Tuesday, October 8, 2019


What happens to aging strippers in the middle of a financial crisis? Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers based on a New York Magazine article, “The Hustlers of Scores” answers the question with a kind of Marxist analysis of the lap dancing industry. Commodification is, of course, the name of the game and the movie has its moments, especially when Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) the prima ballerina of the film equates the economy of the club, with its VIP room at the top, to the social stratification of the stock market firms who supply the clientele. If you’re expecting a kind of Oceans 8, with its mixture of female bravado, suspense and comedy you’re likely to be disappointed. Further, even though Hustlers is about stripping and also refreshing since it's the women doing the exploiting rather than the men, the movie's curiously like catnip--and, being a jeremiad, may even dull your interest in sex. The territory of Hustlers is pregnant if you look at strip clubs as a metaphor for society. “I have to say the whole country is a stripper,” says Ramona. “You have people who are willing to take their clothes off and those who toss the money.” However, despite the topicality—particularly in the age of Stormy Daniels, the disquisition is as flat as is Lopez's performance—and the subplot about the journalist researching the story on which the film is based, is totally gratuitous. Who cares what Ramona did or didn't tell a reporter about her sidekick Destiny (Constance Wu)? Look at Cabaret, if you’re interested the depredations of both capitalism and the flesh. Weimar Germany bears some parallels to America both before and after financial crisis of 2008. And the packaging and marketing of sex and love will continue to exist in its own alternative universe, despite the #MeToo movement. There will always be an abundance of both product and consumers. "So gross war die Achtung fur gelt," was the way Brecht put it in The Rise and Fall of  the City of Mahagonny.

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