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01/31/2005 - MY TOP FIVE FAVORITE FILMS - AND WHY - NUMBER THREE
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Okay, I'll apologize right up-front. It's been too many months for me to get around to writing this up and, I know right now, you're not going to be impressed. But that's okay. It's my list, bygumit! and if I like it, then I can write about it.

You may also be thinking that I was stalling - trying to come up with number 3 - confused as to what I would write. No. Number 3 has been around for awhile.

The movie in question is from 1978 and it's entitled: "The Big Fix." Heard of it? Didn't think so.

"The Big Fix" is a "made-for-tv" quality movie about a detective investigating a mystery surrounding an up-coming election campaign. Seems one party is using an "Abbie Hoffman" type 60's radical as a supporter for one particular candidate. The hope is that by pinning this character to this one candidate - everyone will go scrambling to the other candidate.

Richard Dreyfuss plays the main character, Moses Wine, the detective who gets caught up in this mystery.

There are many ways this movie is set apart from other "mysteries." First, the character doesn't really drive the story. The story drives him. More often than not, he's in a revolving door of the nefarious characters who think he is somehow involved, whether in the murder of his girlfriend or in the campaign. The fact that he doesn't "drive" the story is probably what made this film fail amongst the audience out there. He doesn't figure it out until we figure it out and thus he doesn't seem very heroic in the process.

That said, that is one of the things I liked about the film. It isn't "cut and dried." But that's not really what this review is about. This review (and reviewer) is really interested in the "subtext" of this film.

Now, most every film has a subtext. A subtext is what the film is REALLY about. If your film has no subtext, then there really isn't anything grounding the film to the viewer. For example... "The Deer Hunter" is a great film but can be easily dismissed as a film about a bunch of drunken friends who go hunting, go to Vietnam, come home and go hunting and then go back to Vietnam. But what is the subtext? The subtext for a film like "The Deer Hunter" is about friendship, about laying your life down for someone else, sacrifice and love.

The subtext of "The Big Fix" is what got me and what put this film into my top five. The subtext is about losing grips with something that makes us what we are. Moses Wine is a former 60's radical who is still trying to behave that way (smoking dope, tuning out, casual sex with an old girlfriend) and what the film shows is how little that means in the present tense. He can't continue to live in the past. It's a film about distancing yourself from your identity or what you think is your identity. Are you who you were? And who are you now. Watching Richard Dreyfuss be moved to tears while watching old 60's footage of a protest is a very powerful moment. Saying to him: "This time doesn't exist any more, and you can't hold on to it any more. Time to grow up and come to terms with who you are now."

Okay, I'll admit, the subtext isn't very subtle but it is a message I think we all need to hear some times.

When Richard finally finds the "Abbie Hoffman" character who has, basically, sold out - he also finds in himself the understanding that he can still move forward with a belief system that is still inside him.

The film also has a GREAT cast of "up-and-comers" including John Lithgow (in a very important role for early part), Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham and a cameo by Mandy Patinkin.

Available only on VHS - if you can find it at all. And note, Leon Redbone's "I want to be seduced" is NOT on the VHS copy. A great song used to great effect in the movie.

Directed by Jeremy Paul Kagan (director of another small film that deserves more attention: "Heroes" - and a few television series such as "The West Wing" and "Alley McBeal").

Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Anspach, John Lithgow, Bonnie Bedelia, F. Murray Abraham and Fritz Weaver.

Time: 108 minutes

Released: 1978




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