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Straight Time

USA 1978. Dir: Ulu Grosbard. 114 min. 35mm

JEFF WALL

INTRODUCED BY THE ARTIST / Straight Time, photographed by Owen Roizman, is an outstanding example of the new colour cinematography that seemed to emerge from everywhere in the later 1960s. The film is an interesting, though conventional, version of the romance of criminality, laced with sour emotional realism, that has been a staple of the movies since the early days. It was adapted from a novel called No Beast So Fierce, by Edward Bunker, quite notable and notorious in his own right as delinquent, criminal, author, and actor, who also wrote the screenplay for another of my favourite films, Runaway Train, in the mid-1980s. In that film, Jon Voight, playing a criminal very much like Dustin Hoffman's in Straight Time, quotes this line from Shakespeare's Richard III: “No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity. But I know none, and therefore am no beast.” Straight Time is directed by Israel (Ulu) Grosbard, Hoffman’s close friend and mentor, a distinguished director better known for his work in the theatre. (JW)


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Jeff Wall is an artist working in photography. He has exhibited his pictures internationally for the past 35 years. His pictures, in both black and white and colour, are usually large in scale and done in collaboration with performers. He calls them “cinematography.” He is considered to be one of the artists who has led the way in emphasizing the affinities between photography, painting, and cinema. His work is included in many major public and private collections. He was born in Vancouver, and lives and works there.

 

REVIEWS

"A leanly constructed, vividly staged film ... It is so cool it would leave a chill were it not done with such precision and control."

New York Times | full review