Another Day in Paradise

USA 1998

Reviewed by John Wrathall


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

Oklahoma, the 70s. After being beaten up, teenage junkie Bobbie is nursed back to health by Mel, a friend's uncle, who gives him heroin to kill the pain. Mel and his girlfriend Sid take Bobbie and his girlfriend Rosie under their wing. Bobbie helps Mel steal speed from a clinic, but they are double-crossed by the white-supremacist gang to whom they try to sell the pills. In the ensuing gunfight, Mel is wounded and the four supremacists killed. On the run, the 'family' take refuge in the home of Reverend, a gun-dealing minister. When they have recovered, Mel contacts Jewels, a gangster who recruits him to rob a jeweller's shop, arranged by the jeweller himself as an insurance scam. Mel and Bobbie break into the jeweller's safe, but find it empty. Returning to the motel where they are staying, Bobbie finds Rosie dead from a heroin overdose.

Mel, Bobbie and Sid go to the home of the jeweller who double-crossed them. Bobbie finds Jewels torturing the jeweller; trying to make him stop, Bobbie accidentally shoots Jewels. The jeweller's wife pays Sid the money they're owed but as the jeweller and his wife are witnesses to Jewels' murder, Mel kills them. Stopping as they make their getaway, Mel tells Sid he is planning to kill Bobbie. Sid warns Bobbie, who runs away. When he finds out, Mel punches Sid. Then they drive off together, apparently reconciled.


Tulsa, Larry Clark's 1971 book of photographs of drug buddies in his Oklahoma hometown, was an acknowledged influence on Gus Van Sant's Drugstore Cowboy, a similarly non-judgmental look at the outlaw lifestyle of a bunch of 70s junkies. Van Sant repaid the favour by executive-producing Clark's first feature, Kids. And now Clark has returned the compliment with his second feature, Another Day in Paradise, a film much closer in tone to Drugstore Cowboy's breezy, happy-go-lucky take on 'shocking' subject matter, than to the starker, grittier approach of Clark's previous work as photographer and film-maker. Like Drugstore Cowboy, Another Day in Paradise offers an intimate look at a surrogate family of drug-users drifting round 70s urban backwaters from one motel to the next, supporting themselves with low-rent heists until, inevitably, they get out of their depth. In contrast to the recent wave of slick 70s nostalgia, (see Boogie Nights), Clark's film actually feels as if it could have been made at the time, complete with grainy, low-contrast photography and a boom microphone wandering intermittently into shot. (Clark's quest for a certain brand of scratchy 70s authenticity is symbolised by the name of the production company he co-runs, Chinese Bookie Pictures, presumably after Cassavetes' 1976 classic, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie.)

Refreshingly, despite finding his original fame as a still photographer and for his meretricious Kids, Clark here seems more interested in performances than look or style. James Woods is one of the film's producers and it's not difficult to see why he leapt at the role of Mel after a decade of colourful but hardly taxing supporting turns in such films as Contact, Casino and Nixon. With the ceaseless self-justifying patter that shrouds his world-weariness, his horror at the open spaces of the countryside, his sudden explosions of violence and equally frightening mirth, Mel is a Woods creation par excellence, in the manic tradition of Salvador's Richard Boyle and The Boost's Lenny Brown.

With Woods on this sort of form, perhaps all a director needs to do is wind him up and point him in the right direction. But Clark deserves credit for extracting an equally striking performance from Melanie Griffith as Sid. The prospect of Griffith injecting herself in the neck, or toting a pump-action shotgun in a tight polo neck might sound laughable. But, against the odds, Clark discovers in her a bruised, Jeanne Moreau-like dignity as Sid struggles to keep the family together. Lou Diamond Phillips contributes a similarly revelatory cameo as the sequinned gangster Jewels. Holding one's own in this company would be a tall order for any inexperienced young actor. But the young leads Vincent Kartheiser and Natasha Gregson Wagner are disappointingly blank, cast more for their skinny, bedraggled, very Tulsa looks than for any performing spark.


