Sunday, May 15, 2011

Domino

Tony Scott has had a wildly uneven yet fascinating career that has seen him dabble in art house horror (The Hunger), jingoistic propaganda (Top Gun), and the buddy action film (The Last Boy Scout). He has always lived in the shadow of his older brother, Ridley, who makes epic, prestige films with A-list movie stars. Tony, on the other hand, has a more B-movie sensibility but is able to realize his films with large budgets and marquee names like Kevin Costner, Brad Pitt, and Denzel Washington. The studios like him because of the talent he attracts and his films consistently make money. In the 2000’s, he reinvented the look of his films with Man on Fire (2004) in an attempt to stay relevant with younger audiences with limited attention spans and raised on music videos, but risked alienating fans of his past films. The result was an intensely fractured editing style that propelled action thrillers like Domino (2005) and Déjà Vu (2006). It got to the point where this hyperactive editing began to distract from the narratives of his films. However, with Domino this approach oddly enough works because the film’s style attempts to approximate its protagonist’s stream of consciousness. After all, she narrates her own story and so most of the film is told from her point-of-view.


Film director John Ford famously said, "When forced to pick between truth and legend, print the legend." This certainly applies to Scott’s biopic about the life of Domino Harvey, daughter of actor Laurence Harvey and supermodel Paulene Stone. Her father died when she was four-years-old and was unable to fill the void by his passing. By her teens, she had been kicked out of four elite boarding schools. At 20, she moved to Los Angeles and lived with her mother in the Hollywood Hills. She went into rehab for a drug addiction that started in her teens. Soon after, she reinvented herself and tried her hand at being a ranch hand in San Diego and a volunteer firefighter. From there, she ran a London dance club and even gave up a promising career as a model to become a bounty hunter, partnering with Ed Martinez. She helped him capture 50 fugitives and, in the process, also renewed her drug habit.

You couldn’t have created a better story and Scott and screenwriter Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko) run with it, assembling a balls-out attack on the notion of celebrity that is part satire and part action film. Think of it as Scott’s Natural Born Killers (1994). Like Oliver Stone’s film, Scott throws all kinds of disparate elements into a stylish blender and what comes out is an intriguing mess of a film. Domino was blasted by critics and flopped at the box office but one has to admire the casting radically against type of Keira Knightley as Domino. She delivers one of the strongest performances of her career and is supported by Mickey Rourke and Edgar Ramirez, a veteran actor and up-and-coming one. In turn, they are surrounded by an eclectic cast to say the least – Lucy Liu, Tom Waits, and Christopher Walken, along with Beverly Hills 90210 alumni Ian Ziering and Brian Austin Green playing themselves (sort of).

The film begins with Domino (Keira Knightley) in police custody and being questioned by a criminal psychologist (Lucy Liu in an annoying cameo) and then proceeds to tell her story, about how she gave up her pampered, Beverly Hills 90210 life for that of an ass-kicking bounty hunter, through a series of flashbacks. Her father died when Domino was very young and she vowed to never let anyone get close to her again. She dabbled in modeling as Britain’s answer to Gia Carangi before her mother moved to L.A. and tried to mould her into a Beverly Hills socialite a la Paris Hilton, but Domino rebelled. These early scenes do a good job of selling Keira Knightley’s badass credentials and show how Domino got into bounty hunting. She went to a seminar and met Ed Mosbey (Mickey Rourke) and Choco (Edgar Ramirez), two miscreants who take off with the participants’ money. Impressed by her chutzpah, Ed agrees to take her on and show her the ropes despite Choco’s reservations. Knightley, Mickey Rourke and Edgar Ramirez play well off each other as she acts as the petulant younger sister to their older brothers – Ramirez, the macho man of few words and Rourke, the grizzled veteran with a swagger in his step.

Domino has a wicked sense of humor and this apparent in a scene that gleefully satirizes daytime talks shows by having Mo’Nique’s DMV worker go on Jerry Springer with her system of identifying mixed races entitled, the Mixed Race Categorical Flow Chart. For example, she identifies herself as Blactino (black and Latino) and then labels an audience member Chinegro (Chinese and black). This scene takes the circus-like atmosphere of Springer’s show and cranks it up another notch so that it rivals the sitcom parody in Natural Born Killers for zeroing in on one of the most ridiculous aspects of popular culture. And speaking of sending up pop culture, you have to give Ian Ziering and Brian Austin Green credit for being willing to laugh at themselves in this film as they play exaggerated versions of their public personas. Scott puts their “characters” through the wringer as he pokes fun at spoiled, washed-up T.V. stars. Scott felt that the film’s story was made up of two halves: Domino’s life up to and including her decision to become a bounty hunter and her stint on a reality T.V. show. He wanted to have comedic elements in the film and the second half with Ziering and Green gave him plenty of opportunities.

