When Will I Be Loved

By Adam Lippe

wwibl_05When Will I Be Loved, another James Toback venture into his dated version of the unseemly, has mostly gained notoriety for Neve Campbell’s nude scenes, which bookend the film, and have literally nothing to do with it. Toback’s legendary misogyny is often hidden behind the idea that strong women know how to assert their sexuality, and also, you know, like to gratuitously show their breasts.

At least Toback appears in this movie effectively playing himself, sexually creepy and with a phony inundation in black culture. Hence the mix of hip hop on the soundtrack for street cred, and plastered classical music to add “sophistication” over other canned audio moments. This guy needs to hire some good sound people so the entire movie isn’t ADR. But his standard themes all are there, a foursome that has no relevance to the film, old men lusting after shallow but aggressive young women who like other women, at least, when it can sneak under an R rating, and rascally loudmouth idiot scam artists who can talk their way into a fuck whenever they want (obviously Toback, as he saw himself in his youth). The first 1/2 hour is a strange mix of amateurish acting, cameos of low-rent celebrities playing themselves (Damon Dash, Mike Tyson, Lori Singer), as if Toback was simply bragging that he knew these people, as the scenes serve no purpose except to draw attention to themselves, and Campbell walking and walking, as Toback competes with Spike Lee for the most distracting use of a “subtle” score. The plot, which only takes up about 20 minutes of the 75, is thinly developed and confused Indecent Proposal, without the gloss, but with Toback’s typically poor photography and recycled loft set from Two Girls and a Guy. When the end finally comes, it’s anti-climactic not just because it doesn’t mean anything to the viewer and it doesn’t make much sense, but because you spend all that time waiting for the movie to start, get through the set-up, and then you realize that’s it.

The main supporter of Toback’s oeuvre, Roger Ebert, gave When Will I Be Loved a 4 star review, but this has more to do with his obsession with Neve Campbell* (as unerotic as her nude scenes may be) than his support of Toback, since all he does is describe the outlines of the plot, skimming over the fact that nothing that occurs outside of that twenty minutes has much bearing on anything.

wwibl_01*From his Three to Tango review: “Neve Campbell is amazingly cute. I have admired her in other movies, but now, in Three to Tango, which gave me nothing else to think about, I was free to observe her intently. She has wide, intelligent eyes, kissable lips, and a face both sweet and carnal, like Doris Day’s. I support her decision to never wear any garment that comes within a foot of her neck.”

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Roadracers

By Adam Lippe

Whenever there’s a genre parody or ode to a specific era of films, such as Black Dynamite’s mocking of Blaxploitation films or Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, the second half of Grindhouse, the danger is that the film might fall into the trap of either being condescending without any particular insight, or so faithful that it becomes the very flawed thing it is emulating.

Black Dynamite has nothing new to say about Blaxploitation films, it just does a decent job of copying what an inept [...]


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Featured Quote (written by me)

On Cold Fish:

Though the 16 year old me described the 1994 weepie Angie, starring Geena Davis as a Brooklyn mother raising her new baby alone, as “maudlin and melodramatic,” Roger Ebert, during his TV review, referring to the multitude of soap-operaish problems piling up on the titular character, suggested that it was only in Hollywood where Angie would get a happy ending. “If they made this movie in France, Angie would have shot herself.”

Well Cold Fish was made in Japan, where Angie would have shot herself and that would have been the happy ending.