Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
One of the saddest things you can see in a movie is an actor left to his own devices. When actors have characters and plots to plug into, they're home free. But when they're asked to carry a role almost entirely with their own mannerisms, a kind of quiet desperation sets in. That's what happens to James Garner in "They Only Kill Their Masters."
Garner has an easy good-humored charm which has worked recently in movies like "Skin Game" and "Support your Local Sheriff." But those were movies where the charm had something to work on; he was sort of a con man both times, soft-talking people into acting against their own better judgment. In "They Only Kill Their Masters," he's cast as a regulation good guy and neither the story nor the director gives him anywhere to go.
The story was potentially interesting; it involves a series of deaths that might possibly have been committed by a trained watchdog, assuming the dog had someone to tidy up after him. Garner, a small-town lawman, ambles off in search of a solution to the case and comes home with Katharine Ross, who is an under-employed dog trainer.
They exchange several very, very long glances, the significance of which eventually becomes unmistakable to them, and he invites her over to his place for dinner. They have meat loaf and a salad with oil-and-vinegar dressing which Miss Ross mixes herself in betwixt protracted glances. I mention this dinner scene because it is the longest, clumsiest and most hapless seduction-in-the-kitchen scene I have ever seen. I don't know why they had meat loaf when there would have been time for a roast.
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
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