Recent e-mail from critic friend: Walter Hill‘s The Assignment (Saban, 4.7) is a real grindhouse sleeper. It deserves to find an audience. I know it’s taking heat from the LBGTQ community for ‘exploiting’ the issue of gender reassignment surgery etc. But I don’t recall the same complaints when Pedro Almodovar covered more or less the same territory, brilliantly and even more luridly, in The Skin I Live In. Michelle Rodriguez is terrific as the male gangland assassin transformed into a woman by Sigourney Weaver‘s mad scientist (Dr. Frankenstein meets Dr. Moreau) in full-throated Hannibal Lecter mode. It’s much better than anyone except for Todd McCarthy and a few others have let on.”

Posted on 9.17.16 from Toronto: “I just saw it, and it’s nowhere near as problematic as I’d been led to expect. Pulpy and crude, yes, but fairly intelligent, a little slow but far from ludicrous, and generally not bad. It’s way, way better than either of the Sin City flicks. Michelle Rodriguez with a beard looks like Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis. I suspect that those time & place title cards along with those animated freeze-frames were tacked on in post. It also seems as if those Tony Shalhoub-interviews-Sigourney Weaver exposition scenes might have been shot after principal photography. I’ve already mentioned that the plot bears a certain similarity to Pedro Almodovar‘s The Skin That I Live In. If Sam Fuller was still around he could’ve made something like this.”

Hill will sit for a q & a at the Aero on Thursday, 4.6, following a one-night-only showing. The Assignment was called (Re)Assignment when I saw it last September, and before that Tomboy.

(l.) Frank Kitchen, the male version of Michelle Rodriguez in Walter Hill’s The Assignment; (r.) Oscar Isaac in Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis.