5.8/10
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Ask the Dust (2006)

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Mexican beauty Camilla hopes to rise above her station by marrying a wealthy American. That is complicated by meeting Arturo Bandini, a first-generation Italian hoping to land a writing career and a blue-eyed blonde on his arm.

Director:

Robert Towne

Writers:

Robert Towne (screenplay), John Fante (novel)
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Colin Farrell ... Arturo Bandini
Salma Hayek ... Camilla
Donald Sutherland ... Hellfrick
Eileen Atkins ... Mrs. Hargraves
Idina Menzel ... Vera Rivkin
Justin Kirk ... Sammy
Jeremy Crutchley ... Solomon
Ronald France Ronald France ... Columbia Sweeper
Dion Basco ... Filipino Houseboy
Donna Mosley Donna Mosley ... Red Headed Girl
Paul Rylander Paul Rylander ... Harold the Bartender
Natasha Staples Natasha Staples ... Denver Librarian
Wayne Harrison Wayne Harrison ... Heilman
Yasuhiro Yoshimura Yasuhiro Yoshimura ... Japanese Vegetable Man (as Yoshimura Yasuhiro)
Sid Sid ... Willie the Dog
Edit

Storyline

L.A. in the early 1930's: racism, poverty, and disease color the Bunker Hill neighborhood where Arturo Bandini, a lover of men and beasts alike, has arrived from Colorado to write the great Los Angeles novel. After six months and down to his last nickel, he orders a cup of coffee, served by Camilla Lopez, beautiful, self-possessed, and Mexican. Arturo gets advice, encouragement, and an occasional check from H.L. Mencken, so he keeps writing and he keeps seeing Camilla. But, he's mean to her for no apparent reason, so the relationship sputters. A housekeeper from back East suggests a way out of his jealously and fears. "Camilla Bandini": is it in the cards? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Passion and ambition drive two dreamers in 1930s LA. Their love affair is ferocious and hot-blooded as they fight the city and themselves to make their dreams come true.

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexuality, nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | Germany

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

13 April 2006 (Thailand) See more »

Also Known As:

Pregúntale al viento See more »

Filming Locations:

South Africa See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$68,779, 12 March 2006

Gross USA:

$743,847

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,460,057
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The rights to the novel once belonged to Mel Brooks. However, the rights had lapsed. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Arturo Bandini: When I was a kid, back in Colorado, it was Smith, Parker and Jones who hurt me with their hideous names. Who called me wop and dago and greaser, and their children hurt me. Just as I hurt you. They hurt me so much, I could never become one of them. Drove me to books, drove me within myself. Drove me to run away from that town in Colorado, into your home and into your life. And sometimes, when I see their faces out here, the same faces, the same sad, hard mouths from my hometown. I'm...
[...]
See more »

Connections

References The Sin of Nora Moran (1933) See more »

Soundtracks

I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire
by Bennie Benjamin, Eddie Durham, Sol Marcus and Eddie Seiler
Performed by Jess Harnell
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Frustrating
17 February 2006 | by SammyKSee all my reviews

I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Towne give a talk in Toronto, in which he mused on his long and (mostly) illustrious career. From Chinatown to Personal Best to The Firm, he spouted off anecdotes and insights into Hollywood and the screen writing process in general.

Then the audience was treated to a special preview screening of "Ask the Dust." It would seem that this has been a labour of love for Mr. Towne; one that has been several decades in the making. So in that sense, perhaps this film doesn't merit harsh criticism. The fact that Towne got it made is to be commended.

It's not a bad film, by any right. It boasts two decent performances from its leads Salma Hayek and Colin Farrell, lush cinematography, meticulous period detail and a sumptuous score. All the elements of a great film are there. However, nothing really gels.

My guess is that the source material is the film's ultimate downfall. It's dated, and contradictory. What begins as a pulpy potboiler in the vein of "The Postman Rings Twice" becomes a politically correct tirade against intolerance. Oh, and there's a healthy dose of "La Boheme" thrown in there for good measure.

The first half of the film is intriguing as the characters' motivations are enigmatic and unpredictable. Hayek comes across as a latina femme fatale, while Farrell plays the flawed noirish anti-hero. L.A. itself is a character - one of a city at odds with its surroundings. The description of the sand (or dust) from the desert filling the air is particularly poignant.

Halfway through, the film takes a perplexing turn. Turns out there is no mystery behind the motives of the leads. They just wanted to be loved/understood. Cue Hollywood clichés, and end scene. You can't help but be disappointed.

Perhaps in the hands of a '70s auteur director like Polanski, Antonioni or Bob Rafelson, the source material could have been tweaked or restructured to yield a more surprising and challenging film. I even wondered what the film would have been like with a 70s screen icon like Jack Nicholson or Al Pacino in the lead role.


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