Special Effects | Chicago Reader

Special Effects

There aren't any to speak of in Larry Cohen's independent low-budgeter (in the pulpy tradition of Cohen's It's Alive! and Q), which may be the only irony here that doesn't sink like lead. Part industry confessional, part kinky thriller, it's the story of a corrupt film director (Eric Bogosian as dark Cohen alter ego) who commits a murder, then tries to cover it up by turning it into a movie. With so many undigested themes (film as commercial whore, as voyeuristic fantasy, as the ultimate metaphor of corruption) to go with the dollops of cynicism and outright cinematic thievery (Cohen steals from Vertigo, Peeping Tom, and even the lugubrious Star 80), the film is bound to be clunky, and Cohen doesn't help things with his slack, perfunctory direction. Cohen's too much an industry outsider to create a convincing insider's view, and his cynical mea culpas really aren't all that implicating: by putting himself on the moral hook, Cohen lets himself off it, too. With Zoe Tamerlis and Brad Rijn (1984).

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