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Crimes of Passion is definitely my secret, guilty pleasure. Available uncut
in this country, few films have managed to capture a sleazy, seedy feel
without resorting to a sense of grottiness. This film is classy and well
made, much the same as Ken Russell's later film, Whore (1991). It has the
same sense of light-heartedness, and is actually well written.
Much of the dialogue is clever, witty, and bitingly effective. The performances are top notch - particularly Perkins as the maniacal priest whom is captivated by the street-smart, fashion-designer-cum-hooker Turner. The sexual scenes are bold, but not sexually explicit.
It is truly amazing to see Kathleen Turner in this film, as opposed to her performance as a fat, frumpy, conservative and highly religious middle-aged mother in the Virgin Suicides (1999). I cannot think of a character performance so diametrically opposite to the one in Crimes of Passion. I recommend you rent both films, and watch them back to back. It is sure to make your head spin, and perhaps even generate a sense of appreciation for the diversity of Turner's acting ability!
Ken Russell's masterpiece has cult movie written all over it. A lurid,
extreme sex-and-violence fantasy porno-movie, it is also a brilliant
satire on the American way of sex, (the 'home life' scenes could have
come out of "Desperate Housewives"). In the bravest and best
performance of her career, Kathleen Turner plays the mystery woman who
is Joanna, prim fashion designer by day and China Blue, the fantasy
hooker to end all fantasy hookers, by night. In an alternative universe
her performance would have won her the Oscar for Best Actress. Her
nemesis is Anthony Perkin's psychopathic preacher with the razor-sharp
dildo ("Save me from the foul-mouthed kooze with the motor-driven
ass"). His is the kind of performance that goes beyond mere acting into
some kind of crazy stratosphere all it's own; (the ending is lifted
directly from "Psycho").
The film has it's downside. Rick Wakeman's score is over-emphatic and Tom Cruise lookalike John Laughlin may have Cruise's good looks but none of his talent. It's a terrible piece of acting but in a movie this OTT it actually works. Barry Sandler's script is brilliant.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
My favorite "weird" movie of all time, and I say that because of the numerous things that just do not belong and dont make sense. Like why is Turner a hooker? Shes a fashion designer during the day, why does she degrade herself at night? Does she get a thrill off of it, its never really explained. Whats with that dopey music video featuring a family of weirdos jumping into a pool dressed in wedding attire? You'll have no idea what it means, but again thats one of the charms of the film for me, silly scenes that make no sense. Another would be Perkins stabbing a blow up doll with a vibrator, with tons o' blood gushing about. Another you squint at but then laugh at loud to. Though there are moments of confusion, there are plenty of terrific scenes, most surprisingly shot unbroken, without cuts. One has Laughlin and Potts discussing their probs in bed for about 10 minutes without breaking the shot. Very professional actors make it look impressive. Most of the plot deals with Laughlins character, a struggling home securities guy stuck in a stale marriage. He gets involved with Turner, though she has her own problems, like constant harrassment from Perkins demented street preacher. The three are very strong from start to finish, especially Kathleen, in my favorite performance of hers ever. She has a ton of great one-liners that inject humor at the right moments, without it looking out of place. If your unfamiliar with the films history, you may be unaware of the different versions available. Back in 84 it was too graphic for an R rating, so they released an R, Unrated, and X rated version. I've only seen the R and Unrated, and there are considerable changes made. The R does not contain shots of Turners face during a rather intimate moment at the beginning of the film. And they also totally threw out a hardcore scene involving a cop and Turner engaged in nasty nookie. As well as Turner and Laughlins first love scene, where several positions shown only in shadow were taken out. But in terms of the story, those scenes are not crucial, so no harm done. Either way you go, this will be one of the more stranger film experiences you'll ever have. I mean where else are you gonna see someone actually killed at the end of a movie with a vibrator?(!!) And I cant forget the terrific sexy saxaphone score by Rick Wakeman, which he reworked from previous material.
