Joe Spinell

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Cruising Review


Very Good
Were it not set in the gay underworld of its era, 1980's Cruising would be a largely unremarkable film. But provocateur William Friedkin did set it in this underworld -- a seedy, sex-filled shocker than must have had audiences in tears -- and thus it has become a cult classic, almost notorious, really.

The story is, by and large, traditional serial killer fare: Someone is stabbing gay men to death, often in lewd situations. The NYPD captain (Paul Sorvino) sends in Steve Burns (Al Pacino) undercover to ferret out the killer. The straight-edge Steve learns all about gay culture, in which pocket to put bandanas to indicate your proclivities, and so on. But by and large he's just supposed to "go out there and find the killer." But the undercover activity takes its toll on his psyche, most notably in his (non-gay) relationship with Nancy (Karen Allen, virtually the only woman in the film at all).

Continue reading: Cruising Review

The Ninth Configuration Review


Very Good
Decidedly weird, The Ninth Configuration is a slow burn of a thriller that gives us Stacy Keach in a dead-on performance as a marine psychiatrist brought in to do his doctoring in a (what else) converted, remote castle in the Pacific Northwest. Namely, he interacts with NASA astronaut-gone-nuts Scott Wilson (equally good, if not better), until it starts to surface that Keach's character may not be altogether there himself. It's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by way of Jacob's Ladder. Written and directed by William Peter Blatty (The Exorcist). Very capable, though it flounders considerably in the final act. Still worth checking out, though.
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