Monday, April 13, 2009

Film Review: BOARDING GATE (2008, Olivier Assayas)

Stars: 3.5 of 5.
Running Time: 106 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Asia Argento, Michael Madsen, Kelly Lin, Kim Gordon, Carl Ng.
Tag-lines: "She's losing control again."
Best one-liner: Everything Asia says.

BOARDING GATE is a pretty enjoyable B-movie, greatly enhanced by the presence of Asia Argento. This is not, however, an art film; it shouldn't be playing at Cannes, it should be playing at Times Square... in the 70's. In fact, now that I think about it, BOARDING GATE is basically a blaxploitation movie- the WHITEST blaxploitation movie ever made. It's got everything: pimps, whores, revenge, The MAN, import/export, gunplay, knifeplay, evil corporate machinations, kink, and action. The only difference is there's only one black guy, and he's an effete businessman. Difficult to tell if this is intentional or not. Assayas' strength has never been his writing, and a lot of it here sounds like bad Skinemax dialogue. Not to mention this possesses one of the most amazingly clumsy expository sequences I've ever seen- as if a former prostitute would show up to her ex-lover/pimp's office after a long time and immediately say things like 'Oh, do you remember what we used to do...you would pay me to have sex with people,' 'Oh, yes, I remember that, that's not ALL I paid you to do, you were also a corporate spy,' etc.

Argento and Michael Madsen are more than up to the challenge of making it watchable, however, and, after all, I DID say this was a B-movie, so I can, and did, forgive it.

A couple of zany Argentos at the Boarding Gate premiere.

Argento is masterful, as always, so connected to her character's situation, plights, and perils, that she lends an extra realism, desperation, and urgency to the proceedings. She's so spot-on, that you never for one second doubt the violence that she metes out or the dire straits in which she finds herself. Argento is the only thing here that belongs in an art film, and it's surely an odd fit, given the Hong Kong action and skin-flick dialogue, but it all adds up to something very enjoyable. A three star B-thriller, kicked up a notch by the prolific Ms. Argento.

Special side note: Check out the ridiculous Photoshop censorship evident on the theatrical poster. Yeah, the gun's been added. Not sure what they were thinking.

-Sean Gill

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