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Patricia Charbonneau (#110 of 2)

Summer of ‘88: Call Me - Orange You Glad You Came?

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Summer of ‘88: <em>Call Me</em> - Orange You Glad You Came?
Summer of ‘88: <em>Call Me</em> - Orange You Glad You Came?

The poster for Call Me is full of sexy promises. It prominently displays a dame’s gorgeous gams, one bent and one elevated. Both are wrapped in a long, curly telephone cord that salaciously travels the length of female real estate. The eyes can’t help but traverse that cord. Into the poster it comes, going around the calf and across the thigh. It ventures between the bend behind the knee that no lover should ignore before making its exit over the ankle and dangerously close to an elevated high-heel shoe. Positioned between the legs is a pink switchblade and the orange from which it has just carved a small, obscene sliver. This juicy fruit is positioned so the viewer can see the suggestive slit in it. “Her fantasies can be fatal,” the tagline warns, reminding us that nobody can enjoy fucking without consequence in American cinematic smut. The title, complete with punctuation, beckons the horny reader with its bold, typewritten font: “Call me.” Naughtiness should ensue if you obey, n’est-ce pas?

By now, you should know that such advertising tawdriness can only lead to tears of disappointment. Call Me is a wrong number on all accounts. It plays as if someone saw the poster and, inspired by its visual elements, wrote a terrible screenplay. The title should have been Call Me: Based on the Poster Pushed by Sapphire, the Vestron Pictures Marketing Lady. You can almost hear the director, Sollace Mitchell, yelling, “Don’t forget the orange!” to screenwriter Karyn Kay. That orange is the only memorable aspect of the film. Since it plays a dirty, yet crucial role, I will gleefully spoil its appearance for you later.

Summer of ‘88: Shakedown

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Summer of ‘88: <em>Shakedown</em>
Summer of ‘88: <em>Shakedown</em>

Shakedown deals in chest hair. Ostensibly a by-the-numbers actioner pairing a Texas-drawling plainclothes cop, Marx (Sam Elliott), and an anal-retentive hipster lawyer, Dalton (Peter Weller), the film is too spry and idiosyncratic to work as a pure thriller, and yet too enamored of its insane, flame-belching set pieces to be a straight-up buddy comedy. Writer/director/investment banker James Glickenhaus’s film takes place in a morally festering vision of the Big Apple, whereby Weller’s hero can simultaneously cheat on his pregnant fiancée with an old flame while defending a crack dealer, Phillips (Richard Brooks), wrongfully accused of first-degree cop-killing. But there’s more: His old flame (Patricia Charbonneau) is also the new district attorney, representing the case against Phillips, reminding Dalton why he went to law school in the first place.

Dalton doesn’t weep into his quadruple boilermakers over these jarring moral bottlenecks; Glickenhaus’s characters are adults who make decisions both good and bad, for reasons that are, if not belabored, delivered just fleetly enough to keep you on the edge of your seat. As Dalton faces down his final case as a legal counselor, his milquetoast fiancée lectures him on his loud clothing and obnoxious taste in music, erstwhile goading him into joining her daddy’s financial firm. Less the usual One Last Job, Dalton’s entanglement in the slime pool of crooked cops and drug dealers is only possible thanks to Marx’s super-cop shenanigans. When he sniffs out the policeman, who lives from tallboy to tallboy in a flea-bitten Times Square multiplex, which happens to be playing James Glickenhaus films on loop, the music swells as Marx admonishes him: