BEACHED IN L. A.
Si//f) ow does an unknown director with a shoestring budget pul a fresh face on the Los Angeles riots for a public with an advanced case of media fatigue? Answer: view the riots from inside the groggy head of a white guy wasting his life on Venice Beach, turn it into black comedy, and stuff it with cameos by one’s more visible pals from the biz (John Cusack, Ethan Hawke, Steve Buscenii, director Alex Cox, even Exene Cervenka). In Peter McCarthy’s delightfully warped Floundering, Joltn Bovz (played by James Le Gros with his usual wherethe-hcll-am-I elan) tries to get a grip on his Very Bad Day with aimless excursions into sex, drugs, and crime, while watching I,.A. go through its own falling apart. Just when you think the film is about to grind down into a winning tract on white alienation, it shoots off into a surreal soap opera in which things get worse, worser, and then better, as John finds a way to feel good by making himself useful—and loved. In its jaundiced way (McCarthy has soaked up the crazed anarchy of Repo Man and Sid and Nancy, which he produced), Floundering is a story of liberation and an arch re-affirmation of the politically committed film.