Friday, August 30, 2013

Short Eyes

1977, US, directed by Robert M. Young

Though certainly of its time as a portrait of the New York prison system -- the location for the filming, in an actual prison in Manhattan, no longer exists, while AIDS is several years in the future -- Short Eyes is also strikingly modern, with a directness of expression that seems to elude a great many more recent, less courageous films: the portrait of John Heard, the titular "short eyes," or accused paedophile, expresses a sympathy for his demons without ever excusing or diminishing his impact on his victims, while the language of the film has a rawness that's jarring and effective. The film's bona fides as a piece of authentic work are impeccable: Miguel Pinero, who wrote the original stage play and adapted his work for the screen, began the project while in prison himself, and his attention to the constant noise as well as the alternating loneliness and sociability of prison life are striking.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States