Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Sep 16th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Love Pains

Documentary exposes love’s dirty deeds

lovepainsLove—it is fundamentally wonderful, nutty, crazy and unexplainable. There are high school sweethearts, adult lovers, marriage partners and then there’s psychotic love, the type that has the capacity to overlook things like abuse, or say, maybe someone throwing acid in your face to purposefully disfigure you. This type of “love” is at the heart of Crazy Love, a wildly disturbing, yet fascinating documentary that takes a look at an obsessive relationship that spans about 50 years.

Burt Pugach met Linda Riss in 1957. She was sitting in a park, while he was driving by in a car. She was beautiful, but wasn’t particularly doing much with her life. He wasn’t terribly handsome, but he was a successful lawyer, who hobnobbed with the rich and famous. It was an awkward beginning, but soon they were dating. The dating led to talks about marriage, but Pugach was already married and didn’t seem to be on a path to divorce. The pair finally split up. Riss went on to meet someone else and became engaged. Meanwhile, Pugach was still obsessed with his ex-girlfriend and was on the verge of terrorizing her. Eventually, that’s exactly what he did. The day after her engagement party, men showed up at Riss’ door, and threw lye in her face. (They were hired guns from Pugach.) His theory? “If I can’t have you, no one will.”

It worked. Riss was mostly blind, and later in her life went completely blind. Following the attack, Pugach served 14 years in prison, was released and then … shockingly … the two reconnected and later went on to marry. And even after they married, yet another tragedy befell them.

This film has so many twists and turns that you can’t believe which direction it’s going next. Director Dan Klores unravels this complicated story with the fine precision of an up-and-coming filmmaker. His startling tale played at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and is now hitting theaters. Riss is now 68 and Pugach is 79.

Klores takes us on a journey from their meeting to the diner where they now, well into their golden years, frequently eat. We meet their friends and acquaintances, and see footage of them throughout the years, loads of headlines in the papers, clips on Geraldo and Sally Jessy Raphael and cameras shoved in their faces throughout their lives. It’s a very strange trip—psychedelic maybe, psychotic, most definitely.

Ultimately, Klores never passes judgment on their strange relationship; instead he lets us draw from the story and come up with our own summation on why the hell these two people have stayed together for their entire lives. Is it a case of sick, abusive love, coated with severe codependency? Or was it a crime of passion that has since been forgiven? Or, ultimately, as Riss says in one of the final lines of the film, is it her ultimate revenge—him being stuck with a blind woman and taking care of her? Whatever the answer, it’s most certainly compelling.

The cinematic style is simple, and told in a mostly talking-heads format, but it works. The footage is basic and raw, but frankly, none of that matters—it’s the story that’s the star here.

Crazy Love
*** (out of four)
With Burt Pugach and Linda Riss. Directed by Dan Klores. Not rated. 100 minutes.
Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

A Different Revolution

Aries Moon late Wednesday and Thursday. We think new thoughts and initiate new ideas. Sun in Virgo with Saturn in Scorpio help disciples to create orderly structures to anchor and bring forth new ideas. Stabilizing Taurus moon Friday and Saturday. We anchor new ideas into form and matter, like seeds planted in the soil. We tend them, waiting for green shoots to emerge. Like the gestating Virgo Sun Madonna, awaiting the birth of the holy child, the Soul, the new light at winter solstice. Mercury and Chiron converse about what hurts and what heals.Saturday is a complex day with Mercury (communication), Mars (action!) and Uranus (revolution). Mercury in Libra is opposite Uranus in Aries. Oppositions (recognizing something new appearing over there somewhere) eventually synthesize. Mercury in Libra calls for Right Action and Right Relations, especially with money. Uranus in Aries—the revolution this time must be different.  Also on Saturday, Mars enters Sagittarius. Where are we going, what are our goals, where’s justice, where’s the mountain, do we have good shoes? Sunday Venus trines Pluto—in-depth assessment of money, values and resources. Gemini moon Monday; we talk a lot, tending to tasks in gardens and neighborhoods. Cancer Moon Tuesday and Wednesday; we nurture and nourish. The stars and planets remind us.Note: William Meader, esoteric author & international teacher, will be speaking on “The Soul of Humanity Evolving Through Crisis” at Meditation Mount, 7pm, Friday, Sept. 12.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 12

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

Watch List

From Google to the government to data brokers, why your privacy is now a thing of the past
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

What's your all-time best Skyview Flea Market score?

Santa Cruz | eBay Business

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Soquel’s Pinot Winner

When you taste Soquel Vineyards’ extraordinary 2012 Partners’ Reserve Pinot Noir, you will know why it won a Double Gold in June at the 2014 San Francisco International Wine Competition.

 

Wood Fire Woodie

Scotts Valley pizzeria gets fired up the old-school way