Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Leza on The Manipulator


Is Mickey Rooney THE MANIPULATOR? The invisible voice of a filmmaker on a mission, a puppetmaster to his kidnap victim and chosen star? Or is it an industry that chews up a spits people out when they have outgrown their cuteness? Who is the man behind the curtain, really?

As his character B.J. Lang says, “Fear is the universal disease.” His hapless hostage must play Roxanne to his Cyrano de Begerac. He uses any means necessary to get the reaction he needs from his starlet. He coddles and terrorizes and feeds her appleasauce and water when she screams in hunger. Most of the time, though, as a viewer you must be his hostage to strange rambling rantings and conversations involving an entire film crew, all voiced by his truly.

Just as Cyrano was the invisible voice of another man, BJ’s victim must speak the lines her crazed kidnapper feeds her, take after take, till he gets what he wants. This is an experience I’m sure a man who began his film career at the ripe old age of four , is not entirely unfamiliar with. A man who is in the Guinness world book of records for longest running film career spanning 86 years. This is the irony laid upon irony in this misanthropic little oevre by one time director turned television writer, Yabo Yablonsly.

Most of it takes place in a warehouse outfitted with prominent stage lights and props and a dressing room. One particularly surrealistic sequence involves the woman attempting to escape and running through a butcher shop hall, with endless pig carcasses hanging from the sides, where she then stumbles upon a small gathering of suited players happily delivering a symphony.

There is a twisted logic to all this. Yet, it is hard to truly care, and has definitely made me permanently creeped out by Mickey Rooney, especially after his soliloquy about how he used to do Marilyn Monroe’s makeup and how she’d say he was not putting makeup on HER eyes, they were OUR eyes that TWINKLED for the cameras. This, while knowing that Marilyn spoke of getting hit on by Mickey Rooney while she was a young starlet and being thoroughly creeped out. You and me both Marilyn.
This is the living nightmare of a man who has seen his best days flitter by, and, with his captive, attempts the challenge of recreating the magic that once was… or not.

If you want a nightmare, you’ve found it in demented Mickey Rooney in this saga of horrors. You shall see the glories of orgies with Mickey Rooney’s phantom adorers, with mysterious baby present, cartoonish makeup on obese vampiric revelrers, a stroke inducing strobe sequence, and to top it all, Mickey Rooney in whorish makeup and dancing frenetically in sped up sequences, singing Chattanooga Choo Choo with demonic glee.

What is truly incredible about this film is the complete lack of plot and forward motion of any sort. Every positive action is negated by a regression. The ending does not disappoint on this front.

No comments:

Post a Comment