Bunny-boiler on line one.

Someone mentioned bunny-boiling in a comment thread recently, and what do you know, HBO had “Fatal Attraction” on last night. I watched until the turn of the second act, which is when the movie loses its guts and falls into disarray. (If nothing else, studying screenwriting has given me a whole new vocabulary to use in a pretentious manner. If you’re wondering, I mark the second-act turn as either Anne Archer’s car accident or the subsequent confrontation between Michael Douglas and Glenn Close in her apartment. That’s when the escalating action of the story reaches a climax, and you know the rest is inevitable.)

It’s a movie that, ahem, touched a lot of nerves 20 years ago. I tried to watch it dispassionately, and came away thinking that it’s two-thirds of a pretty fair movie. Nice performances all around, with the usual Adrian Lyne sexual shenanigans, in which people are so hot for one another they do it on the kitchen counter, instead of walking 12 feet to the nice comfortable bed. But what really struck me were the phones.

If “The Departed” was a movie whose plot rested on the capabilities of cell phones, “Fatal Attraction” was set solidly in the former era. Every phone is the same type — your basic AT&T touch-tone desk model — and if nothing else, Lyne knows how to make a ringing phone into a harbinger of doom. Glenn sits on her bed and stabs out Michael’s number, over and over, this apparently being before the invention of the Redial button. Nothing is cordless; when people are called to the phone they walk across the room to pick it up. The receivers have weight, and when they’re slammed down, you can feel it. It’s hard to remember, but once upon a time you could have a movie character beaten with a phone and it would actually look like it hurt.

Glenn is harassing Michael by telephone, calling him and calling him and hanging up when his wife answers and then calling some more. When was Caller ID invented, you wonder. I know a guy who broke up with a girl not too long after this movie came out, and he had to use Call Block to keep her from ringing him at 2 a.m., so she spent an entire night going from gas station to gas station, calling him from pay phones. Which could be a pretty dramatic scene in a movie, when you think about it. Hollywood never closes one door, telephone-drama-speaking, without opening another.

P.S. Anyone thought the scene in “The Departed” where Matt Damon sends a text message from a phone in his pocket without anyone knowing was unbelievable — has never seen a teenager send a text message.

Posted at 4:15 pm in Movies |

15 responses to “Bunny-boiler on line one.”

  1. Jen said on February 8, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Nance, I think there’s a verb missing in your postscript.

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  2. LA mary said on February 8, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    Did you know that Anne Archer is the daughter of Marjorie Lord who played the second wife of Danny Thomas on the old “Make Room for Daddy,” show?
    Now you do.

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  3. nancy said on February 8, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Thanks, Jen. Damn sentences get away from me sometimes.

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  4. Dorothy said on February 8, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    I didn’t know that, Mary. Hmph! I just found out last week that Juliette Lewis’s dad is Geoffrey Lewis, a Hollywood character actor that I’d wager all of you would recognize. I remember him from “Salem’s Lot” as one of the townfolk who gets bit by the vampire.

    I pre-ordered “The Departed” from Amazon and can’t wait for it to arrive next week. I’ve seen it, but my husband has not. It came out when he was newly injured and could not go to the movies. I have to shut up and stop telling him how much he’s gonna love it. (But he will!!)

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  5. brian stouder said on February 8, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    I thought Flags of Our Fathers was a very good movie, also. It may not get the BP Oscar, but it should (certainly better than Little Miss Sunshine – which is simply a National Lampoon Vacation – only darker)

    PS – RIP Anna Nicole Smith

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  6. brian stouder said on February 8, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    And on the subject of the oddness of life and death in Hollywood, I cannot ever look upon (the appropriately named) Phil Spector


    without thinking he came straight out of David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr


    Today’s vocabulary word: macabre

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  7. alex said on February 8, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    Yes, brian, speaking of Bunnies…

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  8. Danny said on February 8, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    PS – RIP Anna Nicole Smith

    Maybe now she is reunited with her “old” hubby. Not sure if that would be cool with her.

