Roger Ebert gives the thumbs-up to Milwaukee-made cult film Modus Operandi
Local filmmaker Frankie Latina’s one-of-a-kind exploitation film, Modus Operandi, has been delighting and confounding audiences at film festivals and midnight screenings all over the world ever since it premiered last year at the Milwaukee Film Festival. Filmed over the course of four years, Modus Operandi is about a guy, two briefcases…and, well, we’ve seen it and all we remember are lots of half-naked girls and Danny Trejo. But that’s precisely what Roger Ebert apparently looks for in cinema. (Let’s not forget that he wrote the screenplay for the ultimate half-naked girl exploitation flick, Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls.) The world’s most famous film critic posted a review of Modus Operandi on his website yesterday, and he’s actually much more enthusiastic than the two-and-a-half-stars rating indicates:
You need to have paid your dues to appreciate “Modus Operandi.” Have you marinated in exploitation films? The cheap kind from the 60s and 70s, made by fly-by-night filmmakers on starvation budgets? Where you can almost sense them gasping as they try to accumulate enough footage to qualify as a feature? And where the female characters are wearing bikinis even in business offices?
It’s not enough to like such films because they’re “so bad they’re good.” You need to specialize, and like the films because they’re so good about being so bad they’re good. “Modus Operandi,” a film by Frankie Latina that has won praise on the midnight movie festival circuit, is such a film. Yes, it has babes in bikinis. Yes, it has a “plot” about spies and assassins. Yes, it’s filmed in Cheapo-Color which is used interchangeably with black and white. Yes, it has scenes set in “Siberia, Russia” and “Tokyo, Japan.” But what makes it special is that it was mostly filmed in Milwaukee, and one of its stars is Mark Borchardt, who you may recall as the subject of the great documentary “American Movie.”
The last we heard from Latina, he was “finishing up a script for an ’80s action movie that’s kinda like Beverly Hills Cop meets A View To Kill.” Where do we wait in line?