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A couple checks into a suite in Las Vegas. In flashbacks we see that he's a computer whiz on the verge of becoming a dot.com millionaire, she's a lap dancer at a club. He's depressed, withdrawing from work, missing meetings with investors. He wants a connection, so he offers her $10,000 to spend three nights with him in Vegas, and she accepts with conditions: four hours per night of erotic play, and no penetration. During the days in Vegas, they get to know each other, have fun, meet a friend of hers; at night, at least after the first night, things seem to get complicated. Is mutual attraction stirring? Will they play by their rules? Can it be about more than money? Written by
"You don't *look* like a stripper..." was the first clue. Director Wang, who clearly OK'd Zalman King/Adrian Lyne film style ad and packaging art, was hardly hiding the reality vs. fantasy (or real vs. fake) themes of his superb dot-com romantic tragedy much past the opening credits.
Wang's use of hand-held camera, grainy 8mm, incandescent lighting color wash, high-definition close ups, and assorted traditional noir and verite style cinematography and direction is a breakthough exploration of digital media.
Vegas visitors brave enough to leave their Strip casino/hotel cocoons during daylight hours will surely be struck by the almost surreal difference between how ugly and unglamorous the city is by day and how other-worldly beautiful after dark. Florence, however, is no Vegas...
Get it? Florence (Italy), is *real*, and every flaw she (the city) may have simply adds to the unearthly beauty she emanates. Whether filmed in handi-cam, Fisher-Price pixelvision, or 70mm IMAX, at high noon or midnight, the beauty of Florence (Italy) is timeless and media-independent. At least in the hands of Wayne Wang, Florence glows with or without the lipstick and latex...I mean neon.
Richard's visit to the Venetian Casino/Hotel near the end of the movie completes the tragic romantic (city) metaphor. The "canals" at the Venetian Hotel are truly as pathetic as the film depicts them.
The problem is, these two tragic lovers have always kept a safe distance away from Florence (Italy), or *reality*, and are tragically resigned to a Vegas-reality. Or a dot-com reality...
Filmed digitally and rendered as cinema verite, even duplicating the "grainy" silver halide crystal image artifact of low light film stock with a digital effect extends the film's theme to the medium communicating the artist's expression.
I just wish my many shares of homegrocer.com were as valuable as a single used copy of a DVD of this film....or a single apple from an actual grocer.....
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