User Reviews (3)

  • rsoonsa24 May 2004
    It is apparent that director Bobby Houston's interest in savaging the made to be lampooned denizens of the modern art community is a primary consideration for this film set along trendy Gallery Row on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. However, the production wants those components necessary for consideration as full-formed satire, instead opting for its strongest emphasis upon a plot full of holes with characters who generate only a moderate amount of interest. Adam Ant portrays James Callendar, owner of a gallery where business is languishing due to the success of his competitors who have covenants with more significant artists. Callendar believes that the output by these artisans has heightened value because the painters are deceased, whereby he becomes resolved to discover an individual who is both talented and alive, but who will then conveniently die after his canvases gain wide acceptance, consequently greatly increasing their worth. Introduced at this point is Sam Brown (David Packer) who is aesthetically endowed but totally disinterested in selling his works, thus presenting a prime opportunity for Callendar who must yet overcome the barrier of Brown's being above ground. The situation becomes more complex when Callendar's assistant and lover Catherine, played very well by Talia Balsam, begins an amorous relationship with the reticent painter. Some witty segments are confronted with slack direction and, although one wishes to admire the film, nearly all scenes lack that skillful editing needed for logical narrative continuity. This shortcoming opposes the development of character essential for a projected black comedy, one notable example being when Brown, initially scripted as being extremely shy and non-communicative with adults, abruptly shifts into a condition of volubility. Acting honours go to Balsam, whose comedic timing suggests what the picture might have been with crisper direction, while there are scintillas of barbed humour upon occasion, although too seldom to allow the movie to rise above a sluggish condition.
  • robert-temple-16 June 2014
    Curious survival from the 1980s
    This is a strange and somewhat amateurish film starring the even stranger person who calls himself 'Adam Ant'. Adam Ant, born with the normal name of Stuart Goddard, formed a pop music group called Adam and the Ants, and then he decided to joint the ants by actually becoming one himself, proudly displaying the fact by means of his new moniker. The pop group had many hit songs and established a name for themselves in the music scene and in the eyes of that section of the public who have suitably entomological inclinations. By the time he starred in this film, Adam Ant had already been appearing as an actor in films and television for 12 years, so he had plenty of acting experience. In this film, he plays an unscrupulous art dealer who has discovered that he can raise the value of the paintings he exhibits by murdering the artists, since it is well known that an artist's prices go up as soon as he is dead. Makes sense, no? The film is really a very savage satirical attack on the art world, and God knows that is a subject which well deserves such treatment! Unfortunately, the film is not entirely successful. One fault of the film is the bad music composed by the normally adequate Elmer Bernstein. I was really surprised! Also, either the sound mixing was hopeless or it was just the ancient 1989 video going wonky, but the music drowned out a lot of the dialogue, and it was as if some outside broadcast were suddenly breaking in, for without warning and without any apparent justification, one would suddenly hear some Mozart playing. It was as if there were someone next door turning up his stereo, if there had been anyone next door, that is, which there is not. So it was an odd ant-like experience watching the film, never knowing from one scene to the next when the next Mozart interlude would suddenly occur and be entirely inappropriate. (Query: was Elmer Bernstein really Mozart?) A very good performance as the ingénue of the story was delivered by Talia Balsam (daughter of Martin), who is now so well known for being married to one of my favourite actors from MAD MEN (2007, see my review), John Slattery, who plays Roger Sterling. And in that series, Talia plays his wife, Mona Sterling, so there you go. Strange coincidence, that. (I noticed also that John Slattery directed some of the episodes for MAD MEN. He must be some mover and shaker, and one wonders whether Talia Balsam is both shaken and stirred as a result of all that energy her husband apparently has.) So the film creaked and groaned under the weight of its 25 years of antiquity and was not that strong to begin with, but was nevertheless a curiosity worth examining by the art collector and definitely a film to avoid if you are an art dealer who might be too sensitive to bear the burden of the odium. (I love the word odium, but rarely get a chance to use it.) It's interesting in its way, trust me.
  • Pepper Anne5 June 2006
    Flaky satire of the art industry. (spoilers)
    David Packer seemed to keep very busy as an actor in 1989 and 1990, and usually played the likable, but sometimes unsure protagonist of light comedy (see The Runnin' Kind) or romantic comedy (see You Can't Hurry Love) and it was this character that I once again expected to see here in what turned out to be an incredibly dull satire on commercial art. This black comedy with a very thin story and scattered focus might've fared much better had it been straight comedy or absurdist comedy as at least we would expect from a story of the unsuspecting artist and the art dealer plotting his demise. In fact, it would be John Water's "Pecker" to come along years later which makes the same point more amusingly, if not more effectively (although the point of commercialism and art is really straightforward). Instead, what results from the insertion of far too much seriousness, if not strange demeanor of Adam Ant (as the art dealer James Callendar who needs to absolve his debts on the infamy of an upcoming artist who's career prematurely ends on his death), and perhaps the best way to characterize this is, to borrow from the proceeding viewer's comments: sluggish.