Friday, May 20, 2011

Visiting Hours

(Jean-Claude Lord, 1982)
Here's another one where you should forget about parsing the text. The gabbing about violence and morality via tormented journalist Lee Grant is no more decisive or interesting than the half-assed attempts to get inside the head of yet another Michael Ironside psycho; not that Ironside could defrost the window to his soul with a blow torch and a sunny day. So he grimaces and hacks, hacks and grimaces, in a manner so singularly ineffectual that he actually manages to upstage the idiot cops who give him every opening they can arrange. You'd think, having had a little practice, the guy would be able to plan and execute a decent murder. Instead, everyone keeps getting carted off to the hospital, so he can try again. I should say that, scene for scene, things can get fairly tense and atmospheric, and the actors largely do their job; but the absence of structural logic ultimately does it in. There's no focal point; Grant, Ironside and Linda Purl take their arbitrary turns at the fulcrum, with no sense of ensemble except for an occasional supporting-role interjection. And in this I am NOT referring to Shatner; they must have written his totally extraneous role on short notice, when they found out he was in town for the week.

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