Search & Destroy Whoever Let David Salle Make this Movie!

by Tabitha Rasa

Last night I went to see Search & Destroy, the maiden film-directing effort of once and future art world darling David Salle.

First off I have to say I hoped I would hate it, because I always thought that as an artist David Salle had no soul. And I always resented him because he was so successful despite his soullessness or maybe because of it. I mean, I know now that the art world isn't a place where you would expect to find integrity, but then I was naive and had hopes.

I don't know why I went to see it. Ordinarily I spend my money in accordance with my resentments, or don't spend it in accordance with them, actually. But I was in a vulnerable position, and somebody had the bright idea to go see this movie, and I just went along with them.

And I must also admit without further ado that, with great pleasure, I walked out halfway through the flick. At least I think I probably made it halfway through before I left. And worst of all, I tried to be as ostentatious as possible in my leaving -- I said pretty loudly to my friends that I hated it, that I thought it was really bad, that I couldn't watch another minute. And then I got up and laughed and chuckled my way up the aisle. I wanted the others in the audience who were hating it to know there was fellowship to be had in hating it, I wanted them to know that someone else could tell the emperor had no clothes.

It pushes my buttons, to be sure, when I feel like I am being manipulated extremely toward a product, especially a TV show or a movie. And the more I heard about this movie, that it was produced by Scorsese and that all these famous people were in it (Ethan Hawke and Rosanna Arquette and Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken and Griffin Dunne) and especially that it was the first directing effort of David Salle, well, I just knew I shouldn't go see it, that it would piss me off, that the audience would break into ecstatic applause at the end....

Griffin Dunne plays this loser, this total living-in-a-dream-world boob, who tries to turn himself into a player by dint of saying so. And he's just the most unlikeable loser, he's almost as much a nimrod as he was in After Hours -- although that was actually a decent movie, mostly because it was so funny.

Dennis Hopper was typecast. Jesus, like, whatever!

I've never been a huge Christopher Walken fan, but I know and respect people who are, and I'm willing to stay neutral on that one.

Everybody else turned in a forgettable performance, or they were on the screen for such a short time they were forgettable anyway.

Seeing this movie was like being Rain Man. You felt like something was going on that you didn't quite understand. But it's been a long time since only a suspicion of plot was sufficient for me to assume there was one. Plus the characters did a lot of yelling; I think they were trying for a sort of Mamet-like self-conscious heavy handedness, but they fell short of the mark. It was just IRRITATING.

Walking out on it, however, was a thing of pleasure. It was a little extravagance that made my evening. The thought that I was just saying no to the second hour of wasted time more than compensated for the 8 bucks I wasted on admission.

I beg of you, whatever you do, make my $8 sacrifice worth something: don't go see this flick. Wait till it comes to Cinemax. And go watch it at a friend's house.

Or don't. Ethan wasn't even that cute.

Copyright 1995
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