May 26, 2013


The greatest flop of NYC provocateur auteur James Toback’s rather uneven yet reasonably consistently interesting filmmaking career, Exposed (1983) starring Nastassja Kinski (Tess, Cat People), Rudolf Nureyev (Romeo and Juliet, Valentino) in his last feature film role, and Harvey Keitel (Mean Streets, Toback's Fingers), was certainly assembled with the grand and notable intention of being an international filmmaking masterpiece but was ultimately destined for the celluloid dustbin of history, with only a couple individuals, including alpha-fan-boy Quentin Tarantino, being an advocate of the film. A sleazy but suavely stylized coming-of-age turned pseudo-European crime-thriller about an ambitious Wisconsin farm girl (played by Nastassja Kinski, a woman not exactly fit to play the role of an American peasant) who becomes a high-profile international fashion model featured on the cover of Cosmopolitan and eventually the lover of a seemingly demented stalker violinist with an unhealthy hatred of both Nazis and Marxist-Leninist terrorists, Exposed was immaculately described by its director James Toback as follows: “Exposed is an especially significant title for a story that moves through different circuits of revelation. Elizabeth [Nastassja Kinski] learns about herself, and about the breadth of her capacities - which turn out to be wildly beyond her initial awareness - through a series of increasingly shocking events. But it is also a romance about the fatal attraction a charming, talented and obsessed musician has for the girl.” Indeed, anyone watching Exposed for a mere second would never believe that Nastassja Kinski is the naïve girl she is portraying yet she, Rudolf Nureyev, and Harvey Keitel give potent performances that make Toback’s thriller thrilling, even if it is ultimately a marvelous celluloid abortion and total artistic failure with all the proper ingredients of a masterpiece that never seems to fully come together. To make Exposed all the more absurd, the film features a hollow holocaust subplot of sorts expressing James Toback’s heated desire to exact heated Hebraic revenge against the antisemitic goyim, which takes the form of a Jewish protagonist sexually debasing beauteous German-Polish Shiksa Nastassja Kinski, as well as killing an anti-Semitic terrorist (ironically, played by strikingly masculine alpha-Jew Keitel). A classic work of Tobackian sinema with a 'no bullshit' attitude that is marinated in gall and wit, Exposed features hysterical females with big balls, creepy stalker males of the ridiculously romantic persuasion, catchy 1960s pop music, miscegenation of the unadulterated Hebrew-on-goyim sort, and a tragic ending in the post-WWII European spirit of the dispiriting variety that most American audiences seem to love to hate, thus demonstrating why James Toback is the virtual Jewish Abel Ferrara. 

