This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
A laugh riot until a cop saves the day and then it’s just a real bummer.
Shot on location in the desolate daytime desertscape of Las Vegas, Nevada, Menkes’ third feature-length film, which premiered in competition at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival, is a subversive rumination on isolation and despair. Following the titular “queen,” a casino blackjack dealer played by Nina’s long-time collaborator and sister Tinka, the work unfolds in a Jeanne Dielman-esque patience. “The female protagonist is both deeply estranged and psychically powerful,” says Menkes of her film. “Her loner position is the backside of centuries of Western Heroes: she stands in the center as a watcher and victim of a system which is starting to crack.”
Joyce Chopra’s narrative debut Smooth Talk dives headfirst into that time when boys aren’t just mysterious bodies, but also opportunities for the heretofore unknown mobility represented by that ultimate symbol of American freedom (and danger): his car. Fifteen year-old Connie (a nubile Laura Dern) and her friends use their summer break in Northern California to experiment with the trappings of womanhood--eyeshadow, hairspray, and revealing clothing--as they shakily navigate this new, adult world of crushes, and confront the perils of sexual…