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A serial killer is on the prowl in the badlands of Ozona, Oklahoma, and the travelers who intersect at a roadside cafeteria somewhere between Texas and New Mexico are destined to cross his path. They include a circus clown and his stripper girlfriend, grieving sisters, a trucker, and a woman who is taking her mother to see the ocean before she dies. Tying everything together even tighter is the presence of the local radio station, whose DJ and boss don't seem to be getting along too well. Written by
Ary Luiz Dalazen Jr.<email@example.com>
This is not a bad movie, but its plate is a little too full. **1/2 (out of four)
OUTSIDE OZONA / (1998) **1/2 (out of four)
By Blake French:
"Outside Ozona" wanders just a little too much to warrant a recommendation. It's a solid attempt from first time director and screenwriter J.S. Cardone; he creates a sordid environment for his characters and often provokes a real sense of community and compassion, but there are just too many characters and too little of a plot to carry them through. I enjoyed much of the film, enough to call this movie a close miss-but I cannot recommend a movie that doesn't know what it's about. There is so much material here, the thin plot threads quickly break apart, and the audience is the group who wishes there we're some kind of boundaries to keep everything together.
The movie takes place during a single night on the stretching deserted highways outside Ozona, Oklahoma. We meet a lot of characters, too many, that all seem to live separate lives unrelated to the others. There's a circus clown (Kevin Pollack) who gets mad when he's fired, but becomes even more angry when he discovers his stripper girlfriend (Penelope Ann Miller) has previously slept with his boss to help save his job. There is a lonesome truck driver (Robert Forster) who lends a helping hand to a Navajo Indian woman, whose grandmother (Keteri Walker) is dying. Two bitter sisters (including Sherilyn Fenn) who pick up hitchhiker (David Paymer) who may or may not be a serial killer roaming the highways.
The film makes several attempts to connect these stories, which we cut back and forth from throughout the film. One of those attempts deals with a disco jockey on his last strings (Taj Mahal), whose boss (Meat Loaf) isn't happy that his radio station has become under the heat of higher powers. Another attempt is the film's climax, in which all of these stories come to a literal crash. This is disposable and needless. It concludes the various circumstances, but doesn't succeed in bringing them together for a final showdown. It's kind of a disappointment.
There are many scenes in which the various characters exchange lengthy conversations that really don't further the plot. But is there really a central plot? Not really. Perhaps that's why the movie doesn't work, because it has no focus, no purpose to build the tension, no story to develop. This is a simple character study. One that often becomes violent (there are some graphically bloody images) gratuitous (there's a scene in a strip club that involves so much unwarranted nudity it feels awkward), and boring (look up "talking heads" in a film analysis book and you'll probably find references to this film). Some of the characters are interesting, but with so many, the film doesn't know which ones.
After all of this I forgot to mention the subplot involving the FBI tracking down a serial killer who brutally murders young women as a means of religious rituals. When you forget a subplot that major and important, you know the film's plate is a little too full.
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