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Hack Narcissus

Some talents are just too large to be limited to one side of the camera. The success of singular sensations such as Eastwood, Costner, and Streisand has inspired a multitude of ego-tripping thespians yearning to expand their personal horizons and direct themselves. What follows are some of the more blatant examples of self-love in a cinematic vacuum.

On Deadly Ground (1994)--Perhaps best known for its climactic 15-minute ecology lecture delivered directly to the camera, Steven Seagal's much-maligned directing debut is actually a moving parable about the cosmic incompatibility of modern man and Mother Nature. The director, ever expanding in both mind and body, first hints at this inherent paradox by introducing himself with a looming crotch shot as a castrati choir shrieks in the background. The mind-bending dichotomy increases as our hero carries out his plan of saving the Alaskan wilderness by blowing the living hell out of anything even remotely tundra-based. He also wrestles a bear.

The Tango Lesson (1997)--When her project involving amputee supermodels hits the skids, a director (Sally Potter, best known for the hermaphroditic arthouse hit Orlando) shimmies off her frustration by becoming utterly infatuated with a hunky dance instructor. The audience is thoughtfully taken along for the whole obsessive ride. Some brilliant musical numbers and daring fourth-wall boogying are eventually swallowed by a narrative so wholly self-reflexive that it ends up gazing rapturously at its own hind end. Well worth watching, albeit with a heavy hand on the fast-forward.

Fall (1997)--The ne plus ultra of self-regard cinema, this model of one-handed filmmaking tells the tale of a genius author/cab driver blessed with the ability to make the world's top fashion model fall instantly under his kinky romantic spell. Excruciating poetry and retina-scraping erotica ensues. Writer/Director/Star Eric Schaeffer obviously fancies himself to be a younger, pervier Woody Allen, but mainly distinguishes himself by dropping more onscreen trou than Harvey Keitel on Spanish fly. A swiftly lethal drinking game could be fashioned from the number of times the author stops the film dead to have someone remark on just how darn wonderful/witty/bootylicious he is. Hail to the King.

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