U TurnUSA 1997
Directed by Oliver Stone
Running time 125 minutes
Despite the occasional ill-judged scene and a noticeable problem with bringing matters to an end, if you like the off-beat, this generally, although understandably, neglected film by Stone is a gem. If Hunter S. Thompson had reworked John Dahl's Red Rock West
(1993) it might have come out like this hyperbolic stuck-in-a-one-horse-town nightmare pulp thriller (both original story and script were by John Ridley, who also wrote the original story of Three Kings
Sean Penn plays a hapless small-time hustler with a bad attitude, on a trip to Vegas through the Arizona desert, who is forced to stop off in the dustbowl hamlet of Superior when the radiator hose in his sixty-four-and-a-half Mustang convertible bursts. From his first encounter with the only mechanic in town (a virtually unrecognisable Billy Bob Thornton) everything goes wrong in what is an ultra-hip black comedy with a catchy soundtrack and served up with buckets of visual panache by Stone. Don't expect too much of the plot, just strap in for the fun, which really comes down to the off-the-wall performances from a tip-top cast, including, aside from Billy Bob, Nick Nolte, Jon Voight, Joaquin Phoenix, and Claire Danes. Sean Penn is in his element in the lead although whilst the oddly-cast Jennifer Lopez is passable, an edgier actress would have probably added more to the film. BH
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