Crime Time

on September 15, 2000 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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  &#160In a near-future England, TV recreations of crimes are all the rage. But what happens when a murderer ("Dragonheart's" Pete Postlethwaite) begins to identify with the actor ("Threesome's" Stephen Baldwin) who plays him and, worse, carries out his killings based on their chances of being dramatized on the tube? The cinematic juxtaposition of TV and its influence on "reality" isn't fresh; it's popped up in everything from "Deathwatch" to "The Running Man" to "To Die For." But "Crime Time" adds nothing new to the lexicon of media analysis. Its premises, that anyone can kill and that the line between citizen and killer is a thin one, are offered as revelation when, in fact, "Crime Time"is just a bargain basement rehash of the truly compelling relationship between Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling in "The Silence of the Lambs," without any of that film's sophistication or skill.
  &#160It also stretches credulity right from the start, when Baldwin's actor gets a gig as the murderer of the week on a TV series called "Crime Time." Baldwin's impersonation of a talented actor isn't at all convincing on either level, as the real thing or as the character he's playing. Then there's Baldwin's thespian girlfriend ("A Pyromaniac's Love Story's" Sadie Frost), who is consistently cast as his victim in the show's scenarios; how low is its budget, anyway? Director George Sluizer, who bitterly (and rightfully) complained that Hollywood compromised the ending of his "The Vanishing" remake, has on his own come up with a movie that is almost as ridiculous. Whether it be the oddball casting of an overwrought Geraldine Chaplin as the murderer's wife, who's going blind and lapsing into catatonia (!), or inexplicably allowing American Karen Black to essay (badly) an English accent as the show's producer, "Crime Time" makes little sense at its best of times. At its worst, it's unwatchable. Starring Stephen Baldwin, Pete Postlethwaite and Sadie Frost. Directed by George Sluizer. Written by Brendan Somers. Produced by David Pupkewitz. A Trimark release. Drama. Rated R for violence, sexuality and language. Running time: 118 min. Screened at the Montreal fest.
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