Silly, pulpy but always exciting, I, The Jury reframes the film noir of the ‘40s through a punk sheen of the flashy ‘80s. The film is based on the 1947 crime novel by Mickey Spillane of the same name, which introduced his character Mike Hammer. The book was just a first in a series that features one of the detective genre’s most popular Private Investigators. The film captures all of the same schlocky debacles that the leading character in these novels usually endures; that is, murders, high-speed chases and run-ins with gangsters (at every end—a hotel, the streets, and even a secluded camp ground).
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There’s no doubt that the subject of captivity is a compelling tool for fictional narratives. As we’ve seen in films like Rob Reiner’s Misery (1990), the dynamic established in a captivity narrative is useful in the way it can be used to investigate the psychology of the kidnapper. For example, in Misery, the kidnapping is not the most interesting part of the work, nor are the ways in which the main character, a writer named Paul Sheldon (James Caan), tries to escape. Rather, the most interesting part is watching and studying the actions of Annie (Kathy Bates), the crazed fan that kidnaps Paul. In watching her, we can only understand who she is relative to how she treats Paul and what she desires from him.
One lamentable aspect of the current epoch in American society is the dissolution of the so-called “American Dream”. The idea that hard work and perseverance will allow everyone to live a comfortable life with a plot of land, happy children, and ample leisure time has been shown, time and time again, to be nothing more than a marketing strategy.
How does one respond to this? What are the psychological effects on the people in a society where such a divide between promises and actions exists? In many ways, Fraud, directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp, doesn’t explicitly tackle this subject, but it’s difficult to watch it without seeing the modern western condition reflected back at us.
The claustrophobic story of four characters trapped in a submersible vessel is a bold move for a feature directorial debut. While it’s a choice that affords writer-director Ben Parker control over his location, it’s also one that offers him little flexibility—trapped on his own claustrophobic stage with his small ensemble cast.
A man’s silhouette walks unsteadily away from the camera, which follows slowly behind him as he approaches the signpost of an intersection at night. The shadowy man leans against the post because he’s hurt, bleeding from a head wound. He’s nearly struck by a cab, whose spunky little female driver jumps out to give him a tongue-lashing until she realizes he’s injured and doesn’t remember his name or anything else. “It’s am-something,” she says, and she’ll spend the rest of the night helping him retrace his steps to find out if he’s guilty of the murder that’s just occurred near that location.
// Moving Pixels
"This is an interactive story in which players don’t craft the characters, we just control them.READ the article