28 December 2010

It's a Mad, Mad, World

* (1 star)

I’m not sure where to start. I’ve been thinking about this review for two days now. “Mad Cowgirl” may be one of the worst movies I have ever seen. I would have given this zero stars if that was something I would do, but; I don’t. The lowest rating is 1 and that’s what “Mad Cowgirl” gets. It is not a “question movie”- You cannot ask the screen a question expecting any kind of answer. I assure you, there are none. Instead, you can only make statements such as: “I have no idea what is going on”, “I thought this would be funny”, “If she is actually having sex with her brother, granted it’s James Duval, I will vomit”, and “I just vomited”.

There doesn’t seem to be any real story here, just a director trying very hard to be subversive about ten years too late. I could have forgiven it more had it not been a poor attempt to, what?; impress Gregg Araki? Casting a bunch of actor’s that have worked with him does not make your movie more interesting. That’s not how it’s done! Gregory Hatanaka is making movies for himself and his friends (I assume they like them as they all seem to be working on this picture), that should have stayed in the comfort of their L.A. squat.

Here goes on the plot. The movie opens with a 70s style public service announcement about the dangers of mad cow disease and how your vegetarian starter kit is available in the lobby after the film. Totally funny and a good idea for midnight showings. Unfortunately, this movie is so bad that dream will never become reality. Therese (Sarah Lassez), a meat inspector, flits through life providing shoddy health code inspections and having a lot of sex with strangers and her "true love" Pastor Dylan (Walter Koenig, Chekov in the “Star Trek” movies). Gross. Her brother, Thierry (Duval), manages a meat processing plant that is severely tainted. Don’t worry, she just shakes her head at him and accepts the free meat he gives her. Later, Therese learns she has some sort of brain disease and she begins to go a bit crazy. No one seems to notice though, even when she stars to believe she is the real life incarnation of her favorite kung fu star, Cindy the Girl with the Thunderbolt Kick, and begins killing people/defeating the 12 Tigers.

The problem is, this is never really explained. We assume Therese is crazy long before she gets the diagnosis. There are about 5 different languages going on here, and Therese seemingly understands them all. Her doctor speaks to her in Sinhala (Sri Lankan dialect); she speaks French to her mother, English to everyone else, with a bit of Spanish thrown in for good measure. The poorly written script is filled out with bible quotes instead of dialog that might move the story along. Therese seems to have a fetish for the divine and not only has sex with her boyfriend while listening to his sermons, but also seeks out a Catholic priest to corrupt and have sex with during a double feature of porn and kung fu in a seedy movie theatre. Is she doing any of these things or only hallucinating? Do we at any point care? By the time she starts killing people, I was bored out of my gourd.

“Mad Cowgirl” throws everything but the kitchen sink into it- oral sex, raw meat, exposed breasts, incest, blood, kung fu, 70s porn, televangelism, paranoia, corruption, religion, morals. An actual kitchen sink would have been a welcome dose of humor! If this were a student film, I may have been able to over look much of the junk thrown in. It is shot primarily in super close up and most scenes contain little more than the actress staring off into space. Oh, so indie! Why there needed to be three cinematographers is beyond me.

What must the script have looked like? I really want to know what the actor’s read and if it made sense to them or sounded like a good idea at the time. Lassez has been kept busy, mostly in small indie/art films (“Nowhere”, “Lo”). It’s kind of a shame as she’s not a bad actress per se. Perhaps she needs to go back to TV. Duval is one of my favorite actors but sometimes I don’t understand his choices. He must be friends with Hatanaka as well. I mean, he’s the younger Keanu Reeves (and I mean that in the best possible way)! Like Keanu circa “My Own Private Idaho”. Please James, please don’t do any more movies like this.

The only good thing about “Mad Cowgirl”? The line, “I love you more when you’re gone”.

I’ve turned off very few films and the only reason I didn’t turn this one off was you dear reader. I just kept hoping it would get funny, even unintentionally so, or that something would be explained. I don’t mean in a hold-my-hand-and-tell-me-the-meaning-of-life kind of way, but anything would have been much appreciated.

I loved one of the reviews for this movie on Netflix. “The graphic designer that made the cover of this movie look cool can go fly a kite!” To that I say, "Here here!"

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