Sunday, May 19, 2002

The Salton Sea (IMDB) (Netflix)
A stylish, imaginative, violent noir featuring Val Kilmer's first decent role in years. The film begins near the end, with Kilmer playing trumpet in a room that's becoming enveloped in flames, then flashes back to show how he got to that sorry state. The setting is Southern California's methedrine sub-culture, which is not for the easily appalled--Vincent D'Onofrio is the completely warped "cook" and dealer nicknamed "Pooh Bear" because he lost his nose to the drug and wears a plastic substitute ("Badly done facial prosthetics--the anti-drug"). Why Kilmer gets mixed up in all this and what he does to extricate himself makes for an original, if more than a little disturbing story. Peter Sarsgaard has a nice turn as Val's naive, trusting fellow tweeker, and there are sprinkles of I-shouldn't-be-laughing-at-that humor.

If you liked Memento and/or Sexy Beast, you'll probably be on solid ground.