Friday, August 19, 2022

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Film Review

Samuel L. Jackson pays homage to Russia in ‘Mishkin’s Complaint’


film“Pulp Fiction” star Samuel L. Jackson delivers his directing debut with a poignant sexy melodrama rooted in 1930’s Moscow, Russia. “Mishkin’s Complaint” pushes the envelope on modern cinema’s trend toward A- and B-list Hollywood actors engaging in full-fledged sex acts onscreen. The result leaves an impression.

Jeremy Irons plays Mishkin, a law-abiding attorney with a lust for life’s simple pleasures — smelling the cheese is always on Miskin’s list of things to do. He divides his time between eating things that make other people envious and enjoying group-sex with his mistress Ilsa (Uma Thurman) and a bevy of interchangeable young women. Jackson’s outré set pieces of sexual expression run a gambit from tastefully erotic to downright sleazy. You’ll never look at Thurman the same way again.

Mishkin plays violin with a small band of drinking buddies (played by Nicolas Cage, Chiwetal Ejoifor and Billy Crudup). No one would ever accuse Mishkin of being a virtuoso. His tenuous command of the violin provides the group with a never-ending stream of lighthearted insults aimed at the band’s would-be leader.

“Mishkin’s Complaint” is about a man of minimal intelligence and resources who is completely satisfied with his life until he discovers that he has fathered a hermaphrodite girl by a woman who is now deceased. Mishkin’s intersex child Viktoriya — played with the predictable accomplishment of Tilda Swinton — arrives in Moscow looking for work as a cabaret performer. 

As Viktoriya indulges in every form of vice with both men and women, she takes a job at the bar where Mishkin and his friends play music. A budding romance between Cage’s character and Viktoriya complicates matters for Mishkin, whose grasp of his child’s sexual identity is less than well informed.

The theme of Jackson’s film seems to be that closure and resolution are merely crutches that citizens of weaker — Western — countries fall prey to as a substitution for sexual satisfaction. In the film’s disquieting final scene, Jackson makes an unmistakable nod to the Motherland. Russia’s own Iksana Akinshina (“The Bourne Supremacy”) plays the tragicomic woman to whom Mishkin pledges his undying loyalty in exchange for an act of charity that hardly seems worth the effort. Mishkin’s complaint, as it turns out, was always only ever a temporary condition. Perhaps Russia is ahead of the curve when it comes to cinema. There’s no competition with this kind of exploitation around. APRIL FOOLS!

Cole Smithee’s mother always told him he watches too many movies and would never amount to anything. Guess he showed her.

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