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Blow - Sept 29, 2001

I never thought that Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt were very good candidates for Lestat and Louis. I always kind of thought that River Phoenix should be Lestat and Johnny Depp should be Louis. Now I know I was wrong. Because for the first three quarters of Blow, Johnny Depp is the Vampire Lestat.

He has style, and panache, and shaggy blond hair, and this insolent expression that lets you know he is entirely unconcerned with the fact that he is making his living breaking the law and exploiting his fellow humans. After some formative experiences watching his dadís home business in the 50s, he moves with his best friend Tuna to California just in time for the late 60s. They meet a very gay hairdresser in the person of Paul Rubens and start trafficking pot to small college towns back east. First they get Johnny Deppís stewardess girlfriend, Franka Potente (aka Lola from Run, Lola, Run), to take it with her in her carry-on luggage. They can sell more per week than she can carry, so they road-trip it in a Winnebago.

Eventually the authorities catch on to Johnny and he has to go to court. He quotes Pretty Boy Floyd to the judge, who is not amused. He skips his bail, but while heís visiting with his dad, his mom calls the authorities to rat him out. He goes to jail for 2 years and Lola dies of cancer. You know when you see stuff like this in a movie that is based on a true story that this is the part theyíre not making up, because it didnít really advance the plot and it didnít flow with the story.

In jail Johnny meets Diego and learns to traffic cocaine. When he gets out of jail, he gets in good with the el grande Colombian drug lord and is soon making more money than he ever thought possible while he was selling pot. He meets Penelope Cruz. They get married and have a daughter. Diego cuts Johnny out of the line of distribution. Johnny is mad, but he doesnít get even. He figures itís time to get out of the cocaine business - after all, heís made his 60 million.

Of course, getting out of the cocaine business isnít as easy as it sounds, especially not if you have an evil wench crack whore wife like Penelope Cruz. She throws Johnny a surprise birthday party with all of his former associates and a cocaine buffet. The FBI and the DEA decide to crash the party. Somehow he escapes custody this time, but the next time, theyíre driving down the highway and sheís snorting cocaine in the front seat. He tells her to watch it because there are cops in the car behind him, but instead she snorts more cocaine, starts accusing him of not wanting her any more, and then climbs onto his lap while heís driving. He has to pull over, and then the cops get him. Then heís in jail, he has two weeks until he gets out, and she serves him with divorce papers. When heís out, heís trying to get custody of their kid, and he goes and talks to her about it. She tells him to go take a hike, because she hasnít seen one cent of the child support he owes her, and Iím thinking to myself, ďHello, itís your fault his assets were appropriated by the Colombian government after his birthday drug bust. Oh, and look at that - itís your fault he was in jail too. Where the hell do you think heís supposed to get the money from?Ē Johnny decides to pull one last job, so he can have enough money to take his daughter to California and start a new life with her there, but the job goes bad, the feds get him, and now heís serving a sentence until 2015. The only regret he has is that he couldnít be there for his daughter.

Blow was a pretty interesting movie. I thought (especially after seeing the trailers) that there would be a lot more Penelope Cruz, a lot more sex, a lot more glamorization of drug use. Not really. It was almost more like a documentary (well, in a sense, it was one). The years passed very quickly, and the voiceover narration was often as important to advancing the plot as the scenes.

The early parts of the movie were quite successful as a period piece - the clothes were right, the hair was right, the cars were right. Somewhere around 1980 the period piece thing started to disintegrate - women at parties were wearing cocktail dresses that you would expect to see somewhere today, one strap slinky numbers instead of mall bangs and dresses with puffy sleeves and bubble skirts. Johnny Depp never cut his hair and continued wearing aviators. Oh well. In some movies, wrong costuming really bothers me. In this one I noticed, and it was worth mentioning, but it didnít detract from the overall effect of the movie.

The other interesting thing I noticed about this movie was that usually in movies about drugs itís the other drug dealers you really have to watch out for. In this movie, although Johnny Deppís business partner screwed him around, he didnít go in for the big revenge killing thing. The bad guys in this movie were, of course, the feds. Do you notice how, now, in movies, itís the authority figures with the law on their side that are the bad guys, and the good guys are the ones trying to do something illegal? I think it might have started with Star Wars. Maybe it explains why so many Americans think their government is out to get them.

Score: Three and a half Pints This was a good movie, but it wasnít brain candy and what I really like in a movie is brain candy.

 

 
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