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The Salton Sea
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Genre:Thriller
Year:2002
Rating:R
Length:1 Hour 43 Minutes
Cast:D.J. Caruso, Val Kilmer

A thoroughly bizarre combination of film noir and black comedy, The Salton Sea will strike some as being brilliantly conceived and others as being virtually incoherent. In truth, the film is both -- and that's what makes it so memorable. Val Kilmer portrays Danny Parker, a jazz musician and speed freak who acts as an undercover agent for cops investigating drug dealers. He lives in a seedy world inhabited almost exclusively by lowlifes and eccentrics. None is more eccentric -- or more dangerous -- than Pooh Bear (Vincent D'Onofrio), a drug dealer who lives in a desert fortress, subjects his enemies to inhuman tortures, and spends his spare time reenacting the Kennedy assassination with pet pigeons in model cars. Deborah Kara Unger contributes memorable support as an abused woman who lives in Danny's fleabag hotel. As written by Tony Gayton and directed by D. J. Caruso, The Salton Sea is not exactly cohesive. But it brings together a wide array of grotesque characters and inventive situations, eventually creating the semblance of a narrative. Caruso's film reflects the influence of such contemporary filmmakers as Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, but it also has a loopy charm entirely its own. The DVD includes two featurettes on the film's making, "Embracing the Chaos" and "Meth and Method." Ed Hulse

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