Desert déjà vu: 29 Palms vs. Twentynine Palms

How can we tell them apart?

29 Palms: Unfunny comedy-thriller starring Jeremy Davies and Rachael Leigh Cook. Premiered on DVD.

Twentynine Palms: Possibly intentional comedy starring Katia Golubeva and David Wissak. Premiered to hooting and mass walkouts at Venice.

Why are we here?

29P: A judge’s clerk (Davies), about to call foul on a shady casino expansion, flees into the desert from the baddies who killed his girlfriend.

TP: Photographer David (Wissak), scouting locations, is road-tripping with Katia (Golubeva), his equally volatile, French-speaking girlfriend.

Art film signifiers:

29P: Discontinuous cutting and sound-synching, freeze frames, 360-degree pans, etc.

TP: Very long takes in which very little happens, apparently hardcore sex, French dialogue


29P: Davies’s and Cook’s characters briefly roll around fully clothed, followed by a tasteful cut.

TP: David and Katia fuck often and everywhere, a pastime that variously occasions screaming, moaning, barking, and a dying-cow noise.

Sample dialogue:

29P: Dirty cop Michael Rapaport to a service employee: “If you fuck this up, I’ll fuck you up.”

TP: Katia to David, on the subject of ice cream: “It’s not good, but it’s good.”

The tourist-board spin:

29P: Vacationers on a budget may find satchels stuffed with cash on the roadside.

TP: Visiting couples can jump-start their sex life, observe redneck wildlife in its natural habitat.