Dancing at the Blue Iguana

Guess what. Strippers don't lead glamorous lives. You might have arrived at that conclusion on your own, but here's a movie determined to rub it in your face: there's such an abundance of cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, unwanted pregnancies, shattered dreams and domestic abuse on display here that it's amazing that the movie doesn't end with a mass suicide.

I don't know how successfully anything will be conveyed by this film--the most likely scenario is that most guys will rent the video when it comes out and fast forward to the "good parts" when the opportunity arises, anyway--but I actually sat through the entire near-two-hours on the big screen. What we have here is the product of a theatrical workshop--"developed" rather than formally scripted. Therefore, harsh and ugly as this constantly is, it still doesn't play as authentically as certain documentaries featuring actual strippers (which speak for themselves). Here, for instance, one of the girls gets a political assassin for a secret admirer (I swear I'm not making this up)! There's also a subplot featuring an antique pair of opera glasses that's apparently supposed to hold some deep significance, and one of the strippers is secretly a gifted poet (etc. etc. etc.).

Okay, noble artistic intentions (from the director of IL POSTINO) in this well-meant effort. The acting's fine, but Darryl Hannah steals the show as the pathetically clueless blonde (the scene where she tries to explain why she wants to foster a child is pitiful and hilarious at the same time), and Jennifer Tilly's as shockingly abrasive as you've ever seen her. But you get the point almost right away, and what does that leave you when there's still ninety minutes left on the film? A fast-forward video classic for everyone who otherwise wouldn't bother with the film at all.

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