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Many times movies that are determined to be off-the-wall wind up going
splat! but this one works OK. Danny Aiello plays an ordinary Joe hanging
with his friends at a coffee shop when in walks a sexy young woman
Jolie) who may as well have a blinking neon sign around her neck saying
TROUBLE! The boys put Danny up to flirting with her and amazingly, she
responds. Obviously she wants something from this guy and that something
a ride to her home, a trailer out in the desert.
When they get there, things start to get weird. Mom (Anne Archer) is a breathy-voiced version of a 50's sitcom mother, and there's this incongruous, menacing biker (Michael Biehn) at the trailer with her. Who is this guy, a boyfriend? Houseguest? Husband? If he knows what's good for him, Danny should say goodbye and step on the gas, but he hangs around too long and gets involved with all sorts of madness and freaky characters.
Some people will reject this film out of hand as being too stupid or weird and others will say it doesn't go far enough. A group in the middle will find it nicely out of the ordinary and modestly entertaining. Aiello is rather subdued as befits a befuddled guy who's into something way over his head and Jolie is verrry sexy.
It would be easy to dismiss this as just another bad film. Actually, it
is a bad film but it's redeemed by a couple of strong elements, most
notably the appearance of Angelina Jolie and Danny Aiello. This is one
of Jolie's earlier films, coming after Hackers but before her breakout
performance in Gia, and you can really see her coming into her own as a
star. A star is someone you can't take your eyes off of when they're on
screen - Jolie is beautiful and sexy as hell but beyond that, even at
this early stage, she's got a certain indescribable something that
makes it hard to take your eyes off of her.
Aiello, of course, is great at playing the kind of lovable schmuck he plays in this film. The loser with a heart of gold. In this film he's 50, just gone through a nasty divorce and trying to figure out life in LA. Unlike some of the other posts up here I could totally see him going out to the desert and getting mixed up with some of the crazy characters there. He's got an empty life and he's looking for something - anything - to give him a reason to keep going.
Ann Archer has been better in other things, but she's rarely been made to look more beautiful than this.
On top of all that, it's a great looking film that uses some really cool LA locations. Much of it was shot in Johnnies, a googie style diner on Wilshire Boulevard that Tarantino has used. Other locations include a cool 50's era motel (anyone know where this was?) and of course, the great California desert.
So overall I wouldn't say this is a great film, but it's worth watching.
I caught "Mojave Moon" several times on cable but I didn't care about
it. I even came to IMDb back in the late 90's and nobody commented
about it. It was somehow a rare, obscure independent movie that gained
notoriety when Jolie received her first (and only) Oscar. I caught it
on a so called art channel.
To be honest, it wasn't until Angelina Jolie made her on-screen appearance with the shortest mini skirt I've ever seen on movies! That girl was stunning.
Then I got hooked in by the plot although it is very strange.
The movie has the typical situations involving a trouble girl that gets everyone in problems and ends up making everybody fool.
To be honest, if it wasn't for Jolie's sexyiness this movie would be still hidden.
Not the best movie ever made, and it probably won't overwhelm you with
its powerful storyline. But take it for what it is, a quirky,
off-the-wall caper/romance/black comedy hybrid, and chances are you'll
be quite pleasantly surprised. The protagonists are likable, the
villains are cartoonish, and in the end the solid acting all around (I
never realized what a good actor Danny Aiello can be) made this little
low-budget noir almost believable, or at least endearing. And yes, the
scenes with Angelina Jolie are on their own worth the price of
admission - watch her electrifies the screen with every flick of a
emerald-nail-polished finger and every mocking little grin. And you say
to yourself, Man this girl is going to be a STAR...
Incidentally I think this is probably her best work before 1997's George Wallace, for which she won a Golden Globe. It's also probably the source of her fascination with Barstow...
Al is divorced and he has moved from New York to Seattle to Los Angeles
(I don't even know why Seattle was mentioned). He makes his living
selling cars, though he seems to know some people who are ... less than
While Al is eating at Johnie's restaurant with friends Sal and Terry, Elie walks in wearing a skirt so short it should be illegal. Al decides to talk to her and finds out she needs a ride to her mom Julie's place in the Mojave Desert. Al agrees to take her.
When they arrive at Julie's trailer (excuse me, 'movable house'), Julie's boyfriend Boyd is there watching TV. Boyd lights his cigarettes with a blowtorch and treats the gentle and sweet Julie like dirt. Elie goes to the Buffalo Chip Saloon to meet boyfriend Kaiser.
From there, things get weird. I mean REALLY weird.
This is a pretty good movie, with good performances by the leading actors. And plenty of plot twists. But what really makes the movie work is the crazy characters. Such as the tire repairman with the big guns. And then there is the time a man needs a cadaver and two guys hear this and are all too willing to help. One even pulls a gun on someone so the man can have his cadaver right away!
Boyd reminded me of Billy Bob Thornton, though maybe that's because I read about him in Life magazine the day I saw the movie. It would be interesting to see what he would have done with the role. Michael Biehn just made him a demented clown, but an entertaining one.
I have to mention the camera work with the introduction of Elie. They wanted to make sure we noticed her legs!
I wasn't sure whether this was a comedy at first, but by the second half I had to laugh.
This is a very dry comedy that has a few good spots, few and far
It's a mild adventure, in the mode of old Hitchcock with a Monty Python twist. Unfortunately, forty minutes go by before anything more than a pleasant smile is evoked from the viewer.
