August 16, 2015
- Frank Burns (James Russo) points a gun at Sarah Jennings (Madonna). Flash cut to Frank walking out of the room. Fade to end credits
Todd: What the hell did I just watch?
Todd: Ho boy. So...
- Clip of trailer
Todd (VO): ...in 1992, Madonna started her own film production company. You might think she'd use in to finance some more self-aggrandizing star vehicles like she'd been making, but that's not what happened. The first movie she made was actually a dark, very un-commercial movie by a legendary indie movie. [Brief clip from The Driller Killer] Yeah, that guy. This man is Abel Ferrara, a director who [clip of trailers from Ms. 45] started out making exploitation films and slowly developed a more serious reputation as he started mixing gritty violence with a more artsy side. [Trailer clips of...] At the time, he was on a hot streak after making his two most popular films: King of New York starring Christopher Walken, and Bad Lieutenant starring Harvey Keitel as a drug-addicted corrupt cop. It's not a comedy, but...
Todd: ...otherwise, yes, it's actually [still shot: "Bad Lieutenant: He's taking the order out of 'law and order'!"] really similar to Bad Santa.
Todd (VO): So by joining up to make another Abel Ferrara movie starring Harvey Keitel, Madonna was putting her money behind one of the most ambitious and most challenging movies she would ever make. This is the movie where she would finally prove that...
Todd: ...she can act!
- Sarah: All life's misery...shit, what's the line?
- Clip of interview
Todd (VO): Unfortunately, it turned out that Madonna did not like the finished movie at all, and having just released Body of Evidence, Madonna decided she didn't need to bring any more attention to her film career, so as producer, she opted to bury the movie instead of actually promoting it, which was unfortunate for her because she actually got a lot of decent reviews for her performance. [Clip of interview with Ferrara] To this day, Ferrara is angry about it and blames her for it tanking.
Todd: But having now watched it multiple times, I have to say that Ferrara may have overestimated how much potential this movie had. Even on the...
Todd (VO): ...indie circuit, I don't think Dangerous Game would've found an audience. Yes, that's right, folks. It's time to add another flavor to the ever-expanding menu of [cover art] Madonna movie badness. (SELF-INDULGENT PRETENTIOUS CRAP) Look, I tried, man. I gave this movie...
Todd: ...multiple chances. It's just tedious.
Todd (VO): So what's it about? Well, Harvey Keitel stars as a rich millionaire who decides to take Madonna to an island [clip from The Most Dangerous Game] and hunt her for sport because man is the most dangerous game of all!
Todd: I'm kidding. That would actually be interesting.
Todd (VO): In the actual movie, there's nothing particularly dangerous happening in it, and there's no game either. I think they picked the name out of a list of...
Todd: ...generic stock titles.
Todd (VO): What it actually is is Harvey Keitel is this genius, acclaimed indie movie director named Mary Sue Self-Insert...or it may as well be. The director's wife is played by Ferrera's actual wife, so he's not being subtle about who Harvey Keitel's supposed to be playing here. (ME!, with arrow pointing at Harvey)
Todd: Call it Bad Director [still shot: "Bad Director: There's never any quiet on this set"]
Todd (VO): Instead of a pop star seeking movie credibility, Madonna plays a TV actress seeking movie credibility.
- Frank: Look, we both know she's a fucking whore. She can't act.
Todd (VO): And they're making a movie that looks a lot like an Abel Ferrara movie, so it's all...
Todd: ...extremely meta.
Todd (VO): The characters yelling at each other becomes the actors yelling at each other, becomes the director insulting the actors and their characters, and it's like, whoa, dude, which layer of reality are we on? Are we seeing the characters or the fictional actors or the actual actors pretending to be the fictional actors? Is what we're seeing real or...
Todd: ...made up? How can mirrors be real if our eyes aren't real?
Todd (VO): Look, I'm pretty sure every famous director wants to make a movie about how hard it is being a famous movie director. There are already plenty, you know. You got your [clips of...] 8 1/2, your All That Jazz, your Birdman. But the difference is, in those movies, we get into the director's head and we see all his internal struggles, and reality...