All of the people around Domino want something – a book deal, money, T.V. ratings, or to boost their Hollywood reputation – but she’s not interested in any of that. The film suggests that becoming a bounty hunter was a way of rejecting her family’s privileged lifestyle. She wanted to throw that all away and do something that involved honest, hard work but even that gets corrupted when she, Ed and Choco inadvertently get roped into going after four thieves who may or may not have robbed an armored truck containing money belonging Drake Bishop (Dabney Coleman), the billionaire owner of the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, and who has links to mafia boss Anthony Cigliutti (Stanley Kamel). In a nice nod to the bank robbers masquerading as ex-Presidents of the United States in Point Break (1991), the armored truck robbers disguise themselves as several of the First Ladies. Eventually, our anti-heroes find themselves in a Mexican standoff reminiscent of the ones in past Scott films, True Romance (1993) and Enemy of the State (1998).

If Domino is the cinematic equivalent of an acid trip then the desert sequence is its peak. After inadvertently drinking Mescaline-dosed coffee, Domino and her crew (including her driver) crash their RV in the desert. Bruised and bloodied, Domino, Ed and Choco crawl out of the wreckage zonked out of their minds and are soon visited by none other than Tom Waits as the strains of his song, “Jesus Gonna Be Here” plays on the film’s soundtrack. He calls Domino an “angel of fire” and tells her that she and her companions must sacrifice their lives so that a young child may live. Waits’ character is clearly intended to be a holy man of some sort, a shaman putting the protagonists on a righteous path and proceeds to literally drive them to their destiny. Scott saw Waits’ character as a kind of Greek chorus that apparently has some kind of psychic connection with Domino and left it ambiguous if he was real or a figment of her imagination.

Knightley’s Domino is a fascinating package: a tough, gun-toting bounty hunter who also uses her stunning looks to get what she wants, like giving a gangbanger a lap dance to get the location of a guy she’s after. While that scene shows off her body, Scott turns it around in the next one, showing Domino watching Choco strip down to his underwear in a laundromat. He lingers just as long on Ramirez’s fine, chiseled physique so there’s eye candy for everyone. Knightley’s performance in Domino almost makes you forget how she was wasted in the Pirates of the Caribbean films. The actress’ natural beauty and British heritage make her an excellent, if not unconventional, choice to play a model turned bounty hunter. The big question was if should could convey the toughness required for the role and not look ridiculous holding a gun. Thanks to Scott’s stylized camerawork, Knightley certainly looks the part and her performance does the rest. This film, along with her role in The Jacket (2005), are among her strongest performances to date. Both are vastly underappreciated and amply demonstrate that she’s more than a pretty face – she as some actual acting chops if given the chance to use them.

Christopher Walken plays Mark Weiss, an energetic public relations man with an “attention span of a ferret on crystal meth,” as one character puts it, and is played with the actor’s customary gusto. It’s great to see Walken taking a break from forgettable fare that has plagued his career for years and appearing in a high profile film such as this one. His glad-handing vulture evokes Robert Downey Jr.’s vain tabloid journalist in Natural Born Killers and is nearly as entertaining. Like Mickey Rourke, Walken has done a lot of bad fllms in recent memory but his performance in Domino is one of the best he’s done in the last ten years.

The slapdash, fast and loose style of Scott’s actually works in Domino – the director messes around with the speed of the film, the color intensity and amps up the music during montage sequences in order to draw our attention to them because he is imparting crucial information. He tarts up the color of the film to garish levels that include sun-baked yellows, Palmolive liquid green and midnight blues. In doing so, Scott calls attention to the artificiality of his film. There is very little resemblance of reality in Domino and instead it resembles a fevered dream that resides in Domino’s head. Domino is densely edited with layers of images that hit us at an accelerated rate. Along with Natural Born Killers, Domino must hold the record for most insert shots in a film. In NBK, Mickey and Mallory Knox became anti-folk heroes as does Domino, Ed and Choco to the sleaze addicts in the world who watch reality shows just like the people who idolize serial killers in Oliver Stone’s film. Furthermore, there is a scene in Domino where her goldfish dies and like Mickey killing the Native American Indian, this is a pivotal turning point when things begin to go south for her.

