***/**** Image B+ Sound A Extras B
starring Fred Ward, Alec Baldwin, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Nora Dunn
screenplay by George Armitage, based on the novel by Charles Willeford
directed by George Armitage
by Jefferson Robbins Remember when handheld camera was a technique deployed to signal disorientation, estrangement, and vulnerability and not simply "the way we shoot movies now"? In George Armitage's Miami Blues, the otherwise-steady camera first comes unhinged when ex-con Frederick "Junior" Frenger Jr. (Alec Baldwin) orders newly-requisitioned hooker Pepper (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to roll over on her belly, presumably so he can employ her the way male prisoners employ each other sexually. He can't, though, because there's something different there, and an afternoon's purchased pleasure becomes an affair. Armitage's use of the camera is a punctuation, a chapter break in Junior's story, reassuring us that while Junior is malevolent and unpredictable, Pepper won't immediately meet the same fate as the Hare Krishna that Junior (kind of accidentally) murdered an hour before. Still, you should probably worry for her.