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The Salton Sea
Starring: Val Kimer, Vincent D'Onofrio, Adam Goldberg, Luis Guzmán, Doug Hutchison, Anthony LaPaglia, Glenn Plummer, Peter Sarsgaard ,Deborah Unger, Chandra West and B.D. Wong
Directed by: D.J. Caruso
Rated: R

Bluntly speaking? The Salton Sea is positively one of the most clever films made. It's not for everyone. But, film lovers will love this. As intense as it is thrilling the seedy characters grab you throw you into your theater seat and demand your full attention.

We are escorted by Danny (Val Kilmer) into a dark nasty world of drugs, betrayal and low-life's. He takes us into places one could only face if on some sort of mind-altering drug…Danny Parker aka Tom Van Allen is on these drugs. And he's fallen off life's straight and narrow track into a land filled with of false friendships and cunning companions of convenience. He finds himself adrift in a sea of drawn out tweaker festivals and four-day gacker gatherings. He's hit the bottom. Poor Danny is addicted to Methamphetamine, the drug's key syllable being "amp." He's spiraled down into that dark hole filled with human misfits.

And as if the addiction and rancid personal company issues were not enough, he's also dug himself into a death sentence by becoming a police informant. At first look Danny boy seems all self-destructive and a lost cause, but, he's got a mission behind those beautiful glazed over baby blues.

See he had a personal tragedy, back when he still called himself Tom Van Allen, that was so incomprehensible and mind shattering that this world is his purgatory. Danny's own personal hell on Earth that he's chosen for redemption. His way of killing himself without actually putting a gun right to his head. These pits may also hold the key to finding the men who took his wife's life. He is convinced they are somewhere in this world of phony friends and make believe lives.

Nobel as he is, he's still an addict. And to support his addictions he has mock-befriended a couple of Los Angeles narcotics agents of the force. He sells them dealers…he's an informant; a rat. And before he gets a chance to execute his revenge plan on the killers his police buddies let him know one of the gang members he helped lock up is getting out.

Danny's warned they pretty much know it was him…and there's probably a hit order on him. Danny's inner self defense mechanism clicks on and he scurries to save himself. He's got to make a big score and use his cut on the deal to skadattle outta Dodge.

Danny sets up a meeting with Poo-Bear (Vincent D'Onofrio) the big time Meth dealer. Poo-Bear is also a big time psycho that makes legendary horror star, Leather Face look like a Boston Etiquette School graduate. Poo-Bear has no nose and a slight anger management with psychotic tendencies problem. Kinetic anger types are never good to do business with and they are especially a big old business partner faux pas when you're trying to cut a large drug deal.

Danny's life just keeps getting' better by the minute.

The script by Tony Gayton is wonderfully visual and provides an excellent drawing board for director D.J. Caruso's darkly painted scenes. Kudos to cinematographer Amir Mokri for really catching the feel of the downtrodden slum pits these poor souls gather in to blow their brains away with hazardous happy time drugs.

Val Kilmer doesn't always pick the best work…this time he has simply hit gold. Volleying between roles as the clean-cut trumpet player "Tom" and the spike haired tattooed sleazy Danny, Val shows, or rather reminds us, he's one helluva actor. He's also one handsome dude. I'd give him fifty bucks to walk around in Jim Morrison pants, shirtless, with a boa around his neck while I sketched him in Lite-Brite pegs anytime…Slurp!

Vincent D' Onofrio costars in a role that just may out-creep his Cell role! How could Salton Sea's Poo-Bear character possibly top that you beg? The shear reality of the madman he plays. What's worse than a redneck drug dealer from the desert? A redneck drug dealer from the desert that shoots his own product - which happens to be Meth! Poo-Bear's hobbies include "reenacting" the assassination of JFK with pigeons that are sadistically strapped in a remote control car. Vinnie D'Onofrio is (as always) a pure cinematic delight.

It was nice to see manlyberry yumtini Peter Sarsgaard in a strong role as Danny/Tom's only real friend. Keep your eye out for this guy-and remember he doesn't really have a mullet girls. Purr.

The cast is sprinkled with faces and talents you'll instantly recognize. I will let you discover them when you find this film. Enjoy!

Snack recommendation: Scrambled eggs and brain



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