Saturday, September 1, 2007

Star 80 (1983, Bob Fosse)

"The murder of Playboy centerfold Dorothy Stratten by her husband Paul Snider"

As soon as the final credits rolled for this film I was left in awe. How come I had never ever seen this film talked about and how come I had never bumped into it until now? It really is that good.

Bob Fosse's final film is about the rise to fame of Dorothy Stratten and then the shocking murder which was committed by her husband/manager, Paul Snider. I thought this would be a by the numbers tv movie of the week kind of film who's only purpose seems to glamorize the victim so that we sympathize with her until the shocking murder occurs and then we are meant to be left in tears over how sad it all was because she so beautiful.

I was very wrong and I should have known given that Bob Fosse was behind the camera. Fosse could have done a by the numbers film and could have gotten off easy by just portraying a sad story. I guess he knew this too and decided to go the artistic route instead.

The film, instead of being told through Stratten's perspective, is all told through her husband/managers/soon to be killers perspective. We are really with him through out the whole film as we seen his relationship with Stratten begin and end. Its this approach to the narrative that really does make the picture a thrilling and amazing film to watch.

It's as if Bob Fosse knew it would be too easy to create sympathy for Dorothy Stratten and instead chose to create a form of sympathy towards her murderer which is never really there. By this I mean that we really do not sympathize with him but we sort of get to understand him and sort of shake our heads at the outcome of it all. It all adds up to an interesting watch.

Other than this approach to the film we are also juxtaposed to a press interview with Stratten, as well as a interview with her mother that push along the storyline. Its a little bit hard to describe but it works perfectly for the film.

If I could write about one more thing about this film it would be about Eric Roberts performance in the film as Paul Snyder. He does a phenomenal job in the role and delivers what is easily one of my favorite performances of all time. He is so sleazy,charming,intense,cocky, and insecure at the same time during this film that you are easily wowed by his performance within the first 20 minutes. How he was not even nominated for an academy award for this amazes me. It really does go into my "top 20 favorite performances of all time" list if I were to ever make one. His performance is reason alone for anyone to seek out this film.

This is really a very hard one to write about because it is one of those films that you want to talk with people about. The film really does tell a powerful story and on top of that does it with some powerful filmmaking.

A true gem of a find that needs a better DVD release sometime soon.

- A+

No comments: