Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Stripper Who Doesn't Take Her Clothes Off

While breezing through the Hollywood Farmer’s Market on Sunday morning, I ran into a few friends of mine. While I would have been more than happy to have hung out with them for a little while, I had to leave and felt it was necessary to be honest and tell them why. Since they know me, I don’t think they were very surprised.

Yes, I went and saw I KNOW WHO KILLED ME. Well, somebody had to. There’s no good reason, there’s no valid excuse, except to say that I was honestly curious. So I bought my ticket, I knew what I was getting into. And this is what happens.

It’s very difficult to accept Lindsay Lohan in any kind of role this particular week, but I KNOW WHO KILLED ME doesn’t help matters. Yeah, there’s maybe an extra level of enjoyment when we see her getting limbs chopped off or downing booze and pills, but don’t take that to mean you should see it. This would have been a bad movie no matter when it opened.

Lohan plays the improbably-named Aubrey Fleming, a college student pursuing writing who is abducted and tortured by a serial killer. Several weeks later, she is found, with one arm and one leg severed. Though alive, she claims she is not Aubrey but is in fact the equally improbably named Dakota Moss, a stripper. Soon it is discovered that before she disappeared Aubrey was actually writing a story about a stripper named Dakota and the mystery deepens as to who exactly she is.

Put kindly, it’s a bad idea given a bad execution. Why did Lindsay Lohan decide to star in this particular film? Was it to demonstrate her range? Remember, a year ago her mother was telling the press she’d win the Oscar for GEORGIA RULE, something no one is expecting right now. Did she wake up one day and decide she was going to do the next script offered no matter what? Did she toss and bunch on the floor and go “eeny, meeny, miney, moe”? Did she decide to take a project that would piss her mother off? Much of her screen time is spent in the Dakota guise and she comes off as not a tough girl but a girl trying to act like a tough girl. When she’s Aubrey, we can tell she’s the smart college girl because she wears glasses. When she’s Dakota, we know she’s the tough stripper because she smokes. That pretty much sums up the range on display here. Like many Hollywood strippers in history, she never really strips off, so nothing much is ever seen. And there’s no charge to her pole-dance scenes either, whether erotic or sleazy, giving off no discernable effect, certainly not like Rose McGowan in GRINDHOUSE.

Her parents are played by Neal Mc Donough and Julia Ormond. Remember when Julia Ormond starred in movies that were about guys fighting over her? Gregory Itzin, better known as Charles Logan on 24, plays a psychiatrist. Paula Marshall appears briefly as well. It doesn’t seem that long ago that Paula Marshall was playing twentysomethings and I had a mad crush on her. Now she plays the grieving mother of a college girl butchered by a serial killer. Things change.

Like its star, I KNOW WHO KILLED ME is kind of a stripper who doesn’t take her clothes off. Yes, some of it is grisly in its torture scenes, but right from the get-go it attempts a visual style that winds up as nothing more than an attempt to be arty. This would be fine if the movie were any good—hey, it would be flat-out welcome. But here it comes off as a film directed by somebody who is trying to be arty and flashy as opposed to entertaining. Or disturbing. Or interesting. Or, well, anything. Filmed with the digital Panavision Genesis camera, it’s an ugly-looking picture as well.

When the end comes, the film seems to make the decision to dispense with the usual wrap-up scenes that would clarify portions of the plot. Again, this would be fine if it didn’t seem like the movie was looking for an easy out. There’s a semblance of thematic completion in an image at the end, but then the camera seems to move away from that image and instead goes in on, well, a shot that contains not much of anything. If that doesn’t sum up the overall effect I KNOW WHO KILLED ME has, I don’t know what does.


Nostalgia Kinky said...

You know what really sucks about the whole thing? It's that unlike every other tabloid floozy party girl, Lindsay Lohan actually has (or perhaps had) some talent. She was so good early in her career that I think that it is tragic what has happened to her (not that I am an apologist for her selfish and spoiled behavior...I would like to see her mother go to jail before her though).
I especially feel bad for her younger sisters that her mother is attempting to do the same thing too. I am amazed by any child actor that manages to make it past the age of twenty.
Anyway, the film looks terrible and I take your word for it that it is. It's just a real shame...anyone who at one point called "Kitten With A Whip" her favorite film was okay by me...too bad she didn't realize that Ann-Margret was playing a role in that film in that film as she is apparently attempting to live it out...

Unknown said...

Watching this for the first time on video, 6 months after its release, I think it really is some kind classic bad film. Any movie that plays like Brian De Palma directing a CSI episode about torture porn that takes place in TWIN PEAKS would be worth seeing (how about that hairless cat that runs around her house?), but it's Lohan's hungover performance, snapping at everyone like she's suffering from some woozy cocaine headache that really makes this remarkable.

I was fairly astonished at how much of Lohan's pale physique we linger on in her dance scenes -- the same scenes in SHOWGIRLS defined the aesthetic, but the bodies there looked "perfect" -- here I feel like we see so much of this actress who simply shouldn't be playing a stripper that it becomes strange, embarrassing and personal. Rent the DVD to see an extended 6+ minutes of this stuff. It's like having your own Lindsay Lohan peep show booth where you watch an actress contort her career.

As far as Jeremy's comment above: don't take Mr. Peel's word for it, I really would see it for yourself -- I found it a joy, for all the wrong reasons.