Saturday, December 31, 2005

The nose knows. No nose? No way!: "The Salton Sea"

If not for the narration -- and Val Kilmer's oh-so-soft tones in delivering it -- this actually would be a pretty decent movie.

We've come to expect our man Val to go too far when it comes to some roles, and he overdoes it again here as a guy with a couple of identities. Still, considering he was coming off a run of thankless, one-dimensional roles -- "Red Planet," "At First Sight," "The Island of Dr. Moreau" -- this wasn't that bad, even with the "Stop, listen to my thoughts" parts.

"The Salton Sea" -- the title could be better, by the way -- has Kilmer playing a junkie who really is a widowed trumpet player. Turns out his wife's murder has moved him to take on another identity in which he runs with lowlifes and snitches for the cops. As the story twists and turns, Kilmer comes into contact with a bigtime drug dealer for what may or may not be some kind of sting.

Like I said, Kilmer is a bit much at times, but he and the story overall were interesting enough. Greatly helping things was the unparalleled Vincent D'Onofrio, who some people probably think of as "that guy from one of those 'Law & Order' shows." But ever since "Full Metal Jacket," we've been able to count on Vinnie coming to play. (OK, maybe not in "Adventures in Babysitting.")

Here, he's the bigtime drug dealer, who incidentally doesn't have a nose anymore because he did so many drugs. As a result, we get to enjoy either a plastic nose or a gaping hole in the middle of D'Onofrio's face. Add his good ol' boy demeanor -- "I deal in U.S. pounds, friend ... none of that f*ggot metric shit for me" -- and you've got another nice performance.

Other guys are good, too. Peter Sarsgaaaaaaaaaaaard gets maybe the biggest supporting role as Kilmer's junkie friend, but other character actors -- Luis Guzman, Anthony LaPaglia, Adam Goldberg, Danny Trejo -- pop up as well. And we even get a Meat Loaf sighting! All in all, "The Salton Sea" wasn't boring, just a little overdone in places. Then again, any movie in which a badger gets a chance to nibble someone's privates is all right by me.


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