray pointed out, is far less entertaining. Granted, it is packed, but I'll refrain from suggesting what it's packed with.

9:07 PM, May 24, 2006  

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