, 16 Nov 2004
In the late 1970's John Holmes was the biggest(in more ways than one) porn star in the business - he appeared in thousands of features - the Mark Wahlberg character in Boogie Nights was based on him and in that film we see his career hitting the skids due to drug addiction and its this point that James Cox takes as his story - its July 1981 and Holmes(Val Kilmer) is staggering between drug deals with his teenage girlfriend Dawn(Kate Bosworth) trying to make some money to score more drugs.He is barely tolerated by the various drug gangs he hangs out with that includes Eddie Nash, a major LA gangster who has a nice habit of burying the heads of his victims in the desert.
Holmes mentions to another gang led by Ron Launius(Josh Lucas) that Nash has a safe under his bed containing cash,drugs and jewellry and the gang decide to hit Nash - not a good idea but as they are all permanently wreaked this doesn't occur to them.
Nash finds out who hit him and takes appaling revenge resulting in the infamous Wonderland murders.
None of this is apparant at first as Cox films it in a fragmented narrative - this is becoming a slighty overused techique of late but is effective as it does give a feel of how cracked reality must appear to these people - it also allows Cox to view the events from different angles - one gang member is Davis Lind(Dylan Mcdermott) who wasn't at the house the night of the murders and goes to the Police to get protection - we see the events from his perspective where Holmes is a minor figure on the peripheral then when Holmes is taken by the Police we see events in a differnt light - it the Rashamon technique but whereas in that film various versions are told because people percieve things differently in Wonderland everyone is lying to save their own skins - its even questionable if anyone has a real take on what really happened there were so many class A drugs around.
One view on events has Holmes taking a much larger role in the murders that he lets on - he and Nash were eventually to be charged but the case never came to trial.
Kilmer(an actor I'm not normally keen on)is exellent as Holmes- an oddly child-like figure who is just not equipped to operate in this world - Bosworth is also very good as is Lisa Kurdow as his long suffering estranged wife - the females in the film are the only ones who come out of this whole mess with any dignity - the males are all low-life scum who probably got what they deserved - the only hopeful point at the end is that the females survived the experince whereas Holmes was to die of AIDS in 1988 - its very effective at capturing the whole sordid underbelly of the Hollywood Dream....
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