7 July 1999 | Don-102
Junkies on the Run - DRUGSTORE COWBOY Style...
Another film of the drug/gangster sub-genre, ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE is upper echelon material as far as these pictures go. It is also a sibling to DRUGSTORE COWBOY unintentionally. There are so many similarities because it is impossible to make this type of movie nowadays without being repetitive. No matter. Director Larry Clarke (KIDS, ew!) and main booster James Woods himself dive into that disgusting and sometimes frantically hilarious world of sex, drugs, and driving around. The film works because there are some good characterizations here and people who actually show some concern for each other throughout the haze of it all.
Melanie Griffith plays "Sid", James Woods' girlfriend in the story and delivers some of the finest moments of her career. Not since WORKING GIRL have I seen such a likeable and ballsy portrayal from Griffith, who is a junkie with a knack for mothering the 2 teen runaways and a potent trigger finger when one is needed. The runaways are the children Woods and Griffith parent vicariously through in the most unusual of ways. The kids (Vincent Kartheiser, Natasha Wagner) are a version of Bonnie and Clyde, while the adults resemble a warped Ozzie and Harriett. It all adds up to a group of 4 remembering DRUGSTORE COWBOY. This crew needs drugs and they get them by stealing from pharmacists just as Matt Dillon's crew did.
The setting is the early 1970's I guess, and the music reflects the period well. Funk and blues reign over the film's violent and illegal activities while adding a sense of romance to it. You get that feeling in your heart that it won't last (a la BONNIE AND CLYDE, DRUGSTORE COWBOY). Woods character starts out cynical and wise to the "life", but turns ugly as you figure him to do. The young kids who looked up to him throughout grow tired naturally, but his reluctance to grow old possesses him to keep them around. This is where Melanie Griffith is able to shine. She is a sweet, attractive woman who happens to stick needles in her neck. Nobody's perfect.
James Woods was born to play the creep. He has some great lines in ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE. His stories are funny, his trademarks are constant (booyah!), and his fits are worth the price of admission. He is so good at coming across initially confident, eventually desperate and evil. Woods must have had much faith in director Clarke's abilities and the casting of Natalie Wood's daughter, Natasha is a nice, offbeat touch. This is low-budget, nasty fare, a descendant of the countless druggie flicks of the 70's, 80's and PULP FICTION. It is sometimes amazing to see how low actors will go to capture this wild world of fun and drugs in the dark.