It feels like a minor miracle that I made it to the premiere and party of Domino in Austin last night. I feel like the Fates were against me. Or perhaps it was the spirit of the late Domino Harvey, the subject of the movie, trying to keep me away.
First of all, I am embarassed to confess, I went to the wrong theater. I kept seeing the ad for the Domino event on the Alamo Downtown site, and for some reason never noticed that it was at Alamo on South Lamar. Fortunately, the theaters are maybe 10 minutes apart, but the shame! Oh, the shame.
And I suffered in consequence, because when I arrived at the correct theater, I was near the end of the long, slow line. Everyone had to be checked against a list and then went through a metal detector. This was my first screening with a metal detector; it felt so airport-ish that I expected someone to give me a little bag of peanuts afterwards. Women also had their purses searched for recording devices. I left my phone in my car even though it doesn't take photos, just to avoid potential problems.
As further punishment for my flakiness, I got to sit in the second row. If you've seen the second row at an Alamo South Lamar theater, you will likely agree with my theory that they were designed by a conspiracy of chiropractors needing business.
Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News introduced the movie. He let us know that director Tony Scott had to cancel his appearance, although writer Richard Kelly would still hold a Q&A afterwards. Knowles explained that Scott was in New Orleans trying to see if he could find any salvageable locations to shoot his next feature, Deja Vu. Despite studio pressure, he was determined to shoot in Louisiana. I grew up near New Orleans, so hearing this about Scott raised my respect for him.
Even so, I wasn't sure if I would like the film at all. I am not a big fan of Scott's films. I feel like I've seen most of his movies by accident rather than intention. (Do not ask me about my traumatic Top Gun experiences.) Alamo showed some old trailers for his films before the movie, reminding us that he directed The Hunger and True Romance. The True Romance trailer was bizarre because it was old enough that no mention was made at all of the writer beyond the credits at the end. We make a much bigger fuss over Quentin Tarantino these days, but in 1993 few people had a clue who he was.
Domino is a vivid, fast-moving film about Domino Harvey's life as a bounty hunter. The visual style is reminiscent of True Romance, but the movie also plays around with time in a way that reminds me of writer Kelly's best-known film, Donnie Darko. The crazy second row of the theater turned out to be just fine and perhaps even enhanced the experience.
The movie ends with a shot of the real Domino Harvey, grinning for the camera and looking very much in her bounty-hunter role, followed a black screen with the words "In Memory, Domino Harvey." This is the only reference to the fact that Harvey
died in June from a drug overdose. The film had already been completed.
Richard Kelly explained after the movie that he conceived the idea of the storyline being a kind of "fever dream"—a surreal tale from Domino's point of view, and at times more of a satire of biopics than a standard biopic. The "fever dream" tone allowed him to play fast and loose with the facts. After all, if it's all a dream, you can add stuff like Tom Waits appearing out of nowhere. Is his character real? Is anything real? The surreal premise also allowed Kelly to change the timeframe of the movie from the early 1990s to a contemporary setting.
Kelly noted some changes from the first draft, which had even more weird Beverly Hills, 90210 references than the finished film. (I would have enjoyed seeing his proposed Greek chorus of 90210 cast members, but it might have distracted too much from the plot.) He said he was surprised at some of the quirky details that Scott kept in the film, such as the Sam Kinison Monument in Needles.
Kelly also admitted that some of the similarities to True Romance, particularly at the end of the film, were intentional. He called it "a fun revisit." After all, when you have no intention of reflecting reality, why not sneak in a little homage for the hell of it?
No one mentioned Domino Harvey's death and why the filmmakers chose not to add it to the story, but that was probably because it was an unnecessary question. If you see the movie, you can see that her death simply would not have fit into the movie, not even as a coda. It doesn't work.
Kelly did note that Harvey had been "tickled and excited" about the film when speaking with him. He found it difficult to believe she'd had issues with the character's sexual orientation; in his opinion, her real-life sexual orientation had nothing to do with this particular film.
After the Q&A ended, we headed to the after-party at Capitol City Trap and Skeet. The drive to the shooting range was a little spooky, especially at 10 pm. Once you get past the Waffle House on 290, the highway is dark and deserted with few landmarks. I kept wondering if I'd passed the turn and if I'd end up in Manor before I discovered my mistake. Somehow I kept flashing on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, although it was shot in another part of town entirely. The turns were easy to find, but the entrance to the shooting range involved a drive down a long, curvy, unlit gravel road. It didn't help that every radio station in town seemed to be playing eerie atonal music.
Fortunately, the shooting range and party were well-lit and full of happy, noisy people. At parties like this one, based on a little gimmick, usually everyone is far too superior to indulge in the gimmicky activity and they all stand around and sip wine instead. Not this party. Three shooting ranges were open and each one had a long line of people waiting to take a turn aiming the rifle at the moving clay targets. A few people actually hit them, too—I watched one woman hit two, surprisingly. The lines included a lot of women, perhaps inspired by gun-toting Domino Harvey.
And yes, I took a turn with the rifle, although I don't have a photo because my camera battery died. It was pretty dark, anyway. Yep, that's why I didn't hit anything ... because it was so dark. I hadn't picked up a rifle since I was junior high age, at my aunt and uncle's farm. I don't feel I missed much. I am no Domino, that's for sure. I'm not even Keira Knightley. Matt Dentler posted a couple of photos from the event; apparently he isn't any better a shot than I am. (But he does know the correct theater to go to for a screening, unlike me.)
Domino opens in theaters on Oct. 14. I'll post a full review of the movie then.