Movie Review: "The Queen of Hollywood Blvd"
Grindhouse. There are a few different definitions of it out there, and everyone has their own flavor they prefer. There’s a few necessary elements everyone agrees on, though- grainy picture quality, linear (basic) plot, lots of sex and nudity, gratuitous violence, despicable characters, and a funky ass soundtrack.
Boy oh boy, have I got a movie for you…
The Queen of Hollywood Blvd is the story of Queen Mary (Rosemary Hochschild; Desperately Seeking Susan), the badly aging owner of a badly aging strip club. It’s her 60th birthday, and all she wants is a quiet little party. Unfortunately, she’s come to the end of her road. The mob is back to collect on an old debt that wasn’t fully reimbursed through Mary’s former business associate, Duke (Roger Guenveur Smith; Tales From the Hood). Her club is in the toilet. Time has clearly passed her by, and now her son, Otto (Director and real-life son Orson Oblowitz), has been kidnapped as leverage. On top of all that, an underage beauty by the name of Grace (Ana Mulvoy Ten; British series House of Anubis) has been bequeathed to her for whatever purposes she wishes. It’s the most fucked up day ever, and all she has to rely on is her reputation, her iron will, and her huge brass balls.
The term “underbelly of Hollywood” is a commonly heard one, but I don’t think it’s ever looked quite so unappealing and sleazy. Mary’s Club is the nastiest, crummiest looking dive ever committed to celluloid, be it the shit lighting and overuse of neon or the vintage, wood-paneled offices. Every scene that takes place in Mary’s “little piece of the pie” just makes you want to shower and then get tested for an STD. Talk about incredible set design and use of lighting. Even the patrons look like a poster for gonorrhea.
Rosemary Hochschild is a revelation as Mary. There is no attempt to glam her up at all. She’s grizzled, wrinkled, and as dirty as her club. She smokes like a locomotive on speed (in literally every scene). She has a bizarre foreign accent and a stilted way of talking. Her performance is a cross between Tommy Wiseau in The Room and Julianne Moore at the very end of Boogie Nights. Her look is that of a pimp on her last leg- the cane, the animal print jacket, the gigantic sunglasses, the tight black outfit.
She also happens to be utterly commanding and hypnotizing. You can’t look away. It’s not just that you never see a 60 year-old woman starring in the boss bitch role of a violent exploitation flick; it’s also the nutso royalty she exudes. Her name is Queen Mary, and she deserves to be called that. I wish I could read a book about her trials and tribulations.
As an added bonus, this is the last movie for the legendary Michael Parks (Kill Bill Vol. 1&2, From Dusk ‘Til Dawn, Tusk). It’s only one scene, but it is heartbreaking and powerful. Truth be told, it’s quite hard to watch but a fitting end to an amazing career. It also proves that you don’t have to talk a lot to say so much. Rest in Peace, sir…and thank you.
The Queen of Hollywood Blvd is 100% grindhouse. In other words, if you’re looking for highly driven narrative that flows seamlessly from one scene to the next then look elsewhere. It’s essentially a series of violent vignettes strung together with a lot of tits and ass. In this day and age of empowerment, this movie dares to be sleazy and live up to the term exploitation.
Not everything in it works, but ultimately you won’t give a damn. The character of Duke is hard to understand and a little annoying. It’s one example of a small thing that doesn’t detract from a legitimate artistic vision that doesn’t resemble anything else that’s out there. I haven’t quite been able to get it out of my head.
The imagery of faded Hollywood glory, a blood-splattered Walk of Fame, criminal motel acts attempted by a lecherous man on a minor, and Queen Mary on her throne with her subjects at her feet will stay with you for a long time.
4.0 out of 5.0 stars