Todd: ...and fantasy start blending. But nothing like that really happens in Dangerous Game.
- Voice of Birdman: Let's make a comeback. That's what I'm talking about! You are a god.
- Back to Dangerous Game, with Eddie Israel (Harvey Keitel) lounging outside.
Todd (VO): I mean, it's meta, but otherwise, there's no fantasy elements. Everything stays really mundane, which honestly...
Todd: ...seems like kind of a stupid move. I don't know, I guess "stupid"'s not the word.
- Frank: Stupid? Stupid? You're too boring to be stupid.
Todd: Indeed. Boy, this movie's even more meta than I realized.
- Eddie: The story I'm telling is...
Todd (VO): The movie-within-a-movie is about this couple who are all about sex and drugs and cocaine orgies and shit, until the wife can't take it anymore and turns to Jesus. And this, of course, drives a wedge between them, by which I mean they scream at each other over and over again.
- Frank: You want to bring peace to the lives of the huddling masses! I mean, Jesus Christ, you should have been Mother instead of a pill-popping, dick-sucking, middle-class neurotic!
Todd (VO): The weird thing is that we see so much of the movie-within-a-movie that there's not really much time for the actual movie. We seem them rehearse and rehearse and act and act some more and repeat the same lines over and over, and it got to a point where I didn't understand why Ferrara didn't just make this the actual movie.
Todd: The movie-within-a-movie looks like the better movie.
- Eddie: Can't get satisfaction? That's when you pee on the floor.
- [Frank takes a piss]
Todd (VO): Okay, I'm not saying it looks like a great movie.
Todd: Seems a bit overwritten.
- Frank: If I wanna go out all night, find some whore on the street, and fuck her up the ass, I will!
- Frank: And I'm not about to bare my soul to nobody, especially to a fucking god that doesn't exist!
Todd: A little lacking in subtext.
- Frank: CONSUMERISM!
Todd: Loud, certainly
- Frank: I NEED THESE THINGS! I NEED THESE THINGS!
Todd (VO): Frank, Frank, about your performance, I worry...
Todd: ...that you're playing this role a little too restrained. Don't be afraid to show some emotion to the camera
- Frank: [popping a tape in a VCR] This. This is the woman that's right in front of me! This! Take a good look.
- [The tape shows a cocaine-induced orgy]
Todd (VO): Pfft! Who edited this sex tape? Who picked this for the soundtrack?
Todd: Oh, God, now I have questions about the movie within the movie within a movie.
- Eddie: And it's to her, "especially to a god that don't exist."
Todd (VO): So with all this talk about God and booze and drugs and sex, this obviously must carry over to the director and his own struggles with God and booze and sex, right?
Todd: Um...I guess?
Todd (VO): I mean, it's a little there. The actor screams at God about how he needs the booze.
- Frank: Because I NEED THIS THINGS! I NEED THESE THINGS!
Todd (VO): And then the director screams at the actor about how he needs better acting.
- Frank: What do you expect me to do, man?!
- Eddie: Do what you have to do, but give me what I need!
Todd (VO): So obviously, it's making a parallel between God/drugs and...
Todd: ...the direct... I don't know. I...I honestly don't understand what point they're trying to make here. The director could be...
Todd (VO): ...shooting Smurfs 3, and the connection would be exactly as clear.
- Dubbed over clip from The Smurfs 2
- Frank: I NEED THESE THINGS!
Todd (VO): And the off-screen relationships between the actors are supposed to inform their performances on-set, but...I'm not sure it really does. Madonna sleeps with her costar as research for her character.
- Sarah: You didn't fuck me, you fucked the girl in the script.
- Frank: I fucked who?
Todd (VO): And then she sleeps with the director because...not for really any reason, Harvey's just a shit.
Todd: And both dudes treat Madonna like crap on-set.
- Eddie: You commercial piece of shit. Who the fuck are you, you commercial piece of shit, to tell me anything?
Todd (VO): If anyone remembers this movie for anything, it's probably for a scene towards the end where things start to get really ugly. Like, the actors are filming a rape scene.
