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Picks by Richard von Busack

Louis Prima: The Wildest
Oct. 22-28 at the Roxie

Yeah! Who says art has to have angst! Scat-singing New Orleans berserker Louis Prima is the prize in the (re)package(ing) of so much '50s-lounge crackerjack. Prima's duets with then-wife Keely Smith are a delightful example of the tension between the strutting, raving male and the cool female, she who registers nothing but misses nothing. (Mom always called Smith "The Indian" because of her lack of emoting.) The documentary examines not just Prima, Smith and collaborator Sam Butera (still alive!) but also the hordes of inebriated fans the bunch revved up during the otherwise dismal '50s. Songs: "That Old Black Magic," "Just a Gigolo," "Oh Marie."

Three Kings
Plays citywide

As muddled as the U.S.'s foreign policy in the Mideast. No pondering of the brutality of war or the questionable goals of the Gulf War can cover up the fact that Three Kings is just an old-school comedy/adventure--Gunga Din '99--about a quartet of soldiers going AWOL to loot some of Saddam's stolen gold from a desert bunker. Starring as the four are George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, ghetto teddy-bear Ice Cube and, in a yokel role, the debuting video director Spike Jonze. Clooney is practically a guest star in his own movie. There are some interesting visuals, but the film is basically a mess. One character is wounded and has an emergency valve stuck in his chest so he can occasionally release the air pressure that threatens to collapse his lungs. Three Kings seems to have a similar valve on it. Director David O. Russell's fingers are on that valve, dissipating the film's pressure whenever it builds.

Romance
Plays citywide

Meek little Marie (Caroline Ducey) is in a doomed romance with a self-centered male model who has cut her off from sex. The woman is half pushed, half dropped into a variety of highly explicit adventures in Paris. Romance has a bit of notoriety because it slides into the realm of hard-core porn. Marie's endless dithering on the dialectics of sex boils down to the following: Men want to annihilate women through mounting them. Women go along with it because their inner desire is to be a nothing, a hole. Hypocritically, women deny this truth of their own nullity, but men understand it; and they do the vacant women a favor by stuffing them whether they ask for it or not. Says Marie, "A woman isn't a woman until she has a child." The most banal ideas always look better in subtitles, just as liverwurst always looks better when you call it pâté. And the ideas expressed in Romance are sheer liverwurst.

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From the October 11, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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