Complete 7-part, 290-minute BBC miniseries plus BBC interview – John Le Carre – The Secret Centre
Complex but compelling, this miniseries is based upon one of John Le Carré’s greatest works and serves as a grand summing-up for the late Sir Alec Guinness, one of Britain’s greatest actors. Guinness literally is Smiley: Le Carré said that Guinness served as a template for the character’s cunning and mournful rectitude. In anyone else’s hands, Smiley might have seemed a blank and lifeless character, but Guinness’ matchless ability to play within a scene while seeming to think well beyond it is magnetic. Guinness was the great everyman and underplayer of the generation that gave us such great British Shakespearean actors as Olivier, Richardson, and Gielgud. He’s helped, too, by sharp dialogue lifted almost word-for-word from the book and terrific supporting performances (particularly an entirely silent but amazingly communicative Patrick Stewart, who has a cameo as Karla), which almost entirely obscure the fact that the miniseries largely consists of people sitting in rooms talking. It’s a literate treat that brings to life the gray morality and conflicting loyalties of the Cold War. Be advised: viewers can get lost in the intricate plot if they don’t pay close attention.
— Nick Sambides, Jr. Continue reading
In the French city of Rouen an election is marred by a fight between the supporters of two of the candidates. In the fracas a man is beaten to death and the killer then shoots a passing police officer! The officer has time to warn his colleagues that the killer is Proctor, a well-known thug whose brother is campaigning on behalf of law and order candidate Lardatte! Commissaire Verjeat’s pursuit of Proctor is hampered by Lardatte for whom he has a personal dislike and misses no opportunity to humiliate. As a result he then finds himself with a very short time to capture Proctor, since he faces a promotion and a posting outside of Rouen, which will take him off the case. Verjeat is sure that this is courtesy of Lardatte and his police contacts! To cap it all, his sidekick, the eccentric Inspector Lefevre, implicates them both in a case of police corruption! Continue reading
H6 tells the story of Antonio Frau, a serial killer set free after serving 25 years in jail for the violent murder of his girlfriend. After inheriting and old motel from a relative he never knew, he sees this as a signal and takes to his holy task of relieving the grief of those who have lost the will to live. He takes his victims to room Number 6 in the motel where he ‘purifies’ them, while, at the same time, continues his everyday life next to his wife. A mistake leads to his arrest, and his plan to become rich and famous takes relevance. Continue reading
Everything seems swell when a young Siberian moves to Moscow, finds work in a factory, joins the Communist Party, and marries a beautiful young Bolshevik girl. But when the girl loses her all-important party card (i.e. identification papers), the Siberian’s dark past comes to light…Commissioned in the wake of Kirov’s assassination (in which an assassin got access to Kirov’s office with a stolen party card), this is both a fantastic melodrama and a chilling work of propaganda. Continue reading
Hal Hartley’s dark comedy “Henry Fool” was an indie masterpiece that effectively and accessibly meshed Hartley’s literary influences with his specific minimalist style and some of the most memorable characters of the last decade. Now, Hartley takes the characters he created for that world and launches them into a surprisingly different direction in “Fay Grim,” a worthy follow-up and rare art house sequel.
When we last saw our antiheroes, Simon had won the Nobel Prize for his profane and controversial poetry, Henry had fled murder charges by allegedly going to Stockholm using Simon’s passport, and Fay was left with a young son after Henry had impregnated and married her seven years earlier. The handwritten, multipart opus Henry had been flouting, “The Confessions of Henry Fool,” was largely thought to be a horrible novel, literary excrement perpetuated by a vulgar man with a vivid imagination. Continue reading
Three talented screenwriters collaborated in adapting Evadne Price and Joan Roy Byford’s play The Haunted Light to the screen as Phantom Light. This British chiller-diller-thriller begins with the mysterious murder of a lighthouse keeper. After his death, the region is plagued by shipwrecks, each heralded by a “phantom light” beaming from the lighthouse. Female detective Binnie Hale teams with new keeper Gordon Harker and navy officer Ian Hunter to solve the mystery. Directed with a sure and steady hand by Michael Powell, The Phantom Light is infinitely superior to the quota-quickie melodramas then flooding the British film market.- Hal Erickson
Plot Synopsis by Hal Erickson
After an eight-year prison term for rape and assault, Max Cady (Robert Mitchum) is set free. Immediately making a beeline to Sam Bowden (Gregory Peck), the former prosecutor responsible for Cady’s conviction, Cady laconically informs Sam that he intends to “pay back” the attorney for his years behind bars. Conducting a meticulous campaign of terror, Cady is careful to stay within the law. Sam, realizing that Cady intends to wreak vengeance by raping the attorney’s wife (Polly Bergen) and daughter (Lori Martin), tries to put the ex-criminal behind bars, but has no grounds to do so. Chief Dutton (Martin Balsam) tries to help Sam with a few strong-arm tactics, but succeeds only in having the courts take Cady’s side in the matter. Things come to a head when Sam moves his family to the “safety” of a remote houseboat on Cape Fear river. Cady shows up unannounced and is about to ravage Bowden’s wife and daughter and when Sam turns the tables. Continue reading