I finally read John Pierson's landmark book SPIKE, MIKE, SLACKERS & DYKES about the independent film scene of the '80s and '90s, and this film was included in the discussion. Although I'm glad that WORKING GIRLS was brought to my attention (I'd never heard of it before), I'm afraid the book made it sound much better than it is.
A moderately interesting de-glamorization of prostitution, the film takes place over the course of one day in a New York condo that doubles as an upscale bordello. The film is most interesting in its first half, the day shift, during which our protagonist Molly (Louise Smith), Gina (Marusia Zach), and rebellious Dawn (Amanda Goodwin) fill the time between appointments with candid chitchat. The confined setting and relaxed (though interesting) dialogue makes WORKING GIRLS feel like a play, in the best sense. Goodwin, too, is a live wire, and the film suffers a noticeable decline in energy once she exits halfway through.
Very, very dated, not just in the hair and wardrobe department, but also in its showy "controversial" nature and the abrasive, annoying score, WORKING GIRLS is mostly valuable as a time capsule of where independent filmmaking was in 1986 (before the infinitely superior SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE brought it to the mainstream) and for some solid dialogue and Goodwin's entertaining performance. That's more or less it, though.
Ha! That's funny. I'm one of the people to whom it was emotionally overpowering every time, ESPECIALLY that first time I saw it in the theatre, when I wasn't even expecting it to blow me away or anything. I just remember seeing people hugging each other in the theatre when it was over before even leaving, haha!
When I heard that there was a movie being made about the true story of Richard Kuklinski (nicknamed "the Iceman"), the notorious mafia hit man who is reputed to have murdered over 100 people during his tenure, I was definitely interested. Then, when I heard that one of my favorite actors, Michael Shannon, was (perfectly) cast in the lead, I was even more excited.
Unfortunately, despite Shannon's strong, characteristically intense performance, THE ICEMAN is drab, uninvolving, and made with absolutely zero directorial style, rendering it, of all things I wouldn't have expected this to be, boring. Imagine an R-rated Movie of the Week, and that's about it.
Taking place entirely at a small, secluded fishing resort, THE ISLE is a strange, sadomasochistic love story between the beautiful mute (Jung Suh) who operates the resort and sells supplies (and sometimes her body) to her customers, and a suicidal drifter (Yoosuk Kim) on the run from the law.
An early film from Ki-Duk Kim (the acclaimed director of SPRING SUMMER FALL WINTER...AND SPRING and 3-IRON), THE ISLE is slowly paced and very difficult to watch at times (while there is memorable special-effects gore, the brief scenes of real animal cruelty are harder to bear), but it is also highly unpredictable, emotionally raw, and drenched in haunting atmosphere.
Not for the squeamish, but otherwise recommended. And the final shot has to be seen to be believed. It's either genius or incredibly stupid. Possibly both.
Ha! I haven't seen this since it came out, but I remember enjoying it a lot more than I expected, or at least its ridiculousness, as you said. I don't remember for sure, but isn't there something about a school bus or a car being lifted by a crane and…