The story revolves around three soldiers - Colee, TK and Cheever - who return from the war after suffering injuries and learn that life has moved on without them. They end up on an ... See full summary »
In long flashbacks, David Owen looks back to when he lived in Manhattan with his wife and baby. The unnecessary noises of the city interrupt his life to the point that he takes a baseball bat to the windshield of cars whose alarms are blaring. After a few arrests, his wife kicks him out. On his own, he learns to avoid arrest and leaves a calling card as "The Rectifier" when he breaks into an offending car. Gruska, an enterprising young reporter, tracks him down. He tells her his story, they become lovers, and she organizes a petition drive for a ballot initiative to ban car alarms. The mayor becomes the Rectifier's bête noire. Can David fight City Hall and win? Written by
Henry Bean based David Owen on himself. In real life, Bean broke into people's cars to disable their noisy alarms. He was eventually arrested and jailed. See more »
See this guy? I know this guy. He's a car thief. He knows that most car alarms operate by a simple electric sensor. Jiggle the door, you complete a circuit, and trigger the siren.
I've been stealing cars since I was 14, and the truth is, alarms make my job easier not harder. Say somebody is walking by and sees me fiddling with the ignition.
[in car with alarm going off]
So sorry ma'am. These stupid alarms, ya know?
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Yes please, I want Tim Robbins with me everywhere I go. He will stop all those car alarms, building alarms, all the worst traffic noise, and keep me safe from being driven crazy by the noise of modern life. If only! This extraordinarily original film written and directed by Henry Bean utters the same sentiments of the vox populi as were expressed by Peter Finch in Paddy Chayefsky's script for NETWORK (1976): 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!' (You may remember if you ever saw that film that Finch used the medium of television to persuade tens of thousands of people all over America to throw open their windows and scream that protest into the streets.) The noise of modern urban life is clearly intolerable, and this wonderful comedic treatment of the subject is full of laughs tempered by the solemn realization that it is all, alas, too true. We have all been beaten down into passive acceptance of the intolerable, and that is the theme of this film: Tim Robbins is mad as hell and he isn't going to take it anymore. So he becomes 'The Rectifier', a kind of anonymous heroic Batman figure who goes round Manhattan disabling car alarms which have gone off on the streets, by smashing the car windows and cutting the alarm cables. This leads to a confrontation with the Mayor of New York, gauchely portrayed by William Hurt as a hectoring bully in a wig of the wrong colour and with an effete manner (amusing: where did that characterisation come from?) Tim Robbins is perfect, absolutely perfect, in the part of the rebel against the noise pollution. He is a master of that dreamy face of the idealist lost in his own quest for some unattainable perfection (in this case, silence). His wife, played by Bridget Moynahan, does not understand or tolerate him. Although she is a professional cellist and should know better, she is above all things a petite bourgeois and reacts as one: she commences an affair and throws him out of the house after saying of his crusade against car alarms: 'How can you do this to me?', with the emphasis on the me. Am I the only one who has noticed it, or are there others out there who have also noticed, that 95% of American movies over the past twenty years have contained angry young women? They are usually angry and vindictive ex-wives, but sometimes, as in this film, they are angry and vindictive wives. What they all have in common is an unquestioning narcissistic arrogance, total lack of rapport with any partner, and a contempt for all men, especially those whom they use as dispensable husband-toys. Is this really going on in life itself, or is it only in the movies? Surely this is a symptom of malaise in contemporary American society of a most troubling kind. It is more troubling to me than the urban noise, frankly. As a marital reject, living on his own in an even noisier neighbourhood (24th Street and Sixth Avenue, help!), Robbins is emotionally rescued by an extremely weird girl who hero-worships him (or at least does so temporarily), played scarily by the Russian/Jewish/American actress Margarita Levieva, who is sometimes a bit difficult to understand because of her accent. She is into sex in a major way and there is a threesome scene which is rather hilarious where she brings back to Robbins's apartment an even wilder creature, a Spanish gal played with droll panache by Maria Ballesteros, whose accent is even more impenetrable. The two gals have an interesting discussion about the relative merits of their private organs, which they take turns examining, while Robbins sits smoking a joint and speculating about the urban nose outside. Levieva is always pontificating about philosophy and quoting Hegel and being an aspiring hyper-intellectual. All of this is wonderfully funny satire, possibly based upon Henry Bean's private experiences, or should I suggest possibly his private parts experiences. There are numerous comedic characters and brilliant minor touches throughout the film where Bean succeeds in giving depth to minor players, with considerable success. Many 'members of the crowd', and even two irrepressible members of a jury, turn miraculously into hilarious characters, as the entire story is littered with the pathos of the multiple stories of the lives of countless supporting players. This is an amazing feat of screen writing and direction, and I wonder whether anyone has really appreciated the extent of Henry Bean's incredible talent and achievement. This film really is a classic, it truly is. Woody Allen ought to take a refresher course in comedy by studying the meticulous construction and realization of this film, which has a freshness and creativity about it which is lacking in, for instance, Allen's MELINDA AND MELINDA. What a pity that Henry Bean has made so few films. Perhaps he is too original, but thank God that he is.
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