Director Tony Scott first heard of Domino Harvey in the mid-1990’s when his business manager sent him an article about her. What really got Scott’s attention was her being actor Laurence Harvey’s daughter and that she came from a very privileged life only to turn her back on it. He immediately contacted Domino and invited her to his office. A week later, they were in discussions to make her story into a film. From the get-go, he was not interested in making a standard biopic about her life. Over the years, Scott befriended Domino and she became a surrogate daughter to him. He tried to warn her to be careful but she told him that she loved the adrenaline rush that came with the job. He also met her bounty hunting team and witnessed their dynamic together. Scott began taping interviews with her and they provided the basis of a screenplay. In 1995, she sold her life story to him for $260,000.

Scott had several screenwriters (including, reportedly, Roger Avary) attempt to adapt her life into a film but found that they were all much too straightforward for his liking. Scott saw Donnie Darko (2001), written and directed by Richard Kelly, and then read his script for Southland Tales (2007) and was taken with his “unusual and very imaginative approach in terms of his comedic elements and his darker, almost sci-fi side,” while also creating characters that were “real, breathing people.” Kelly came up with the genesis for his fictionalized take on Domino’s life while sitting at a Santa Monica Department of Motor Vehicles trying to correct an error with his driver’s license. He saw the place as a source of vast information and decided to use it as the center of each story within the film. Much like he did with Southland Tales, Kelly crafted a complex narrative that interweaved several stories with flashbacks and flashforwards. Scott described it as “a huge jigsaw puzzle. The audience has to pay attention in order to stay with all the beats of the story.”

Kelly envisioned the telling of Domino’s story as if it was a fevered dream, “a fabrication or as a satire, kind of,” and to tell it in the style of Rashomon (1950). When he interviewed the real Domino for two hours, she told him about going to summer school at Beverly Hills High and from that he wrote in the Beverly Hills 90210 aspects. He had grown up with the show and felt that “it was a lightning rod for the way teenagers were supposed to behave in the After School Special meets Rodeo Drive soap opera quality of that show.” To that end, two of its cast members – Green and Ziering came on board playing fictionalized versions of themselves.

When Scott was ready to make the film, he contacted long-time friend and producer Samuel Hadida. They had worked together previously on True Romance with Samuel’s brother Victor, but it was not a commercial hit. This did not deter the Hadida brothers from taking a gamble on Scott’s new unconventional project. They gave the director the creative freedom to make the film the way he wanted. In 2002, Samuel met Kelly while the filmmaker was distributing Donnie Darko and he told the producer that he was writing the script for Domino. A few years later, Scott contacted Hadida and told him that he was trying to get the film made and had a small window of opportunity because actress Keira Knightley was only available from October to December.

The next day, Scott sent Hadida the script and a video of several clips from past films, commercials and television shows to give an idea of the look and tone he envisioned for Domino. He also sent a copy of Man on Fire and the next day Hadida agreed to finance the new film. The producer liked Kelly’s script with its dark humor and that “it was emotional and took you for a ride, but the character was still believable and three-dimensional.” The Hadidas sent the script to New Line Cinema, a company with a reputation for making challenging films, and they were interested in working with Scott and Knightley, the latter who was coming off the very popular Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), which is where Scott first noticed her. He cast the then-20-year-old Knightley based on instinct. He felt that transforming the actress into Domino would be like the real Domino transforming herself into a bounty hunter.

In April 2004, she met Scott in Los Angeles and told him how much she loved the script with its “mad story. It’s got action, sexuality, violence, bad language … but it’s very funny.” She was excited at the chance “to do something a little crazy that I hadn’t done before.” The actress wasn’t interested in doing an imitation of Domino and Kelly’s highly fictionalized take helped in her approach to the role. Knightley actually met the real Domino a couple of times while filming Pride & Prejudice (2005). Knightley didn’t have enough prep time to study her and so Scott told the actress to make up her own character. So, Knightley based her performance on her best friend and taped interviews of the real Domino. During the last two weeks of filming Pride & Prejudice, Knightley was getting calls from Scott about costumes and other things to do with Domino and remembered, “I couldn’t get my head into it at all,” and this upset the actress because she never had this problem before. She decided to cut off most of her hair and physically rid herself of the previous film role.

