Don't get your knickers in a twist

So, I don’t usually write about PRESUMPTIVELY last films for The Late Show — Philip Kaufman is still with us and might make another movie any time now, but TWISTED was 2004 so I think it qualifies as late, whatever happens next. It would be great if he made another film, even a tiny one. Just don’t let it be like TWISTED.

So, the late Kaufman films preceeding this one tend to be examinations of sexuality, you might say, from HENRY AND JUNE to QUILLS. But in there is RISING SUN too, which has some sex stuff too, while being essentially a dumb, glossy cop thriller. So this can be regarded as RISING SUN II, minus Michael Crichton’s Japan-bashing (although, come to think of it, the murder weapon is Japanese: the Yawara stick). It also clearly falls into the same camp as late Alan Pakula, but it’s handled in a livelier fashion than THE PELICAN BRIEF. The script is the problem.

Handy Andy Garcia

Ashley Judd is a newly-promoted San Francisco homicide cop who becomes a suspect herself when “Every man I kiss turns up murdered.” Which is quite a large cast of characters, as it turns out. Since Judd keeps having alcoholic blackouts — accompanied by DoP Peter Deeming’s trademark lens-popping — the question arises, dimly, Is AJ the killer? But this isn’t ever really a flier — it beggars belief that she’s drinking herself unconscious then beating men to death and leaving the crime scene preternaturally free of all bodily traces.

So the next question, and it really isn;t an engrossing one, is which of Judd’s two most expensive co-stars is the killer, since there isn’t enough best-friend material in the script to justify both salaries.

The film looks really nice — great Golden Gate fog shots in the credits. Two performers from Kaufman’s Frisco-set INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS pop up in cameos: the always-welcome Veronica Cartwright, and the Transamerica Building, AKA Pod Central, which gets to be the last thing Judd sees before falling unconscious for the nth time.

The film did make me want some Cabernet Sauvignon real bad.

Based on this, Kaufman could still be making great movies, if he had the material to do it with. Like the late films of Pakula, Parker and others who laboured in the glossy crime film genre in their last pictures, it’s stuffed with top industry talent before and behind the camera. And it would probably be more interesting with a tenth of the money behind it and more freedom to depart from exxpectations. But Judd is generally really good and really appealing. Among Harvey Weinstein’s punishments should be personally paying for, but having no creative input into, at least five Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino pictures.

So, not a good movie overall, but a good Ashley-Judd-kicks-a-rapist-in-the-face movie.

For some reason, TWISTED features characters named John Mills, Melvin Frank and Bob Sherman, but it reality it stars Tina Modotti; Nick Fury; Amedio Modigliani; Edward R. Murrow; Lin Xiao; and Lambert.

4 Responses to “Don't get your knickers in a twist”

  1. Kaufman’s career is way too short – I watched The Wanderers this year and thought is a Grade A, expansive masterpiece. And I loved The Right Stuff too

  2. I’m a Body Snatchers man myself, too. I also rate The White Dawn, but inexcusably haven’t gotten around to The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid.

    It’s been pointed out to me by Peter Nellhous that there’s a later Kaufman of interest: HBO’s Gellhorn & Hemingway, featuring Kidman and Owen and two of the cast of Twisted, Judd and Strathairn. Seems to be worthy of attention!

  3. chris schneider Says:

    I have no idea if this applies to TWISTED, which I haven’t seen, but …

    I came up with what I call the Coronado Theatre Rule, ‘cause it occurred to me when watching a mystery at the Coronado Theatre in San Diego. Namely, “whodunnit” will be the actor with the most extensive list of credits. Implying, I suppose, that this will be the actor most capable of providing a juicy Big Scene.

  4. ehrenstein47 Says:

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