Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Laura Mars (foreground) captures bizarre fashion shoot
EYES OF LAURA MARS (1978). Director: Irvin Kershner. Co-written by John Carpenter.

Laura Mars (Faye Dunaway) is a wealthy, famous photographer who lately has been turning to the morbid and macabre for inspiration. Her fashion shoots feature automobile crashes and models getting into inexplicable cat fights. It develops that some of her photos are nearly exact copies of actual police crime scenes. What's worse, Laura has seemingly developed the psychic ability to see friends and associates of hers as they are being murdered, stabbed in the eyes with an ice pick, by an unseen maniac. Eyes of Laura Mars comes off like a Hollywood attempt to imitate the Italian giallo psycho-shocker type of thriller made famous by such as Dario Argento [Trauma], but Irvin Kershner has none of that director's style [nor Brian De Palma's, if we're speaking of an American equivalent]. The movie has fascinating elements to it and an excellent premise, but it's undone not just by the lack of panache but by many other factors. Dunaway offers a typically affected performance, which may be appropriate for the airy character she's playing, but only makes Laura that much more unbearable; she also looks horrible throughout the movie, as if she's playing a woman exposed to radiation who is slowly mutating into a frog. Tommy Lee Jones [Captain America: The First Avenger] is miscast as a NYPD detective assigned to the case, and his romance with Laura is not only unbelievable but also kind of gross as the actors have no chemistry whatsoever. The scene when the two realize they are hot for each other is just embarrassing. The supporting cast, such as Brad Dourif [the aforementioned Trauma and Exorcist III] as a driver and red herring, and the ever-reliable Rene Auberjonois as Laura's presumably gay best friend, come off much better. Kershner also directed the James Bond movie Never Say Never Again.

Verdict: Great idea but this one misses the boat. **1/2.

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