 Wisconsin farm girl Elizabeth Carlson (Nastassja Kinski) has big dreams and when her sleazy and stereotypically Jewish English professor/boyfriend Leo Boscovitch (symbolically played by James Toback himself) slaps her in the face and calls her a “cunt,” she decides it is time to drop out of college and to move to the rotten Big Apple and fulfill her potential as a positively pulchritudinous young lady looking to make a big name for herself and possibly fall deeply in love in the process. During her first night in NYC, Elizabeth finds herself in for a rude awakening in regard to the shitty city when she is robbed by a nefarious Negro and his swarthy partner-in-crime, who steal the little money she has to live on. Although hoping to be a performance pianist (she has a knack for playing tunes by Bach), Elizabeth has to settle for a slave-wage waitress job, but luckily while working one day she is discovered by a prestigious fashion photographer named Greg Miller (Ian McShane), who guarantees to make her a worldwide superstar model in under three months in a big promise he ultimately makes good on. Due to her miserable existence in NYC and the seemingly endless swindlers and crooks she has encounter, Elizabeth finds Miller’s offer to make her a star model to be quite dubious to say the least and makes a sardonic remark about menstruation, but he proves good on his offer and before she knows it, she is a world-class model, eventually even landing on the cover of Cosmopolitan. Indeed, rather magically and absurdly, Elizabeth’s desire to be rich, famous, and glamorous is fulfilled, but she is missing one very important ingredient, Mr. Prince Charming. Luckily, a weirdo who also happens to be a professional violinist (thus sharing her love of classical music) named Daniel Jelline (Rudolf Nureyev) begins to stalk her, stating odding things like, “You’re very beautiful…but you should never wear make-up, especially lipstick…Your lips are full and generous without it…Don’t call attention to what is already lovely on its own” and then immediately disappearing just as he randomly appears. Despite knowing nothing about the mysterious man in black, Elizabeth begins to immediately fall in love with him. After Daniel breaks into her apartment, she finally begins to learn that he is a professional violinist who does dirty work for an independently wealthy holocaust survivor looking for revenge against evil Nazi goyim and anti-Zionist towelheads. Later, after Daniel convinces her to come to Paris with him, Elizabeth finds out the hard truth that Daniel’s name is not really Daniel Jelline and that he is indeed the holocaust survivor that he claims to work for and he wants to use her to get next to a terrorist he wants to kill, a fellow named Rivas (Harvey Keitel) whose character is modeled after Latino Marxist/Muslim terrorist Carlos the Jackal, who once made a failed attempt to assassinate Joseph Sieff, a Jewish businessman and vice president of the British Zionist Federation. Rivas uses beautiful female models and effeminate gay men to help him carry out his terroristic jihad and Elizabeth gets close to him by befriending one of his female soldiers, a beauteous Nordic blonde babe named Bridget Gormann (Marion Varella). Rivas takes an instant liking to Elizabeth, but he finds her motivations to be rather dubious. Of course, radical terrorist Rivas has reason to suspect everyone as one of his soldiers—a French fag named Vic (arthouse star Pierre Clémenti)—sells him out to an enemy, so the terrorist leader makes an example out of him by stabbing him to death with a dagger in front of Elizabeth, which greatly disturbs the Wisconsin wonder girl. Elizabeth runs to Daniel after witnessing the murder of Vic and not long after the holocaust man has a run in with Rivas and his girl model terrorist that ends rather tragically. In the end, Elizabeth is exposed to more than she bargained for, including gaining and losing her first love in the process. 

 During the beginning of Exposed, director James Toback’s sleazy college professor character Leo Boscovitch states quite eloquently (in rather gross contrast to his grotesque appearance and character): “The Western world is breaking down. Socially, politically, economically, morally, aesthetically and psychologically. Really, if you look into your own lives there are only two routes of escape from this dark claustrophobic trap: art and romantic love.” Indeed, Exposed attempts to be epic celluloid art of the apocalyptic sort containing an equally ambitious depiction of romantic love, yet, rather unfortunately, the film is no minor masterpiece like Toback’s directorial debut Fingers (1978), but instead, a dauntless celluloid abortion with all the ingredients and gall of a masterwork that just does not make the cut. Of course, like most of James Toback’s films, Exposed has a certain charisma and charm to it that makes it worth coming back to. For fans of either Nastassja Kinski or Rudolf Nureyev, Exposed will also prove to be a true celluloid favorite as both of the real-life sexual deviant stars deliver mystifying and mesmerizing performances that are rather hard to ignore, even if it seems like their full potential is never reached. Although Ms. Kinski might not have the acting chops of her depraved papi, she certainly has a wildly idiosyncratic allure that beauteously bleeds through every scene of Exposed. As a Harvard graduate and unrelenting ‘pick-up’ artist who has been known to hit on underage girls with the line “make them a star” (which the photographer character played by Ian McShane literally does in Exposed), James Toback undoubtedly made the same offer to Nastassja Kinski in regard to Exposed and unfortunately he was unable to deliver on it. A film featuring a vengeful eye-for-an-eye-driven Judaic who has a greater passion for bloodlust than beautiful women and his violin, Exposed, quite thankfully, does not resort to the sort of Spielberg-esque kosher clichés that are typical of similarly themed works. Unlike the high-profile Hebrews in Hollywood, Toback is a sleazy Semite with an unhealthy fixation with goy gals who has never been afraid to show it, hence why his works are highly entertaining art-sploitation pieces as opposed to mere superficial smut on monetary steroids. With Exposed, Toback displayed his fantasy of defiling Aryan beauties, exterminating murderous anti-Semites, and expressing himself through delightful degenerate art, which is certainly something I cannot blame him for. Undoubtedly, James Toback is a Hebrew fit for the front-page of National Socialist propagandist Julius Streicher’s Der Stürmer as a fiercely foul racial specimen, but I doubt the Führer himself could fault him for Exposed, an enthralling piece of personalized Zionist propaganda with a seedy and salacious soul, but a soul nonetheless. 

-Ty E

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