Abel Ferrara's meditation on life imitating art (and vice versa) is one of his weaker efforts, but it didn't deserve the scorn it got.Harvey Keitel is Eddie Israel, a filmmaker very similar to Ferrara. (His wife is played by Nancy Ferrara, real-life wife of guess who.) Eddie is directing a psychodrama starring two actors who hate each other (James Russo and Madonna) playing a couple falling apart. Meanwhile, Eddie sleeps with Madonna (wonder if Abel did, too?) and wrecks his own marriage (wonder if Abel ... ah, never mind).
It takes an extremely ballsy filmmaker to direct a scene in which his onscreen surrogate confesses to his wife's onscreen surrogate (played by his wife) that he's had lots of on-set affairs. Is any of it interesting? Sure. It gives us insight into how directors get performances out of actors, and more specifically how Ferrara gets them. There's some wit in the casting of Keitel as the Ferrara character — he gets to show us what Ferrara probably put him through on Bad Lieutenant.
Among the movie's triumphs is that Madonna actually wakes up and gives a solid, believable performance, both as Claire the religious convert in Eddie's film and as Sarah the traumatized actress in Ferrara's film. Some would say she's just playing herself either way — which I think is part of what Ferrara is getting at: Great acting requires you to play yourself, to dig out the part of yourself you're least proud of and lay it bare.
Dangerous Game (originally titled Snake Eyes) is a good film-buff movie, but it's too smitten with its own fancy intricacy, and eventually even the most confrontational scenes (Eddie insulting Sarah off-camera to provoke her into reading her lines with the appropriate venom; James Russo getting carried away and doing everything in the script for real) seem like movie-magazine clichés.I kept expecting Ferrara to step into the frame and coach Keitel on how to play him.