John Smith

One Night Stand (1997, Mike Figgis)

One Night Stand is such an emotionally exhausting film, one of the few moments of relief comes when Wesley Snipes, Ming-Na (as his wife), Nastassja Kinski (she and Snipes had a one night affair) and Kyle MacLachlan (as Kinski’s husband) go out to dinner together. It’s awkward in a far more comfortable way than the rest of the film, which takes its time getting there, but eventually reveals itself to be about the unraveling of Snipes.

Now, Wesley Snipes is often laughably terrible, which makes his performance here a shock. It’s one of the finer male lead performances. Figgis’s film feels like a novel, as it deals with Snipes’s heterosexuality, his marriage, his self-loathing over his homophobia and his career. Everything centers around Robert Downey Jr. as his best friend (the film opens with Snipes introducing the story, talking to the camera). Downey’s a gay guy dying of AIDS and it all sort of swirls around the life Snipes left in New York to sell out and go to LA. Of course, those events happened before the present action… which is not to discount the importance of the dalliance with Kinski and so on….

It’s all connected, but Downey and Snipes’s partnership is the focal point.

Downey’s great, though he sort of has the easiest role, something he mentions in dialogue. Ming-Na’s good, MacLachlan’s fantastic. Great small turn from Thomas Haden Church.

Figgis (who also scores) does an amazing job directing. It’s an astounding piece of work.



Written and directed by Mike Figgis; director of photography, Declan Quinn; edited by John Smith; music by Figgis; Waldemar Kalinowski; produced by Figgis, Ben Myron and Annie Stewart; released by New Line Cinema.

Starring Wesley Snipes (Max), Nastassja Kinski (Karen), Kyle MacLachlan (Vernon), Ming-Na (Mimi), Robert Downey Jr. (Charlie), Glenn Plummer (George), Amanda Donohoe (Margaux), Zoë Nathenson (Mickey) and Thomas Haden Church (Don).

The Route V50 (2004, Stephen Frears)

It’s clearly an extended Volvo commercial starring Robert Downey Jr. and directed by Stephen Frears, but I also think The Route V50 is based on an essay someone wrote to accompany a book of photographs (photographed by someone else). A French someone and a French someone else. If that assumption is correct, it should be a lot better… but wait, it appears the French persons are actually just Volvo advertising guys.

As it stands, it’s a terrible remake of a “Twilight Zone” episode where Downey runs into himself over and over at different points in a timeline. It’s interesting to see how these different temporal characterizations interact… but it’s Downey mugging for the camera and doing a TV commercial.

Regardless of source material, screenwriter Ed Roe’s apparently unable to write anything but that TV commercial so the partially engaging plot device is the only thing it’s got going for it.

1/3Not Recommended


Directed by Stephen Frears; screenplay by Ed Roe, based on a story by Lorenzo De Rita and Bertrand Fleuret; director of photography, Remi Adefersin; edited by John Smith; music by Nathan Larson; produced by Frances Silor; released by Volvo.

Starring Robert Downey Jr.

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