Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Last Seduction (1994) A New Definition of Femme Fatale

The 1994s updated definition of the French term femme fatale is "A Total Fucking Bitch," as Bridget Gregory a.k.a Wendy Kroy (Fiorentino) declares at one point while grinding poor Mike Swale (Peter Berg) into her '87 Jeep Cherokee upholstery, and she's right.

The Last Seduction is one of the Trade Center Neo Noirs (1968/69-2001) those smog haze, New York based films, where skyline shots pan across a city with the World Trade Towers standing like tombstones in an almost eerily haunting presence. My father worked on the foundation project. My earliest memory of the towers was of the bathtub with its temporary twin suspension bridges holding up the PATH tubes.

I left the chemically man made sometimes dayglow pink and sometimes fuchsia technicolor sunsets of New York for Montana in '72.  I didn't see the Trade Towers again in person until 1997.

Trade Center

Directed masterfully by John Dahl ((Kill Me Again (1989), (Red Rock West (1993), You Kill Me (2007)). Smartly penned by Steve Barancik, with cinematography by Jeff Jur (You Kill Me (2007)), and a cool jazzy piano score composed by Joseph Vitarelli which is very reminiscent of Brubeck's "Take Five."

The film stars Linda Fiorentino (After Hours (1985), as Bridget, "Wendy - Total Fucking Bitch," Gregory, Bill Pullman (Lost Highway (1997), Zero Effect (1998), The Killer Inside Me (2010)) as "Credulous" Clay Gregory, Peter Berg (Collateral (2004)) as the emotionally "Moronic" Mike Swale, J.T. Walsh (House of Games (1987), The Grifters (1990), Narrow Margin (1990), Red Rock West (1993)) as as larcenist lawyer Frank Griffith, Dean Norris (Breaking Bad TV) as townie Shep, Brien Varady as townie Chris, Donna W. Scott as townie Stacy, and Bill Nunn as PI Harlan.

Bridget (Fiorentino)

Broadway near 125th Street, Manhattan
Bridget Gregory, total fucking bitch. Hot, genius smart, kinky and slinky. Feline and ruthless. Politically incorrect chain smoker. New York City telemarketer/con artist. Catty call floor conniver. Rough Rider floor boss.

Bridget: I can't hear you people... you maggots sound like suburbanites... fifty bucks for a lousy coin and you sell one at a time... I got a hundred bucks for the last sucker that makes a triple sale. (she bends over towards a caller with a stopwatch) A minute fifty seconds Bernie, you expect these leaves to grow on fucking trees? What me over your shoulder all day Bernie? Ask for the sale four times every time, got it?

Clay (Pullman)
Married to sleazy schemer Doc Clay Gregory (Pullman). A "writing doctor". A regular Dr. Feelgood. Sells prescriptions for money. Breaking badder, Clay and Bridget do a big score. Loan shark loot purchases pilfered pharmaceutical cocaine. 100K cumulates to 700K streetwise. The deal goes down. Under the Brooklyn Bridge. A Dumbo backdrop. East River shoreline shadow showdown. A sketchy situation but Clay survives.

Heads Home. Home sweet Harlem, hi honey I'm home, home (technically the Northern tip of Morningside Heights). Bridget mouths off. Clay gives Bridge a "to the moon Alice" slap across the choppers. Bridge is hurt. Bridge is pissed. Clay makes nice. Bridge plays nice. But Bridge is cold as ice. Clay craves coitus. She shows him the shower. Credulous Clay is in her power.

 To the moon

Making nice....

... with the smell of money...
and the taste of money
Tiemann Street, Morningside Heights/Manhattanville, Bridget bolts with cash
You'd better run
Clay is double dealt and double crossed. Kitty's claws rake deep. Bridget bolts. Gash with the cash. Cabs to her car. She dips. West out of NYC.  West to dullsville, flyover cow country. A shit hole called Beston (Irvington, NY). A semi isolated Peyton Place. A sticksville of secrets. There she plays cool city cat to country bumpkin field mice.

Ooh wah, ooh wah cool, cool kitty
Tell us about the "gal" from New York City.....

Linda Fiorentino gives, what I feel is probably the ultimate sizzling femme fatale performance. Her sun like brilliance and tantalizingly naughty, siren sexuality, turns the the bottom feeders she encounters into the dimmest of bulbs.  She uses her sexual attraction to stun the hapless men (who reside in the Western, Southern Tier, Route 17 corridor of New York State, South of Buffalo) into slobbering idiots.

Shep (Dean Norris )

Chris (Brien Varady)

Stacy ( Donna W. Scott)
Femme Fatale as Total Fucking Bitch

I am a total fucking bitch.

 Who's a girl gotta suck around here to get a drink?

designated fuck

I'm from a galaxy far far away

Mr. Ed, let's see.

 I believe what we're looking for is a certain horse-like quality?


Smelling his scent

If you are in any way shape or form an insecure male you are going to hate her. No man can tame her. She is masterly manipulative and hopelessly unattainable. She is going to scare the shit out of you. Make you cry and run for mommy. She is that scary. Just check out the negative reviews on IMDb, they're either from the tragically clueless, the overly moralistic douche-bags, or insecure castrati whose idea of an ideal date is a girl who, when you ask her her name, is stuck for an answer. Others think a "good ending", is having a authoritative man put her back, in what they fantasize as, her "traditional" place. Good luck, that Pandora's Box was pried open long ago.



PI Harlan (Bill Nunn)

Griffiths (J.T. Walsh)

Fatale Femininity

Fiorentino's performance generated Oscar buzz but she was unfortunately ineligible because the film was aired on cable (HBO) before it was released to theaters. Bad rule.

Clay Gregory (Bill Pullman) is the one man who knows Bridget (Wendy) well enough to even be able to stay a couple of paces behind her, but he's no match. Mike Swale (Berg) her "designated fuck" is hopelessly pussy whipped in a complete role reversal that most women will just lap up. He ripe for the picking having to prove himself after a bout of alcohol impaired "bad" judgement in Buffalo. The rest of the cast smoothly advances the plot. Lots of twists and turns make this film a fun ride. The film was produced by ITC Entertainment and distributed by October Films. The screencaps are from the Artisan DVD, 10/10

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