Killer: A Journal of Murder
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Time Out says1929: Two newcomers enter Leavenworth prison, Kansas. Henry Lesser, an idealistic guard, and Carl Panzram, a hard-bitten con who spits out a confession to 21 unsolved murders. The pair form a bond. Henry smuggles in paper and pen so America's first serial killer can write his memoirs - a journal so shocking it wasn't published for more than 40 years. Writer/director Metcalfe switches to b/w for the journal, but that approximates the harshness of the material, not any moral distinction. Indeed, Metcalfe holds to a liberal perspective which Panzram, for one, may not have agreed with. Woods is typecast as Panzram, but he's terrifyingly alive in the part - even double-chained and ringed by a dozen guards, he's a palpable threat. A very nasty piece of work, he none the less insists that he is a piece of work: the sum of his exposure to the indifference and sadism of others. Leonard is just an on-looker as Lesser, but he, like the film, never flinches from the disturbing truths Panzram represents. This tough, gritty movie is shot by Abel Ferrara's regular cameraman Ken Kelsch, produced by Oliver Stone and dedicated to Sam Peckinpah - so you know where it's coming from.