Scott had known Mickey Rourke socially for years and felt that the actor shared a similar personality with the real Ed: “Mickey is the right age, he’s grown up on motorcycles and in a boxing ring.” Without hesitation, Rourke agreed to do the film. For the actor, the script didn’t come to life until he started working on it with Scott, Knightley and Ramirez. During principal photography, Rourke constantly refined his character and wanted to know more details of Ed’s backstory. In 2004, Edgar Ramirez introduced a screening of his film, Punto Y Raya (2004) to the Hollywood Foreign Press in L.A. Casting director Denise Chamian was there and suggested that Scott and Hadida meet with the actor. After doing so and conducting a screen test, the director cast him as Choco, the hot-blooded Latino bounty hunter.

For the bounty hunter details, Scott hired Zeke Unger, a 20-year bounty hunting veteran as the film’s technical adviser. He was involved during principal photography but also offered his expertise to Kelly and the three lead actors, putting them through a brief training program. Knightley had only come from her last film, Pride & Prejudice, four days before and started a two-day boot camp with Ramirez while also studying Kelly’s script, breaking it down and annotating the entire thing. Unger and his crew taught the actors about bail bonds, laws, self-defense, basic handling of firearms, marksmanship, and so on.

Filming began on October 4, 2004 in and around the L.A. area. In early December, the production moved to Las Vegas for a final total of 62 days. The pace was fast, mirroring that of the film itself, and, of course, to accommodate Knightley’s small window of availability. For the look of Domino, Scott wanted a color palette that was “all over the place,” including some shots in black and white. He wanted a “gritty, heightened reality” via brighter colors, darker blacks and whiter whites. The color palette often varied depending on the emotion of the individual scene. Scott utilized both 35mm and HD video cameras in the style of what he had done on Man on Fire. Scott also relied on multiple sources of inspiration, including magazines, newspapers, books, and magazines – building a reference library for his crew to draw from. He used frenetic camera movement and different film stocks to mirror what he described as the “21st century mindset” of the script, according to the film’s cinematographer Dan Mindel. To achieve the kinetic feel Scott wanted, Mindel employed hand crank cameras to shoot multiple exposures, which gave a distinctive look that came from varying exposures due to the inaccuracy of the camera speed. Many scenes utilized four to six cameras at a time in order to cut down on the number of takes the actors would have to do and to avoid having to go back for more coverage or inserts.

While Scott’s film was being made, the real Domino faced federal drug trafficking charges and a possible ten-year prison term. She was convinced that she had been set up. She told her former bounty hunting partner Ed Martinez that she wanted to make a documentary about her life in response to the highly fictionalized Scott film. She had been on the film set often, appearing briefly on-screen at the end, and even acted as a technical consultant. It was widely reported in the British press that according to an anonymous friend and her mother she was not pleased with how she was portrayed as purely heterosexual when she wasn’t and the liberties Kelly’s script took with her life. However, friends and family claim that she was happy with it. Domino died of a drug overdose on June 27, 2005. According to Scott, Domino never got to see the finished film but did see parts of it and loved what she saw.

Domino was very nearly universally despised by critics. In her review for the Washington Post, Ann Hornaday felt that the film was “occasionally funny and visually arresting, amount to absolutely nothing.” USA Today gave the film one-and-a-half out of four stars and Mike Clark wrote, “You can't accuse this film of bogging down in cheap psychology, yet you come out dissatisfied and without a clue about what made this person tick.” Entertainment Weekly gave the film a “D” rating and Owen Gleiberman wrote, “Is a movie that works as hard to be badass as Domino does a contradiction in terms? As a packaged sensory onslaught of girl-gunslinger nihilism, Scott's film would seem to have everything, yet taken simply as entertainment, it is dreadful: less cool than ice-cold, its violence too dissociated to inspire a decadent tremor of excitement.” In his review for the Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Turan wrote, “Of course, if you care about things like logic and coherence, you probably shouldn't be watching Domino in the first place. Its director, the flamboyant Tony Scott, says, ‘This movie is about heightened reality,’ which means it's a chance for him to blow things up, employ a lot of stunt people and fool around with a variety of film stocks and processing techniques.”

