Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 330: Salome's Last Dance (1988) - Rank 4/5


Within the first five minutes of the film, there's no doubt you're watching a Ken Russell film. From the outlandish characters to the elaborate sets, the viewer is treated to a saturation of excess and Wilde. Set in the late 19th century, Oscar Wilde (Nickolas Grace) and his lover, Lord Douglas, visit an opulent brothel in high London. The two are treated to a play that has been arranged by the brothel's owner, Alfred (Stratford Johns). The piece? "Salome's Last Dance" written by Oscar Wilde. Wilde is then treated to an adaptation of his play where the parts are played by the establishment's prostitutes. Wilde enjoys the production and other activities throughout.

Not one of Russell's strongest, but not his weakest either. It could best be described as "eye candy" (an apropos description considering Glenda Jackson is playing the titular Salome). The visuals are positively striking and the performances delightfully campy. However, apart from the basic description provided above, there's not much substance to it. It seems that it's merely an exercise in fun, and possibly self-gratification, for the director. But considering that directors like Quentin Tarantino have a resume of films that are nothing but cinematic masturbation, so to speak, then I suppose all directors are permitted such pieces now and again. One final note: if there was ever a character actor destined to play my friend Robert Boston in a film, it would easily be Stratford Johns.

Watch the Trailer

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