7 December 2008

'GO GO TALES' (Dir. Abel Ferrara, 2007, Italy/US) - Dark and deadly

Unlike his counterparts like Scorsese, De Palma and Terence Malick who work with Hollywood controlled budgets and have exclusive access to a distribution network that can guarantee worldwide exhibition, the cult American film maker, Abel Ferrara, continues to exist on the fringes of independent, cult cinema. Having made his name with controversial poverty row exploitation films like ‘Driller Killer’ and ‘Ms 45’, which were both banned in the UK during the video nasties scare of the 80s, Ferrara’s breakthrough came with his take on the over familiar and predictable of Hollywood genres, the gangster film. ‘King of New York’ showcased the frightening talent of Christopher Walken as moody and charismatic crime lord who feels his reign is as legitimate as any politician. A New York based film maker, Ferrara’s most recent film, ‘Go Go Tales’, is set in a gaudy strip club run by a lottery addicted owner played by Willem Dafoe. Had this been made in the 50s, there is little doubt that Richard Widmark would have made a likely suspect for the main role of a character given the superlative noirish title of ‘Ray Ruby’. If Scorsese was still Scorsese today then he probably would be making the kind of enclosed film noir dramas that Ferrara easily delivers now and again. ‘Go Go Tales’ is indebted to both Cassavettes masterpiece, ‘The Killing of a Chinese Bookie’ for its central idea of a fading night club owner whose existence depends on his innate stupidity, and Scorsese’s ‘Mean Streets’ for its atmospheric depiction of a reality that flows out of the authentic use of locations. A claustrophobic and disjunctive film, ‘Go Go Tales’ is a thinly veiled attack against a capitalist culture that literally consumes those gullible enough to be ensnared by its predatory and addictive offerings. This is Abel Ferrara’s best film in years yet UK distribution for the film still remains an inconclusive one.

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