Roger Ebert was one of the few critics who gave it a favorable review with a three star rating: “Did I admire Domino? In a sneaky way, yes. It's fractured and maddening, but it's alive. It begins with the materials of a perfectly conventional thriller. It heeds Godard's rule that ‘all you need for a movie is a girl and a gun.’” The New York Times’ Manohla Dargis also gave the film a positive review: “What makes Domino the ultimate Tony Scott movie - or as a friend put it, ‘It's all the Tony Scott you could possibly want in a Tony Scott movie!’ - is its uncharacteristically sharp screenplay. Mr. Scott has worked with talented writers before, but this is the first time he has shot a film written by a screenwriter who both cops to the great enjoyment that can be had from the modern action movie - perhaps best illustrated here by the sight of Ms. Knightley unloading two machine guns at once - and blows the action-movie tropes to smithereens.”

Ultimately, it’s not important how much of Domino is true and how much of it isn’t. That’s really not the point that Scott is trying to make. This film may be his most personal one yet because of his close friendship with its subject. Coming from that perspective, he wasn’t interested in showing the more sordid side of her life – namely the raging drug habit, the going in and out of rehab, and so on – but rather he wanted this film to pay tribute to his friend by emphasizing the attributes he admired in her. One has to marvel at the chutzpah and clout Scott used to take a big chunk of someone else’s money and make a heartfelt tribute that was hated by most film critics and also bombed at the box office. Now that the dust has settled and some time has passed, Domino really needs to be re-evaluated and rediscovered for the wildly entertaining and oddly moving film that it is.


SOURCES

Domino Production Notes. 2005.

Edemariam, Aida. “She Loved Bringing in Sleazebags.” The Guardian. June 20, 2005.

“Interview: Keira Knightley & Tony Scott.” IGN. October 12, 2005.

Lee, Chris. “The Fall of a Thrill Hunter.” The Times. July 22, 2005.

Murray, Rebecca. “Richard Kelly Discusses Domino, Working with Tony Scott & Southland Tales.” About.com. August 20, 2005.

13 comments:

  1. Tony Scott is one of my favorite directors. There’s a lot I have to say about the guy, too much to cover in this comment post.

    First of all, as much as I love Alien, Blade Runner, Legend and, to a slightly lesser extent, Thelma & Louis, the much underrated White Squall and the silly but fun Black Rain… I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that brother Ridley is not nearly the daring artist as kid brother Tony. Armond White, of all people, once said of the two (non verbatim) that Ridley Scott is but a mere window-dresser of big themes while Tony Scott goes further to match hyperactive visuals with intricate storytelling.

    I agree. Tony Scott is genuine experimentalist of genre. I’ve always loved his work, even back in the heyday of his most superficial, pink-hued popcorn films like Days of Thunder, but ever since Spy Games his filmography has become all the more evident of possessing the “mad artist’s touch”. One point I disagree with you on is that his juiced-up style of the past decade is not just some placation to today’s ADD youth audience.

    The visual/editorial style he applied Déjà Vu masterfully tied into the film’s story and themes. Check out this elaborate review on the film to gain a second opinion: http://www.cinema-scope.com/cs29/feat_peransonandhuber_scott.html.

    That movie features one of the most exciting and innovative car chases ever filmed, and I much prefer it to surprisingly similar Source Code (seriously, compare the plot points and be stunned) and even Spielberg’s Minority Report.

    Truth be told, and after surfing the blogosphere, there seems to be something of a rising awareness and re-evaluation for Tony Scott, in the classic ‘auteur theory’ style. And that makes me happy because I strongly feel an appreciation for the director is long overdue. Your review for Domino is very well thought out and provides on of the more thorough insights as to how the film came together production-wise and the complex alchemy of its visual design. It really is one hell of a movie – bizarre in the way works precisely because it doesn’t work. It’s a classic example of a “love it or hate it”. Personally, I love it.

    Of course, my infatuation and Darwinian lust for Keira Knightley is probably a determining factor as well.

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  2. So glad to see this post return from Blogger limbo, J.D. You've provided a wonderful and thoughtful dissection of this film. I know it should be the worst film in Tony Scott's catalog because of his traits and excesses. But damnit, I agree it works because of those attributes. It's why I hold on to this DVD in my video library. All of those aspects you cite in your piece make it an underrated film. Great spotlight, my friend. Thanks.

