Salton Sea

Self-conscious modern 'noir' often suffers from style rather than embodying Czar of Noir - Eddie Muller's line that noir is suffering in style. That said, few films of the last 20 years have managed to pack in so much style and end up with anything remotely watchable or affecting. The whole produced-in-a-can vibe is worked here to admirable effect and Caruso gives the actors just enough space to make some memorable moments and not just of the over the top variety Vincent D'Onofrio, Adam Goldberg and B.D. Wong deliver. Val Kilmer has a few priceless what-the-actual-fuck? reactions behind his glazed-over eyes that make you wonder whatever happened to that guy and the cast includes Peter Sarsgaard, Luis Guzman, Anthony Lapaglia, Deborah Kara Unger, R. Lee Ermey, Meat Loaf, Danny Trejo and the dude from Buckcherry, so there's usually something good to look at in any particular scene. The script is a bit too contrived and it feels like there are more than a couple sequences that could be dropped entirely without losing the story (the Bob Hope's stool-sample heist for example, the pigeon JFK assassination re-enactment for another), but most of those add something tonally or at least throw your concentration off enough to forgive the next bit of voice-over. All in all, I like this movie. It's messy, but not sloppy, and equal parts groovy and goofy, but there's nothing else remotely like it that succeeds as often as it does. Best moment: Sarsgaard's tattoo reveal is perhaps the truest emotional note in the whole silly picture.

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