Blackway Retitled

DATELINE:  Lost Masterpiece

blackway

When you change the title after release, you lose a movie sometimes.

In this case, the loss for viewers is palpable. Now using its original novel name, Blackway, this low budget, big-star cast is an allegory about evil set in British Columbia, Canada.

Blackway is the bad guy, and he is the epitome of bad. What better name for this pervasive force in the wilderness.

The cast alone will make you curious:  Anthony Hopkins, Julia Stiles, Ray Liotta, and Hal Holbrook, makes for an aging, but brilliant tale of a quest against the ravages of ruthless evil.

You may wonder how such a trio as Stiles, Hopkins, and wonderful Alexander Ludwig, mismatched to fight bad guys, can stand up to Liotta’s ubiquitous town boss. He seems to be everywhere, having done dirt to many in the remote region.

He has power and ultimately engenders total fear among the residents.

No one will help the beleaguered Miss Stiles, except for Hopkins and his muscleman with slow wits. Each has a reason to go against Liotta’s reign of terror.

In one illuminating scene, Hopkins tells us that life forces us to face implacable enemies sometimes: whether it’s cancer, a car crash, or financial ruin. You must deal with it with bravery.

Director Daniel Alfredson has chosen his frightful woods in the world of nowhere quite well, and the adaptation of Castle Freeman’s book goes against the grain of the usual clichés.

So many viewers missed this film, when it deserves your full attention with performances, story, direction, and compelling message. How fortunate we were to stumble upon it by accident.

 

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Circuits Overloaded

Closed Circuit

 DATELINE: MASHED UP MOVIES

With the revelations provided by Edward Snowden of surveillance and spying on average citizens by mammoth government agencies, it seems we may be in for a spate of cloak and dagger dramas like Closed Circuit.

This tidy nightmare depicts legalities undermined in a British terrorism court case with MI6’s fingerprints all over it.

We must admit we are delighted to see Eric Bana actually in a film that draws on his sharpest acting skills, instead of swords, special effects, and his good looks. He plays Martin Rose, a barrister facing “accidents” or a stage suicide if he digs too deeply into motives of an accused terrorist.

Julia Stiles is aboard as an American journalist, but her role is small enough to be effective and unnerving. She is matched with Jim Broadbent with his several powerful scenes. Claran Hinds also serves his role well as a duplicitous solicitor.

When MI6 has surveillance everywhere, we were reminded of the TV series Person of Interest. The fiction has now been overtaken by the reality.

Rebecca Hall is a colleague of Bana’s—and a former love interest. Together they may uncover a political scandal at a cost to them and their client.

Movies like this one usually are meant to be cautionary tales, but when you are rendered powerless and inconsequential by shadow government agencies, there is not much opportunity for salvation. Closed Circuit reminds us of John LeCarre at his most cynical Cold War espionage tales.

Effective and a bit frightening, this film may be an ultimate downer, a cry that the sky is falling that comes too late.