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Ever a had neighbor from hell? You know, the one who never cleans, makes too much noise at night with his jigsaw, and breeds cockroaches and pumps them into your apartment? Never have? Well, pump up your paranoia with this outlandish if mildly enjoyable thriller starring Melanie Griffith and Matthew Modine as San Francisco yuppies-cum-landlords who rent out an apartment in their Pacific Heights house to mild-mannered Michael Keaton in order to make the mortgage payment. What seems like a happy arrangement all around turns hellish when:(a)Keaton refuses to pay the rent;(b)firmly entrenches himself in the apartment thanks to some legal maneuvering; and(c)starts playing with the cockroaches. Ostensibly, Keaton wants to drive Griffith and Modine to bankruptcy and then pick up their fab Victorian house for cheap, but as is the way of all thrillers, he's got a sadistic and homicidal bent to back up his real-estate envy. Director John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy) manipulates the thrills somewhat effectively, if not gratuitously, especially with Griffith's damsel-in-distress character, turning on the tension in the don't-go-to-the-attic/garage/basement set pieces. Part of the problem of the film lies in its schizophrenic tone: one moment it's a what's-in-the-dark? thriller, at other times a nifty cat-and-mouse game of psychological wills between Keaton and his landlords. Both sides of the movie are effective in their own right, and Keaton is a great psycho, but Schlesinger doesn't quite bring it together, despite a considerably amped-up climax. Still, if the sight of a beautiful house being slowly destroyed is your idea of the ultimate horror, you'll be chilled to the bone. Look for Griffith's mother, Tippi Hedren ofThe Birdsfame, in a small role.--Mark Englehart
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Pacific Heights or California Low? There is some first-rate acting in Pacific Heights by Melanie Griffith, Mathew Modine, Mako, Nobu McCarthy, Michael Keaton and every other role, however large or small in the film. I'd rate Pacific Heights as a full five-stars were it not for the less than inspired writing. (I often suspect some writers believe their audience is primarily composed of idiots.)
A young, unmarried straight couple, played by Griffith and Modine, buy a fixer up house on a corner lot in Pacific Heights. The couple spends way more for the house than they can possibly afford unless they subdivide the home into three separate apartments, two of which will be rented out. (Bankers generally look down, way down, on this type of financial risk.)
The first floor apartment at the rear of the house is quickly rented to Mako and his wife, sympathetically played by Nobu McCarthy. A black detective wants to rent the apartment at the front of the house also on the first floor, but is told by Ms. Griffith that he'll have to fill out an application and a credit check will have to be run. (Isn't this general practice regardless of one's race, sex or obviously "apparent" assets, such as car, clothes, shoes, hair style, etc? But Pacific Heights tries to suggest the need for a background and credit check may relate to the detective's skin color. But Ms. Griffith, who does the interview, isn't even told the guy's a cop! Nor is he asked, "What do you do for a living?"
The biggest problem in Pacific Heights involves the manner in which Michael Keaton (who drives a black Porsche 911 in the movie) cons and forces his way into the apartment that otherwise would have gone to the black detective. Anywhere but California, and, I suspect, in California, too, Keaton's move into the first floor apartment isn't just unauthorized, it's a home invasion by a squatter! Keaton never fills out an application; he never pays the deposit; he never pays his rent; after he invades the home he gets into a fight with Modine---and gets a restraining order that keeps Modine out of his own house! The writing here is way too far-fetched.
As stated above, the acting is first-rate. So is the direction. And so are the sets and costumes. And San Francisco is such a beautiful place to visit or film a movie. The only problem with Pacific Heights is that the writing is far too weak.
Andy McKane Missoula, MontanaMasterpiece Drake Goodman (Matthew Modine) and Patty Palmer (Melanie Griffith) are a young couple in love and together they take the plunge and buy a house beyond their means in the upscale Pacific Heights. Overextended but in love, they rent out 2 apartments for income to help with their mortgage. One is rented out to a wealthy young businessman (Michael Keaton) who drives a Porsche and pays 5 months in advance rent in cash. After their other tenant moves out, and Michael Keaton refuses to pay rent, the strain on the couples finances threaten foreclosure. As Michael Keaton's true nature emerges, and he changes the locks, does loud construction work into the late hours, and sets up Matthew Modine to be arrested, Melanie Griffith starts to investigate Michael Keaton's real past. She learns that he's born into wealth, has a checkered past, and swindles wealthy people as a career con artist. She gets Michael Keaton arrested and his wealthy girlfriend bails him out. In the end, Michael Keaton has a fatal confrontation with Matthew Modine in their house. Supporting cast includes Beverly D'Angelo as Michael Keaton's former lover and partner.
A masterful treatment of the story. Great film for any age.
Little coarse language and few scenes of violence.
A perfect suspense film. Michael Keaton is terrific as the bad guy, scheming his way like a snake. Melanie Griffith is strong minded, and Matthew Modine plays naive but well meaning.
Everything's perfect in this film, not a dull moment. Little to say about this movie except, "watch it!"
A great addition to your film collection of modern suspense masterpieces.An Engrossing Thriller...The Worst Tenant You Might Ever Have... PACIFIC HEIGHTS is the ultimate story of the tenant gone completely crazy...and completely wrong! This is one of the best thrillers to grace movies besides FATAL ATTRACTION and DIABOLIQUE (the 1960s version).
Matthew Modine and Melanie Griffith play Drake and Patty, a couple trying to invest in their dream of buying a house in the beautiful suburbs of San Francisco, and restoring it to rent to the idea tenants. Enter Michael Keaton as Carter Hayes, the conman sociopath who seems at first like the most idea individual to pick as a tenant, but Drake and Patty have no idea what they are getting themselves into when they find out he has welcomed himself into the new apartment. Carter gets them both into trouble in some sinister ways, and uses the law to his full benefit to make everything look like it's Patty, and especially Drake's, fault. Over the course of the movie, these series of events start to take a toll on the relationship between Patty and Drake, and even worse, Carter's breeding roaches in his own place...disgusting! Things get really hairy after Patty does some very clever private investigating and really messes with Carter to the point that the climax of the movie brings it all into play. Michael Keaton plays the crooked tenant to absolute perfection in one of his best roles as a bad guy. Modine and Griffith have excellent chemistry as the couple trying to fight to knock Carter out of their lives. Even an appearance by Laurie Metcalf makes for some entertainment you're sure to appreciate. PACIFIC HEIGHTS is one of the best thrillers, great for a Saturday night stay-in or for an introduction into where thrillers got really smart again since the days of PSYCHO and WAIT UNTIL DARK. And you can't go wrong with the wicked performance by Keaton, and some memorable perfomances from the cast all around. PACIFIC HEIGHTS is the ultimate nightmare...and the ultimate experience of tenants gone...well, very mad.