“PSYCHIC MURDER”— A Comic with Three Fingers

“Psychic Murder”

A Comic with Three Fingers

Amos Lassen

There is something about the “Faust” legend that has made it an important theme in the arts for many years. From the original story, we have seen it in musical theatre in “Damn Yankees”, in literature in Oscar Wilde’s “Dorian Gray” and in straight drama. This time it is about Billy, a young comic who jokes about his birth defect of being born with just three fingers on each hand. Brandon Block’s new film twists the Faust story and we suspect from the very beginning that this will not end well.

Mickey Goldsmith (Timothy J. Cox) is a ruthless agent meets Billy (Will Bernish) and offers to represent him. Billy’s career is not succeeding but he begins to do a bit better when he speaks about his birth defect. People begin to laugh but we get the feeling that they are laughing at him and not with him. We also get a sense of something being just “not right” with this and this sense of uneasiness increases as the movie moves forward. The audience is not entertained by what they see and hear, their laughter comes from a sense of “freakiness”. The movie becomes quite dark at this point. Mickey is the devil’s advocate who takes Billy’s attempt at comedy and Cox as Mickey with a stare and snide way of speaking invites Billy into his agency. He even tells Billy that he will not help advance his faltering career. Billy, surprisingly, wants to join Mickey even though he is an unpleasant person and against being warned by Puma (Tatiana Ford). Mickey even shares something about Adrian Mann, another client that he managed and whose career he destroyed just because Puma fell in love with him. But then there is something else about Puma and who she is and whether or not she is used as a lure to get Billy to sigh with Mickey. It seems that the agent focuses on those with less talent than others.

We cannot really hear the first words that Mickey says to Billy the background music to drowns out what was being said. We cannot help but wonder why Billy is pursuing something that he is clearly not good at and we get the impression that he is trying to save himself because he knows that his hands will not allow him to get employment someplace else. Being a stand-up comic is not an easy job and the stress that one who does not get laughs can be overwhelming. He needs to have an audience that is on his side and that finds him funny. If not, the comedy crowd audience can be brutal and ruin him in an instant. This is a sad but realistic look at live entertainment. Mickey is the seminal representation of what is wrong here and he is quite cruel.

So is this film what we might call entertainment? That is a rough question. Everything here works and the actors turn in excellent performances but what we see is upsetting. Cox turns in a brilliant performance and I am sure that as Mickey, he is not a person that I would care to know.

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