Imposters | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Apart from offering what is likely the best stretch of the late, great Charles Ludlam (of New York's Ridiculous Theater) on film, Mark Rappaport's dense and fascinating 1980 independent feature--a tragicomic melodrama designed to stick in the throat (and brain)--surely qualifies as one of the wildest and wittiest American movies of the decade. The structure is basically confrontational: gay and/or straight couples, twins and/or lovers, crooks and/or romantic heroes, doppelgangers all, try to ridicule one another out of existence, with enough deadpan bitchy dialogue to choke a horse, and a plot derived equally from The Maltese Falcon and Proust's Albertine disparue. Rappaport's ingenious low-budget strategies for suggesting big-budget opulence are particularly disturbing and suggestive. Magic, stolen jewels, jealousy, paranoia, and torture parade through this hysterically convoluted, elegantly mounted tale of wisecracks and woe like a Hollywood funeral procession for American romanticism: the results are nightmarish, hilarious, and indelible. With Michael Berg and Ellen McElduff. (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday, April 8, 6:00, 443-3737)

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