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  • Permanent Midnight [VHS]
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Permanent Midnight [VHS]

92 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ben Stiller, Maria Bello, Jay Paulson, Spencer Garrett, Owen Wilson
  • Directors: David Veloz
  • Writers: David Veloz, Jerry Stahl
  • Producers: David Brookwell, Don Murphy, Jane Hamsher, Robert Leveen, Yalda Tehranian
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Original recording reissued, NTSC
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • VHS Release Date: March 14, 2000
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305248907
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #341,041 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Like the book it is named after and based on, Permanent Midnight is a chronicle of downfall. Jerry Stahl, the story goes, showed promise when doing shifts as a porn writer for Hustler and Penthouse, and his promise landed him in the exact center of television's hottest shows of the 1980s. Alas, Stahl also brought with him a gargantuan appetite for drugs, most damagingly heroin. The film begins with Stahl, played by Ben Stiller, working in a fast-food chain on his way back to society from the drug-addled skids and recovery. He's lured away from work, where in a hotel room with Maria Bello (as Kitty) he begins detailing his fall from TV's top (where he wrote for shows like Alf and Moonlighting, among others). Director David Veloz does great work in leading viewers through the episodes in addiction and excess, making the action seem naturally odd. There are priceless shots of Stahl and his coke-smoking buddy on an upper floor of a high-rise smoking and leaping into the windows--which don't break, of course. Stiller does a classy job of staying monochromatically zoomed in on scoring and shooting dope. He's sweaty and freaked out at the right times and grimy and desperate, too. The movie's a sad one, with Stahl's journey taking him through an arranged marriage (which benefited him enormously) to the couple's having a baby to getting busted on a rare occasion alone with the infant. It's a visceral script, replete with lots of intravenous drug use and Stahl/Stiller creating a recurring motif out of shooting the bloody drawback from the syringe onto the ceiling, making a mad little scribble. --Andrew Bartlett

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Fire Dog on April 7, 2004
Format: DVD
People that compare movies to the original books are always going to be disappointed. That's no big mystery to anyone who's both read a single book or seen a single movie. Nuff said on that.
The movie is definitly a good one because it is very dark, and very real. Reviewers that bashed this movie are obviously clueless regarding drug use, drug users, and addiction. This movie is definitely disgusting and depressing because of its plausibility, and that's what makes it good. To have the perfect wife (Elizabeth Hurly), the perfect job, and still do anything and everything to get high demonstrates how the need overpowers someone's life. Permanent Midnight is "A Good Horrible Movie".
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Larry VanDeSande VINE VOICE on January 10, 2007
Format: DVD
Movies rarely hold the same allure as the books from which they arise and that's the case here. "Permanent Midnight" portrays the harrowing experinece of a television script writer that was also a heroin addict.

Ben Stiller stars as Jerry Stahl, whose autobiography is the basis for the film. Stahl appears in a brief role as a physician treating his own (through Stiller) addiction. This is an interesting insofar as the physician -- the real life drug addict -- is very downbeat about Stiller's chance of kicking heroin for its substitute.

Elsewhere, a lot of today's A-list actors -- Owen Wilson (who had a middle initial in the credits), Maria Bello (who got great reviews in "A History of Violence"), Elizabeth Hurley, Sandra Oh, Cheryl Ladd and Jeanene Garofolo -- lend a lot of credibility to this episodic treatment. Probably most riveting, and most revolting, are Stiller's regular scenes of drug use...during breaks in meetings at work, in the bathroom during parties, while taking care of his child. In another scene, he interviews for a job with a TV producer while high. The flick concludes with sound bytes from interviews Stahl did with TV talking heads (Morey and Tom Snyder) with Stiller digitally added to the scene.

I thought Stiller transformed himself into a serious actor for the role and the good supporting cast clearly helps; still the film is too episodic to score higher than average. This biopic is mature fare and sometimes very difficult to watch, especially a scene where Stiller, in the car with an infant, mainlines heroin through a vein in his neck. It also loses points since none of the actors show any signs of age as its chronology progresses.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 22, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
I feel bad about not liking this movie... Primarily because the book is without a doubt my favourite... My problem with the movie isn't the acting... Its the lack of what was in the book.. I can understand when a book goes to movies there are liberties taken but I feel that to many liberties were taken when David Volez wrote the screenplay... It's just something seemed to be missing. Although Ben Stiller's performance was class A I don't think it was enough to save this movie... Word to the wise... next time to make it accurate especially if it''s fact based...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Timm Redmond on March 2, 2002
Format: DVD
I picked this one up recently in the "Indie-Pack" alongside "Pi". I was suprised I hadn't heard anything about it since I usually take interest in Ben Stiller. Talk about the best kept secret! He made my friends and I believe he was actually doing the drugs he was doing. If for some strange reason you can't appreciate Stiller, then here is your cure. He'll take you on a journey in this portrayal of the true events in which writer Jerry Stahl loses his job as a successful television writer, and his beautiful wife and daughter to an obscene habit of heroin. Other notable stars include, Elizabeth Hurley, Owen Wilson, Janeane Garofalo and Cheryl Ladd. Based on the autobiography of Jerry Stahl also titled, "Permanent Midnight"
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Darren on August 17, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
Jerry Stahl, the guy on heroin in question, also contributed to two other deathless Eighties programs: "Moonlighting" and "thirtysomething". "Moonlighting" I can sort of see. That show got a little weird sometimes. I swear I remember one episode where Bruce Willis was dressed in Elizabethan costume throughout -- I think they were reenacting "Taming of the Shrew" or something. But how on earth does a junkie write about suburban thirtysomethings? With *kids*? Stahl was clearly a talented writer, despite the heroin.

The film is pretty compelling, just by dint of its subject matter: hotshot TV writer on top of the world with a $6k-a-week heroin habit. I'm sort of curious as to how the autobiography by Stahl reads, because I feel that David Veloz, who wrote and directed, struggles to find the right tone. The first half feels too breezy. Stiller and pickup Maria Bello chat about his life story while making love. Stiller does comedy routines with Janeane Garofalo. (What happened to her, by the way? She was cute and had snap. Political activism? -- too bad.) Stiller's leather pants split open in the fanny at one point, and he makes a crack about "Jewish leather". All this, despite the drug addiction and a briefly alluded-to back-story about a suicidal father and a senile, *then* suicidal, mother. (No wonder the guy wears all black all the time.) Who knows, perhaps the tone is accurate: the guy did write comedies for TV, after all. He clearly had a sense of humor that the demons didn't bother eradicating.

Once wife Elizabeth Hurley gets pregnant, however, the movie starts going down more familiar paths. Pretty soon Hurley is forced to ask her junkie husband to watch the baby while she's at work; guess how that turns out. How does Stiller handle this role?
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