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  3. J.D.

    I have eagerly anticipated your review of Domino since we discussed it some time ago ( I think when I reviewed Scott's Unstoppable...). Domino is a film I avoided in theaters, largely because of the reviews (many of which you post), but I have always been curious about it.

    In short, you don't disappoint.

    You have constructed a strong and compelling argument here for the film's artistic merit, and now I'm definitely adding it to my queue. I always write on my blog about the highest aesthetic value in the technological art of film: the visual form of the thing reflecting or augmenting content. Based on your carefully constructed points here, it sounds like Domino achieves that apex.

    You've written hundreds of amazing retrospectives here, but this is really one of your absolute best: a deft, engaging blend of background detail and critical evaluation.

    Bravo!

    best,
    JKM

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  4. A strong post as always J.D..

    I found the in depth read of the film fascinating, mainly because I disliked the picture so much.

    I was so disappointed after seeing it. I had hoped for so much more. You make a great case for a reinvestigation.

    I love Enemy Of The State, Man On Fire and other Tony Scott efforts and while I find comparisons between Ridley and Tony interesting they really do approach film quite differently which is why I often never think of one when I am watching the other.

    Anyway, a wonderful piece and certainly an artistic film that I never appreciated in the same way as yourself.

    There was loads of information here I simply didn't know. Keep up the great work and feel free to cover more Tony Scott in the future. Love it. Best, Sff

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  5. Im not a huge fan of Tony Scott, with the exception of The Hunger, all his films are purely commercial. Last one I saw Unstoppable...well, I hated it every step of the way, same goes for Man on Fire...I dont know, I just dont like the stories he chooses to tell, and how he tells them.

    Domino to me was a huge mess of a film, I couldnt really grasp what it was about, since I couldnt connect with it, and it was so incomprehensible...I gave up on it. I wouldnt mind giving it a rewatch though, to see if I feel the same way now.

    Great review dude.

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  6. Some great comments here J.D. And a towering, exhaustive essay, p[ar for the course at this place. I have seen other Tony Scott films, but not DOMINO, which in view of your considerable praise is rather unfortunate. I think you make a very good point when you say that it doesn't really matter all that much as to what's true or not.

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  7. I have to say that I concur with Francisco on this one.

    Re: your final paragraph. I completely agree, as Sam mentions, but truth or fiction isn't the problem with this film. It just feels very disjointed. I understand it is not trating the narrative with any kind of traditional approach, but it just never came together for me. Even the sum of all of these wildly odd parts just never worked.

    Anyway, fascinating to read and some wonderful additional commentary here. A controversial film to cover from the standpoint of the artist. I like the conversation about it and the different opinions.

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  8. Great post, J.D. I reviewed the film a while ago and found it to be one of the most brazenly experimental mainstream films ever released and a better capture of Kelly's ambition than his own films, which mire his drive with bad execution. It's an explosion of style and Scott's focus on tics and gestures over grand action. That shot of Knightley's face illuminated by muzzle flash (and obvious lighting) at the end stick with me for how much it continues to look at her in the middle of a shootout.

    I still think Deja Vu and Unstoppable are better films (the former being one of the best films of the decade), but Domino holds up a lot better than I thought it would.

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  9. Cadet:

    Thank you for your lengthy and well-thought out comments! That really made my day.

    I agree with you that Tony certainly takes more chances visually than his brother Ridley but I think that Ridley is more interesting in terms of all the different genres he tackles and his success rate with them, which I find is better than Tony but that's just me. I do enjoy several of Tony's films, probably TRUE ROMANCE the most and the surreal buddy action film that is THE LAST BOY SCOUT.

    As for DEJA VU. I did actually like that one as well. And you're right about its car chase which was pretty cool and very unusual in its execution.

    Thank you for the kind words and I certainly agree that Tony Scott is enjoying something of a reappraisal of sorts. I think if you're around long enough, your films begin to get re-evaluated and this seems to be the case with him.


    le0pard13:

    Ah, good to see another admirer of this film. I'm glad you enjoyed this review and thanks for stopping by, my friend.


