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Ask the Dust
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Colin Farrell is Arturo Bandini, a young would-be writer who comes to Depression-era Los Angeles to make a name for himself. While there, he meets beautiful barmaid Camilla (Salma Hayek), a Mexican immigrant who hopes for a better life by marrying a wealthy American. Both are trying to escape the stigma of their ethnicity in blue-blood California. The passion that arises between them is palpable if they could only set aside their ambitions and submit to it. Oscar-winning screenwriter Robert Towne directs this outcasts tale of desire in the desert, co-starring Donald Sutherland.
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Top Customer Reviews
The movie does have some great moments. (At the beach-house.) It's rated "R" for a very explicit sex scene and full frontal nudity. You will either love this movie or hate it!
This is the perfect example of Hollywood second-guessing an author.
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They begin their love affair fighting and they continue fighting throughout most of the film. It's a wonder they stay together, but it's apparent that they see in each other something that makes them happy. Both of them share the similar wanting of acceptance, and neither of them are comfortable with their place in society. Camilla in particular is ashamed of her name, and Bandini even makes mention to a day when he won't be ashamed of the name he was given.
There are two scenes in this film that brought me to tears, the first being Aturo's encounter with the lovely stranger Vera (Idina Menzel). It was the first scene in the film where I was brought to the realization that this movie had a meaning, and from that heart wrenching scene on I was absorbed in this picture. Her story is beautiful and touching, and the look on Aturo's face perfectly captures the essence of what we should be feeling at that very moment. The second scene is the love scene between Aturo and Camilla, which takes place towards the end of the film. It was so tastefully done, so beautiful and serene that it took all the tension between them out of the picture and delivered a touching and beautiful encounter that said more than words could ever do. Truly the most touching scene in the film and one of the most beautiful scene's I've seen in recent cinema (and that comment has nothing to do with the fact that both are eye-candy, it's all in the emotion, and believe me, the emotion was there).
So, my final analysis, after much thought and deliberation, is that `Ask the Dust' is a good movie made better by the chemistry of the two leads. It could have been much better had it paced itself a little better, but it's forgiven for once you understand the underlying message of this film you can appreciate it much better for what it is. I would have changed a few things but bottom line is it's still a wonderful film and it delivers what it intended to. Brilliant job on the actors involved, Colin who at first I felt was miscast blew me away with a few important scenes, and Hayek I feel is at her finest.
Bandini idolizes M L Menckin and aspires to be just like him. He writes stories based on his experiences and submits them to Menckin, hoping that Menckin will publish them. Down to his last nickel, Bandini goes to a bar and orders a cup of coffee from the exotic looking Mexican waitress (Salma Hayak). The coffee comes literally curdled from probably spoiled milk. Bandini uses this to appear angry at Hayak because he can think of no better way to strike up a conversation. He later goes back to apologize to Hayak by having the bartender give her a copy of his one published article (Bandini seems to use this ruse with other people when he owes them money). What Bandini doesn't know is that Hayak cannot read English so she cannot really appreciate the "gift" that he left for her and this throws Bandini into a rage.
However, Bandini seems to be totally smitten with Hayak's looks so he continues to pursue her until he has another fight with her. In the meantime a woman comes into Bandini's life who worships Bandini for his writing. The woman is an abuse spouse and Bandini is eventually smitten by her as well. Later when Hayak comes back to Bandini because she too was abused, Bandini then re-falls in love with her. Their relationship has to go through tribulations because of society not readily accepting Mexicans and because Hayak is hiding a serious illness from Bandini.
The film is wonderfully directed and is very open about the racism that existed at that time. Hayak never looked more beautiful and all the acting is first-rate.
While the critics may have their points, I enjoyed this film. Colin Farrell plays Arturo Bandini, a son of Italian immigrants from Colorado who hopes to become a successful writer. His character remains consistent throughout the film and while we know we should be rooting for him, we're not sure if we like him. Salma Hayek is Camilla, the Mexican waitress who becomes the love interest of Bandini. The two clash and become lovers and clash again. It had a feel of the 1930's and I enjoyed that a Depression Era story took place in somewhere other than Chicago, New York, or Boston. While I didn't buy the main character's success and luck--I may have believed it if he had received at least one rejection instead of a check for a short story and another check as an advance for a novel--he did have some characteristics of an aspiring writer. The immigration and prejudice issues were accurate for the period and the love story believable.
For me, this is a three and a half star film, but since I have to choose at either three or four, I'll choose four. The setting is incredible and while I wouldn't call this the best performance for either Hayek or Farrell, this is not meant to be a criticism. Farrell has demonstrated the ability to be at home in box office blockbusters and independent films, so we know he's versatile, and Salma Hayek's performance in FRIDA alone demonstrates her talent. The story does hold together and while far fetched at times is somewhat plausible. Overall, I believe the great talent both in front of and behind the camera (directed by Robert Towne of CHINATOWN fame) leads viewers to expect more, but what we have isn't bad and is enjoyable.
Colin Farrell - a bit miscast here - stars as Arturo Bandini an Italian writer who has arrived in Los Angeles where he hopes to make it big as a writer - he's already had one story published, in a fictionalized version of Mencken's American Mercury magazine. Ensconcing himself in a shabby hotel near Bunker Hill, downtown Los Angeles, Bandini begins to write what will hopefully be his masterpiece.
Ablaze with ambition and sexual frustration, Bandini is down to his last dime when he buys a cup of coffee at a downtown cafe and meets Camilla (Salma Hayek), a fiery Mexican waitress who can't read English, has a real attitude towards upstart young writers and has aspirations to become as Anglicized as she possibly can. Each in their own way, hopes to escape the horrors of racism, but they find themselves enigmatically drawn to each other and eventually fall in love.
Their relationship, however, is faced with many tests full of love and hate as they struggle to overcome their own fears and biases to form a meaningful bond. And much of the action comes out of the maddening way that two compatible people will unaccountably behave when thrust into each other's presence.
There are lots of heavy-handed narrative developments - Hayek and Farrell cavort together in the Pacific Ocean, there's an earthquake, an out-of-left-field fatal illness - that dominate the film's second half and the efforts at showing societal racism particularly towards Camilla are often not as developed as they should be.
While the script is often clunky and wooden and it's two stars don't really have the sort of fiery sexual passion that they should have in a movie such as this, Ask The Dust is saved by its beautiful images and sumptuousness. Visually, the film is filled with evocative details of an innocent L.A. before the oil companies stripped away the wonderful Red Trams and all the cars and the freeways turned it into the dirty, filthy city that it is now.
Ask The Dust offers a stunning depiction of 1930s Los Angeles, and the director Robert Towne has really managed to capture the essential ingredients of Robert Towne John Fante's source material. Farrell and Hayek are also charismatic performers, but the movie as a whole is rather wet and innocuous - it isn't nearly as involving as it should be. Mike Leonard July 06.