• Retrospective: Tattoo (1981)

    From David N. Butterworth@21:1/5 to All on Tue Aug 30 23:27:42 2016
    TATTOO (1981)
    A film review by David N. Butterworth
    Copyright 2016 David N. Butterworth

    ** (out of ****)

    He first spies her on the cover of a glamour magazine, pouty and alluring,
    and then on TV in a perfume commercial, sensuous and inviting. He has to
    have her, possess her, leave his mark on her. He is Karl Kinsky, a
    decorated (literally) Vietnam vet obsessed with *irezumi*, the traditional Japanese art of tattooing. Post-'nam, he plies his learned trade in a
    Hoboken tattoo parlor. He is played by Bruce Dern, Hollywood's favorite
    loony, back when he likely appealed to the ladies. Like Maddy. She's a
    model, played by former "Bond girl" Maud Adams ("The Man with the Golden
    Gun," "Octopussy"). They coincidentally meet when a fashion editor propositions Karl to design some temporary tattoos--dragons and anchors and stuff--for a shoot with a nautical theme: scantily-clad women draped across buff, underdressed seamen (Maddy is one of the scantily clad). Obsession, domination, the permanence of ink--all these figure in Karl's elaborate
    plan to possess Maddy completely. Bob Brooks never made a theatrical film before or after "Tattoo," but he teamed up with Luis Bunuel's
    daughter-in-law (!?) to write this schlock, an early '80s "after hours"
    drama akin to "Bedroom Eyes" and "Masquerade" and "I, the Jury" (all
    proudly "now on Fox/CBS" videotape). Apart from a couple of episodes of
    TV's "Space: 1999" and a stellar made-for-television movie about London
    cabbies called "The Knowledge" (1979), "Tattoo" was it for Brooks. Perhaps
    the outcry that accompanied the film's release (its publicity art featured
    a naked woman bound at the ankles) turned him off filmmaking altogether.
    Or maybe he just wanted to get Adams in the buff. Mission accomplished,

    David N. Butterworth

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