Missing (1982)

missing2Such a odd experience, sometimes, revisiting ‘old’ films that you haven’t seen in many years. The films are the same but we aren’t- we are older, wiser, have more personal experiences that impact on our viewing experience. At least, that’s the way I see it- how else to explain this rather revelatory experience of re-watching this film after so many years? Admittedly, my previous experience of this film was a television broadcast with commercial breaks , which wasn’t ideal. Now, on Blu-ray, it was a whole different thing- yes, it was clearly a very good film before but now… now it is a rather profound, terrifying and almost brutally heartbreaking work.

I can only assume that now I am older and more wise of the world that its message is all the more powerful and effecting, I was surprised by just how terrifying it is; the sense of being isolated and powerless in the face of a brutal state and clear crimes against humanity going unpunished. Perhaps when I was younger and watching it before, I had felt that this was something of the past and events such as depicted in the film could not happen anymore, but the last few decades have taught me otherwise. Sadly, Missing is as relevant as it ever was.

Missing is based on a true story, of the disappearance, in September 1973, of American journalist Charles Horman (John Shea). Living in Chile with his wife Beth (Sissy Spacek) the couple and their freinds get caught up in a nightmarish military coup that, unknown to them, is secretly sponsored by the US Government, and Charles disappears. His father, Ed Horman (Jack Lemmon) a conservative New York businessman arrives in Chile a few days later to try to help Beth discover what has happened to Charles and where he might be. In the face of a increasing runaround by staff of the American Consulate, Ed begins to lose faith in his government and the integrity and protection he assumes is due an American citizen.  Although the film is decades old now and the true events fairly well known (albeit increasingly forgotten today) I won’t go into any further details regards the twists and turns of their efforts, as the film deserves to be seen ‘clean’.

missing3.pngJack Lemmon, of course, is s good as I remembered- when he finally receives the confirmation of his worst fears, I swear you can visibly see his heart breaking. Its a typical understated performance and I so miss him in movies today; he had a gift for portraying an ‘everyman’ that seems rather lacking in films now. Rarely do actors do ‘subtle’ like Lemmon managed, even if its just in the way he moves and walks or glances at people talking to him. Sissy Spacek, meanwhile, is actually a revelation-an actress I really haven’t seen much over the years (must be something to do with the films I choose to watch), I was really impressed  by her performance here; its really quite endearing and I think I’ll have to look up some more of her work.  She certainly manages to hold her own against Lemmon and she complements him very well.

The soundtrack by Vangelis is measured and understated – a product of the Greek composers’ prime it is a lovely reminder of his craft during his superior Nemo Studios era. Typically of him, its an unreleased soundtrack, barring a main theme that turns up on collections (a track which is actually, I believe, a re-recording by Vangelis himself).  The popular main theme familiar from those collections is a tender and heartfelt piece that kicks you in the stomach by the films end but is a minor part of the actual score. I suppose you have to be a decades-long fan like I am to appreciate that old Nemo Studios sound that he used to have, but its certainly a nostalgic element that improves the film no end. Its a wonderful score that is the soul and tender heart of the film.

This recent Blu-ray release of the film from Indicator is as top-notch as we have come to expect from them.  While the film’s master used isn’t a new one, its soft-focus, almost gauze-like picture (think Superman: The Movie, Days of Heaven and other films like that) probably wouldn’t benefit hugely from a new 2K or 4K remaster (and who’s going to do that for a film like Missing?) but it looks very good, has a gentle grain and solid colour. The mono soundtrack is fine; the dialogue is clear and the sudden crack of gunfire in the Chilean streets can still make you jump.

