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Variety (1983)

Not Rated | | Drama | 8 March 1985 (USA)
Christine (Sandy McLeod) takes a job selling tickets at a porno theater near Times Square. Instead of distancing herself from the dark and erotic nature of this milieu, she develops an ... See full summary »

Director:

Bette Gordon

Writers:

Kathy Acker (script), Bette Gordon (original story) | 2 more credits »
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sandy McLeod Sandy McLeod ... Christine
Will Patton ... Mark
Richard M. Davidson Richard M. Davidson ... Louie (as Richard Davidson)
Luis Guzmán ... Jose
Nan Goldin Nan Goldin ... Nan
Lee Tucker Lee Tucker ... Projectionist
Peter Rizzo Peter Rizzo ... Driver
Mark Boone Junior ... Business Manager / Porn Customer
Suzanne Fletcher Suzanne Fletcher ... Woman in Bar
Peyton Green Peyton Green ... Woman in Bar
Cookie Mueller ... Woman in Bar
Norma Angelica Rodriguez Norma Angelica Rodriguez ... Woman in Bar (as Norma Rodriguez)
Sally Rodwell Sally Rodwell ... Woman in Bar
Nancy Reilly Nancy Reilly ... (voice)
Scotty Snyder Scotty Snyder ... (voice)
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Storyline

Christine (Sandy McLeod) takes a job selling tickets at a porno theater near Times Square. Instead of distancing herself from the dark and erotic nature of this milieu, she develops an obsession that begins to consume her life. Few films deal honestly with a female sexual pointof-view, controversial and highly personal, VARIETY does just this. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | West Germany | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 March 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La celda de cristal See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Goofs

The Variety Photoplays Theatre was actually on 3rd Avenue and 14th Street, some thirty blocks away from the Times Square area. See more »

Connections

References Caligula (1979) See more »

Soundtracks

Bilongo
Performed by Eddie Palmieri
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User Reviews

 
an obscure 80s feminist neo-noir that may be obscure for a reason...
30 April 2009 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

Variety was shot on the super-cheap on the streets of midtown NYC in 1983, which is for a short while part of its not exactly charm but precise and evocative mood. This is a Times Square that most wont recognize since the clean-up in recent years; it's dirty, loaded with porno theaters and video stores, and with some exceptions (like the Variety movie theater boss played by Luis Guzman) there's no lack of sleazy males. In this movie the main character, Christine (Sandy McLeod) seems to be a fairly normal girl just looking for a job and finds one at Jose's Variety theater at the ticket window. Little by little she becomes intrigued by the porno movies playing and by a mysterious gentlemen caller (Richard Davidson) who takes her out on a bum date to Yankee stadium, stranding her up as he just 'goes away' on some urgent matter.

What follows is a series of scenes of her following him around- even going as far as to the Jersey shore where he does some mysterious "business" shaking hands with people outside of amusement parks- and little by little she sinks further into this porno-type of funk, like a misguided femme fatale sitting in her room and playing 45's in sultry clothes and purple lighting. Some of this sounds interesting because it is - Bette Gordon has a point to make here on the feminine condition in an Urban setting, kind of like a Taxi Driver only replacing the guns with more of the porn, and there are some effective scenes early on showing McLeod surrounded by this creepy but intriguing setting.

But there's also passages that, I hate to admit, were just too dull to really be engaged. She follows this man to a fish market, and then we're treated to lots and lots of footage of fish and the like. Why? What does this really add to the atmosphere? It's like Gordon doesn't always know if she wants to make a neo-noir or a documentary, and the shuffle between the two forms (both engaging on their own) becomes confused. I also didn't care for those passages where Christine gives those ridiculously detailed descriptions/synopses of the porno movies she sees to her exasperated boyfriend (Will Patton), and McLeod in these scenes reaches her most annoying points. She's not a terrible actress throughout, but here she sounds like she's reciting remembered lines as opposed to acting, and one sympathizes with what Mark has to put up with. We're putting up with it too.

There is a reason this has something of a very minor cult status, and that it even got Bette Gordon a re-release screening at the Tribeca film festival this year. It's very much a New York movie, made on the dirty streets, meant to capture that dingy side and to give some kind of naturalistic feeling of a strange woman in this environment. But its own mystery undercuts itself. Variety would work far better, maybe even be truly great, as a short film. At 100 minutes, for all of its little moments of pleasure (i.e. when Chrisitne imagines herself up on the screen in a room with the enigmatic criminal Louie) and John Lurie's intoxicating jazz, it's too long and too unfocused for what works well to really strike it home. Luis Guzman steals the show.


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