Finally, an aughts era Abel movie I can get behind! I guess it took a strip club setting and a sort-of remake of a Cassavetes film (The Killing of a Chinese Bookie) to get the job done. This one hits that sweet spot in the middle of his two directorial impulses...pretension and sleaze.
Though most of Go Go was filmed in Rome's Cinecitta Studios, it's definitely in his NYC comfort zone. Willem Dafoe plays the owner of a semi-tasteful Manhattan burlesque club so far behind on his rent that he's taken to purchasing fixed lottery ticket numbers to save his club from becoming a Bed, Bath and Beyond. When his lucky number finally comes up, somebody loses the ticket. Lots of thick New Yawk accents and shouting about paychecks ensues. We even get to hear Dafoe croon on stage at one point.
This is Abel Ferrara doing intentional comedy and nailing it. Go Go may be the closest he ever comes to a Robert Altman film. It reminded me of a few of Altman's one-location pictures, say, Come Back to the Five and Dime or A Prairie Home Companion. The plot is mostly as an excuse to glide around the club and catch lots of spirited improvising. But it's good improvising this time (unlike The Blackout). So many great actors milling about. In addition to Dafoe, you've got Bob Hoskins, Sylvia Miles, Burt Young, Matthew Modine. And then there's Asia Argento. This movie didn't get a lot of press (or distribution) when it was released. If you've heard anything at all about it, it was probably that Argento plays a stripper who french kisses a Rottweiler, which is true. So on the sleaze to pretension scale, Go Go is definitely weighted more towards the sleaze. Unless that Rottweiler was named "Antonioni."