Tag Archives: Crispin Glover

River’s Edge (1986)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Teens ambivalent to murder.

A high school clique must deal with conflicting issues when one of their members (Daniel Roebuck) murders his girlfriend (Danyi Deats) and leaves her nude corpse along the riverbed where he then proudly shows it off to anyone who wants to see it. Some of them consider going to the police while others like Layne (Crispin Glover) thinks they should simply bury the body and cover-up for John’s deeds since he’s their friend.

While I liked the film’s atmosphere and the strong drama I didn’t care for the preachy tone. This is most evident in the scenes with Jim Metzler playing a teacher who’s a baby boomer and brags about how great his generation is compared to today’s teens and even at one point wags his finger at them over their apathy, but never once answers why they’ve become that way. Every generation likes to feel that they’re superior to the one that comes after it and the film seems to want to align itself with that point-of-view; that the kids today just don’t seem to ‘get-it’, but what’s caused that? Is it just some ‘bad DNA’ or instead a crumbling societal structure and if so then the adults are partially to blame for it, which is a complex area that the film seems reluctant to go to.

The fact that there isn’t any real insight to the cause and it doesn’t even analyze the family life of all its characters is a bit frustrating. It does show the chaotic, broken home life to one of them, which could be construed as part of the problem, but then later this gets negated when the teen from that household is the one who ultimately goes to the police.

Keanu Reeves character is a further detraction as he becomes too much of the conventional hero. Watching him literally shake from guilt while sitting in a classroom gives away all the tension as it makes it clear he will eventually go to the police and it would’ve been more intriguing had this instead been kept a mystery. Initially we’re supposed to be ‘shocked’ that the teens don’t immediately run to the police upon discovering the body, but then having him later get accused of the crime once he does go only helps to make those that didn’t seem the wiser.

Dennis Hopper’s character is a problem too. He’s great actor who plays the part brilliantly even though it seems too similar, at least initially, to the one he played in Blue Velvet almost to the point of it being typecasting. Having the guy start out as this weird, overly eccentric, mentally unstable loner who goes around in public with his sex doll only to then turn around and become a moral authority to ‘the crazy kids of today’ is just too much of a weird clash.

Crispin Glover, with his androgenic looks and wild, hybrid VW that he drives around in, is the film’s true star and many might even say that he IS the movie. His warped idea of friendship, loyalty, and ‘honor’ is amusing and even engaging and in a offbeat way brings a sense of innocence to an otherwise jaded climate. The plot would’ve worked better had it made him the centerpiece by turning it into a black comedy where he becomes the anti-hero by trying to save his friend from getting into trouble, which ultimately would’ve hit home the same message that the drama does anyways.

Despite having its plot start from the middle and work into a nebulous finish, it’s still a gripping and groundbreaking film and something I found myself quite caught up in. I just wished it hadn’t felt the need to envelope it with a social message, but instead allowed the situation play out naturally with an ambiguous tone, which would’ve then forced the viewer to ponder the ramifications of it by themselves instead of trying to do it for them.

Although the film never mentions it this it is actually based, or at least inspired by a true incident that occurred in Milpitas, California when 14 year-old Marcy Renee Conrad was murdered by 16 year-old Anthony Broussard on November 3, 1981. After dumping the dead body into a ravine Broussard then showed it off to 10 of his friends who didn’t do anything about it until finally 2 of them decided to go to the police. However, there are some major differences from the real case to the one portrayed here. In the actual incident Marcy was also raped and Broussard was African American and his ultimate fate was much different than what happens to the killer in the movie.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: August 7, 1986

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

Rated R

Director: Tim Hunter

Studio: Island Pictures

Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Video

My Tutor (1983)

my tutor

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 1 out of 10

4-Word Review: Tutoring him in sex.

Bobby (Matt Latanzi) is a high school senior set to graduate and go onto Yale even though he would rather go to UCLA and study astrology. In either case he fails his French class, which impedes him from attending either school. His concerned and controlling father (Kevin McCarthy) decides to hire a tutor named Terry (Caren Kaye) to live with them in their mansion estate while helping Bobby with his French so he can pass the course. Bobby though starts to become attracted to Terry and the two eventually become lovers much to the consternation of his father who would rather have the attractive woman all to himself.

I was still in high school when this film came out and living in a small Minnesota town as a preacher’s kid. I remember my Dad getting a call from some man who had watched this film in the theater and become ‘outraged’ at its ‘pornographic’ nature. He wanted to form picketers at all the area theaters that where showing it and eventually create a nationwide protest movement that he hoped would eventually get the film banned for being what he considered ‘obscene’.

Although there certainly is nudity it is only of the topless variety and it’s no more ‘outrageous’ than any of the many other teen sex comedies of the ‘80s. If the film is offensive in any way it is because it is dumb and uninspired and filled with a lot of silly humor that would be better suited for a Disney flick. The romantic angle is formulaic and the scene of the two in bed together is more mechanical than erotic and hurt by a sappy love song that gets played over it.

Lattanzi, who at one time was married to singer Olivia Newton-John and the father of Chloe Lattanzi, has a deer-in-headlights look about him and a limited acting ability to match it. He looks too old to be playing a teen and appears to be more like 24, which is what he really was. The idea that this good-looking guy with chiseled features could not make it with any of the girls is hard to believe and in a lot of ways the character behaves more like he is a naïve 14 year-old than someone headed for college.

McCarthy is a far better actor who manages to have a screen presence, which the transparent Lattanzi clearly knows nothing about. The fact that the old man makes a play for the tutor should’ve been played up more and I was surprised that when she flatly rejects his advances he didn’t just up and fire her and replace her with some other tutor, which would’ve helped give the otherwise one-dimensional script more conflict.

Arlene Golonka adds some light levity as the ditzy mother and its great seeing Crispin Glover in his film debut playing one of Bobby’s friends and for a change a more ‘normal’ type of character, which is freaky in itself. Clark Brandon, who enjoyed a brief acting career in the ‘80s and an even briefer foray into directing during the ‘90s, is also fun as Bobby’s other friend Billy who also gets the film’s one-and-only funny exchange when he tries to ask a blonde for a dance:

Billy: Would you care to dance with me?

Blonde: No thank you.

Billy: Then I suppose a blow job is completely out of the question.

My Rating: 1 out of 10

Released: April 22, 1983

Runtime: 1Hour 37Minutes

Rated R

Director: George Bowers

Studio: Crown International Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video