NY Mirror

Beware of islands! Two weeks ago, the film press corps was terrorized by both Roosevelt Island (the dank, depressing setting of Dark Water) and Liberty Island (the soggy site of Fantastic Four's rainy premiere). Still, a few days later, we bravely trekked to The Island, the futuristic popcorn movie that turned out to be perfectly dry except for the giant pools of moist flesh known as SCARLETT JOHANSSON's lips. (And she has two pairs; she plays . . . no, never mind. The commercial may give it away, but damned if I will!) The scariest thing about the movie, actually, is its artillery of product placements, climaxing with an intriguing scene where lippy Scarlett looks in amazement at her own Calvin Klein commercial. ("I guess it'll still be running in 2019!" laughed Camp director TODD GRAFF at the after-party.)

Anyway, while the stars pout and run a lot, STEVE BUSCEMI steals the whole thing as a token human, but it was Steve's dad who hijacked the party, telling me he hates reading that his son is "frog-eyed and snaggle-toothed." I do too; he's totally hot (and more basset-eyed anyway). Whatever he is, amiable Steve is not exactly a soundbite machine, so to prompt him, I found myself turning into BAIRD JONES and asking him what's the craziest thing he ever did to make money. "I once sold newspapers on the Triborough Bridge—in the truck lane," Steve obliged. Now that's scary. That bridge connects outer boroughs to the island!

People were running for the suburbs at a screening of ROB ZOMBIE's The Devil's Rejects—in fact, several attendees ended up holding their stomachs and fleeing for the truck lane. ("That's a good review!" Zombie exulted when I related this to him over drinks the next night, followed by taxidermy shopping at the Evolution store.) But for all its reveling in gore and meanness, I found the film a richly riveting redneck cesspool, studded with fun dialogue like "Death's not an option" and "Do I stutter, bitch?"

Rob Zombie's skeletons in the closet
Rob Zombie's skeletons in the closet

And Zombie—the metal rocker turned grunge filmmaker—was quite affable in person, not a dead-rat-eating serial killer at all. The only child carny who ended up studying fine art at Parsons, Zombie told me he based a lot of the film—about a homicidal clan's showdown with a vengeful sheriff—on his experiences with his own wacky family and its carnival cohorts. "In the '70s that's what the carnies looked like," he said, "with long, greasy hair and bad teeth. You know, the guy who's out on parole but is somehow running the Tilt-a-Whirl at the local fair." Yeah—that's my uncle too!

Is Zombie—who last did the related House of 1000 Corpses—making a comment on sadism or just joining in the fun? "Just joining in the fun," he said, smiling. "I'm not making a comment on anything. Clearly, the bad people in the movie are disgusting and have no redeeming characteristics—except that they're charismatic. I play off Charles Manson. When GERALDO RIVERA—who's pretty charismatic himself—interviewed Manson, he used to come off like a piece of wood in comparison." Well, I'd rather be sane wood than charismatic cuckoo droppings.

Anyway, will The Devil's Rejects warp young minds? "Nah," said Zombie. "I've been watching all kinds of stuff since I was a little kid and it didn't affect me." Pause. Big grin. "Not a good example."


ROOS WITH A VIEW

My tummy settled at the premiere party for Happy Endings—nausea is not an option—especially when writer-director DON ROOS told me he's still together with his boyfriend of 12 years, DAN BUCATINSKY. "All our friends are in long relationships too," Roos said, bemusedly. "Boring people know boring people!" But Roos is the opposite of boring. His The Opposite of Sex was such a deft sexual satire they even made it into a toe-tapping out-of-town musical. And Happy Endings—with LISA KUDROW as an abortion counselor who gave a baby up for adoption—has gem-like performances, if a self-conscious, overloaded style that's truly dividing folks. ("But people only tell me they like it," Roos grinned.)

The topic is certainly scary enough. "Every human being feels they have some ownership over the process of birth," Roos explained to me. His feelings? "Please, I'm gay," he declared. "I've got to be pro-choice!" Well, would he and the boyfriend ever choose to un-boring up their lives and have a child? "We have a daughter," he revealed, blithely. "Ugh," I moaned. "I just showed my utter presumptuousness and internalized homophobia." "That's the best kind! It's the strongest!" Roos laughed.


BROWN BUNNY

I'm pro-Fatal Attraction—the big-haired '80s classic that demonized single working women and casual sex encounters while celebrating hollow family values—especially since it's ripe for a raucous satirical revival. So here comes Off-Broadway's diverting Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy, which puts distance upon distance from the material, with lots of stylized, self-referential shtick, plus a Greek chorus interrupting it all. It's often too removed, but the fight scenes and the bunny are swell, and COREY FELDMAN, clearly having recovered from MICHAEL JACKSON once showing him a book about venereal diseases, does a perfectly preening MICHAEL DOUGLAS impression.

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