(Paul Lynch, 1986)
Here is a movie that really does not know what it wants to be. The triple-crossing gangster narrative might conceivably make some kind of sense if you applied yourself to it I guess. But who cares? Whenever Harry Caul, I mean Harvey Keitel, is on screen, the movie is a brooding surveillance procedural with dark overtones of tragedy and loss; when he's not, the movie is an overdrawn melodrama bordering on farce. All the 'clever ideas' - the surveillance tape in the hi-fi store, explaining the corpse at the RIDE checkpoint, the yelling at Santa Claus - make the Keitel stuff seem even more alienated, while simultaneously making the menacing criminals look like utter buffoons. Not that Michael Rudder's lead thug needed any help; his sneering grandstand routine makes you want to avert your eyes and plug your ears. And anyway why does everyone keep conducting their highly sensitive conspiratorial dialogues at top volume in public places like shopping malls and porcelain museums? Rudder and conspirator Alan Fawcett even rent adjacent rooms, but there they go trudging out to the gas station. Everyone was clearly so awestruck at having Keitel on set that they forgot to call upon him to act; he mostly just stands there, except for one scene where he throws an inexplicable hissy fit on Lolita Davidovitch and then they go camp out in a used car for no good reason. The most unforgivable botch yet from Paul Lynch, who was handed a mismatched bunch of parts and crafted them into...a mismatched bunch of parts.