It's no surprise that Ken Russell's ambitious psychosexual drama "Crimes of Passion" was not well received upon its initial release back in 1984. But to be fair, based on the heavy edits required to achieve an 'R' rating, it's hard to imagine the film having the same sort of effect as the un-rated director's cut. Explicitness is key to a film of this nature -- necessary for provoking audience reaction, but also for providing a raw layer of intensity to which the viewer can connect with. For example, the explicit dialogue in the bedroom confessional scene between Bobby & Amy Grady (equally fine performances from John Laughlin and Annie Potts) effectively captures the real disconnect present within so many relationships. On one hand there's a need and/or desire for sex as a means of fulfillment and expression of love, but on the other hand there are responsibilities associated with family life that may impede that desire, or in the case of the character of Amy Grady, a general lack of sexual desire is just part of her persona. Meanwhile this leaves her husband Bobby feeling discontented. The film asks then, just how important is sex? Is it an essential part of being happy? In stark contrast to the dynamic between Bobby & Amy Grady, is the character of China Blue/Joanna Crane -- played with absolute gusto by Kathleen Turner (giving one of the finest performances of her career). While her motives remain for the most part unclear, the character of China Blue appears to be using sex as a control mechanism. But what is it that she is trying to control? Through the use of some fairly explicit sex scenes it seems apparent that she enjoys the sex itself while also enjoying the anonymity and emotional disconnect involved with being a girl for hire. But is this feeling the result of her actual disdain for having that emotional connection, or is it a result of having been scarred by a past relationship? The power play argument is reinforced by seeing the Joanna Crane side of the character -- a highly successful undergarment designer with a cool car and a great apartment; someone who seems to have it all, yet wants to take her power one step further. This theory is drawn into question (of course!) when her path crosses with Bobby Grady; someone who seems to be able to offer her the entire package she secretly longs for. To complicate things further, there's the character of Rev. Peter Shayne (an Oscar worthy performance from Anthony Perkins); a man so distraught and shamed by his own inner demons that he seeks his own redemption through the course of offering to redeem China Blue. Throw in an enjoyably hypnotic yet cheesy & dated synthesizer score, and the usual striking visual imagery and religious allegory that Ken Russell is well known for, and the result is a thought provoking and highly entertaining film. Best recommended to those who don't mind being left with a lot of unanswered questions at the end, or who aren't easily offended an 8/10, this film is destined to become a major classic and deserves repeated viewings.
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Fashion designer (Kathleen Turner) lives a double life at night posing as a $50 hooker. She is stalked and terrorized by a psycho preacher (Anthony Perkins) while a married man (John Laughlin) slowly falls in love with her. Amid all the sleaze, kink, (which is all very necessary to the plot of the film) and talk lies an intelligent, thoughtful film. You are never able to take your eyes off of Turner who is absolutely spellbinding. Perkins plays crazy like no one else can. And Laughlin and Annie Potts turn in frank, honest performances. Director Ken Russell is able to create colorful characterizations and generate memorable dialogue. The very 80's score falls perfectly into place in the film and the ending is among one of the most shocking in cinema history. A masterpiece in every respect and one of the most under rated films of all time.
Unrated; Extreme Sexual & Violent Content, Nudity, Profanity, Adult Themes and Nudity.
Thank God for Ken Russell. No other director could have made this one. This is not one of his best films, but it is certainly a fun one to watch. Kathleen Turner really goes the limit as an actress in her role as China Blue. She looks great and gives more to the film than it really deserves. While there are some serious jabs made at relationships and sexuality --- this movie is really just raunchy fun. Anthony Perkins almost steals the show in a send-up of his "Psycho" performance. Great use of color and set design considering the small budget. Rick Wakeman's score is suitably cheezy and very dated. An adult film worth watching.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I just loved this movie! I liked the music, language, the acting and the
overall sleazy, grubby and dirty ambiance it created. Watching this film is
like being caught masturbating - you just feel guilty about having a good
time. A true guilty pleasure! China Blue is the type of woman ALL men want
to experience but would never take home to mother. Kathleen Turner is first
class and I think this is her BEST acting - ever. (Possible spoilers)
Talking of mother, Anthony Perkins is outstanding as the perverted spiritual
savior, with the interesting and somewhat unusual dildo and collection of
sexual paraphernalia. This may be your only chance to see an auto suck' in
a mainstream movie. Loved the nude dancing and wet' tissues.
Ken Russell, one of my favorites, brings another first rate piece of entertainment to the masses. Well done Ken! Most critics panned this movie. Well, they had to be PC! It's like Martha Steward panning McDonalds. So, it's not sirloin steak but someone is buying the 5 billion sold so far. Watch the unrated DVD if you can. Widescreen, nice and sharp.
