Rigidity and Tolerance

The Sackler’s made $10-billion off Oxycontin and were punished by having to pay a fine of $600-million.

 “The Crime of the Century”

Alex Gibney starts his American Drug Addiction saga with the assertion that pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma knowingly sold what they knew was addictive medicine for symptoms beyond its purpose.

Gibney spends the next four hours proving his claim with previously unseen video depositions, in-house sales training films and talking head testimony from whistle blowers. “The Crime of the Century” isn’t the first doc on corporate maleficence and it won’t be the last.

Oxycontin is the best synthetic opium you could imagine. Before oxycontin drug companies had marketed valium as a cure in a pill. There’s never a dull moment.

Among current filmmakers Gibney, along with Adam Curtis, makes the kind of engaging documentary that takes time to explore its themes paying off with keen insights into the subject. Society is like a snake trying to eat its own tail.

If this was a fictional film Mark Ruffalo would play a character that says: “They knew it was wrong and they did nothing to stop.”

“The Crime of the Century” is currently available on HBO.

“Profile”

The public doesn’t know how to view Russian filmmaker Timur Berkmambetov. His Russian sci-fi/horror series “Night Watch” and “Day Watch” stand the test of time, stylistically the Euro-version of “The Matrix.”

Berkmambetov’s American films range from “Wanted” to “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” No matter what invectives you want to hurl at his astute grasp of genre politics you cannot ignore his contribution (mainly as a producer) to the computer screen genre.

A cousin to the found-footage film yet it’s own separate animal, Berkmambetov infected, perfected and respected the genre with films like “Unfriended,” “Searching” and now “Profile.”

Just to indicate how important film festival culture is to movies consider that “Profile” first played at the Berlin Film Festival and the SXSW Film Festival in 2018.

“Profile” told entirely on a computer screen has a woman protagonist, a freelance investigative reporter who poses as a convert to Islam. Her mission is to crash a Syrian terrorist cell itself filled with male extremists.

“Profile” is a film that works like a charm, never letting you forget it’s a movie yet taking you on a worldwide adventure. Is the couple a modern day cyber-Romeo-and-Juliet despite her methods of entrapment? Plus, who is actually snaring whom?

On a side note there’s a popular play titled “Dear Evan Hansen” (itself made into a movie being released later this year) that while having nothing to do with “Profile” used social media sound effects throughout the production. “Profile” uses the computer sound of incoming Skype calls all the way through and the beat and tone give “Profile” a chilling atmosphere. At one time it can be a friendly sound and at other times it fills the viewers with dread.

“Profile” opens in theaters May 14 before it’s inevitable streaming destiny.

“Spiral”

Theaters in areas of the country that were previously closed for over a year have reopened. But it’s too late; the damage to cinema has been done.

Unless it’s a film starring Tom Cruise that was actually shot in outer space what’s the difference in watching a movie playing “only in theaters” for a couple of weeks (and is then available via streaming) and watching a movie that was made in any year and also available via streaming or any of the other forms of physical media?

Somewhere between the sheen of the nickelodeon and the expansion of aspect ratios movies became couch fodder.

Then there’s an unspecified modification of making movie sequels. You can never make enough Tarzan movies or Frankenstein films. But with “Saw” you should’ve stopped a long time ago.

“Spiral” operates on the premise that a Jigsaw copycat killer is stalking officers themselves part of a corrupt police force. In what could’ve been an intriguing thriller with a can-you-guess-the-killer ending the viewer is forced to endure routine torture porn performed with Rube Goldberg mechanics.

Chris Rock hits the rote notes of his haunted police detective character with able support from Samuel L. Jackson as his dad (and former police chief) and his partner Max Minghella.

In the movie “Goodfellas” there’s a character described as the kind of person who roots for bad guys in the movies. “Spiral” is his perfect film.

“Spiral” opens in theaters this weekend.

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