Little Murders ★★★★

A New Leaf’s insane older brother - the one who had a stint in the mental hospital. Besides the similarities of two murderous Jewish marriages, Arkin’s only directed feature is perhaps more bonkers than it sounds on paper. Elliot Gould’s nihilistic attitude (self) centers the drama, while the fireball Marcia Rodd (her only major starring role – a total shame given the hilarious dynamic she creates with Gould) pines for him with total obliviousness to the world around her, which is slowly turning into a state of anarchy. First half’s madcap insanity (MVP performances all around in the family, especially Vincent Gardenia as the father) is finally topped with Donald Sutherland’s film stealing role during one of the funniest monologues I can think of right now (“He is now separated, still masturbating, but he is at peace with himself because he tried society's way.”). The second half moves toward the serious (and I think loses its way just a bit with the digression to Gould’s parents home) before going straight to the bizarre, finally ending in utter madness of New York’s dangerous world, where every open window is a target for stray bullets and the only answer is to fight fire with fire. Shot by Gordon Willis and it shows (just watch Gould’s long confession scene about the mail watcher), and truly out of this world.

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