88 Minutes, on my watch, is 102 minutes minus closing credits. A famous forensic psychiatrist (a puffy-haired Al Pacino), on the scheduled day of execution of a sadistic killer against whom he testified, receives a distorted-voice cellphone threat, “You have 88 minutes to live.” Once the countdown begins, not a single minute is remotely credible. How could the plotter count on the doctor returning to his car, after a wild-goose chase in pursuit of a suspicious leather jacket, just in time to read “72 Minutes” scrawled in the coat of dust? How could the plotter be sure the doctor wouldn’t be blown up too soon by the car bomb or cut down by the sprayed bullets? And if the purpose of the plotter is to secure a stay of execution, wouldn’t it have been advisable to spring the plot a tad earlier? The full foolishness of the thing can’t be appreciated till the final ah-ha. (Heh-heh, more like it.) Even in the ashen photography, Alicia Witt and Amy Brenneman, as two of the doctor’s acolytes, are recognizable as among the most eye-appealing American actresses today. To my eye anyway. (Why don’t I see more of them?) True, the creaseless wax-museum visage of the former might, in other company, give a bit of a chill. But not in the company of the almost airbrushed Leelee Sobieski. Like everything else, waxiness is relative.

* * *

This year’s Cinema under the Stars season in Mission Hills opens on May Day and continues through Halloween. I notice some personal favorites (Bell, Book and Candle, The Big Clock, The Big Lebowski, The Birds, to confine myself to the B’s) in the grab bag of “American classic films.” Punch out topspresents.com or 619-295-4221 for the complete schedule. And looking ahead a season, the upcoming one of the Cinema Society of San Diego, starting in September, will be number twenty-five (repeat, two-five) under the nurturing leadership of Andy Friedenberg, a staggering run. Sign up anytime at cinemasociety.com or 619-280-1600.

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Comments

Justice4all April 24, 2008 @ 11:31 a.m.

"Dude, Chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature."

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Joaquin_de_la_Mesa April 24, 2008 @ 10:58 a.m.

Again with Lebowski. For the life of me, Shepherd, I can't figure out what a man of your intellectual parts sees in that movie. Is it better than 85% of what comes out these days? Sure, but is that saying much? To me, it seems like the Coen Brothers trying to hard to imitate themselves. Kitsch on top of kitsch. And, to paraphrase a criticism you've made of other films, how many times can "Shut the f$$K up, Donny" be funny?

That said, let me echo your frustration with the lack of people-driven stories. If My Favorite Wife or The Awful Truth were remade today, they'd have to involve international espionage or at least some serious spousal abuse.

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Josh Board April 28, 2008 @ 11:39 a.m.

Okay, so...you didn't like the Donny line. But, how about every other line Goodman utters? About his religion, and all that? It's great comedic stuff.

I agree about a movie being better than 85% out there, doesn't say much. But, Lebowski is a great film. It's actually better than the much more heralded No Country For Old Men.

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Josh Board May 14, 2008 @ 11:03 p.m.

Just saw the Visitor. Glad Duncan mentions Ivan. I, too, felt it was odd that this guy didn't want to seek out the person that rented his apartment (we soon believe the character, because he's credible and a nice guy).

I enjoyed the movie, and it had some great edits (going from him offering them a place to stay, to him being scared when the guy enters his room to comment on a CD he's holding). And, of course, his tirade near the end.

But...I felt these two guys bonded way to quickly. And, his goofy smile all the time. What warranted that? It's like this old bald white go was such a pleasure for him to be around, when the guy was kind of dull and boring.

A much better casting, was in the new movie Redbelt. The African-American playing the lead, seemed so sincere, happy with his lot in life, even though it was in poverty running his Ju Jitsu school.

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