The thirty year-old hard-worker Bobby Grady (John Laughlin) is married
with two children with the frigid Amy Grady (Annie Potts) and their
marriage is in crisis. Bobby is invited to work in the night shift for
the owner of a fashion designer studio that believes that his talented
designer Joanna Crane (Kathleen Turner), who is very introspective, is
selling his designs to competitors. Bobby accepts the job to make money
and please Amy with a bathtub and follows Joanna after hours.
He discovers that she has a double life, working as a fifty-dollar hooker called China Blue in the red light district and practicing kinky sex with her clients to satisfy their fantasies. Bobby becomes obsessed by China Blue and when the true thief is found, he has sex with her and they have a crush on each other. Meanwhile the insane preacher Rev. Peter Shayne (Anthony Perkins) decides to save Joanna's soul and stalks her everywhere.
"Crimes of Passion" is one of the best and classiest "pre-AIDS" erotic-thriller of the 80's and among my favorite cult-movies ever. A youngster that sees this film in 2012 probably will not understand the behavior (and the beauty) of Kathleen Turner. But in 1981, the mesmerizing Kathleen Turner made her debut in the cinema industry with Lawrence Kasdan's film-noir "Body Heat" and this sexy actress became one of the most desirable women of the world. "Crimes of Passion" is her fifth movie and she is very sensual, sexy and gorgeous in the hands of the director Ken Russell. Anthony Perkins in the role of a mad preacher and the music score of Rick Wakeman complete this little masterpiece of the eroticism. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Crimes de Paixão" ("Crimes of Passion")
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Or, you won't. This exploration of gender and sexuality has a similar
problem to some people, it's not sure which way it wants to go. It's
got genre confusion. Is it a drama? Is it a satire? Certainly, images
of a man as hp or "human penis", slowly rising as his friend hums "Thus
Spoke Zoroaster" and then spitting milk out of his mouth as his wife
sits in horror surrounded by harsh scenes of family strife seems to
scream satire, but the performances are all over the map. Annie Potts
is deadly serious and Anthony Perkins is psycho. Kathleen Turner is the
bright spot. She sells such odd scenes as her prostitute dressed in a
nun's habit jumping on her bed while singing "Onward Christian
Soldier!" Strangely, even with these three off the wall things
mentioned, it's the straightness of the movie as a whole that makes it
too dramatic. But the ending is priceless, John Laughlin does another
one of his weepy monologues about how he needed his woman to tell him
that everything would be alright, it's OK to be scared, then, he looks
at the camera with a smile and says that they f**ked like animals.
P.S. One of my favorite scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. Bruce Davidson analyzes this girl in a bar, makes an animal noise, and asks her if she likes the Bee Gees all while laughing. It's hilarious and it hits on an interesting point. Isn't it all just a game? If you say the right thing, you get a prize.
What a great slice of sleaze this is! Ken Russell certainly has a style
of his own and it's on overdrive in Crimes of Passion, as the movie is
as much about the bizarre way that Russell tells his story as it is
about the story itself. Crimes of Passion is unlikely to appeal to all
tastes, but for everyone who likes trashy and sleazy thrillers, you
really can't go wrong with this one! The film is very surreal and at
times, even takes on something of a fantasy feel. The way that Russell
uses lighting and the rock theme tune (which often feels slightly out
of place) help to keep things surreal; and the heavy amount of sex
makes this more than your average Hollywood thriller! A double life is
the basis for the plot; and here we focus on China Blue; shameless
hooker by night and sportswear designer by day. A street preacher meets
her and decides he wants to save her soul; around the same time, a man
is hired to spy on her by the sportswear business she works for. He
later meets her as China Blue and is shown a good time...but soon the
preacher starts to get out of control.
This might not be particularly intelligent stuff, but Crimes of Passion appealed to me because it's not quite like any other thriller I've seen, and director Ken Russell seems more interested in making the film as bizarre as possible than telling a story - and that is no bad thing as it ensures that Crimes of Passion is original, and that's the sort of thing that gives a film a cult following! Crimes of Passion has an interesting cast, which is lead by Kathleen Turner, who is just great in her double role. John Laughlin falls into the background a little bit as his role is the least interesting of the three central ones - but he's not bad. The third central role is taken up by Anthony Perkins, and it suits him like a glove! Perkins wasn't so maniacal since Psycho and Russell definitely picked the right man for the job with this piece of casting! While the film isn't exactly plot heavy, what story we do have flows well and there's always enough going on outside of the plot anyway - if there's one thing this film isn't, it's boring! Overall, Crimes of Passion is a great trash flick and it gets high recommendations from me!
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