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The Dress 

Wednesday, Nov 25 1998
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A fabric designer is told by a disgruntled stewardess that he's a lousy lover. Moments later, his employer derides him as a frustrated artist and gives him one week to come up with material for the perfect dress. Subsequently the fabric sample born of this ill will is delivered to a dressmaker who uses an extremely large pig as a sexual aid (don't ask -- you don't want to know).

Dutch writer/designer/filmmaker Alex van Warmerdam, also the founder of an experimental theater company in Holland, has directed what is essentially a series of vignettes rather than a cohesive narrative. His use of the dress to hold the film's slight plot together sometimes lends the feel of an improvisational theater exercise, but what at first appears to be a light comic romp about misfits in the fashion trade quickly turns into a twisted -- very twisted -- black comedy, a modern Grimm's fairy tale. One woman who wears the apparently cursed garment is attacked by an eccentric train conductor, then kidnapped by a bus driver who takes a detour from his regular route and attempts to rape her. This nightmare in cotton triggers lust, violence, and sudden death, and should make anyone think twice about making a purchase at a thrift shop.

-- Sura Wood

The Dress screens Friday through Thursday, Nov. 27-Dec. 3, at 7 and 9:15 p.m. (with Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday matinees at 2 and 4:30 p.m.) at the Roxie, 3117 16th St. (at Valencia), S.F. Admission is $6.50; call 863-1087.

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Sura Wood

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