Anniversary Post: Barb Wire

Barb Wire

On this day, 3 May, in 1996 Barb Wire was released. It’s a slightly awkward retelling of Casablanca with the genders switched. And it’s a lot of fun if you don’t get hung up on it.

Gleiberman Hates It!

Speaking of which, enemy of the site Owen Gleiberman wrote a review of Barb Wire for Entertaining Weekly (before he was soiling the pages of Variety). It shouldn’t surprise you that he hated the film. He doesn’t like film. I’m not sure why he chose his profession.

But maybe you need to see things in a relative way. He wrote, “Barb Wire is livelier than the recent futuristic duds Johnny Mnemonic and Tank Girl…” Since I like those two films quite a lot, maybe I should think he admires Barb Wire? Alas: he hates film.

Everyone Hates It!

Of course, Barb Wire was hated by almost all professional critics. And it’s odd because the film is exactly what it means to be. It’s not like it was trying to be The English Patient and somehow came out wrong.

It’s a stylish action film meant to highlight Pamela Anderson’s body. But most reviews I’ve found don’t make the case for it being bad. They just complain that it is.

One exception is Derek Adams at Time Out, who said, “The film’s haphazardly edited, lacks narrative clout, and rambles on to a ludicrously extended conclusion.” Let me respond:

  • What does it mean to be “haphazardly edited”? I think what he means to say is that it is competently edited in a style he doesn’t like.
  • Does The English Patient have “narrative clout”?
  • I assume any film without “narrative clout” necessarily “rambles” so I’ll skip that.
  • It’s hard to think much about the length of its third act given what is going on today.

A Psychotronic Winner

I’m not a huge fan of Barb Wire, but it’s a great example of psychotronic film. There’s no missing it. It doesn’t matter how much money you shove at some projects, they are gloriously destined for the drive-in, VHS, and torrent — depending upon the time.

Plus, any film with Udo Kier must be psychotronic!

Also on 3 May

A Bay of Blood was released in the US in 1972.

It’s also Ben Elton’s birthday, so I have to share Stewart Lee’s routine about him.

Barb Wire poster via Wikipedia under Fair Use.

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