Hue Rhodes, “Saint John of Las Vegas” (2010)


“There is one joke in the first-time filmmaker Hue Rhodes’s pretentious indie road comedy, “Saint John of Las Vegas,” that plays off its inspiration, Dante’s ‘Inferno,’ with witty ingenuity. The image of a sinner burning eternally in hell becomes a carnival performer, Smitty (John Cho), known as the Flame Lord, who after a technical malfunction finds himself trapped in his protective suit that bursts into flames every 20 seconds. Approached by John Alighieri (Steve Buscemi), a ratty-looking insurance-claims adjuster investigating a possible fraud, Smitty pleads for a cigarette.
The greater hell, of course, is Las Vegas and its environs, filmed to look like a terminally seedy and desolate wasteland peopled by loonies. John, who sporadically narrates the movie, is a compulsive gambler who has fled Las Vegas to live in Albuquerque, where he works for an auto-insurance company. His office is its own little circle of hell, whose unscrupulous, money-mad overseer, Townsend (Peter Dinklage), is determined never to pay a claim if he can help it.” [. . .]    –Stephen Holden, The New York Times, January 29, 2010