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INTIMACY 1966 JACK GING BARRY SULLIVAN SLEAZY HOTEL HIDDEN CAMERA DVD-R!

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Review by sakana1 ★★★★ 

Intimacy has two locations, but it functions almost as a chamber piece, because one of the locations is used purely as a screening room for events that took place in the other space. It is monumentally claustrophobic, both physically and emotionally, uncomfortably intense, and most of the time, very good.

The film opens with a man in a hotel room, someone we eventually realize is setting up a hidden camera and bugs in order to record what happens in the room next door. He finishes, and waits. Finally, we see people enter the room and the recording begins, and then the movie cuts to the present, as the man who made the recording is being paid off by the person who hired him, a broadly confident, bloviating businessman (Barry Sullivan as Walter Nicholson). A movie projector is set up in Walter’s fancy office and, as the unnamed man leaves, he assures Nicholson that he got more than what he needed on the tape.

It doesn’t take long for the story to take shape: Walter is sleazy and corrupt, with money problems so severe he is facing threats of violence and murder from a loan shark. In order to survive, he must get a contract for which he is in the running, the recipient of which is being decided by his irritatingly incorruptible old acquaintance, Jim Hawley (Jack Ging). The hotel room was Hawley’s, and Walter hired a sex worker to visit him, sure that their encounter would produce the blackmail material he needed to force the married Hawley to give him the contract.

And the rest of the movie plays out essentially in Walter’s office, except when he turns the projector on, we usually go into the scene he’s watching, shifting into the past and experiencing the scenes as they played out, before jumping back to see Walter’s reactions. It is undeniably a gimmick, but goddamn is it used well here. Walter is often watching himself on screen, harassing Hawley with an offensive, aggressive joviality that gets more uncomfortable as it continues. And the tension ratchets up slowly but inexorably, as Walter moves closer to crisis, both on- and off-screen, and we get increasingly invested in what is playing out on screen — what has already happened.

I really want to avoid spoilers, but suffice it to say that, despite having some weak moments, Intimacy blew me away. What it was able to achieve on a tiny budget, with a tiny set, and a cast full of unknowns and tv actors (and Barry Sullivan) is genuinely incredible. Eva Wolas’ screenplay is excellent, Victor Stoloff’s direction is smart, creative, and efficient, and most of the performances are very good (I especially loved Joan Blackman, who plays Walter’s much younger wife). So, so good, y’all.

 

black & white, fullcreen, mono, 85 minutes. DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!

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