I freaking love the Criterion Channel. I say that every time I resubscribe. I don’t know why I ever take a break from it. I try to keep the number of streaming services I subscribe to down to three each month. Generally speaking, the wife gets a service, the daughter gets a service and I get one. I love Criterion but sometimes I want to watch a show on HBO Max or some other service and so I’ll pause my Criterion subscription. I’m always so excited when I come back.
Seriously, why do I ever leave?
Beyond having an amazing selection of incredible movies, the Criterion Channel is one of the few subscription services that actually bother to curate their films. They group their films by themes, or actors/directors, or other ideas. They often have interesting people come on and talk about their films. They include extras like audio commentaries and old making-of documentaries. Etc., etc., etc., It is a brilliant streaming service.
This month they are doing a series on Erotic Thrillers of the 1980s and 1990s. I’m thinking very seriously about making that my movie theme for May, but for now I’m talking about Call Me, a film I’d never heard of until I resubscribed to Criterion Channel (one of the many other wonderful reasons to subscribe).
Anna (Patricia Charbonneau) is a young journalist for an indie newspaper in New York. She’s in a fairly lifeless relationship with her boyfriend. One night she gets an obscene phone call from what she thinks is her boyfriend. The dude tells her to show up at a local bar and to leave her panties behind. The boyfriend is a no-show, but there is a strange dude who starts to hit on her. Getting away from him she hides in the bathroom where she witnesses a cop kill a transwoman over some stolen cash.
The obscene calls keep coming. She soon realizes they aren’t coming from her boyfriend but some stranger. She likes what he says. She gets really into it. She’s pretty sure the caller is the weird guy who was hitting on her in the bar (Stephen McHattie). He happens to be connected to the murder but she doesn’t know that yet. A young Steve Buscemi is also connected to it. He plays a character called Switchblade which is pretty awesome.
It never quite finds a way to seamlessly combine the erotic parts of the film with the thriller. So you wind up with some scenes where these scary dudes are trying to locate Anna because they think she’s got the cash, and scenes where she’s doing the sexy talk with some random on the phone. Eventually, those things come together but for most of the film’s run time, it feels like two different movies.
I quite liked Patricia Charbonneau in this, I’ll be interested in catching some other things she’s done, although looking at her career on IMDB it appears to be spotty at best. I do really like films from the 1980s that were shot on location in New York. It is always cool to see the city during this time period.