Tag Archives: jonathan kaplan

Over the Edge (1979)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Out of control teens.

The teenagers in the planned community of New Granada, Colorado find themselves bored and constantly getting into trouble. The town was designed for adults with no consideration given for them. The recreation center is their only outlet, but that closes at 6 PM allowing for too much idle time in the evenings. Vandalism and other petty crimes soon commence, but when one of the teens (Matt Dillon) gets shot and killed by a cop (Harry Northup) his friends rebel by locking all the parents inside the local Junior High School while they’re having a meeting and not allowing them to leave.

The story, which was co-scripted by Tim Hunter who went on to even greater success by directing River’s Edge, which had a similar theme, is based on true events that occurred in the early 70’s in a planned community of Foster City, California. Like in the film no consideration was given to the teens during the planning phase causing them to become bored and resort to crime and rebellion, which lead to an article being written about in the San Francisco Examiner that attracted the attention of Hunter and Charles S. Haas who thought it could make good material for a movie. They traveled to the town and interviewed many of the teens first-hand to get a good idea about their feelings and thoughts.

There are elements about the movie that I enjoyed, which is mainly the way it captures the community, which was filmed on-location in the Colorado towns of Aurora and Greeley. I especially liked how the cinematography focuses on the barren desert landscape and the cookie-cutter homes built in the middle of it without showing any downtown, which helps to accentuate how unimaginative and soulless a lot of these suburban places really are.

The presence of Matt Dillon, in his film debut, helps as well. He was 14 at the time and only attended the audition simply as an excuse to get out of going to school without any intention of actually getting a part, but onscreen he shows a strong acting flair and outshines his other co-stars to the extent that he should’ve been made the lead and it’s a shame when his character exits so quickly.

The idea by director Jonathan Kaplan was to try and make this seem like a documentary, which works to some extent. I liked how the cast was made up of  little known actors that most viewers will not recognize makes it seem like ordinary people and not actors at all. The use of the music though is what I had a problem with. The songs that get heard in the background by such bands as Cheap Trick, The Ramones and The Cars are perfect and convey a punk attitude that the kids were feeling, but the instrumentals that are played during some of the action sequences was not needed. Again, if this is supposed to seem like a documentary then very little music should be used as real-life doesn’t have an ongoing soundtrack and by implementing one in, even if it was composed by the director’s father Sol Kaplan, was a mistake.

I also had a problem with the film’s climactic sequence in which the teens lock the adults in the school and then go about vandalizing their cars outside. This is the film’s only unique moment and should’ve been played-up much more, but the tension from this doesn’t get stretched out as much as it should. I would’ve liked this scene to take up more of the movies and played out almost like a thriller by trapping the adults in the place for several days until you start to fear they might never get out and even turning-the-tables on them by having the kids order them around and forcing them to do humiliating things just for their own amusement.

Although the movie received very little reception when it was first released, which was only a limited engagement, it has managed to find a cult following and critical acclaim since. There are some keen moments particularly the way it portrays the out-of-touch adults who are always convinced that their kids are ‘angels’ while it’s someone else’s that is the troublemaker, but the script makes its point early and then just proceeds to repeat it over and over again until it gets redundant.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: July 7, 1979

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

Rated PG

Director Jonathan Kaplan

Studio: Orion Pictures

Available: DVD, Amazon Video, YouTube

Night Call Nurses (1972)

night call nurses 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Sex makes good medicine.

Barbara (Patty Byrne), Janis (Alana Stewart), and Sandra (Mittie Lawrence) are three young women starting out in the nursing field. The film analyzes their various and sometimes amusing predicaments while on the job as well as their sex lives.

The film moves at a decent pace, but seems disjointed with poor story and character progression. Things are thrown in just to keep it moving, but with no real connection to anything else. Amateurish production values permeate and Jonathan Kaplan’s directorial debut is for the most part best forgotten. The only mildly interesting scene involved a therapy group where all the members strip off their clothes as well as having one of the members think that she is being driven insane by the group’s instructor.

The attempts at lightheartedness and humor are strained and flat. Only one brief exchange during the entire duration managed to elicit a small chuckle from myself and it goes like this:

Male Patient: (While looking at the nurse’s nametag on her uniform) Is Janis your name, or the name of your left titty?

Janis: (While giggling) Janis is my name. Irene is the name of my left tiitty.

The acting is quite poor with everyone phoning in their parts. Alana Stewart who was at one time the wife of actor George Hamilton and later rock legend Rod Stewart as well as the mother of Ashley Hamilton and Kimberly Stewart mouths her lines in a lifeless and emotionless fashion that resembles her beautiful but blank blue eyes. However, recent pics of her are amazing as she looks like she hasn’t aged a day since she has done this and I’ll give her credit there. Despite only doing one other picture besides this one Byrne is the one that gives the strongest performance particularly her effective crying, which seems real.

There is enough nudity to satisfy the voyeurs including the opening sequence where one of the mentally-ill patients’ strips off her clothes and then jumps off the roof of a building. However, you basically only see their breasts and the sex is handled in such a mechanical and unimaginative way that it fails to titillate at all.

The Shout Factory DVD issue has a great picture quality much like Private Duty Nurses, but the sound is a problem. There is a background rumbling heard throughout that resembles talking to someone on the phone with wind blowing through the receiver, or speaking to someone in the car with the windows down and wind blowing in.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: June 10, 1972

Runtime: 1Hour 14Minutes

Rated R

Director: Jonathan Kaplan

Studio: New World Pictures

Available: DVD (Roger Corman’s Nurses Collection)