The Salton Sea | In Case You Missed It...

Did You Bring Plastic Men? By J. Sternberg
            If you never forgave Val Kilmer for what he did to Batman, I think you should see The Salton Sea. In what is arguably his defining role, the Kilmer plays a character you never saw coming in, oddly enough, a film you most likely haven't seen.             I can't blame you, hell, this film, much like Donnie Darko, came out in the year 2001, you know, the year 9/11 happened. I don't know where you were, or what you were up to, but if you're like a lot of us, you weren't going to the movies. I didn't even see this film until several years later, even frequently bypassing it for almost a year while working at a crappy video store. Then I gave the film a shot on DVD, and I can say I couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised.             Kilmer plays Danny Parker, a former jazz musician who dives into crystal meth headfirst after his wife gets gunned down for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Danny and his story are far more complex than your typical downward spiral, and the further down the rabbit hole you get, the more you want to know about this unfortunate soul and the dark and gritty world he lives in.

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            Unlike most other movies that feature drug use as a main theme, the film makers admirably avoid the typical trappings of showing you the ups and downs of using drugs. The movie begins with addicts, and even though it shows them having a good time, it quickly shows the harsh reality and dangers of the meth underworld. You never think the tweakers are just fun loving party goers, but a bunch of pathetic, lost souls living in a dangerous and claustrophobic world of shit that they're just too fucked up to comprehend.             The cinematography and soundtrack meld seamlessly into a solid alloy of stellar filmmaking, with the emotion of each scene pouring into your senses as opposed to flying at you and seeing what sticks. While the Kilmer and Vincent D'Onofrio (Law and Order: CI, Full Metal Jacket) are noteworthy leads, the performances of everyone involved drive the film. From everyone's favorite South-of-the-border badass Danny Trejo (pretty much every Robert Rodriguez film ever), and his lackey partner in crime Buckcherry's Josh Todd, to Luis Guzman, B.D Wong, and Peter Sarsgaard, this ensemble of relative nobodies delivers on a level most films chock full of A list celebs can't.             This film has humor (watch the Bob Hope section and try not to laugh), action, and a dirty sense of satisfaction that only film noir can provide. Its the perfect cap to a marathon of films that begins with L.A. Confidential, and somewhere along the way includes Bound, Mullholland Drive, 2 Days in the Valley and Memento.             Unfortunately, the DVD version of the film is currently out of print, so finding it at your local store won't exactly be easy, but you can find it online for little more than the cost of a rental, and the movie is totally worth it. I give The Salton Sea 4 "did you bring the plastic men?"s out of 5