Stephen Chin
Larry Clark
James Woods
Christopher Landon
Stephen Chin
Based on the book by
Eddie Little
Director of Photography
Eric Edwards
Luis Colina
Production Designer
Aaron Osborne
©Another Day, Inc
Production Company
Chinese Bookie Pictures presents a Larry Clark film
Scott Shiffman
Production Co-ordinator
Sheri Cosentino
Unit Production Manager
Gina Fortunato
Location Manager
Ralph Meyer
Post-production Supervisor
Brad Arensman
Assistant Directors
Louis Milito
Tia Ardran
Wendy Palmer
Deandre 'Silky' Russell
Script Supervisor
Pamela Leonte
Casting Director
John Papsidera
Additional Photography
Mark Vargo
Camera Operators
Mitch Dubin
Scott Browner
Special Effects
Darryl Pritchett
Additional Editing
Paul Petschek
Art Director
Erin Cochran
Set Designer
Cara Hoepner
Set Decorator
Michelle Munoz
Costume Designer
Kathryn Morrison
Costume Supervisor
Jillian Ann Kreiner
Elisabeth Deitrich Fry
Judy Yonemoto
Special Effects Make-up
Elisabeth Deitrich Fry
André Blaise
Christopher Shihar
Titles/Optical Effects
Title House
Music Supervisors
Howard Paar
Robin Urdang
"Boogaloo Down Broadway" by Jesse James, performed by (1) Fantastic Johnny C, (2) Polyester Players; "That's How It Feels" by Donald Covay, Bobby Womack, performed by Soul Clan; "Hard to Handle" by Otis Redding, Alvertis Isbell, Allan Jones, performed by Otis Redding; "Looking for a Fox" by Wilbur Terrell, Clarence Carter, Rick Hall, Marcus Daniels, performed by Clarence Carter; "Here I Am" by Dolly Parton, performed by Percy Sledge; "The Gremmie Part 1" by Gerald Sanders, Norman Sanders, Jesse Sanders, Leonard Delaney, George White, performed by The Tornadoes; "Me & Mrs. Jones" by Kenneth Gamble, Cary Gilbert, Leon Huff, performed by Sun City Girls; "I'll Let Nothing Separate Us" by/performed by Otis Redding; "Soul Sister" by/performed by Allen Toussaint; "Can I Change My Mind" by B. Despenza, C. Wolfolk, performed by Chocolate Genius; "Nervous" by/performed by Willie Dixon; "One More Cup of Coffee" by Bob Dylan, performed by N'Dea Davenport; "If I Lose Your Love" by Abrim Tilmon Jr, James Mitchell Jr, performed by Sam Moore; "Some Kind of Wonderful" by J. Ellison, performed by Soul Brothers Six; "Permanent Press" by Keith Roustor, Greg Dalton, performed by Polyester Players; "I Can't See Myself" by/performed by Clarence Carter; "Every Grain of Sand" by/performed by Bob Dylan
Sound Mixer
Arthur Rochester
Carlos Isais
Charlie McGovern
Sound Engineer
Rick MacLane
Re-recording Mixers
John Brasher
James Williams
Marty Hutcherson
Eric Hoeschen
Supervising Sound Editors
Lance Brown
Bruce Fortune
Dialogue Editors
Joseph DiVitale
Lance Laurienzo
Robert Troy
Don Warner
Aaron D. Weisblatt
Sound Effects Editors
Paul Aulicino
Steve Nelson
Jay Nierenberg
Kim Secrist
Loop Group:
L.A. MadDogs
Brian Smith
Doug Reed
Jason Thibault
Jussi Tegelman
Cameron Steenhagen
Stunt Co-ordinator
Steven Lambert
Weapons Wrangler
Allan Gordon
James Woods
Melanie Griffith
Vincent Kartheiser
Natasha Gregson Wagner
James Otis
Branden Williams
Brent Briscoe
Peter Sarsgaard
Paul Hipp
Richard Johnson
Kim Flowers
Bonnie Johnson
John Gatins
Ryan Donahue
Christopher Doyle
Dick Hancock
Pamela Gordon
Jay Leggett
security guard
Michael Jeffrey Woods
big man
Karen Lee Shepherd
big man's wife
Mitchell Orr Jr
big man's boy
Leo Fitzpatrick
guard at Reverend's gate
Simon Williams
maître d'
Steven Gererd Connell
gas station attendant
Clarence Carter
Roosevelt Bitten
Greg Dalton
Donald Hayes
Ishma Israel
Maurice James
Eddie Lott
Will Miller
Darryl Richards
Isaac Smith
band members
Lou Diamond Phillips
Metrodome Distribution Ltd
tbc feet
tbc minutes
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Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011