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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Happy B'Day, Sarah Polley: "Go" Have Fun



TRASH IN MY EYE No. 47 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux

Go (1999)
Running time: 102 minutes (1 hour, 42 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong drug content, sexuality, language and some violence
DIRECTOR/CINEMATOGRAPHER: Doug Liman
WRITER: John August
PRODUCERS: Matt Freeman Mickey Liddell, and Paul Rosenberg
EDITOR: Stephen Mirrione
COMPOSER: BT and Moby

COMEDY/CRIME/DRAMA

Starring: Sarah Polley, Jay Mohr, Scott Wolf, Desmond Askew, Timothy Olyphant, William Fichtner, Breckin Meyer, and Taye Diggs

Some have compared it to Pulp Fiction, and Go, a film from Doug Liman (Swingers), certainly bears some similarities to Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning film. Go is alternately a dark, teen comedy, a delirious action movie, a snarky crime caper, and a candy coated Tarantino movie for the late teen/early 20’s set.

On first glance, Go seems to tell the story of the events that happen after a drug deal. The real launching point is simply the changing of work shifts between two young working stiffs at a small grocery store. From there, Go is three interconnected short movies, in which many of the characters from each short movie encounter one another. In that sense, it is similar to Pulp Fiction, but only stylistically and superficially.

In one story, Ronna Martin (Sarah Polley) tries to raise rent money by selling ecstasy to two men (Jay Mohr and Scott Wolf) looking to buy from her co-worker, Simon Baines (Desmond Askew), who normally deals drugs. When Ronna is forced to ditch the drugs, she has to scam Simon’s supplier, a nasty little thug named, Todd (Timothy Olyphant), to whom she now owes some drug money.

Meanwhile, in the second story, Simon tears through Las Vegas with four buds. Simon and one of his pals, Marcus (Taye Diggs), find themselves in an awful mess at a strip club and on the fun from the owners.

In the third story, Adam (Wolf) and Zack (Mohr) find themselves in a predicament over drugs with the police. Their situation becomes more precarious when an undercover officer shows special interests in the two buddies, and the drama doesn’t let up when the two later become involved in a hit and run.

Go is a comedy, although there are times when it seems too dangerous to be funny, but even those tense moments unravel and reveal themselves to be uproarious situations. John August’s script is filled with over the top moments that make sense in a strange way instead of simply being over the top or just too much. It’s outlandish and absurd, but stunningly well put together. The movie plays at being very violent, but it’s mostly cartoonish, as if the film won’t quite acknowledge how painful violence can be. Or maybe, this is just part of the hedonistic life the film portrays. It’s all done in fun, and at the end of the day, all the players get to walk away from their various little “car wrecks,” though maybe an occasional fatal mistake would teach them all a lesson. Well, maybe not. They’d be slacking, doing drugs, and playing with guns the very day after burying a homie who shot himself playing with a gun or overdosing on ecstasy.

I give Liman much credit for directed this very funny film. It’s slick and glossy, but incredibly well executed. On the surface, it might seem like a rave culture version of Pulp Fiction, though it does owe more than a nodding acknowledgement to that film. However, it’s a modern, violent physical comedy where each actor and filmmaker has to hit his marks. Liman plays with incredible timing, and most of the time he gets it right. One misstep, and the film falls apart. Luckily, the film doesn’t begin to shake to pieces until the very end, but up until the closing scenes, Go is near flawless and near perfect. I’ve rarely laughed so hard at something so obviously meant to be eye candy. But Liman’s film is gourmet candy, thoughtfully concocted by a director determined to give his audience a good show. Most Tarantino clones were content simply to copy, whereas Liman and screenwriter John August were determined to give us a lurid taste of pulp fiction made from their own very best recipe.

7 of 10
B+


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