The extras, of course, are the real reward for investing in this disc release and they are very good; two pseudo-commentary tracks which are actually archive interviews (one with director Costa-Gavras in 1984, the other with Lemmon from 1986) which run under the film. Some accompanying featurettes include an appreciation piece by actor/director Keith Gordon which runs longer than you might expect, some interviews with the director etc. and a very special doc has an interview with the ‘real’ Beth, Joyce Horman. A charming and erudite woman,  with still photographs of the real Charles Horman and his father, she explains the truth behind the film and shares memories of the making of the film and its impact over the years- including litigation against it. This last doc lasts nearly half-hour and as you might imagine is utterly riveting, worth buying the disc alone for.

If you have never seen Missing, then this release is the perfect excuse to correct that folly, and if you have, well, I’m sure you likely own this disc already. In all honesty, Missing is actually a much better film than I remembered, and I shall no doubt be returning to it often.

1982: a hell of a good year for movies.

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Blade Runner Anniversary

Blade-Runner-2049-0302Here’s a curio- today is the one-year anniversary of me seeing BR2049 on its opening night at my local cinema. I booked the tickets when on holiday in Scotland the week before and it led to a pretty exciting/scary week running up to the Thursday evening of October 5th. While watching Blade Runner back in 1982 remains the most intense cinematic experience of my life, watching BR2049 will likely always be the most bizarre. It was almost an out-of-body experience, watching it in a sort of detached way, as if none of it was real. Looking back on it, its clear I was really nervous after so many years of Blade Runner being an important part of my life and watching an impossible sequel that turned out to be impossibly brilliant. The experience was doubly weird as I went with my mate Andy who had seen the original with me back in September 1982- it was a little like a Twilight Zone episode or something.

I watched it twice more at the cinema (three trips to see the same movie? Frankly unheard of in this day and age) and must have seen it a dozen times since on Blu-ray and now UHD. Its still a fantastic, powerful movie and yes, likely my second-favourite all-time movie now- what a strange world we are living in. I keep re-watching it every month or so expecting the shine to wear off but it actually just seems to get better, and more impossible, every time I see it. The more I watch it, the more remarkable it seems that someone actually made a film so intelligent, slow, beautiful, so worthy of the original. Its funny, while I buy and watch so many movies these days, I seldom actually re-watch films quite as much as I used to years ago, but something about BR2049 keeps on pulling me back. And this one-year anniversary is just another excuse to watch it again…

Woody Allen and the Autumn List

Crimes and Misdemeanors is one of my all-time favourite films, and I have been intending to buy it on Blu-ray ever since Arrow’s edition came out individually as well as part of a box-set. Maybe this is one of those instances where it pays to wait things out. Recently Amazon had a discount on Arrow’s third  Allen box-set; at just over £20 with Crimes and Misdemeanors accompanied by another six Woody Allen films, it seemed a bargain, especially when the single edition of Crimes and Misdemeanors was priced at just six pounds less.The box has since sneaked up to about £30, which is still pretty good value. Includes a pretty substantial hardback book too (I just hope I can resist adding the first two boxes).

So now I have seven Woody Allen films placed on my list of films to watch this Autumn. Other than Crimes, the set contains just one other Allen film I have seen prior, the excellent Hannah and Her Sisters, which I now realise (to my horror) I last saw nearly thirty years ago. The other films are Radio Days, September, Another Woman, Alice and Shadows and Fog. Maybe there are some great films in there, maybe a few clunkers, but I won’t complain. Expect reviews to be posted over the coming weeks/months (before Christmas, at any rate).

Regards that Autumn list, its already piling up. Deadpool 2 and Solo arrived recently, and there’s also outstanding discs including Witness For the Prosecution (a Billy Wilder film I haven’t seen), Missing, The China Syndrome, one last film in that third Hammer box from Indicator, and a few 4K double-dips I still have to go through such as Sicario (before its sequel arrives the end of this month hopefully) and the mighty CE3K. 

If anyone has sufficient interest to nudge me in any particular films direction let me know and I’ll bump it up the list. At any rate, we’ll see how I get on this Autumn. Typically its just that time of year, with some 4K John Carpenter films, 2001 and the Matrix trilogy all coming up the end of the month, I’ll need to get busy sooner than later. I’m not complaining, mind, it should all be pretty great and I’m looking forward to it all.

