Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Boris Lermontov of Vegas

"Dancing ain't fucking."

This undeniable truth comes from aspiring choreographer James Smith, as played by Glenn Plummer, in Showgirls. Plummer may be best remembered as "Maurice," the character whose Jaguar is commandeered by a determined Keanu Reeves in Speed or as slain rapper "Jeriko One" in Kathryn Bigelow's millenial actioner, Strange Days. But if you consider yourself a cineaste and you have the slightest bit of taste, you know him best from one film and one film only. He's worked plenty, but the role of his career came in Showgirls. Everything else is window dressing.

Whilst on his quest for a muse (Victoria Page to his Boris Lermontov), Smith cleverly deploys his credo. Dancing isn't fucking, but fucking and dancing need not be mutually exclusive. And if dancing ain't fucking (and, I assure you, Smith is right) then fucking ain't dancing. Upon first introduction to the routine he "wrote for her," Nomi picks up the moves like a natural, even if James goes a little too fast at first. They click. The start of a beautiful friendship, blah blah blah. But when dancing turns to fucking, it all falls apart. Nomi's on her period and she's not down with James' offer of towels. Dancing ain't fucking but James needs fucking with his dancing. Enter Penny (Rena Riffel) who's half the dancer Nomi is, but a much more willing lover. But James knows dancing ain't fucking, so even if he is fucking Penny, he'd rather be dancing with Nomi. The catch 22 that James knows is sure to bite him. It does. And James, of course, loses his one true chance at greatness, never able to lock creatively with his one true muse. Everything is fleeting. It's Vegas. One minute you're a star, the next you brake your ankle on strategically placed beads and your days as top bitch at the Stardust are over.

James Smith is trapped. He's pulled back the curtain and seen the Wizard and all the rest seems pointless now. Nomi is his last hope. She "burns when she dances," and in that burning, he sees a phoenix of hope, in a city drowning in flash, and lacking in substance. He knows dancing ain't fucking and fucking ain't dancing and Penny ain't Nomi and Nomi ain't Penny. He knows he's going nowhere, but he has nowhere else to go. He's figured it all out. He's at the end. But he has a tape and a routine and if he can just find someone who can dance and is willing to fucking him, James Smith will own Vegas. I smell sequel.

(As part of The Showgirls Blog Orgy.)


At 6:43 AM, Blogger girish said...

Wow. Showgirls through the lens of James Smith. I would never of thunk of it, but it totally works!
I dig it, Tim.

At 3:13 PM, Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Considering the use of food in the film, it is probably no coincidence that James talks about working in a grocery store in his last scene.

At 4:23 PM, Blogger Eric Henderson said...

The Boris Lermontov! Brilliant!


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