The Blackout

"Terrible"

The Blackout Review


One of these days, I'll make good on my promise never to rent another Abel Ferrara movie. King of New York and Body Snatchers notwithstanding (and Bad Lieutenant is only fit for a single, emotive viewing), his exploitation flicks have fallen into a rut of hoary art-house trappings. It's a perfume-drenched, coke-addled visit to the seedy pornography shop, where beautiful models (no, hookers -- no, courtesans) usher you through the silk curtains.

Ferrara's only consistently smart move has been casting Christopher Walken over and over again, since Walken can make a good movie great and a loathsome movie durable whenever he's onscreen. His 8-minute scene in The Addiction is the saving grace of that otherwise abysmal, unwatchable, and pretentious failure. When he starts talking about his vampiric bowel movements, or questions whether Lili Taylor has ever read Naked Lunch, there's a much-needed dose of humor in an otherwise terminally unfunny affair. You know those Gothic club kids who are too cool to smile and let you know they're actually having fun? The Addiction is that movie.

Walken, sadly, does not appear in The Blackout. The central role of Matty, a junkie film star whose lightning paced Hollywood life among the beautiful people is inevitably leading to his destruction, is played by Matthew Modine (who takes what he can get after Cutthroat Island). Much like the protagonists of Michelangelo Antonioni's terminally bored cultural elite, Matty is involved in a bitter pill "relationship" with high fashioned model Annie (at least I think she's a model.) Matty's lady is played by French actress Béatrice Dalle, arrested twice for cocaine possession during filming of The Blackout -- not that you needed to know that, but it lends credence to the idea that Ferrara's entire oeuvre has been filmed in a blackout. No kidding. Requiem For a Dream has nothing on the junkie presentations seen in Ferrara's movies and his controversial urban lifestyle.

Matty and Annie struggle over her decision to have an abortion without consulting him. No doubt, he was off chasing the dragon. In his despair, Matty indulges in a chemical induced weekend of debauchery, tooling around the streets of Miami with video filmmaker Mickey Wayne (Dennis Hopper, in full "dirty ol' man" mold smacking models on the ass and telling them to spread their legs. Wider!) Toward the end of the night, they pick up a teenage waitress also named Annie (Sarah Lassez), start shooting a hastily improvised sexual scene, then Matty thankfully blacks out. Something happened that night which haunts him throughout the rest of the movie, and it's exactly what you think it was. Suffice to say, there's some confusion over whether he killed Annie One or Annie Two, or anyone at all.

The Blackout is typical Ferrara: no plot to speak of, plenty of raunch, and horribly vogue images of Matthew Modine downing a bottle of Jack Daniels and a beer while wrapping himself in a see-through curtain in his hotel room by the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea. Cinematographer Ken Kelsch finds inconsistent glory in alternating gorgeous painterly sunsets with docu-style sleaze (and we're back to Dennis Hopper leering at girls in bathing suits. "Yeah!!! YEAH!!! ARRRGHHH!" says Mr. Hopper. Dirty old sod.)

It's compulsive viewing in a tacky sort of way, leading to a ridiculous climax where Modine seizes control of his destiny. How's that for cryptic? Never fear -- Ferrara finds time for some female full frontal nudity to remind us what he's all about. I can picture it now. "Take off yer clothes, kid -- it's essential to depict the inner maelstrom of my central protagonist, and you're his visual id. You're the soul, the heart, the bloodstream of the picture. Take it off! TAKE IT ALL OFF!!! HA HA HA!" Friggin' vampire. Yeah, you, Ferrara.

A final word about Matthew Modine: He's actually a fine actor when properly cast, but there's something too squeaky-clean in his demeanor. He's ideally suited for sarcastic men in tightly controlled situations, such as his Private Joker in Full Metal Jacket or the time-bomb nebbish in Short Cuts (who is every bit as superb as Julianne Moore in that famous scene, though no one seems to notice him). [He was in that scene? -Ed.] Here, he's asked to let it all hang out, sporting a three-day stubble and oily bangs. He throws around furniture like Stanley Kowalski, but it's somehow lacking. Modine lacks the feral intensity of Brando, entirely miscast in Ferrara's flesh fair. Better luck next time, Matt. Someday, you'll be forgiven for Cutthroat Island, which wasn't really your fault in the first place. Maybe Atom Egoyan will find a place for you somewhere, and all will once again be well in your world.



The Blackout

Facts and Figures

Run time: 98 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 11th June 1997

Budget: $1.3M

Distributed by: Trimark Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5

IMDB: 5.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Edward R. Pressman,

Starring: as Chas Knopfler, Scott Rosa as Eddie Mesmer, Flood Reed as Toss Dunbar, John Joyce as Gunther Shea

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Advertisement
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.