- Sarah: [with Frank on top of her] No! Don't. Don't do it. Wait.
Todd: And afterwards, the actress pretty clearly implies that her costar there actually was trying to penetrate her right there on-set.
- Sarah: Fuck you, Burns!
- Frank: Oh, come on, huh!
- Sarah: He can't fucking act, man! He has to fucking do everything for real.
- Frank: What are you talking about?
Todd (VO): The thing is, as I've thoroughly demonstrated through this series, Madonna's not a very good actress, but she sounds pretty real here.
- Sarah screams in pain as Frank gets into her
Either I've underestimated her, or she's actually getting hurt in this scene. And if that isn't uncomfortable enough, Madonna then monologues about a time when a dude dragged her onto a rooftop and tried to rape her, but couldn't get it up.
- Sarah: I guess my body was so rigid that he couldn't.
Todd (VO): And the thing is, there's a lot of speculation out in the real world that this is Madonna improvving [sic] by talking about the [Marie Claire article: "Madonna Opens Up About Being Raped at 19, Says She Didn't Report It Because She Was 'Humiliated'"] actual time she got sexually assaulted. Yeah. Holy Jesus. It's the one time in the movie where the "is this really real" crap has any real bite to it, and only because of stuff we wouldn't know until way after the fact.
Afterwards, the director himself can't get it up when he tries to have sex with his wife, so clearly, he's been...
Todd: ...deeply affected by her story.
- Eddie: Will you listen to me?! You're not gonna get it unless you listen to me. To let this fucking brute beat you...SHUT UP!
Todd: Christ, what a dick.
Todd (VO): And then his wife's father dies, so he has to go leave the set to be with her and comfort her.
- Eddie: I slept with Sarah Jennings the day you came to LA. She wasn't the first, Maddie. Actresses, models, wardrobe, makeup. I've done it all through our marriage.
Todd: Nice timing, asshole! Christ, what a dick!
- Madlyn (Nancy Ferrara): Why are you telling this now? What the fuck are you telling me this for now?!
Todd (VO): Again, I guess there's supposed to be some kind of parallel here between the movie couple fighting and the director and his wife fighting. Again, I'm not sure exactly what the connection is supposed to be; the two things don't really have that much in common, especially because the guy pissing on the floor is way better-written.
- Madlyn: Man, what the fuck are you? I thought you had a soul, I thought there was something in there. You've used our child, man.
- Get the fuck back here, man!
Todd: [pissy] What's the deal, man? That is totally bogus, man! It's a man's man's world, and I'm a man's man, man!
Todd (VO): And then the last thing we see is of Bad Director wallowing in booze and self-loathing. This is pretty much [clip from...] identical to a scene from Bad Lieutenant. But that made sense because Bad Lieutenant was about a guy being swallowed by self-destruction and internal torment and fear of damnation. Bad Director isn't anything that deep, he's just an asshole who yells at actors and cheats on his wife, so all this is just coming right the fuck out of nowhere.
And yes, Madonna's actually pretty good in this movie, but Madonna hated it, and I'm with her on this one. Sorry, Abel. It's just meandering, self-indulgent, and ultimately not very interesting. It's philosophical bong water without any drama behind it. And Christ, where does a goddamn Madonna movie get off being this dense and difficult?! I started this series to review crap like Body of Evidence, goddammit!
After this, Abel Ferrara chose to remain strictly underground and hasn't ever really approached the mainstream again. Facing the backlash of years of over-the-top sexual antics, Madonna retreated into softer music, had a kid, and in general, just sort of toned down for a while. But when she...
Todd: ...finally rekindled her film career a few years later, it was time for her to finally achieve the movie star glamour she'd always wanted. That's right, folks. It's time for the big one.
- Clip of trailer for...
- Eva Peron (Madonna): Don't cry for me, Argentina
"Dangerous Game" is owned by MGM Pictures
This video is owned by me
- Frank: I NEED THESE THINGS! I NEED THESE THINGS!
- Obligatory clip from The Room
- Johnny (Tommy Wiseau): You're tearing me apart, Lisa!