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The Salton Sea
cast: Val Kilmer, Vincent D'Onofrio, Glenn Plummer, Luis Guzm´┐Żn, and Doug Hutchinson

director: D.J. Caruso

98 minutes (18) 2002
Warner VHS rental / retail
Also available to rent or buy on DVD
[released 26 May]

RATING: 10/10
reviewed by Mike Philbin
I have just had my brains blown away by the best movie for quite some time - The Salton Sea.
   You sit there thinking, 'Hey, these wasters got it made. Theirs is the perfect way to waste a life. I want me some'a that, baby.' They is taking druuuuugs, having fuuuuun, living faaaast and furious. Then the narrative kicks down your door, takes out submachine guns and starts blowing bits into your expectations.
   You really are sucked into it from intoxicating start to stunning turnaround to gritty finale. The cops are bent, of course. The neighbours are real scary, goes without saying. But the look in the beaten up girl's eyes - that vacancy, not even desperation. And then there's Kilmer's buddy Bobby, who doesn't even know who JFK was, unbelievably. It is a great testament to the writer (Tony Gayton) and director that they make these waster characters so interesting (special mention has to go to the special effects team responsible for Pooh Bear, you will know what that means when you see the movie for yourself) - a great touch.
   Val Kilmer (who I have often dubbed the Dark Destroyer because of the negative affect his appearance in a movie generally has on it, I am thinking Batman Forever, Thunderheart, The Doors, The Island Of Dr Moreau...) plays a role that actually suits him. Danny Parker, the man with no history, the struggling rat, pissing all over his junky friends and dealer associates to make a buck and stop from going under. This movie has no love interest - well it does, but even that is not your standard romance.
   This whole film is filthy, in a way that even Requiem For A Dream had to dramatise with surreal mirror-play and overaggressive lighting and creaking stage set pieces. Here, all lights are stark and white. You see every bit of stinking reality before it is stuffed into your eyes like beef brains from a broken hypermarket.
   Character oddities aside, it's the Kilmer character and his raison d'être that is simply the most important part of The Salton Sea. Go watch this great piece of celluloid before someone realises it should have got an Oscar or something.
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