I Saw A Film!

I don’t generally watch much crime drama (murder shows) so I don’t know if this is still popular, the super intuitive cop and the bizarrely complex murderer who’s creating a pattern that has to be understood so that they can catch him. Kevin Kline is a our cute rascal of a genius, hitting on his brother’s wife (for some unresolved purpose) and operating as a daring fireman while taking care of a parrot and a kitten, which only briefly feature at the start of the film (for some reason films cannot resist the urge to have parrots actually capable of human conversation, and it’s hinted at here too). The Mayor played by Rod Steiger, who I just realized is who Al Pacino has long been impersonating, demands Harvey Keitel (the genius’s bro, just playing a suit) get his brother back to work this tricky case (we’re guessing Kline is one of those difficult to work with but very effective individuals we all adore so much). Meanwhile Kline is also a hobbyist chef trying to impress the brother’s wife (Susan Sarandon) with some, at the time, unique Japanese style cuisine. She turns him down, it doesn’t seem a good match.

Sarandon kind of disappears for a while as we get into the ladies being murdered. The first while she’s trying to get a kiss from her pet fish. She’s good buddies with the Major’s daughter (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) who ends up working closely with Kline, who stalks her from the funeral (like an indictable rom-com set up), and his artist friend (Alan Rickman) who creates an old-style computer representation of the city and the locations of the killings. What they decide to try to do is line up the windows of the apartments of the murders to try to locate some kind of physical pattern. This is not something most of us would do. We’d spend our time trying to link the ladies to a common place and or group so that we might narrow down suspects. In the old, and original, and possibly best version of the Hannibal Lecter style films, Manhunter, it became clear that what was common to the killings was film processing (later used in a strange Robin Williams film as well). Here however, we are watching, purportedly ingenious folks, literally try to line up the windows so that they create a kind of plot on a graph. Once they do this, they fit a tune to it. Now, this comes across as a kind of epiphany moment, the killer is playing a tune with the ladies he’s killing because you could line the windows of the buildings up (presumably the killer somehow does this in his mind) and find appropriate lovely ladies to murder (lone women) in the necessary apartments so that you get what might look like quarter notes on a page of staff. To call this a labored plot idea is like investing in a company panning for gold in your sink. It stinks. It’s silly. But, our heroes are able to predict the next note and the killer’s next victim.

They outfit Mastrantonio with a neck protector (which was deeply flawed by the fact that it clearly tapered upward and would have ended with the garrote sliding up it and catching her neck. In fact, it about does this as they demonstrate it. She stands in as the prey. And screams for Kline to arrive as he pounds on the door with a sledge hammer. For some reason the killer is not spooked by this and just keeps right on with this singular mission of strangling Mastrantonio. They have a long somewhat comical pursuit of the killer and he’s eventually revealed to be no one. No Scooby Doo style reveal, just a random killer, and that’s apparently some point Kline makes “He’s nobody, that’s his problem.”

Sarandon leaves Keitel and for some reason now wants to be with Kline, who turns her down. He’s been in love with an idea that looked like her. Well, haven’t we all.

This is running free on USA Prime and is cute, lurid (with at least one of the murders being a pretty lady in a see-through gown struggling in the killer’s clutches (a different killer it turns out!), and clumsy.

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