Too far out there!
Mark Savary | Seattle, WA | 01/01/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"To classify this film as bizzare does not even begin to cover it. Basically, this is an almost totally improvasational tone poem about the victims of an overbearing mother and dysfunctional family. You'll find plenty that doesn't make the least bit of sense, and even more that looks like it was only added for "art" value. Much of the film will not make any sense unless you watch the film twice, which I gaurantee isn't something you'll be wanting to do after sitting throught it once. On top of that, because the narrative is so disjointed, and the editing so choppy, you can't fast-forward through the odder parts.Fans of this kind of cinema have supported Peter Greenaway for years, and if you like Greenaway's work, you'll feel quite at home with the efforts of Adam Rifkin and his "A Tale of Two Sisters".Without a linear storyline, it's difficult to describe what happens. In short, younger, poorer, and wilder sister goes to visit older, more stable, and rich sister at her luxurious L.A. condo after a six-year separation. During the visit, they squawk about The Past.Their Mother, a weird cross between Divine, Tammy Faye Bakker, and Dolly Parton, is a destructive and overbearing monster as the girls flash back to childhood events. Their Father is weak and emasculated, and the end result is that younger sister becomes the Rebel and older sister becomes the Stable One.Part of the problem with the film is that you never know just what Rifkin is trying to say, which is the inherent danger with this type of loosely-structured narrative. Without anything to tie the scenes together, you're left with a bunch of artsy camera work and actors struggling to make up what their characters are suppossed to say. Greenaway has this down to a science, so much so that you can tell that he adds weird stuff just to BE weird (I've always suspected Greenaway is having a big laugh on the pretentious art crowd by adding bits of pointless stuff to his films, knowing they'll go nuts trying to figure it out and put "meaning" into it all). Unfortunately, Rifkin is not in the same league as Greenaway, and this film may be why he drifted into more mainstream projects after this one. Besides Claudia Christian of "Babylon 5" fame, "Taxi" alum (and later "B5" alum), Jeff Conaway has a bit part as (what else?), a taxi driver. The only other familiar name in the cast is that of Charlie Sheen, who narrates with his "poetry". Want a sample?"They used to call me Wheezy/ Now they call me Moe./ Busted liver, three-pronged freebase device/ My chin, she is on fire!/ The erosion was fast, the lectures were not./ He pondered high atop the mountain of fig newtons..."Want another? How about this one?"Black and blue skidmark lunchbox drools pasta prima./ Frozen bacon pie suffering from the the heat cries out in salted pork./ FREEZE FRAME!/ Mom and Dad are trying to think, we hope..."This gives you an idea how the film is set up, because Sheen's "poetry" compliments it perfectly. If you sit through it twice, you will only then be able to understand that the tripe Sheen is babbling is somewhat related to the storyline of the film (such as it is). Otherwise, it's pointless, and I think Sheen was just there for name value.And if you think you have a pretentious, bad movie on your hands that's just right for your own MST3k party, forget it! Strangely enough, the film's own disjointed structure (which makes the film almost unviewable for most filmgoers), innoculates it from MSTie-ing. This is too bad, because the characters are just begging for it. For God's sake, there's even a mime!In all fairness, this type of work is for the ultra-serious film buff or "artiste", not the average person. The actors do their best, and the cinematography rocks. I have to give it three stars for that, plus that fact that this is an indie, non-Hollywood effort. There is a place for this kind of cinema, but it is better left to art classes and pretentious art bars in Greenwich Village."
What the Hell was that?
Gary Eastin | 12/14/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"You may look at the cover and be turned off but but don't be. This is one wicked funny movie. Its the most obscure thing I've ever seen. Give it a try."