Posts Tagged ‘Little Ashes’


little-ashes-movie-wallpapersIf not for the success of kiddie vampire flick Twilight you would likely NOT be reading this review for a movie about the unrequited love affair between poet Federico García Lorca (Javier Beltran) and superstar surrealist Salvador Dalí (Robert Pattinson). Little Ashes was shot long before star Robert Pattison became the Twilight heart throb du jour and his presence saved this movie from languishing on a shelf or becoming a budget art house DVD release. Just as Madonna’s popularity created a thirst for her pre-fame film A Certain Sacrifice, Pattison’s popularity ensures that this unremarkable film will find an audience.

When the story begins it is 1922. Dalí, Lorca and future filmmaker Luis Buñuel (Matthew McNulty) are schoolmates at an art school in Madrid. They are an intense bunch; artists who are looking to find the passion that will inform their later and greater work.

Dalí is already a young fop, dressed head to toe in ruffles topped with a Theda Bara hair do. At age 18 he is confronting the conventions of the day and given to pronouncements like, “I am the savior of modern art.” Lorca and Buñuel are less flamboyant, but just as driven. Over time an attraction develops between Dalí and Lorca but their mutual feelings are made difficult by a fascist law that forbids homosexuality, the disapproval of Buñuel and Dalí’s growing ambition to conquer the art world.

As young, idealistic artists the three school mates adopt an artistic manifesto of “no limits” as their code for pushing the edges of creative expression and life experience but for a movie about exploring new ideas Little Ashes is remarkably limited. The set-up is standard biopic. Characters meet, fall in love, there’s some conflict and bang, credits roll. It’s all very straightforward despite the character’s lip service to surrealism, Dada and anarchy. The real Dalí would roll over in his grave to be portrayed in such a standard film.

Pattison, at least, brings a certain strangeness to his portrayal of Dalí. It is, however, an unforgiving part to play. He throws himself into the role, but because Dalí was a flamboyant peacock whose eccentricities manifested themselves in physical affectations Pattison ends up playing the surface Dalí, popping his eyes and speaking strangely. His mimicry resembles a pretentious youngster not a true iconoclast.

Dalí is one of the most important and outrageous figures of recent art history and yet here he looks silly when he should be imposing. Pattison simply isn’t a seasoned enough actor to really breathe life into a character based on a larger than life man. Dalí once said “every morning upon awakening, I experience a supreme pleasure: that of being Salvador Dalí” but Pattison isn’t able to convey that “supreme pleasure.”

Little Ashes is an admirable effort but is sunk by an overly long running time, some awkward performances and bland direction. There is an interesting story to be told about Dalí and the “construction of his genius” but this isn’t it.

Skeletons in superstar’s closet In Focus by Richard Crouse IN FOCUS May 22, 2009

1979_acs01If not for the success of Twilight, a movie called Little Ashes about superstar surrealist Salvador Dalí’s relationship with poet Federico García Lorca would likely have languished on the shelf, never to be seen in theatres.

So why is it coming to some theatres this weekend? Well, Little Ashes stars a pre-Twilight Robert Pattison as Dalí in a role decidedly different from the one that made him a star and the film’s producers are hoping to cash in on his newfound popularity.

Pattison joins the list of actors to have films come back from the dead to haunt them. Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger purportedly took legal action to prevent the re-release of a skeleton from their collective closets, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation and if Nicole Kidman didn’t try and buy up all the copies of BMX Bandits, she should have.

In 1979, Madonna starred in the erotic thriller A Certain Sacrifice as Bruna, a Lower East Side local rooming with three love slaves who help her get revenge on a man who attacked her. Shot on a budget of $20,000 US, the film was forgotten until 1985 when it was released on VHS to coincide with the release of Like a Virgin.

Unhappy about this relic from her past popping up, she screamed obscenities at director Stephen Jon Lewicki, called the film “mediocre” and her performance “second rate.”

Lewicki declined the singer’s $10,000 buyout to keep the film off video store shelves and became a millionaire on the film’s proceeds.

Sylvester Stallone had a similar experience. As a starving actor, he appeared in a sexploitation movie called Party at Kitty and Studs. “I played Studs, who posts a sign on a bulletin board inviting people to come to a party,” he told Playboy.

“About ten people show up and they do a lot of kissing and necking, and that’s about it.”
He says he was literally a starving artist when he made the film. “I mean, I was desperate. That’s why I thought it was extraordinary when I read in one of the trade papers that I could make $100 a day. And the fact that I had to take off my clothes to do it was no big deal.”

Years later when offered the chance to buy the rights and keep the movie out of the marketplace Stallone said no and since then has developed a sense of humour about his embarrassing porn legacy.

When asked about “remake fever” in Hollywood, he said: “My real dream is that the highest-priced actor working today has the huevos to remake the classic Party at Kitty and Studs.”