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    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as preparation for a future work on Straub/Huillet's Moses und Aron and a few bits and pieces on biblical studies.

    Matt Page


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    Wednesday, January 02, 2008

    Gallo Remakes Salome - Johnny 316

    Happy New Year! Whilst I was away enjoying Christmas, Peter Chattaway posted Variety's review of Johnny 316. It's actually a film that had completely passed me by until now, but it seems that it's a modernised version of Oscar Wilde's play 'Salome'.

    The official website describes it thus:
    A modernized version of Oscar Wilde’s ‘Salome', JOHNNY 316, directed by Erick Ifergan, unfurls in the boulevards of Hollywood, California. Vincent Gallo plays a penniless street preacher who spends his days giving out pamphlets and spreading the word of God. One day, he meets Sarah, played by Nina Brosh, a beautiful bereft hairdresser who lost her job. For Sarah, it is love at first sight. She follows the preacher home and tries to seduce him.

    Despite his deep attraction to her, he pushes her away. Oblivious to his rejection, Sarah continues to pursue the preacher, convinced that she can win him over. Poetic and violent, this impossible love story explores the themes of spirituality, intimacy and loss, set against the backdrop of the harsh unforgiving reality of the streets.
    Despite a score of 8.4 on the IMDb at the moment, the Variety reviewer is fairly unimpressed:
    This "Sally" never dances, but she does meander the boulevard in a movie that similarly wanders and never finds a groove, tone or point of view. The rather inspired central idea of Gallo as a modern-day John the Baptist goes undeveloped, with a ton of pretense in its wake.
    ...long, lingering shots (often in hyper closeup) of Gallo's Johnny calmly preaching are not so fluidly intercut with similarly claustrophobic shots of Sally impatiently dealing with her infirm mother (Louise Fletcher)before going to her job at a Hollywood Boulevard hair salon. The same effects and devices that can work well for brief music videos... undermine scene after scene in Ifergan's film,
    A slightly younger Gallo convincingly summons a spiritual and peaceful guy (in an ice cream suit), in what amounts to a solo performance. By contrast, Brosh looks out of her element.

    Music cues are all over the map, from Bach cello suites and Tom Waits ballads to free jazz and a Nick Cave closer. Telecine print screened was below average, taking away from what appears to be intense cinematography by Toby Irwin.
    It seems the film was originally shot in 1998, but reworked with new footage and completed in 2006. It has also changed it's name from Hollywood Salome to Johnny 316. The new title is surely some kind of reference to John 3:16 (perhaps amongst other things), which is unusual given that particular verse is unrelated to John the Baptist, and is from the gospel which, not only pays him the least attention, but, like Luke, doesn't actually mention how he came to his end.

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