Meanwhile I’ll be posting a backlog of reviews over the coming week for films I’ve seen over the past few weeks while I was up in the wilds of the wet and windy land of kilts and lochs. Likely a few more pics of a certain Westie, too, no doubt.

Missing on the list

missingA belated delivery from Amazon (stock issues or something), Indicator’s Blu-ray disc of  Costa-Gavras’ 1982 drama Missing finally escaped the curse of its title and landed on my doorstep. Graced with a typically fine central performance by Jack Lemmon and a subtle (and typically unreleased) soundtrack by Vangelis at the height of his powers, this is an intelligent film and one I’m keen to re-watch having not seen it in many years.  Time is tight of late though, so I contented myself with a glimpse of the extras and a short listen to a pseudo-commentary track that is an archival audio recording of a ‘Guardian Interview with Jack Lemmon’ from 1986, which runs 116 minutes that plays under the film. Five minutes I thought… then fifteeen, only when I reached thirty minutes did I finally give in and regretfully press the ‘stop’ button. Lemmon is a brilliant conversationalist with great stories to tell and the interview was pretty engrossing. I think a similar interview, dating to 1973,  accompanies Indicator’s The China Syndrome disc which sits on a shelf. Am I wrong for looking forward to listening to those audio tracks as much as actually seeing the films?

 

Rachael art too

rach2Here’s another painting,  most likely from the same photographic source that the painting I posted yesterday was based upon (which for reference, I include below). This artwork has a more traditional approach but is none the worse for that- superb likeness again. There’s some really lovely Blade Runner-inspired artwork online. I used to draw and paint Blade Runner stuff years ago in my youth, but it was never as good as much of this stuff, although in my defense, back in 1982/1983, good reference material was exceedingly hard to come by.

rach3

Rachael art

rachInteresting image this, of Sean Young’s Rachael from Blade Runner.  Beautifully drawn, I like the fragmentation which  the artist has given it- adds a nice touch and gives it a feeling seperate from the usual Noir feel that such ‘art inspired by Blade Runner’ usually seems to have. In any case, its another reminder just how iconic the ‘look’ of this character remains so many years later.

This is not a dream…

prince1This is not a dream… not a dream. We are using your brain’s electrical system as a receiver. We are unable to transmit through conscious neural interference. You are receiving this broadcast as a dream. We are transmitting from the year one, nine, nine, nine. You are receiving this broadcast in order to alter the events you are seeing…

So you wait for what seems like years but might be even longer for a UK Blu-ray release of Prince of Darkness... and then out of the blue it transpires that such a release is indeed coming but also on 4K UHD, which is even better news for someone who’s stepped up to the format.

Suppose what your faith has said is essentially correct. Suppose there is a universal mind controlling everything, a god willing the behavior of every subatomic particle. Well, every particle has an anti-particle, its mirror image, its negative side. Maybe this universal mind resides in the mirror image instead of in our universe as we wanted to believe. Maybe he’s anti-god, bringing darkness instead of light.

But possibly because of interference from the Prince of Darkness Himself, while three Carpenter films are released as boxsets and widely available for preorder, this particular film, by virtue, it seems, of rights issues with the soundtrack album, is released seperate from the others as a steelbook, and it then transpires that said steelbook, by the intervention of the Prince of Darkness’ Arch-Demon, Zavvi, is quite likely not only a limited edition but also a retailer exclusive.

The outside world doesn’t want to hear this kind of bullshit. Just keep it locked away. You’ve already managed that for two thousand years.

Its really not fair.

Hello… Hello… I’ve got a message for you… and you’re not going to like it.

I mean really, its like some John Carpenter Meta-Reality is going on or something.

The hardest thing to hear… for any of us… is something we don’t agree with.