In The Crosshairs – Get Carter & Point Blank

This coming Sunday (the 5th of February), The Astor is bringing back the best ever double feature in rich 35mm. Mike Hodges’s Get Carter and John Boorman’s Point Blank. Two of the finest examples of a sub-genre that seems to have almost disappeared. Crime films that are simple in their plot, stylish yet stripped of all excess, with foundations to withstand a nuclear blast. At a time when a crime film seems to require a labyrinthine plot, accompanied by a dozen sub-plots, and convoluted character intentions and schemes, to have gut-punch films like these is a huge breath of fresh air.
Both films are ferociously unflinching, intoxicating and immaculately crafted from their script to their cinematography to their score. But while Get Carter is a prime example of the genre, the best of the best, Point Blank is where things get really interesting.
Point Blank is incredibly inventive. While at its core it’s a simple, strong, easy-to-follow revenge story and was always set out as such in the screenplay (written by Alex Jacobs, Rafe Newhouse and David Newhouse, which I highly recommend any screenwriters out there read), the film begins chaotically. Segments of scenes are edited together so rapidly and so seemingly discordantly you feel as though you’re trying to remember a dream or some past trauma. I understand how purple all this sounds, but I’m not really sure how else to explain this movie without getting into flowery language and vague metaphors. A film like this, so dense in symbolism and avant-garde filmmaking techniques (this film owing a lot to the French New Wave), seems to ask for it…
Point Blank at every moment forces you into the mindset of its protagonist, Walker, played by Lee Marvin in (if you ask me), his best performance. When he’s disoriented, the editing, the camera work, and the sound design all work together to ensure you are too. The film is laden with voice over and sound effects that almost echo, sounding as though they were recorded in a large hall. Everything you’re seeing and everything you’re hearing feels like a recreation from his mind.
Like the best of its genre and its stylistic roots (Film Noir and the French New Wave) Point Blank only adds to the pile of evidence that argues that to be inventive and fresh, you don’t need a series of convoluted twists, misdirections and seemingly impossible camera moves… All you need is a rock hard, waterproof screenplay and a visionary director.

Author: Tom May of Database Productions

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