20 MONTROSE VOICE / MARCH 20, 1987
'Beyond Therapy' May Be Just That
(left to right) Tom Conti, Jeff Goldblum, Julie Hagerty, Chris Campion.
Christopher Guest and Glenda Jackson in "Beyond Therapy"
Houston Screens by Bill O'Rourke
□ Beyond Therapy
Well, if you've been reading my
theater columns, you'll know that
Christopher Durang is not my favorite
playwright. Oh, he cooks up a funny
premise and a good beginning. He adds
an enjoyable middle that's controversial enough for several good arguments.
The man simply cannot write an ending. Sooner or later a revolver is fired,
his idea of a climax. Then, rather than
resolving anything, everything unravels fairly quickly.
However, I can read box office figures
as well as the next man. Durang does
have a following. The production of
Beyond Therapy at Houston's Stages
was quite popular. So one may wonder
what happened with the first movie of
one of his major works.
In some ways, the Stages production
was a lot better. Charlotte, the childish
psychologist, was a lot more fun. Two-
time Oscar winner Glenda Jackson is
woefully miscast here. She seems to
miss the point entirely. Everything she
does is so adult and dignified.
The show involves a bisexual man,
Bruce (Jeff Goldblum), who finds a lady,
Prudence (Julie Hagerty), through a
personal ad. He obviously did not clear
the ad with his lover, Bob (Christopher
Guest). Naturally, this upsets Bob.
Rather than accord the lovers' relationship the same dignity they would a
marriage, thus being forced to understand Bob's outrage, the filmmaker's
attitude can be summed in in a quote
from a press release, "Bob, a psychologically unstable individual intensely jealous of his live-in lover."
On stage, Bob was a fruitcake as in
nutso. But, he was no stranger than any
of the other characters. In the movie,
most of the other characters have been
deflated a little, down to basically life
size. It now looks as if Bob has been
singled out for more ridicule than the
And no longer do Bruce and Prudence
keep visiting a metaphysically empty
restaurant where the waiter is never
seen. The waiter is now threaded
throughout the entire work and his
character changed in ways that might
best remain a surprise. He is played by
Chris Campion, whose boyish beauty
was thought by many to be the only
redeeming value in Polanski's Pirates.
The restaurant and its habitues actually becomes one ofthe most interesting
characters. It's now Bruce's own fault
that he is never waited on.
On the other hand, the naturalness
imposed on the script by its new
medium does reign in the worst of
Durang's excesses. This new discipline
does pay off at times.
Director Robert Altman adds some
weirdness of his own, though. For example, he thought of this as a French-style
farce. So he shot it in France with a
French crew and supporting players.
This story about Yankees who occasionally wish they could go to Paris now has
the feel of a foreign art film.
I wouldn't be surprised if this film
does eventually do well in art houses.
However, I wonder about its success in
general release. I don't even really
expect it to find a large cult following.
But I've been wrong about Durang's
each killed individually. Both entertainingly and inventively, each expires for
some specific reason.
Partly because of that, perhaps partly
because of a fairly weak musical score,
the screen is not crammed to bursting
with action. The pace is more natural,
less frenetic. The aim is for more suspense, more meaningful action.
The sex is very graphic, but only verbally. The pretty boy does eventually
get his addenda threatened and then
shallowly slashed with some shears.
Then that act is questioned by a mafia
don. But at neither time do we even get a
The plot is not handed to the viewei
on a silver platter, either. You have to
work your own imagination to link everything together at first. I liked the chal
The film's return to conservative
values might make it feel a little old-
fashioned, but I would welcome more
like it. Too many people have lost sight
of what "gratuitous violence" means.
Burglar—Whoopi Goldberg and Bernie
Rh oden barr
The Good Father (Belair)
My Sweet Little Village (Belair)—the
Czechoslovakian nomination for the
best foreign film Oscar
One Woman or Two (Greenway)
Lolita: The Ixrved One (Rice Media
True Stories (Greenway and River
Bernie Rhodenbarr (Whoopi Goldberg) and Carl Heffler (Bob Goldthwait)
plan how they will circumvent the police and find the murderer for the
crime Bernie is suspected of in "Burglar"
Bob (Christopher Guest), Bruce (Jeff Goldblum) and Prudence (Julie
Hagerty) find themselves in a strange and uncomfortable situation in
Burt Reynold's latest movie, Heat, is
probably not going to be as big a hit as
Lethal Weapon. That's really sad,
because it's a better-made movie.
The pretty boy who has a twisted psychotic need to hurt other people is the
villain, not the hero. When he says that
he didn't do anything wrong when he
savagely beat a woman because she's a
whore and it's impossible to be cruel to a
whore, you know not only that his days
are numbered but also that they deserve
The hero does not glorify in violence.
It is only something that he does well
The necessity of it gives him headaches.
This is the kind of movie where you
should count every bullet. But the filmmakers don't stop there. They accord
human life the same honor.
There are only as many people on
each side of the conflict as there logically must be. Those who must die are
Tutti a Casa (MFA, 20)—Everybody
Go Home! ONO!
To Be or Not to Be; Miss Tatlock's
Millions (Rice Media Center, 21)—the
Jack Benny original. ONO!
La Voglia Matta (MFA, 21)—Crazy
Fundi: The Story of Ella Baker (Rice
Media Center, 22)—biography of a
woman wh committed her life to the
American civil rights movement.
Risate di Giola (MFA, 22)—Joyous
Bad (River Oaks, 23)—by Andy Warhol
81/j (River Oaks, 25)—by Federico Fel-
Nosferatu (Goethe Institute, 26)—
Klaus Kinski as the vampire. Freebies. ONO!
The Rules of the Game (Rice Media