Make them pay: Query (at right) organizes Live Nude Girls.
photo: First Run Features
Make them pay: Query (at right) organizes Live Nude Girls.


Live Nude Girls Unite!
Directed by Julia Query and Vicky Funari
A First Run release
Opens October 20

Clearview Chelsea West and New School Tishman Theater
Through October 21

Animal Factory
Directed by Steve Buscemi
Written by Edward Bunker and John Steppling, from Bunker's novel
A Silver Nitrate release
Opens October 20

Months after it was sent down to cable, Steve Buscemi's Animal Factory has been granted a much deserved theatrical release. A performance-driven prison drama with a riot scene that allows the actor-turned-director to show his action chops, the film is richer than Buscemi's Cassavetes-influenced debut feature, Trees Lounge. The ensemble of underground all-stars features an almost unrecognizable Mickey Rourke as a motor-mouthed transvestite, but it's the relationship between Willem Dafoe, as Earl, the hard-time veteran, and Edward Furlong, as Ron, the new boy he takes under his wing, that makes the film so compelling. With his head shaved and a simian gait held over from his epic-scale star turn in the Wooster Group's adaptation of O'Neill's The Hairy Ape, Dafoe doesn't soft-pedal the brutality that ensures Earl's survival. But he also lets us see the interior contradictions of a man whose need for power and control is part of what turns him into a near saint. "I probably wouldn't help you so much if you were ugly, but that's my problem," he says to Ron, who's worried that his mentor wants to get into his pants. Deserted by his own father when he needed him most, Ron craves Earl's attention but also insists on preserving as much independence as he can within the stratified prison society. Too proud to risk rejection and aware that his feelings for Ron extend beyond sexual desire, Earl settles for becoming his savior. Tender, poignant, and homoerotically charged, this complicated father-son relationship is brought to life by two brilliant actors and a director who's canny enough to give them all the room they need.

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