    John Kenneth Muir:

    I avoided this film for a long time as well. Not only because of it being a Scott film but I was not a huge fan of Keira Knightley. But thanks to cable TV showing it over and over again and combined with nothing being on at times when it was on I ended up watching it a few times and it wore me down the more times I watched it until I really started to think it was a misunderstood gem of a film.

    "I always write on my blog about the highest aesthetic value in the technological art of film: the visual form of the thing reflecting or augmenting content."

    Well said! I do believe that DOMINO works on this level.

    Thank you so much for the praise. It means a lot. I hope you check out DOMINO and I am very curious to know what you think of it.


    The Sci-Fi Fanatic:

    So, not a big fan of this film, eh? I will cop to also being a bit of a Richard Kelly apologist. I really dig his films - even the much maligned SOUTHLAND TALES and his script certainly features his personal stamp.

    And you're right about the radical difference between the Scott brothers. That's why I do prefer Ridley over Tony most of the time.

    I certainly respect your view and understand how you feel. The film is a narrative mess and goes all over the place but for me that is part of its charm.


    The Film Connoisseur:

    Not a fan, eh? Yeah, I tried to get into MAN ON FIRE but really wasn't a big fan of it but maybe I need to revisit it.

    And yes, DOMINO is a huge mess of a film and I that's why I love it. It lets things all hang out and seem to do it deliberately in a cinematic punk rock kinda way, which I don't know if that makes sense but that's how I feel about it. It's a crazy film and I think that's the point - chaos and madness all swirling together into this very personal film for Scott.

    Thanks for stopping by and for the compliments.


    Sam Juliano:

    Hey there! Thanks for stopping by and for leaving such heartfelt comments.


    Jake:

    Awesome comments! I agree with it being a brazenly experimental film and amazing that it was actually released out into the mainstream. That's why I felt it had a kinship, of sorts, to NATURAL BORN KILLERS. Or maybe even FIGHT CLUB. These deeply subversive highly visually experimental films given mainstream releases. Every so often that happens and it is usually interesting to see the results.

    "That shot of Knightley's face illuminated by muzzle flash (and obvious lighting) at the end stick with me for how much it continues to look at her in the middle of a shootout."

    Great example. I agree.

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  10. There's no doubt that Tony Scott is a capable director. He's made some fine films including Domino, and his more mainstream films, well, I can understand wanting to pay the bills. If "Top Gun" must exist for "Man on Fire" to exist, then so be it. I didn't realize he was RIdley's brother, but that's a cool link. I remember Knightly in this very well, as her strong performance makes a big impression. Sure, it's jumpy and trippy, but it doesn't claim to be otherwise, and it makes sense for a film that's essentially about adrenaline. Great thoughts on it, and what great pieces of back story! Well done as usual!

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  11. Brent:

    I agree that the film is about the adrenaline rush and is purposely jumpy and trippy. I really feel that Scott is trying to create something different than your standard biopic and for some he went too far out but that's what I like about this film.

    Thanks for stopping by and for the nice comments!

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  12. Great review (as always),

    I admit to seeing this film for more shallow purposes. From Pirates until Atonement I had the biggest crush on Keira Knightley. So I saw this more for her then anything else.

    And she didn't dissapoint. My problem with the film was that despite being told from Domino's perspective and being, essentially, about her. . .it was the surrounding environment that drove the picture. It's almost called Domino just because the framing device involves Domino.

    Like almost every Batman flick, Domino is simply there to propel the story while almost every single surrounding character is more exuberant, fleshed out, and all together more interesting. And, as you mentioned, the filming style takes prime position over Domino as well.

    I still own it and I do enjoy it. And I thought Brian Austin Green was f-ing brilliant (I can't believe I just said that!).

    Don't get me started on Deja Vu, my poster film for 'what the hell????' cinema.

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  13. Will:

    Thank you for the compliment. Never been a huge fan of Knightley's but I really love the work she did in this film and THE JACKET, which I can't recommend highly enough.

    I agree somewhat with what you're saying about the environment of the film driving the picture as opposed to Domino herself. I think that is true to a certain degree but after all she does narrate the film and is in almost every scene so I do think she dominates. That being said, there is so much going on that sometimes her character does tend to get lost among the mayhem. Sometimes, I think that's the point, other times, it may be clunky filmmaking (screenwriting?). Not sure. But it is still a fun film.

    And I agree with ya on Brian Austin Green. Who woulda thunk?

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