Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Triple Fisher: The Lethal Lolitas of Long Island (2012): "Based" on a true story...the supercut

Drew Barrymore, Noelle Parker, and Alyssa Milano
as Amy Fisher
Triple Fisher: The Lethal Lolitas of Long Island (2012)
dir: Dan Kapelovitz

"Only they know what happened." - Disclaimer at the beginning of Amy Fisher: My Story.

In 1996, Schizopolis presented a world where everybody's point of view was considered to be valid and just part of the story.  It was educating the world in the lesson of "there are three sides to every story" using just one single movie.  But, right around the new year of 1993, American audiences were given their own crash course in viewpoints through three movies of the week.

Starting on December 28, 1992, television networks released a series of movies based on the notorious yet relatively inconsequential story of Amy Fisher and Joey Buttafuoco.  For those who may not know, Amy Fisher was a 16-year-old girl who started having an affair with a married, much older man, Joey Buttafuoco.  When she was 17, she went to Buttafuoco's home, and shot Joey Buttafuoco's wife in the head.  While those are the basic facts to the story, there are many different ways to tell the story, and tell them they did.

The first movie to come out was NBC's Amy Fisher: My Story (eventually retitled Lethal Lolita) on December 28, 1992.  Starring Noelle Parker as Amy Fisher, and Ed Marinaro as Joey Buttafuoco, My Story focused on Fisher's point of view, showing her as a minorly rebellious but altogether more innocent character involved in the shooting.

The second and third movies both came out the next Sunday.  One was The Amy Fisher Story, airing on ABC, starring Drew Barrymore and Anthony Dennison.  The final movie was CBS' Casualties of Love: The Long Island Lolita Story, starring Alyssa Milano and Jack Scalia.  The Amy Fisher Story was supposed to be a third party retelling based on both sides, while Casualties of Love was completely out of the Buttafuoco's side of the story.

Just to reiterate: Noelle Parker (with punky hair) was from Amy Fisher's side. Drew Barrymore was the "neutral" side, and Alyssa Milano was the Buttafuoco's story.

In My Story, Amy Fisher was an innocent but damaged and rebellious girl who fell head over heels in love with a Joey Buttafuoco who was just as infatuated with her. In The Amy Fisher Story, Amy was a sleazy girl who was having a sleazy affair with a down-and-dirty sleazy Joey Buttafuoco who may or may not be taking advantage of her.  In Casualties of Love, Joey Buttafuoco was an innocent man who was rampantly seduced by a wanton selfish slut named Amy Fisher, even though he resisted the whole time.

When American audiences were watching this all fall down around them on national television, they were given the choice of whose view they wanted to watch.  And, at least with the neutral and Buttafuoco movies, American audiences were able to flip between channels and get different takes on the exact same events.  Where Schizopolis was cramming it all sequentially, many American families were doing the same thing with their remotes.

20 years later, Dan Kapelovitz, still obsessed with the Amy Fisher movies, if not the whole Fisher/Buttafuoco saga, assembled all three movies into one tight supercut.  It presents the three movies intercutting and weaving between each other in order to capture all of the events, and to try to get closer to the global truth, while also commenting on the ways that value changes can effect the way a movie is made.

An example of how the three can show the same scene in a completely different waw is in the shirt where Amy attains a t-shirt from the Buttafuoco auto repair shop.  In one, Buttafuoco gives Amy a shirt in a passionate manner.  In another, Amy hounds Joey to give it to her until he gives in.  But, all three versions are presented to let the audience decide how it might have gone down.  Some scenes are intercut as they go.  Some movies had scenes that weren't in others.  Many scenes were deleted altogether.

Triple Fisher does also blows the lid off the world of "based on a true story" that used to be the hallmark of movies of the week, and are now the calling card of oscar bait and horror films.  Everything nowadays seems to be based on a true story.  A butler version of Forrest Gump?  True story, they cry!  A movie about a girl with a demon?  True Story!!  A homeless man who is a violin prodigy?  True story, they say.  A seal dressed up in beach clothes?  Truth!  They can get away with claiming truth by hiding behind "based on" or "inspired by."  And, the words become completely meaningless and trite.

Triple Fisher pulls back the curtain on these disclaimers, showing that "based on a true story" is one-sided at best, and a complete fabrication at worst.  It shows that everybody could come up with a different way of telling the same story without having the same take on it.  Giving the characters different implications and motivations, each movie causes the viewer to have a different perspective.

This year, we are getting at least two major Steve Jobs movies: jOBS and a currently untitled Aaron Sorkin movie (presumably where Steve Jobs stands in for Aaron Sorkin as a monomaniacal asshole who talks and talks and talks).  They won't depict the same events, as of now.  They will have different perspectives.  But, they have to deal with the same person, and will be different takes on the character. Triple Fisher prepares us for these competitors, and entertains us at the same time.

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