‘Zola’ a sad song with a comic twist | Featured Columnist
I used to produce the official Fantasy Fest videos. The concept was to have a sexy celebrity host, sharing an insider’s view of Key West’s scorching masquerade parade with viewers.
In the third year, we hired Melissa Wolf, “Penthouse’s Most Photographed Pet”.
Wolf brought two girlfriends, Naughty Nikki and Leigh Daniels. When they weren’t posing for Penthouse and other magazines, they worked in strip clubs on the Dixie Circuit.
I couldn’t help but think of them as I watched “Zola,” a new movie hitting theaters this week, including the Regal Greenville Grande and AMC Fire Tower 12.
In it, two women go on a trip across the country with the goal of making a lot of money dancing in Florida strip clubs.
This biographical comedy-drama is directed by Janicza Bravo (“Lemon”). After attending NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Bravo made his mark by directing a series of short films including “Eat”, “Pauline Alone” and “Hard World for Small Things”.
Filmmaker magazine chose her as one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Cinema”.
The interesting part is that she based “Zola” on a tweetstorm (148 posts) by a waitress in Detroit named Aziah “Zolamoon” King, an expletive missive that resulted in a Rolling Stones article titled “Zola Tells. All: The Real Story Behind the biggest stripper saga ever tweeted.
“Zola” follows the journey of the waitress and a sex worker as they head to Florida to become strippers. Before she knows it, Zola finds herself trapped in “the craziest and most unexpected trip of her life, going on a two-day wild trip with Stefani, her boyfriend Derrek and Stefani’s violent pimp.”
Variety called it a “virtuoso filmmaking” and acknowledged “a pair of killer performances”, but dismissed the 90-minute film as “hyper-stylized lowbrow satire”.
I wouldn’t go that far. The truth is, I have a soft spot for sad characters like this, the kind of women you met in “Hustlers” or “The Florida Project” – people who go astray with their own naivety and despair. .
After all, I hung out with Wolf and his wacky girlfriends – right before Wolf was arrested as “Atlanta’s Mansion Madam” for maintaining a website where she offered to spend the weekend with gentlemen for 10. $ 000.
People often make mistakes without realizing the consequences.
In the movie, Zola and his new girlfriend are manipulated by a pimp from undressing at a club to an all-night sex marathon and ultimately to a scary ending. Here you get guns, violence, suicide attempts – and laughs.
Despite its X-rated screenplay, “Zola” is largely played for comedic effect. It’s a tough tightrope for a filmmaker to walk, but Janicza Bravo bravely advances in her high-flying cinematic number. Time magazine calls it “a wild road trip movie that works against all odds.”
Humor aside, the most remarkable thing about this film is the fearless performance of its two stars.
Taylour Paige (“My Rainey’s Black Bottom”) is convincing in the title role, her skepticism apparent even if she cannot escape this mishap which quickly goes from bad to worse. To get into her role, Paige actually worked undercover as a stripper, using the name “Zo”.
Riley Keough (“The Girlfriend Experience”) is incredibly believable as the new girlfriend who leads Zola astray. If you notice a familiar look at Keough, it’s because this model turned actress is the granddaughter of Elvis Presley. Yes, Lisa Marie’s little girl has grown up.
“Zola” is another interpretation of “Heartbreak Hotel”.
Shirrel Rhoades is a former Marvel Entertainment executive, writer, editor, teacher, and filmmaker. He is originally from North Carolina and lives in Florida. Contact him at [email protected]