Armand Weston made some of the most important and subversive hardcore works to emerge from New York's underground filmmaking scene, and Expose Me Lovely is his only film to actually showcase NYC c. 1976. Exquisite!
Ras Kean is Frosty Knight, a hard boiled P.I. who is something of a Phillip Marlow type. He is visited by Jennifer Welles who asks him to find her long estranged brother so that he can be told of his father's terminal illness. Frosty takes on the case but becomes immediately suspicious of Welle's true motives as it seems her long lost brother has disappeared off the face of the earth. As his investigation progresses, Frosty slowly begins to realize that he might be playing the patsy in a plot much more sinister than he could have imagined.
Armand Weston, who helmed the equally excellent Personals, Defiance of Good, and The Taking of Christina, creates just as compelling of a film with Expose Me Lovely. Instead of tackling the topics of loneliness, religion, and rural despair as he did so impressively in the aforementioned films, here Weston makes a startling and frank attack at politics and moral standards. Even thirty years later, the issues brought up in this film are extremely relevant.
Also, Weston purposefully refrains from taking a side on the issues he discusses, instead allowing the the film to flow naturally and its charters and audience to arrive at their own conclusions. In fact, it would seem that in some ways Weston is accusing both sides of the issue of wrongdoing. The ending of the film calls into question the actions of the presumed victim, making him just as malicious as the one he feels is responsible for his problems. The issues discussed are also rarely touched upon in explicit of Hollywood cinema and Weston is to be commended for bringing them up so brazenly and shockling as he does here.
Expose Me Lovely also happens to feature some of the finest hand held photography I've seen in any film, not to mention fascinating set design, wonderfully lurid lighting, and outstanding use of real Manhattan locations which add to the films cinema verite approach.
Weston's direction is sharp and he beautifully juxtaposes the filmmaking and characterization styles of both film noir masterpieces with American Avant Garde filmmaking of the 1970s. Welles and Kean, neither of whom were known as great actors, do a fine job in their complex roles. The supporting cast is strong and carry the film as much as the leads.
While Expose Me Lovely is not as compelling as Weston's earlier works, it nevertheless stands as one of the strongest examples of mid 70s underground hardcore filmmaking.
There is a trailer, but not one for this film.
Expose Me Lovely is presented in open matte 1.33:1. The film was supposed to be matted to 1.85:1 so the cropping is off. In fact, I rather like the film open matte as the image is far more revealed. But 1.85:1 was still how it was intended to be seen and its a shame that it is not presented that way. Black levels are rather poor and the video-x-pix bug turns up often but when watched cropped to the right aspect ration, the bug is cropped out so it's not that bad. While not a terrible transfer, it's still less than what this film should get.
A secondary Weston film (which means it's still better than 90% of everything else made at the time) gets a third rate DVD treatment.