Bloody Good?


by Ella Taylor


riends and readers yell at me for including five brutally violent films among my top 10 films of 1992. My defense is that all offer a sharp commentary on violence even as they glory in its shock tactics. Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven suggests that the values of the Western may be as much about kicking a man when he’s down as about a man doing what he’s gotta do. Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs sets off the jokey violence of Michael Madsen’s torture scene against the realistic torture of Tim Roth bleeding to death from a gunshot wound. In Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant and Nick Gomez’s Laws of Gravity, violence is plausibly woven into the fabric of New York life. And the bloodfest in Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a prankish metaphor for Victorian sexual repression. I stand (uneasily) by my choices, but a quick scan of upcoming Hollywood movies makes me wonder whether violence is taking over the cinema aesthetic. Some, like Ferrara’s Body Snatchers, a remake of the 1956 sci-fi classic, or Menace II Society, a first feature about a fatherless innercity boy from 2 I-year-old filmmakers Allen and Albert Hughes, promise to match the self-critical wit of my top live. But after the dreary banality of Basic Instinct, what can we expect from Sliver, in which Sharon Stone and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas team up for Phillip Noyce’s psychothriller about a woman enmeshed with a voyeur who may be murdering her neighbors? Or John Badham’s Point of No Return, a remake of the elegantly vacuous La Femme Nikita, starring Bridget Fonda Stone in Sliver as a professional

The Reservoir Dog

assassin who grows a conscience? Doubtless the year’s most thoughtful action pic will come from that titan of social criticism, Sylvester Stallone, who in Renny Harlin’s Cliffhanger hangs onto the Rocky Mountains with one hand while saving America from gangster John Lithgow with the other.

Ella Taylor is a film critic for L. A. Weekly.