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USA 1992
Directed by
Alexandre Rockwell
96 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

In The Soup

In the Soup is a delightful low budget gem that crackles with absurdist humour and merry prankster energy, particularly thanks to Seymour Cassel's live wire performance. Kudos also go to cinematographer Phil Parmet who gives the film a seductively striking look. 

Alexandre Rockwell (apparently no relation to the well-known actor Sam Rockwell who coincidentally has a small role here), was part of a late '80s to early ‘90s Lower East Side indie film-making scene which included Jim Jarmusch (who also appears here as a dodgy film producer along with ‘70s icon Carole Kane as his partner. Another floating member of the scene who appears here was Steve Buscemi whose break-out role as Mr Pink in Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs was to come that same year whilst Cassel's affiliation with the indie film scene goes back to his work with John Cassavetes in the 1950s

In what would become his signature screen persona Buscemi plays Adolfo Rollo ("Alexandre Rockwell", get it), a would-be film-maker down to his last dime, unable to pay his rent . He offers to sell a 500-page screenplay titled "Unconditional Surrender", which he has long been dreaming of filming in the expectation that he would be hailed as a master, something which he also dreams would win him the charms of his next-door neighbour (Jessica Beal). The only interest he attracts is from Joe (Cassel) an eccentric hustler of obscure connections who promises to come up with the finance but needs Adolfo to help him with a few jobs first.  Of course we know the film will never be made but for want of any other option Adolfo throws his lot in with Joe’s fantastic promises.

FYI: The high cost of the Kodak film stock with a high silver content that when printed in monochrome yielded a deeply saturated black-to-white range meant that the film-makers could only afford one 35mm theatrical print and this was nearly destroyed over the years. Mercifully it was saved by a 2017 Kickstarter campaign mounted by Brooklyn-based film production and distribution company, Factory 25. 

Rockwell's film won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1992 Sundance film festival winning over Reservoir Dogs.

The unlikely appearance of Jennifer “Flashdance” Beals is explained by the fact that she was married to director Rockwell at the time.

If you enjoyed In The Soup then you should check out Tom DiCillo's Living In Oblivion (1994) in which Buscemi plays a director struggling to get his film in the can.




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