Saturday, April 19, 2014



I am somewhat aghast at the reaction to my latest billboard, touting my stand against Osteoporosis, a dread disease for our time. A huge photograph of me, wearing a lovely little black leather bustier I bought at Versace in New York, with the legend 'Vicki Lester uses SODOmints for SODOmight' shouldn't be reason for a cause célèbre. The site chosen for installation was in Orange County, across the street from the Crystal Cathedral and apparently some of the congregation there have found it a little unnerving. I hadn't realized that bone disease would strike such a chord. Apparently, there's been quite a little picket line with people praying and carrying on and blaming me and the Supremes for the downfall of civilization. I think that's going a bit far. My career is still strong and I'm a beloved public figure, unlike a certain Miss Ross.

Joseph, my manager, and Madame Rose, my publicist, are already in overdrive making sure that we can use this additional exposure to maximum advantage. I've been booked on several talk shows to explain how SODOmints with their Super Organic Dairy Ossifier are such an improvement over traditional calcium supplements in the prevention of bone loss. It should end up being quite a PR coup. Lesterene brands should make a mint, if you'll excuse the expression, off of the product line. Joseph, however, has suggested that some people are seeing my new slogan 'SODOmints for SODOmight' as being anti-family in some way and that I'll need to counter that. I don't see why we can't have a SODOmints for children pediatric version. There's nothing more wholesome and family friendly than putting children on helpful medications.

While pondering over these issues, I retired to the home theater where I began to channel surf, finally settling on the 1995 film, Copycat with Holly Hunter and Sigourney Weaver. I remember enjoying this when I originally saw it some years ago so I settled in to see if it held up. It's actually a remarkably competent entry in the post The Silence of the Lambs serial killer genre. The performances of the two leading ladies push the film from the routine into the worthy of a peek category. There's also several scenes showing the wonders of modern prescription drugs.

Sigourney Weaver plays Helen Hudson, a famous forensic psychiatrist who specializes in determining the level of insanity of drooling killers, especially Darryl Lee Cullum (Harry Connick Jr., made up to look like an extra off the set of Deliverance). One day, after lecturing a group of college students on her specialty, she stops in the ladies' loo to freshen up and is waylaid by the villainous Cullum, who strings her up by a wire noose, almost ruining her Nancy Reagan red Adolfo suit. She is rescued, but the experience traumatizes her into becoming an agoraphobic pill addict who can't bear to leave her lovely San Francisco Marina view apartment. Here she engages in internet conversations, banter with her gay houseboy (John Rothman) and the occasional crank call to the police.

Holly Hunter is SF homicide detective M.J. Monahan. Monahan, along with her partner Reuben Goetz (a dreary Dermot Mulroney), is on the track of a new serial killer stalking the Bay Area preying on young women. They're having difficulty cracking the killer's modus operandi as each murder seems a bit different in its methods and rituals. Monahan turns to the slightly crazed Dr. Hudson for help and she correctly realizes that the current murderer is recreating crime scenes and methods of serial killers of the past including Albert DeSalvo, Buono and Bianchi, Jeffrey Dahmer and David Berkowitz. Will Monahan and Hudson catch their man? (The angelic looking William McNamara playing strongly against type.) Will Hudson emerge from her shell? Will the half hearted romance between Hudson and Goetz end in tragedy? If you can't answer these questions within fifteen minutes of the beginning of the film, you haven't seen enough Hollywood product.

Director Jon Amiel, working from a script by Ann Biderman and David Madsen, keeps things moving along at a fairly rapid clip. Every time it starts to flag, he throws in a new golden oldie murder scene and things pick up again. This is helped by the energy his two leading ladies bring to their roles. Both are old pros and play their parts with absolute conviction, no matter how odd the circumstances they find themselves in. They even make the hoary clichés of a last minute showdown on a rooftop work.

Unfortunately, the supporting cast is not up to the level of the leads. The biggest offender, by far, is Dermot Mulroney. In the words of the wise Walter Chaw, the man is a 'charisma vortex' who sucks all life and energy off the screen. I've come to the conclusion that he owes his career in film to producers who recognize that he is such a lump of roast beef, that moviegoers will be forced to center their attentions and adoration on the leading lady. Other character actors, who usually bring a little something to their roles such as J.E. Freeman as Monahan's boss and Will Patton as another colleague, are left with little to play besides stock scenes that move the plot along. Harry Connick Jr. is so over the top in his few scenes, that one expects him to speak in tongues and handle snakes. I did like William McNamara as the killer, but we're not really allowed to get inside him. He's simply a foil for our plucky heroines.

As a psychological thriller, the film is pretty par for the course. The underlying idea is interesting and it's presented fairly well. It's raised into something a bit more by the two women, who almost make you forget some of the melodrama and idiotic actions the script forces them into. There's a lot of terrified woman in deserted house stuff going on at times that really could have been trimmed in favor of something a little more original.

Nervous college students. Red pumps on white tile. Tea and Xanax. Stocking around neck. Sperm bank. Gratuitous target practice. Floating corpse. Silly email graphics. Window cleaner injection. Partridge Family hit. Burning house. Gratuitous cop impersonation.

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