Vital Signs

The Null Set

Less Than Zero
directed by Marek Kanievska
screenplay by Harley Peyton
based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis
20th Century Fox

Tom Waits recently suggested to Musician magazine that if John Lennon knew that Michael Jackson would control The Beatles' music, Lennon would "kick his ass—and kick it really good." As I watched the film version of Bret Easton Ellis' novel Less Than Zero, whose title is taken from Elvis Costello, it occurred to me that Mr. Costello might want to follow Waits' suggestion.

In a way, Elvis escaped unscathed. In the novel version, a poster of Costello adorns a bedroom wall of the protagonist, Clay, and the glasses worn by the musician prominently figure on the dust jacket of the novel. The film, naturally, has an abundance of rock in the sound track: the Bangles, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, David Lee Roth . . . even Roy Orbison. But no Elvis Costello. No poster. No glasses. Perhaps the producers felt safer by leaving him out.

Those who plunked down $4.50 or more to watch the film probably wouldn't mind lining up to execute a few kicks on the responsible parties. However, they may be too numb from the soporific examination of life among the teenage parasites in L.A.

The few book reviewers who didn't sing Ellis' praises through highly amplified, extra bass response, nonreflective...

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