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Spokane Native Nail Stars In Forgettable ‘Switchblade Sisters’

Fri., Feb. 14, 1997

Even though “Switchblade Sisters” stars Spokane’s own Joanne Nail, this 1976 film - which will be released Tuesday on video through Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder Pictures imprint - likely will be hard to find in and around Spokane.

Of the major area chain stores, only the Hastings outlets have ordered copies. The downtown Premier Video store has a copy on order, yet most other stores never even heard of the film.

Why is this? Market priorities, it seems.

Rolling Thunder Pictures is an imprint of Miramax, the art-house arm of Disney. Tarantino, the director of “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction,” was hired to form Rolling Thunder as a means of finding and releasing little-known films that he considered interesting.

Since Tarantino’s tastes are almost always out of the mainstream, and since Spokane is as about as mainstream-oriented as you can get, there’s little reason for anything but the very biggest of Spokane’s stores - or those that specialize in more specialized tastes - to stock his recommendations.

And few films are more out of the mainstream than “Switchblade Sisters.” Made during the height of the 1970s-era exploitation boom, this Jack Hill-directed film makes “Starsky and Hutch” look like “Hamlet.”

Rude, crude and unapologetically funky, “Switchblade Sisters” is a campy ride - though largely unintentionally so - and must have felt so even during its first run. (To give you some idea of what the movie is like, consider that director Hill’s most successful feature was 1974’s “Foxy Brown” with Pam Grier).

Hill, 63, claims that “Switchblade Sisters” ruined his career. And there may be some truth to this.

But time tends to soften all snubs. At a screening during last summer’s Seattle International Film Festival, “Switchblade Sisters” totally entertained a packed movie house (the Guild 45th, west of the University district), which laughed at and cheered on its every absurdist sequence.

The film’s rediscovery by the hipsterish Tarantino, and its subsequent re-release, may be the best thing that ever happened to Hill or Nail - a 1965 graduate of Lewis and Clark High School who subsequently earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Washington University and acted for Spokane Civic Theatre.

If you can find a copy - in Spokane, Nail’s hometown no less - you’ll definitely know what I mean.

Fly Away Home

***

When a young girl (Oscar-winner Anna Paquin of “The Piano”) loses her mother in a car accident, she is taken from her New Zealand home to Ontario, Canada, to live with her artist father (Jeff Daniels). Their attempts to forge a relationship go slowly until she adopts a flock of wild geese and, ultimately, decides to fly them south for the winter. Beautifully photographed, this Carrol Ballard (“The Black Stallion”) film is a Disney-like treat that plays well for both children and their parents. Rated PG

A Very Brady Sequel

**-1/2

There’s not enough here to warrant a full feature film, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t find anything to laugh at. Following in the footsteps of the first “Brady” movie, the filmmakers make as much fun of the stuck-in-the-‘70s family as their neighbors do. The plot this time involves the first husband (Tim Matheson) of Carol Brady (Shelly Long), long thought to be dead, showing up to claim his place in the family. Proverb-spouting Mike (Gary Cole) and the rest of the family are a bit confused. But, then, they are Bradys, to which confusion is sort of a natural state. The result, if not highminded humor, is still cleverer than anything, say, Dan Aykroyd has done since leaving “Saturday Night Live.” Rated PG-13

Feeling Minnesota

**

In another Tarantinoesque attempt to capture the offbeat world of cultural outsiders (some would say losers), director Steve Baigelman follows the fortunes of a couple of feuding brothers played by Keanu Reeves and Vincent D’Onofrio. Their life-long feud escalates when Reeves (whose character’s name is the hiply spelled “Jjaks”) steals his brother’s new wife (Cameron Diaz). But any attempt to escape the past in such films is blocked by the inevitable obstacles, and violence is unescapable. Yet, believe it or not, Baigelman - whose view of the Minnesota countryside is bleak to the max - stretches to find a “happy” ending. All in all, an average film festival offering that, probably because of Reeves’ presumed audience appeal, somehow escaped to the movie mainstream. But the only thing that held off the film’s straight-to-video rush was its five-minute-or-so theatrical run. By the way, Dan Aykroyd co-stars boasting the worst accent since Kevin Costner in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” Rated R

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