Thursday, July 03, 2008
Through the Eyes of Laura Mars
Okay, here's where my movie geekdom starts bleeding through, but do you ever catch a movie on cable that's been in your Netflix queue for a while and you're so psyched because you can watch it now and knock it off your list? Even though you could have bumped it to the top and watched it on DVD any time you wanted? This is me, yesterday, when I found the 1978 thriller Eyes of Laura Mars on Showtime.
I only really knew a few things about this movie, going in: 1) it was about a woman who saw murders through the eyes of a killer, 2) it was written by John Carpenter, and 3) it's a lyric in one of my very favorite Tori Amos songs.
It's a good movie, particularly for its time. Suspenseful and unsettling and visually interesting and not overly concerned with explaining why Faye Dunnaway can see these things. Of course, because it's Faye Dunnaway, there's also a heaping helping of oversized melodramatics. There's a scene between her and Raul Julia that's as loud, histrionic, and unintentionally hilarious as anything you'll see all year. I think I saw Marion Cotillard at one point.
The one thing, though, was that I was 100% sure that the Rene Auberjonois character -- the wispy gay assistant who was almost too loyal to her -- was the killer, under the rule that gay characters in '70s thrillers always were. When that turned out -- SPOILER -- not to be the case, I was tempted to give the movie props for not going there. But does a movie really deserve credit for not delivering a homophobic portrayal of a killer queen? Particularly when, instead, we got to see Auberjonois dressed up like a lady and whacking a cop with his purse, Ruth Buzzi-style. Smell the progress! Of course, this is a movie where the actual killer -- MORE SPOILERS -- turns out to be a multiple personality with sex-tinged child neglect issues, so perhaps I'm expecting too much.
Oh, and before I forget, I have to give props to the "Love Theme from Eyes of Laura Mars," as performed by Barbra Streisand. Truly a high-water mark in the history of "Love Themes" for movies that aren't in any way romantic.