Monday, August 25, 2008

(Bad) Portrait of a Hustler: American Gigolo

Ever since the great humanistic film critic Manny Farber died last week at the ripe old age of 91, writer/director (and former film critic and Kael acolyte) Paul Schrader, who so eloquently has been making the tribute rounds to Farber, has been on my mind. I’ve always been a fan of Schrader’s writing – as much for his fearless risk taking as for his Travis Bickle triumphs. “American Gigolo,” his very-1980 follow-up to Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver,” in which Richard Gere’s rent boy to rich older women Julian Kaye falls for Lauren Hutton’s senator’s wife Michelle Stratton while simultaneously finding himself a suspect in the murder of a “rough trick,” is typical Schrader, forever probing overlapping lurid worlds with the attention of an obsessive pathologist. Even with mediocre acting, earnest dialogue sometimes bordering on the heavy-handed, and predictable hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold asides, “American Gigolo” is still a fine slice of celluloid cheese, containing camerawork both sleek and fluid and that sexy sing-along anthem (“Call Me”!) complete with Debbie Harry’s French coos. Incidentally, I’ve always been a fan of male prostitutes as well. So why is it that I’ve never been a fan of this flick?

To find out the answer visit Spout.

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