Sunday, August 30, 2009

TROUBLE IN MIND (Alan Rudolph, 1985, USA) Rain City is a fable where a perpetual miasma lingers like a thick shadow, its atmosphere a corrupting breath that taints it inhabitants. Writer/Director Alan Rudolph has crafted an eerie neo-noire film that blurs the line between good and bad acts, where the face of evil is reflected both in a forsaken ex-cop and a philosophical but savage crime lord. The narrative structure revolves around the actions of it characters: Hawk (the murderous ex-cop), Coop (the small-minded thug), Georgia (the naïve waif), and Wanda (the café owner). It begins with a young couple, Coop & Georgia, leaving the country and coming to Rain City where they begin to lose their humanity amid the squalor and militant rain soaked streets. The nexus becomes Wanda’s café where all of these people violently connect, and begin the path towards damnation. Alan Rudolph warps expectations and mostly avoids cliché, as each person becomes the opposite of what we presuppose. As the story progresses, Rudolph begins to turn the tables and we realize our sympathies may be misplaced, as it is difficult to reconcile Hawk’s selfish “heroic” actions with Coop’s self-effacing redemption. Georgia is the peach, the prize to be won as the two vainly strut their machismo charisma, and even this conflict is divided by androgyny, as Rudolph casts Divine as Hilly Blue the crime lord. But the film’s faults are two-fold: the bleak dialogue is often delivered flat and without affect, adding no dimension to the characters as if they’re talking in their sleep; and the story itself is misogynistic. The female characters are nothing more than sex-toys to be dominated, and even though Wanda talks tough she is nothing more than a looking glass into Hawk’s past. Mark Isham’s score often evokes the dreary world of BLADE RUNNER, adding a haunting emotional and introspective counterpoint to the story, while Marianne Faithfull’s gravelly voice sings a mournful lullaby to the predator and his prey…and an empty nest. (C)

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