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Laramie Movie Scope:
Kate Plays Christine

I should have watched this first

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 18, 2017 -- I recently watched a movie called “Christine,” so when I watched this, it seemed redundant at first, but it turns out this is quite different. Christine (review here) is a drama about a TV newswoman, Christine Chubbuck, who notoriously used a gun to kill herself during a live news broadcast. This appears to be very similar to that, at first.

At first, this appears to be a documentary about an actress, Kate Lyn Sheil (“The Sacrament”) making preparations to play Christine Chubbuck in an upcoming movie. It turns out that is not exactly what this is, either. I did not catch on to some of this until near the end of this movie, and that was a real shocker. After I had seen the whole movie, I was still puzzled about what I had just seen. Maybe I will explain this in a spoiler section, but I don't want to give it away up top.

Kate's preparations to play Christine are impressive. She does a lot of research in the library and online. She contacts people who used to know Christine. She goes to places where Christine used to go. She even visits the site of Christine's memorial service. She dons a wig and gets colored contact lenses to make herself look more like Christine.

Other actors in the movie, such as Steven C. Bovio, Stephanie Coatney, Michael Ray Davis and Michael Rubino, all play themselves as well, and all appear in rehearsals for scenes to be performed in an upcoming movie about Christine Chubbuck. I recognized some of these rehearsal scenes from the other movie – “Christine,” that I had already seen. I should have seen “Kate Plays Christine” first, before I watched “Christine.”

Since I already knew the basic plot they were rehearsing from the previous movie, this seemed a bit boring, right up until the scene where Kate is supposed to pretend to kill herself on camera. Then it went sideways, and I had an electric WTF! reaction.

This scene made the movie for me. It is a beautiful, shocking scene that sums up not only the blood and gore aspect of news, but the whole idea of dramatizing suicide. This one scene changed the whole movie for me. Suddenly, some of the things said by actors earlier in the movie made more sense. I'm sure if I went back and watched this again, I'd see a lot more hints about the meaning of this movie.

Like I said, I wish now I had seen this movie first, but I cannot unsee “Christine.” The weird thing is, both “Christine” and “Kate Plays Christine” were made the same year, by two filmmakers who were reportedly unaware of each others' simultaneous film projects about Christine Chubbuck, who died 42 years earlier. And they say there are no coincidences. Ha! This film rates a B.

Spoilers below

I will try to explain the form of this movie the best I can. It seems to be a form of “docudrama.” It seems to be a documentary in which the actors are playing themselves, but are also acting out emotions and lines that seem to be at least partly scripted. Others in the film seem to be filmed in both scripted and unscripted scenes. This is, in fact, a drama built around a pseudo documentary and a pseudo drama. The actors seem to be rehearsing scenes from an upcoming drama, but apparently there is no such drama. This supposed drama is just a device used to explore issues surrounding the death of Christine Chubbuck.

One thing I did learn from this: Apparently Christine Chubbuck was a descendant of Hollywood legends Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. According to the film, Chubbuck and her brother spent time at the Fairbanks estate in Beverly Hills, California, known as Pickfair.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2017 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)