A lot of this takes place in the Mojave, which is good, and at night, which gives us a "cool warm" feel.
The "everyman" character is very human, and most of the characters are very believable, believe it or not, which is surprising, considering their extreme behavior. Much of what happens has the feel of things that the people involved actually experienced. There is an element of realism in the fantasy.
The pace is "mojave moon", and maybe that explains the title. For the first 40 minutes, you will look at the clock, then the story unfolds. It perks up most with a very funny shootout at close range where no one can hit anything.
This "cool warm Mojave moon" feel is probably the heart of the movie, and probably what was really intended. If so, it works well. I've taken vacations to LA, Vegas, and Laughlin, and rented a car simply to drive through the desert, usually starting in LA, and the "cool Mojave" feel begins, at least for me, after the stop at the atmospheric ostrich farm cafe. From there on, it's the tranquility that this film seems to aim for.
This isn't a laugh riot. It isn't something you'll watch a lot, but it does have "atmosphere". I won't say I'm a fan of the film, but it has a good look, and is perfectly titled.
This is not at all the sort of film I am usually attracted to. The only
other film in my experience that I could compare it to would be
Tarentino's "Pulp Fiction". It's not as slick, but there is less
blood... It was only on the second viewing that I was able to start to
appreciate it and not until the shootout at the petrol station that I
saw that the film is in fact a comedy on the black side. I think this
should have been made apparent earlier in the film to give it a more
uniform identity. The desert atmosphere is always attractive and
explains the film's rather surrealistic feel.
For me the film is original and entertaining and the performances are excellent.
"Mojave Moon" is a film fueled on the magic of a full moonlit night. It
has a distinct, memorable and charming presence. I love this very feel of
the film, but unfortunately it wares off as the movie tries to reinvent
itself at the end. It shifts into a different mood, from a sweet romance
into a wacky, cartoonish comedy.
Danny Aiello is a genuine actor, and his best work is in his little indie films like this. He plays a used carsalesman named Al, who is lost in a routine life. One day a beautiful free spirit (Angelina Jolie) serves as an outlet as he follows her into the Mojave Desert for a mysterious adventure.
The premise is almost identical to "Box of Moon Light", a far better film. Both films are about a person serving as a way out of the deadly foe of time. If only "Mojave Moon" centered itself more on the wonderful magic of the journey and the life-changing outcomes like "BOM", instead of becoming untrue to itself. (Ironically both main characters are named Al).
Released in 1996, "Mojave Moon" is a black comedy/thriller about an
average man in his 50s (Danny Aiello) who is so intrigued by a young
woman (Angelina Jolie) that he agrees to drive her to her mom's place
in the desert. He then becomes infatuated with the blissful and
clueless mother (Anne Archer), but her loony boyfriend looms near
"Mojave Moon" has that quirky, hip flare of movies of the mid-to-late 90s, like "Pulp Fiction", "Michael", "The Way of the Gun" and "American Psycho". If you have a taste for these types of films you might like "Mojave Moon."
Those who want to catch a good glimpse of Angelina Jolie early in her career will also be interested. She was only 20 during filming, but brimming with confidence and allure. She has quite a few scenes where she's not wearing much, including a shower scene that shows her top-nude. I can understand why some might get worked-up about her, but she doesn't trip my trigger. Don't get me wrong, she has an exotically gorgeous face with full lips, but the rest of her is just too slinky for my tastes. But if you find her appealing that's wonderful.
BOTTOM LINE: "Mojave Moon" is mildly entertaining as a bizarre black comedy/thriller. I had a few good laughs, but it struck me as curious more than anything else, with characters who don't ring true and do unbelievable things. Take, for instance, the gas station attendant who foolishly engages in a gunfight right out in the open or the ensuing gunfight where no one hits anyone even though they're all fairly close. The film's full of these "yeah, right" moments. Still, it's not bad. It tries to be different.
The film runs 95 minutes and was shot in Palmdale, CA.
Before Angelina Jolie blew up front and centre, she got her start in some wild and wacky b movies and genre stuff, the weirdest of which has to be Mojave Moon. It's one of those low rent flicks where not much of anything happens, the characters meander in and out of a non-story and almost everyone is completely nuts. 'B movie dramedy' I suppose would be the specific sub-genre. The 'story', as it were, follows drifter Al (Danny Aiello), who meets pretty young Ellie (Jolie) in a diner and hitches a ride out to the desert for seemingly no reason at all. As Ellie takes a shine to him, he begins to fall for her mother (Anne Archer). Only problem is, her mom has a boyfriend played by Michael Biehn who is quite possibly one of the weirdest characters I've ever seen in a film. Volatile, berserkly unstable and constantly in near hysteria mode, it's an odd performance that off-sets the quirky tone straight into the twilight zone. That seems to be the idea here though, the dreamy desert climate having a strange effect on these folks, causing all kinds of outrageous behaviour and scenarios. The town offers a rogue's gallery of characters including Michael Berryman, Alfred Molina, Jack Noseworthy, Peter Macnicol, John Getz, Michael Massee and others, all of whom don't really do much other than show up, act weird for a bit and then wander off again. I like this type of film though, purposeless other than to languish about with characters who don't want much, their arcs sputtering in a flatline of small town doldrums and behaviour that only makes sense to them. It's not for everyone, which is why no one really gives credit to this stuff, but it's enjoyable once in a while, when you're in as strange a mood as the residents of this one horse sideshow of a town.
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