Dull title. Duller movie. And that's despite a vocabulary that gravitates toward "rat-fuckin' cocksucker" and "fuckin' cunt motherfucker," and despite a Cassavetes aesthetic of raw raging emotion photographed in a closeup cinéma-verité style. Abel Ferrera, the director, would appear to be one of those eternal sophomores (or eternal Henry Millers) who cannot get over and above the ineffable truth of piss-shit-fuck-puke. Not without talent, he's at his most bearable when fitting himself into conventional forms (Cat Chaser, Body Snatchers). Some artists benefit from a shorter leash. The very long leash he is on here, longer even than that of Bad Lieutenant, is one of those art-imitating-life-imitating-art deals about the descent into Personal Hell of a team of filmmakers making a film about a descent into Personal Hell. The film-within-the-film looks to be no more than a feature-length marital spat that escalates from harsh words to bare hands to scissors to knife to revolver: "It becomes an argument between heaven and hell," elucidates the on-screen director. "You know, to find out what the right path is." Harvey Keitel is said director (Bad Director, if you please), and James Russo is his star and surrogate, and Madonna is their punching bag. (1994) — Duncan Shepherd
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