Thursday, July 26, 2007

Point Blank.

John Boorman | 1967 | 92 min | US

Ever wonder where Steven Soderbergh got so many of those great moves? They're here, in one of the best revenge stories ever filmed. One of the best American movies, period.

Lee Marvin is Walker, a man who is double-crossed by his wife + the old friend he helped in pulling off a dangerous heist. He is left for dead, but clings to life in the hope that he may one day exact revenge. After spending years in hiding, Walker resurfaces to scare the shit out of everyone in The Organization who thought him long gone. He then climbs his way up the ladder of traitors one body at a time, seeking his cut of the original take: $93'000. No more, no less.

John Boorman (Deliverance) directs with a very cool hand, as much an outsider as Walker + one who perhaps shares his psychotic detachment. He pays a great deal of attention to the then-new glass + concrete mega-structures that were springing up all over Los Angeles, solidifying the town's reputation as being a tribute to the inaccessible + impersonal. The remarkable editing matches the mood by being challenging to the point of antagonistic.

A subdued score provides an eerie counterpoint to the sudden bursts of violence in the visual style + story. The acting is similarly low-key + intense (with the exception of Angie Dickinson's atrocious cue card recitations). Lee Marvin has a tendency to deliver every word as though it were a dire statement. From Walker, it kinda is. Every character interacting with him acts as though they are juggling dynamite + you can feel it.

Point Blank was based on the novel The Hunter, which was also adapted as Payback in 1999. Perhaps its needless to say, but Point Blank is the one to watch. It stays true to the brutal tone of the novel while being a distinct experience in its own right. This movie is easily on par with the best of Leone + Peckinpah, with the bonus of Marvin seeming genuinely unhinged in a way that McQueen or Eastwood could never match.

In his documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself, Thom Andersen refers to Point Blank as 'the movie for people who hate Los Angeles.' Sometimes a city deserves it.

2 comments:

jeff said...

The sequence that starts with Walker walking down the long corridor is one of the best things my eyes and ears have ever witnessed.

aaron said...

YES. seriously one of the best scenes ever committed to film.