Abel Ferrara doesn’t get alot of respect these days. New York City’s most uncompromising rebel film maker has made some of the most outrageously pleasurable and transgressive films of the past 4 decades, including streetwise masterpieces The Bad Lieutenant and The King Of New York and grindhouse classics Driller Killer , MS. 45 and Fear City. But in recent years his cinematic output has been greeted with either outright disdain or complete neglect. The Funeral was the last Ferrara film to get a proper theatrical release and that was in 1996. Subsequent films R Xmas, New Rose Hotel and Blackout went straight to DVD or had very limited theatrical releases, mostly in Europe or NYC. Shabby treatment for one of America’s true originals.
But there is good news for Ferrara fans. His 2007 film Go Go Tales is finally getting a theatrical run, albeit a very limited one, as part of New York City’s Anthology Film Archives tribute “Abel Ferrara in the 21st Century.”
J. Hoberman’s ripe description of Go Go Tales in the current issue of the Village Voice has me frothing at the mouth:
A highly personal movie, Go Go Tales finds Ferrara in a frenzied yet pensive mode. Virtually the entire movie is set within the tawdry NYC confines of Ray Ruby’s Paradise, an institution that equally suggests an off–Wall Street titty bar and the magic theater from Steppenwolf (and was constructed for the movie in Rome’s Cinecittà studios). Paradise’s nonstop sweat-perfumed hubbub is immediately established with a blast of Archie Bell & the Drells to herald the contortions of a hula-hooping stripper. The beat goes on for some 90 minutes of choreographed pole-writhing, lap-dancing, and flamboyant backstage catastrophes—notably a tanning-bed fire—interspersed with the machinations of club proprietor and compulsive gambler Ray Ruby (up-for-anything Willem Dafoe) as he dodges his numerous creditors and schemes to game the Lotto.
Shtick runs rampant. Sylvia Miles’s foul-mouthed harridan landlady installs herself at the bar and channels Joan Rivers, shrieking about the Bed Bath & Beyond she’s going to bring in to replace the Paradise at $18,000 per month with a 99-year lease. Midway through, Asia Argento—the Queen of I-Don’t-Give-a-Shit—coolly erupts into the proceedings for a show-stopping number that involves the exchange of bodily fluids with her pet Rottweiler. Not to be outdone, Dafoe (so deadpan in his hamming as to function as a one-man Wooster Group) follows up with a ludicrously sensitive lounge song, delivered amid a phalanx of writhing strippers.”
And Anita Pallenberg is in the film!
I’m hoping that Go Go Tales gets a run beyond Manhattan, but I doubt it. In the meantime, Ferrara fanatics (and Asia Argento devotees) can pick up an import DVD here.
This clip from Go Go Tales should get your juices flowing.