The Big Crime Wave

  • 1986
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy

Shot on 16mm in Winnipeg, this uneven, surreal satire by John Paisz whimsically depicts the inner life of an aspiring moviemaker. Paisz plays Steve Penny, a quiet loner who rents a room above a whitebread couple's garage and, assisted by their schoolgirl daughter (Eva Covacs), pens scripts for "color crime movies," which may never get filmed since Penny...read more

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Shot on 16mm in Winnipeg, this uneven, surreal satire by John Paisz whimsically depicts the inner life of an aspiring moviemaker.

Paisz plays Steve Penny, a quiet loner who rents a room above a whitebread couple's garage and, assisted by their schoolgirl daughter (Eva Covacs), pens scripts for "color crime movies," which may never get filmed since Penny wrecked the Bolex he borrowed from the Film Board of Canada. In Steve's

mind, however, we see the same gangster plot revised again and again, since Penny can't figure out what crooks do for a living. In one draft they're ruthlessly-competing celebrity impersonators; in another they're ruthlessly-competing gourmet chefts; in a third they're ruthlessly-competing

self-help gurus. Steve Penny also mulls over his incipient stardom in newsreel fantasies as a venerated but unfulfilled George Lucas-Walt Disney type (with a theme park full of celebrity impersonator gangsters) who, in the manner of Charles Foster Kane, dies unloved and alone amidst vast wealth.

Ultimately the imaginary auteur travels to Kansas City in response to an ad from a "script doctor" who turns out to be a serial killer. Steve's narrow escape leaves him with a personal epiphany, and a street lamp stuck on his head.

Though self-indulgent and homemade, THE BIG CRIME WAVE knowingly addresses dreams and obsessions of regional Hollywood wannabes everywhere (most tellingly in a subplot in which Penny investigates the real-world job market and finds only dull people at mindless chores). Paisz himself labored over

the film for several long years, during which his young leading lady went through puberty; she looks remarkably different from one scene to the next. After festival exhibition the film, originally titled CRIME WAVE, came to home video as THE BIG CRIME WAVE to avoid confusion with CRIMEWAVE, a

surreal gangster action-spoof done by a rival cabal of better-known off-Hollywood movie nuts, Sam Raimi and Joel and Ethan Coen. (Violence)

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  • Released: 1986
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Shot on 16mm in Winnipeg, this uneven, surreal satire by John Paisz whimsically depicts the inner life of an aspiring moviemaker. Paisz plays Steve Penny, a quiet loner who rents a room above a whitebread couple's garage and, assisted by their schoolgirl… (more)

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