In The Soup Retro Talk; Grade: B+
Updated: Apr 27
Welcome to another edition of Retro Talk! Since this quarantine situation has started, we usually offer one Retro Talk a week. This week however... WE GOT TWO! I was debating on saving this Retro Talk for next week and do the much needed one this week. But ya know... Let’s give the people what we want shall we! The next Retro Talk will be released tomorrow, for today we will be discussing an unsung heavy indie hero of the 1990’s. Scrolling around streaming service to streaming service, trying to choose a movie for tonight, I came across this one title me and many of us may of never heard of before. I’m talking about Alexandre Rockwell’s In the Soup, starring Steve Buscemi and Seymour Cassel.
When describing In the Soup, couple films come to mind. I think of Clerks towards the laid back comedy style mixed with black and white picture, another one The Disaster Artist towards the bond of the main characters and their aspiration of making a film... It may not have lead towards the desired destination, but Aldolpho’s (Steve Buscemi) passion in making a film does remind you of the main leads in The Disaster Artist. For many film buffs out there: I’m shocked this film is not discussed more as an acclaimed classic. Could be due to the fact this film recently got restored in 2018, so many people might of not have access to the feature. In the Soup caters to just about everyone, whether it be the crafty storytelling, the laid back comedic style humor, or how it inspires young film makers the way the lead character has a deer aspiration to have his unique vision heard.
The film is simply about a broke man named Aldolpho, whom is living in a worn down apartment in New York. He does odd jobs to make ends meet, but his true passion is to make a film. He has made a couple no budget silent films himself, that resemble an art house style, that he needs to throughly explain. Aldolpho decides to put his 500 page screenplay on the internet, hoping to get a buyer, it’s a long shot due to the fact it’s extremely hard to sell, but Aldolpho needs the cash and the chance. Aldolpho unexpectedly gets that chance from an unexpected producer Joe (Seymour Cassel). Joe is an intriguing figure, he has associates, a girlfriend that’s comfortable in being topless, and a strange way to receive the high end $250,000 budget Aldolpho seeks.
The Cinematography is simply shot in Black and White, as it resembles the film’s tone. Often times the film making process is not all bright in color, it’s a long and sometimes heart breaking process to get a film developed. It compliments the complication and moodiness of Aldolpho desire of making a film, as he hopes Joe could be the answer... But there are more complications, than there are in doings. When presented The Score is very classical, especially during the outside limo alley way scene. What’s even as intriguing as the story itself, is the cast... Quite a few significant names, that pop up at you unexpectedly, but as a whole it’s compliments the laid back entertaining energy this film has. Unpopular opinion: We don’t give enough credit to the great Steve Buscemi as an actor, he’s great as Aldolpho. Aldolpho is a well written character, as many young film makers can relate to this characters desired passion in not only creating a film, but has a vision not many could quite understand. Seymour Cassel perhaps is easily the best performance in the entire film, simply the most entertaining and intriguing character of the entire film. The chemistry between him and Buscemi is pure excellence. At times you feel annoyed by Joe’s antics, as you feel he’s just a con artist, at you just want Aldolpho to achieve his dream. But how can you not love Joe?! He’s just exciting to watch, he makes you feel like a superstar that provides security. Jennifer Beals playing Aldolpho’s lovely next door neighbor was pretty good, a small yet significant romantic interest. Couple surprises come to mind when discussing the cast. A surprising appearance from Stanley Tucci playing the next door neighbors ex husband, it’s such an odd character but offers well executed scene. Also we get an appearance from Sam Rockwell?!? Holy crap I stared at the screen wondering if that was him, then got excited when I saw his name in the credits.
Along with the really good performances and great characters, the heart and soul of the film comes with the story and the meaning behind it. The film has a well written story, that at times you can criticize some odd ball moments. Regarding the random crime scenes involved, which maybe one or two times I myself can be confused by. I think what makes this film excel other than the well crafted storytelling, is the meaning behind this film... As it feels like we are on an honest look of making a film. We go on a journey with Aldolpho of the pros and cons of what it’s like making a film, in a deep metaphorical way. Joe plays many parts of the film making process. When Aldolpho is reading his script to Joe, you can say in this scene Joe is like a studio executive. Though he appreciates the originality Aldolpho is going for, but in Joe’s eyes it doesn’t sell, as he would rather have a simple romantic story that does actually sell. The scene is the harsh reality of sitting down with just about any studio executive, majority of the time they don’t want something extremely artsy fartsy that people can’t comprehend unless explained bit by bit the way Joe is struggling to understand Aldolpho’s script.... Four pages in. They want something that is simple, that people can understand right away and don’t need much time thinking about, and that it sells to a wider audience. But it can also be a learning tool for Aldolpho, as he shouldn’t try so hard for his first project, as he should take an easier more relaxed route for a first project. Relatable to today’s modern day Hollywood unless a rare few independent companies like A24, Bleecker Street, Neon Rated etc. Joe can often represent the harsh reality that the movie making business is a dirty business at times. Now it may not accurately represent that, as Joe often steals and does some drug deals along the way... But sometimes, Hollywood can be a dirty business to get involved with. Joe can also represents the bright ideas of the film making process. Making a film can make you feel secure to go after any girl you desire, as Aldolpho finally made a move on his attractive next door neighbor. It can handle your living expenses, as Joe took care of his landlords. It can lead to limo drives with friends, going out to parties and dancing. Sometimes the film represents the great amount of risk taking that needs to be taken, in order to achieve in making a film. You have to put all chips in, no matter how hard it gets, how complicated and confusing the process gets, in order to achieve this dream you have to be all in.
Aldolpho and Joe’s friendship simply is the glamour and fault in the Hollywood lifestyle. It really felt like I was on a journey with these two characters, exploring what it’s like to be in the process of making a film, at times odd but a very intriguing story put together that has a lot of meaning. The comedic style of the film is great, well written comedy style that’ll make you laugh a great deal. I don’t think this film could excel the way it does without the entertainment value, it’s a VERY Entertaining film big thanks to Seymour Cassel whom is the star of the show. What I also love about the film is even though the process is complicated, the film still shows just how beautiful the film making process is. Like when Aldolpho has his mini cam corder, filming his next door neighbor outside, in the cold snowy weather... I mean it just speaks to us deeply. The finale of the film I felt was over the top yes, but it’s still a satisfying ending. It’s like it was meant to kill the corrupt and dirty way in getting your film made and just doing the way you’re suppose to. In the Soup is a film worth watching and discussing, a very satisfying entertaining film that has a great amount to say.
Overall, In the Soup is a great film. I highly recommend this film, you check this out on Amazon Prime or Kanopy. I hope in due time this acclaimed classic will be discussed more in years to come. -Mitch Smietana