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USA, 2000 (MIFF 2000, International Panorama)

Director: Alan Rudolph

Trixie Zurbo, a likable and feisty casino security guard, refers to herself as a 'Private Defective'. By day she busts pickpockets and petty scammers in the gaming rooms, by night she is an amateur sleuth. In Alan Rudolph's exceptional screwball comedy, Trixie stumbles into a case involving slimy politician Senator Avery (Nick Nolte) and an incriminating tape. The core of the film is Trixie's gut-busting dialogue. She has never met a sentence she couldn't fracture and constantly bubbles forth with gems like: "I've got an ace in my hole" or "You've got to grab the bull by the tail and look it in the eye!" Her penchant for gibberish and mixed metaphors is contagious and soon other cast members are beginning to follow suit. Said cast includes Dermot Mulroney, as a sleazy lothario, Will Patton as a corrupt and sadly attired developer, Lesley Ann Warren as a singer on the down slide, and of course Nolte. Production gossip has it that the actor rewrote 90 percent of his lines to include actual quotes, no matter how absurd, from real politicians—even an absurd, supposedly heart-wrenching tale about his father being killed by a clown. The splendid humour often makes way for a solid plot and fine performances all round. Unmissable.

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