JAY SEBRING: CUTTING TO THE TRUTH (2020)

Despite some contrived moments used to make the interviewees react in realistic (yet melodramatic) ways, JAY SEBRING: CUTTING TO THE TRUTH, made by hairstylist Sebring's lookalike nephew, is quite good, especially the frame-device of showing a long-lost documentary Sebring did on his trade, months before he was murdered along with Sharon Tate by The Manson Family...

The anger and bitterness by the filmmaker is understandable, but it's extremely uneven... for example, right after the murders, Time Magazine and various other outlets were basically blaming the victims, including Sebring, for the deaths, as if they were involved in the cult that murdered them... It's ridiculous but it happened... that's how the media works... however, once it was discovered a gang of crazy hippies led by the craziest of hippie killers killed everyone, all those things that the nephew is still raving mad about were long, long gone, and ever brought up again... ever, ever again... Also ironic is, no one but Manson was ever blamed, and it was Tex Watson, mentioned here only once, who shot Sebring a bunch of times before stabbing him a bunch more times...

The late Jay Sebring's childhood, his stint in the Navy, and his bold risky move to Los Angeles in the 1950's to become not a barber but a hairstylist for men (very rare in those days), is far more befitting to a documentary that's supposedly fighting against the very things it's embracing since, even the summaries highlight Charles Manson and Sharon Tate (in that order) to grab viewers... Also interesting is the post "MeToo" demonizing of Roman Polanski, who is the first person who say that Sebring was into bondage and kinky sex (before the media gets blamed for reporting the same things); there's even a theory that Tate was in the process of a divorce... and had this been made ten years ago, Roman Polanski would have been the shining star...

Overall CUTTING TO THE TRUTH is intriguing, and lets you see that Jay Sebring is more than just "the others" murdered other than eternally beautiful Sharon... Then again, there's so much embracing the pop culture mythology about Manson and the killings as well constant name-dropping (and interview selections) of famous people Sebring hung around with... the poor guy, once again, gets lost in the mix: and at his own party this time. Rates: ***1/2

GETTING STRAIGHT (1970)

Director Richard Rush had an incredible style, and the first half of GETTING STRAIGHT showcases his kind of handing-off of camera movements within either subtle shots of action, like an apple being passed from student to student in the opening credits in the central hippie college, to random conversations...

For instance, an envelope is dropped on a machine and as the person who set it in place is speaking, the person answering is on the other side, where that letter wound up: a beautiful baton-passing flow that would peak with THE STUNT MAN, but you can't make a miracle out of the sixties, because hippies are simply the most uninteresting characters to ever wind up on film, ironically dying to be independent-minded and free, they're all cookie-cutter machines... and while each look like they're wearing costumes in recent movies, they even looked made up/put-together back then, when it was really going on (mainly because an actor will go from this movie to an episode of Gunsmoke)...

Centered on a very uncomfortable-looking, horribly unattractive Elliott Gould, with big lips and bushy eyebrows matching a bushy mustache and about ten years too old for the role of a student revolutionary who was somehow in Vietnam and now wants to be a teacher... 

Looking the age of someone who has been a teacher for a decade and just horribly miscast here, spouting 1960's platitudes to his so-called fellow students, and, while he does stand out from the younger hippies (including Harrison Ford, John Rubinstein and Max Julien)... being that he's sarcastically obnoxious and selfishly neurotic like the establishment he's supposed to be so against... director Rush cannot make these people interesting beyond the first twenty-minutes. Rates: **

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