Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl: The Assignment

 DATELINE:  Singular Revenge Tale

michelle rodriguez  Ultimate Tomboy?

You won’t find many gender-bending mob hitman movies out there, but Walter Hill has directed and written the best one: The Assignment.

Literate, clever, and intelligent, as well as violent, this film manages to answer the question raised by the old Barbarians song.

This is a revenge tale with a twist of lemon. Frank Kitchen is one of those androgynous, bearded killers who looks like Ralph Macchio in most scenes and a bit like Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront in a few others. Even as an attractive woman, Rodriguez still looks like Ralph Macchio.

The actor playing Frank is Michelle Rodriguez who in a clever bit of computer effects has a full-frontal nudity scene as a young man. She has the posturing and macho attitude to play the killer who meets the wrong doctor.

Also gender-bending is Sigourney Weaver, as a tough masculine female plastic surgeon who decides, beyond experimentation, to have revenge on the mob killer who murdered her brother. She drugs him and turns him into a woman. Yes, castration and breast implants do not make the girl quite.

Since Weaver’s doctor loves Edgar Allan Poe, she leaves the calling card “Nevermore” next to the gender-bent Frank, left with nasty instructions in a cheap hotel room.

Tony Shaloub is around as a psychiatrist investigator who has to hear the story from Weaver in a strait-jacket while in a mental hospital. She cannot convince anyone that she did the sex operation on Frank and he really exists now as a woman.

Weaver and Rodriguez have a few good scenes together, especially when she admires her plastic surgery by commenting that Rodriguez is attractive in a “shop girl/waitress” way. Tony Shaloub compliments Weaver for her “cheap theatrics” in her confession.

Good performances and a good script make this action revenge flick way above the pack of gender-bending tomboy movies.

David Fincher’s Debut as a Feature Director Revisited

DATELINE: Space Aliens Revisited

 alien 3

When we heard that Sigourney Weaver has agreed to star in another Alien movie sequel, we remembered the unpopular #3. Of course, those were the days when a TV music video director tried to make the jump to the big screen. He was resoundingly disparaged for stepping up in class.

Now over 20 years later, we realize that the director is none other than David Fincher. His debut with Alien 3 did not teach him anything about directing sequels. He’s going to direct another of those Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movies with Rooney Mara.

But we digress, having just seen Fincher’s brilliant Gone Girl, a remake of Hitchcock’s Vertigo, but we then heard he and Ben Affleck are teaming up to film another Hitch movie, Strangers on a Train.

We wondered why Alien 3 was so despised in its day. In all likelihood it was a downer in the series, killing off nearly everyone in the film. When they announced there were 25 prisoners on the space colony, you knew the death toll would climb to two dozen at least. Actually, it was far worse. You do the math.

Also, the prisoners seem to belong to the Women Haters Club, or are the lates S&M Bondage boys. They like (dare we say it?), or they love each other. There are several such declarations. In the old days of 1992, it probably put audiences off. We found it rather refreshing.

The cast was impressive, even for those days. Charles Dance, king of the British miniseries, had a premium role, as did Charles D. Sutton. How could you ask for anything more?

The slimy alien also seemed to lick Weaver’s cheek in one scene, for a fairly hot love story, if you like that sort of thing.

Alas, the film plot is a mishmash of utter confusion with the climax featuring the supporting cast running around some maze basement of a molten lead factory. We couldn’t tell what they were trying to accomplish, and we suspect no one making the movie could tell you either.