Dancing at the Blue Iguana
Special guest star. Nico (Bauer) dances at the Blue Iguana for one night only
dir Michael Radford
scr Michael Radford, David Litner
with Daryl Hannah, Jennifer Tilly, Sandra Oh, Charlotte Ayanna, Sheila Kelley, Robert Wisdom, Elias Koteas, Vladimir Mashkov, Kristin Bauer, Chris Hogan, W Earl Brown, Rodney Rowland
release US 12.Oct.01; UK 21.Jun.02
01/US 2h03

2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
last chance for love British director Radford (Il Postino) let his cast create their own characters, then wrote the screenplay based on improvisational sessions. The result is an intriguing, slightly mannered examination of strip club culture in Los Angeles. It centres on five strippers: Angel (Hannah) is an airhead veteran who wants more than anything to be a mother, so she's applied to be a foster parent. Meanwhile, a Russian hitman (Mashkov) is keeping an eye on her. Jo (Tilly) is another long-time stripper, the bad girl of the group, hot-headed and always in trouble. Jasmine (Oh) is a dancer by night, poet by day. She has trouble reconciling her job with her sensitive boyfriend (Hogan). Stormy (Kelley) is confronted with her confusing past, in the form of her long-lost brother (Koteas). And Jessie (Ayanna) is new in Hollywood, and a bit more naive than she lets on. They are taken care of by the club's slow-burning manager Eddie (Wisdom).

There's a lot of great stuff in here--serious stories that are based on real life, told without being too glamorous or seedy (although there's a bit of both). And the actors nail their characters dead-on. These are strong, vivid performances in which the actors disappear inside these normal, everyday people. Where the film stumbles is in its clunky plotting, which is just far too obvious and contrived, unloading the meaning and irony with little or no subtlety (which seems to be a standard problem with improv). The various story threads are not followed through; like the shows themselves, it's all tease without payoff. And the film is very loosely edited, which makes it feel long and repetitive. There's too much pole dancing and far too few throwaway moments. The rare explosions of raw humour are wonderful, and much more insightful than all the purposefully serious stuff.
themes, language, nudity cert 15 22.Apr.02

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
last chance for love send your review to Shadows... "As a veteran dancer of almost six years, this film by far is the most realistic account of the lives of dancers I have seen. I have read countless reviews so far (99% by men) that I believe had preconceived notions because it was a Radford film--it should have been better. Many didn't like it simply because it did not make sense; it was jumping from small story line to another. And the funny thing--that describes dancers almost perfectly! Most dancers don't make sense at all; even better yet, the stories that seem to go nowhere are just how many of their own fears, anger, cravings are infact explained--it means something today, tomorrow it's irrelevant. This film, I think, did very well considering most was improv. It just makes the film a more diamond-in-the-rough type. This is not a nice, neat little story wrapped up in a box; if you are lost by something, then they did what they were supposed to do. Why do they (characters) do some of the things they do? Go figure; they're strippers. You as the audience are merely a fly on the wall. Things are not really ever going to be explained, and shouldn't be--then it wouldn't really be about 'real' strippers. I think the bottom line most people are missing (also I believe they are reading too much into the film): It is not supposed to make sense." --Franchesca, Dallas 14.Nov.02
2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall