About Me

My photo
Go out with you? Why not... Do I like to dance? Of course! Take a walk along the beach tonight? I'd love to. But don't try to touch me. Don't try to touch me. Because that will never happen again. "Past, Present and Future"-The Shangri-Las

Monday, December 16, 2013

Seeing the Diamond Beneath the Paste

Latest viewing experience: D.E.B.S.

The trailer is a bit of a bait and switch; what we really have here is a cheerful lesbian coming-of-age story. The superspy stuff is an overlay. The two lovers are, respectively, a superspy and a supercriminal who are supposed to be thwarting one another, not sneaking around and dating, and the tale of treachery and betrayal serves as an objective correlative for the socially imposed tensions of the love that still dare not speak its name in many quarters. It's a nifty idea, this stitching together of different misbehaviors to illuminate the unnecessary dangers of same-sex love, but what makes sense in theory fails in practice because the superspy genre elements mostly just lie there. Lots of candy colors and outsized props strive for cartoonish low camp but just look stagy, and the writer-director doesn't generate any thrilling thriller tension. Cat-and-mouse sequences are carpeted with techno music that's clearly meant to drive the energy, but someone chose chill house music instead of edgy tracks, so the chases are way too relaxing. In one scene there's an extensive establishing shot of a fancy restaurant that mimics the upward tracking shot of the opera house in Citizen Kane, showing us just how immense and fancy this restaurant is, but then the scene that plays out is a conventional restaurant scene that makes no use of all that fanciness. Then there's a long sequence in which the protagonists navigate a road-to-the-batcave route to a secret exclusive dangerous nightclub... that just seems like any old nightclub. People dancing, hanging, having fun. Lots of mohawks and spikes, but it still seems as safe as an after-church reception. 

 So why am I hammering on this mediocre movie? I watched it because the writer-director, one Angela Robinson, wrote (several years after making D.E.B.S.) some of the best episodes of True Blood. Her scripts blended and interconnected comedy, action, drama and suspense with acrobatic alacrity. She earned her money and how. Her scripts were jim dandy. Alan Ball (The auteur of True Blood) and company saw and nurtured something in Robinson that, on the basis of D.E.B.S., most of us would never have guessed was there. How does one spot the potential lurking behind a failure? Clearly the producers of a campy vampire soap opera know something about talent spotting that eludes most of us.

No comments: