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GO GO TALES (director/writer: Abel Ferrara; screenwriter: Scott Pardo; cinematographer: Fabio Cianchetti; editor: Fabio Nunziata; music: Francis Kuipers; cast: Willem Dafoe (Ray Ruby), Bob Hoskins (The Baron), Matthew Modine (Johnie Ruby), Asia Argento (Monroe), Roy Dotrice(Jay), Lou Doillon (French), Riccardo Scamarcio (Doctor Steven), Franky Cee (Luigi), Burt Young (Murray), Sylvia Miles (Lilian Murray), Anita Pallenberg (Sin); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: NR producer: Massimo Gatti; (PAL format) Media Film); 2007-Italy/USA-in English)
For action there’s exotic dancers to ogle.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Maverick indie filmmaker Abel Ferrara (“Bad Lieutenant”/”Driller Killer”/”Ms.45“)directs and writes this messy but diverting Italian studio-bound pic (shot in the Cinecittà Studios in Rome). It’s about a Manhattan strip-club called Ray Ruby’s Paradise Lounge, and the colorful characters who try to survive in that struggling dive. Ferrara thinks of it as a screwball comedy.

It chronicles 24 hours in the life of the seedy club, that’s owned by the eccentric and smarmy Ray Ruby (Willem Dafoe), a compulsive gambler who spends his movie time dodging his creditors and dreaming. Ray acts as the club’s Master of Ceremonies, who dreams of salvaging the joint by winning the lottery. Ray’s brother Johnie (Matthew Modine), a successful hairdresser in Staten Island, wants out of this losing venture. At one point Johnie says “This place is a loser.”

For action there’s exotic dancers to ogle; backstage chatter; an acerbic and campy Sylvia Miles as the irate crone club landlord, who wants another tenant like the Bed Bath & Beyond; shouting matches between bouncers and patrons; and the strippers demanding to get paid. Eastern European stripperMonroe (Asia Argento) delivers the most twisted bit. as during her act she tongue-kisses a Rottweiler. Meanwhile Ferrara makes things personal by offering social commentary on the American Dream, assuring us its harder for the poor and the alien to attain their goals because the odds are too stacked against them.

If you are the kind of viewer that can handle the seedy strip-club scene, I think the pic would be easier to navigate than for someone who wouldn’t be caught dead in such a place and could care less what happens there. In any case, it’s never dull and tries to follow along the lines of John Cassavetes’ The Killing of a Chinese Bookie.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”