Bad Timing

Dir: Nicolas Roeg, 1980. Starring: Art Garfunkel, Theresa Russell, Harvey Keitel. Drama.

Bad Timing does more than paint a picture of obsession between two incompatible lovers. It explores the inevitable consequences that occur when two people don't know how to walk away from their doomed relationship.

Alex Linden (Art Garfunkel) is an American psychoanalyst and professor with a position in Vienna. He profiles powerful people for a living and interacts with commoners in a very pretentious and cold way. Milena (Theresa Russell) is the American wife of a Czech diplomat who approaches Alex at a party. Their story is told in two parts, beginning with Milena's attempt to commit suicide. After taking a large amount of pills she calls Alex to say goodbye. He goes to her apartment, calls an ambulance, and is questioned for several hours at the hospital by Inspector Netusil (Harvey Keitel) and his team. Alex can't seem to figure out why he's being interrogated about the lifestyle of a woman he claims to be merely friends with. It is announced that Milena has overdosed and is in a coma, and something about his story and her critical condition just doesn't add up. From the time he claims she called him in distress to the time it took for him to arrive at her home and call for help, there's a questionable series of hours that are unaccounted for. Through a series of flashbacks, the film goes through their toxic love affair, ending with the detective's efforts to try and figure out if her attempted suicide could have been prevented, or if it was an attempt at all.

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Posted by:
Edythe Smith
Jun 6, 2011 4:38pm

Straight Time

Dir: Ulu Grosbard, 1978. Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Harry Dean Stanton, Theresa Russell, Gary Busey. Drama.

Edward Bunker is probably one of the most criminally (no pun intended) neglected writers in American history. Best known for his role as Mr. Blue in Reservoir Dogs, the character wasn't a huge stretch for him. He worked as a career criminal from the time he was a teenager up through his forties. He also wrote a slew of books that depict convict life with searing realism--real ball-kickers of stories that remain thrillingly authentic today. In the late '70s he helped adapt his novel, No Beast So Fierce, for the screen, which resulted in this somewhat shockingly little-known film starring Dustin Hoffman. Why such little fan-fare for it? My guess is that it was just a bit too real at the time.

Hoffman plays Max Dembo, a convict freshly released from prison for armed robbery. He meets with his sociopath of a parole officer (M. Emmet Walsh), who reminds him that just one step out of line will earn a one-way trip behind bars again. Max insists he's ready to play it straight in a newly reformed life--and we believe him. He speaks earnestly, and a few minutes later in screen time he lands a job at a recycling plant, and even scores a date with a sweet-natured secretary (Theresa Russell). But it doesn't take long for his chances at a normal life to crumble; a meeting with a buddy from the old days (played brilliantly by a doe-eyed Gary Busey) sets off a heart-breakingly unfair chain of events. I'll only mention a few keywords that should drum up some interest for the last two-thirds of the movie: "shotguns," "Harry Dean Stanton," "jewelry store heist," and "freeway nudity."

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Posted by:
Paul Losada
Oct 5, 2010 5:26pm
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