They call it a “mockumentary.” Nicole Kidman, in one of the best roles of her career, plays a character who narrates her own shameless path to fame. When she discovers that not only is her husband not the least bit ambitious but also has a desire to have a real family, she realizes he is a drag on her career. Something has to be done. Whether you love or hate Kidman, the movie will work for you, I promise. And in this era devoted to people who will do anything to be famous — and second-rate cheesy stardom is acceptable — To Die For (1995) seems to anticipate our sad, Kardashian world. This smart, dark comedy was written by Buck Henry and was directed by Gus Van Sant. The film also features excellent performances from Matt Dillon as the all-too-average husband and Joaquin Phoenix as the lovesick puppy who would do anything for the woman he loves.
True Romance, 1993, was written by Quentin Tarantino. And there’s no question that director Tony Scott went with the flow. The film reflects the Tarantino spirit. It is funny and brutal. Gratuitous violence? Oh yes. It’s Tarantino’s stamp and there’s plenty of it here. There is also plenty of star power, though many of the big names — Dennis Hopper, Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken, Samuel L. Jackson, James Gandolfini and Gary Oldman, have only brief, but richly rendered appearances. The scene between Walken and Hopper is worth the price of admission alone. At first, I thought Walken was stealing the scene…but Hopper almost evens the playing field. Brad Pitt is hilarious. However, the film is primarily about the characters played and played well by Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette, who like Kidman in To Die For, narrates the story.
In a sense, both films are about what people will do for unqualified love or what they do when they are the objects of that kind of love. And in that sense, even though they are both dark comedies told from the point of view of beautiful blondes, these two films are very different. And after last week’s gruesome twosome, this pairing is lots of fun.
To accompany the first film, my suggestion is have a light beer — maybe pale ale. For the second, go with a Sicilian Red, perhaps a Primitivo.
CAPTION: Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette in True Romance