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.
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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.