Angel is a dancer wishing to adopt a child. Stormy is a dancer with a secret with her brother Sully. Jasmine is a poetess who falls in love with Dennis. Jo is a dancer who became pregnant and Jessie is a woman fighting to survive in Hollywood. The link between them is the fact that they dance at Blue Iguana, a strip-club managed by Eddie. Their personal dramas are the theme of this movie. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Despite only appearing in two scenes, Kristin Bauer made her own outfit for her strip routine and visited porn stars who gig at strip clubs. She even had training on how to use a whip. See more »
Jessie uses her real name as her stage name at the Blue Iguana, something which is forbidden by the managers for safety reasons. This is made clear halfway through the film when Stormy is told off by Dave for having mail sent to her real name Marie Hughes. See more »
[Whistling and waving]
Officer? Officer, could... could you help me with... I... Could you help take a picture of my... I want to take a picture of myself in front of this billboard.
Officer Pete Foster:
Is that you?
Officer Pete Foster:
I'm a lot smaller in person.
See more »
OK, so "Dancing at the Blue Iguana" features wall-to-wall naked gyrating women. But don't let that put you off. Despite the subject matter - the lives of five strippers who work in the eponymous club (played by Daryl Hannah, Jennifer Tilly, Sheila Kelley, Charlotte Ayanna and Sandra Oh) - and the frequent nudity, "Blue Iguana" is not a T&A movie. Rather, it's a compelling insight into the lives of the underclass of Los Angeles, or indeed, any one of the world's major cities.
If your cinematic tastes run to tightly plotted fare where all the loose ends are tied up with a big gift-wrap bow in the last five minutes, you'll probably it find frustrating. But if you can appreciate a film in which some issues are never quite resolved and some questions are never quite answered - just like real life - then you may be seduced by the "Blue Iguana".
The film has been panned by so many critics that I must admit I started watching with some trepidation, expecting to be embarrassed for the actors. But I became so engrossed in the world of the Blue Iguana that I was actually disappointed when the film ended.
Much of the criticism of "Blue Iguana" is based on the fact that it was made without a script. The actors started with only two things: the title of the film and the fact that it was set in a strip club. Everything else, they worked out themselves - their characters, their storylines, and their dialogue - in an intense series of improvisational workshops. This approach may be unconventional, but it gives "Blue Iguana" a freshness and immediacy which is rarely found in mainstream films. As Michael Radford explains, improv relies on nailing the scene in the first take; once it becomes too polished, it loses its sense of realism.
The female cast has been another target for critics - not because they're not superb actors, but because, in their late 30's to early 40s, Daryl Hannah, Jennifer Tilly and Sheila Kelley would be too old to work as strippers in LA where beautiful young women exist in a buyer's market. But they bring a depth of sadness to their characters - you can't help wondering where they'll be a few years down the track.
Sandra Oh's performance as Jasmine is a standout. Jasmine leads a double life, stripping on the Blue Iguana stage and secretly writing poetry in the dressing room. After persuading her to read one of her painfully beautiful works at his poetry group Dennis (Chris Hogan) starts to fall in love with her mind. But Jasmine realises the fledgling romance is doomed. In the film's most heartbreaking scene, when Dennis seeks her out at the club, she performs her routine to Moby's "Porcelain" with its haunting refrain "So This is Goodbye". The camera focuses on her face. It's an impassive mask, but her eyes betray incredible sadness. She's wordlessly saying to him, "This is the real me. Do you still want me now?"
Putting aside its improv-based development, "Blue Iguana" succeeds on its own merits. If you want to see a T&A film, rent a copy of "Showgirls". If you want to see a haunting, thought-provoking slice of life, see "Dancing at the Blue Iguana".
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