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  9. MarkH said on February 8, 2007 at 10:51 pm

    Alright, Jen and Nancy –

    Is it a verb missing, or a pronoun? I realize the risk of perhaps revealing my ignorance…

    Yeah, mary, I knew that. Anne Archer has been one of my favorites, as was her mother when I was a kid. Her imdb bio shows Lord still alive, 89 this year. Anne’s dad, B-movie actor John Archer had a featured role in one of my all-time faves, “White Heat”, as the cigarette-holder toting cop chasing James Cagney. “…top of the world, Ma!!”

    Yeah, Spector’s Lynch material alright, Brian. Ugh…

    Don’t agree on the Lampoon comparison with LMS, though; not quite a farce. I saw a bunch of characters dealing with their failed dreams (just their outright failures in life), who took upon their journey determined that little Olive’s dream would not fail. I enjoyed it, charming and all that, but I’m not on the rave bandwagon. And no way should it be in BP category. I agree with you about “Flags of Our Fathers”; Deb and I saw it two weeks after her Uncle Bert, who fought and was wounded on Iwo Jima, passed away at 86. He never talked about his wartime experience, but he was always wearing his “US Marine Paratrooper Iwo Jima Veteran” baseball cap, it was so much a part of his life. So it made seeing the film all the more bittersweet. The marine paratroopers were an elite unit trained for airborne drops in the south pacific theater, but they never depoyed as such. Bert and his group landed on the beaches like all the rest.

    Scorcese’s a lock for best director and maybe best picture. “The Departed” is much better than “The Aviator” or “Gangs of New York”. And, what’s up with Jack Nicholson not getting a best supporting actor nomination?

    And, Dorothy, admit it! The very first time you saw the original “Salem’s Lot”, it scared the absolute bejeesus outta you, right? Well crafted, one of the best horror movies ever in my book, and one of the best Stephen King novel adaptations. I’ll stack Reggie Nalder’s vampire character up against any of Hollywood’s monsters. The only missed note in the film was the subplot involving Fred Willard’s character. But I digress…

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  10. Danny said on February 8, 2007 at 11:24 pm

    You know, right about now, Linda Nowak must be thanking God for Anna Nicole getting her outta the headlines.

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  11. alex said on February 8, 2007 at 11:26 pm

    Danny, this is one time this nonbeliever would delight in believing. Anna Nicole should spend eternity going down on that old coot. And may her daughter, once they figure out who the devil her dad was, put her mom’s cremains on top of the television.

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  12. brian stouder said on February 8, 2007 at 11:41 pm

    Oh – I guess I agree that LMS isn’t National Lampoon; it is definitely darker and more tragi-comic.

    But it really did strike me that dad’s desperate quest, and the pain-in-the-rear grandparent who also inconveniently dies, and the lust on the road (even if it is the jealous homosexual uncle toward the colleague in the Jag, and not Christie Brinkley in a Ferrari), and the hilariously malfunctioning FamilyTruckster (or VW minibus)….and the anti-climactic end of the quest….all of it kept reminding me of Chevy Chase and his crew.

    Re Flags of Our Fathers; the movie put tears in my eyes. What a wonderful, terrible movie

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  13. Joe Kobiela said on February 9, 2007 at 3:07 am

    Saw letters from Iwo Jima today, Better than Flags in my opinion

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  14. Dorothy said on February 9, 2007 at 9:22 am

    Yes indeedy, Mark, “Salem’s Lot” did scare the crap out of me the first time I saw it! We own a videotape of it. The makeup on that vampire character was just chilling. The scene in the kitchen when he picks up the boy’s parents and knocks their heads together always got me.

    I am a big LMS fan, I freely admit it. Yes it’s dark, but I liked it. I haven’t seen the two Iwo Jima movies yet, but plan to. I watched “Saving Private Ryan” with my dad in a theater, and that was tough because he had been a medic in WWII. He was impressed with the realism in it, and only had a few details that he thought were incorrect.

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  15. MarkH said on February 9, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    Yeah, and remember how the vampire got in the kitchen? The house starts shaking and he comes up THROUGH THE FLOOR! Then, out of nowhere enters vampire-enabler James Mason who tells the petrified priest, “Turn around! Face the Master!” whoa…

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