Just uploaded are a reviews of Rapture [M] (1965), making its premiere Blu-ray release via Twilight Time, and Guns at Batasi [M] (1964) from Fox, a still-timely drama set in an African country trying to assert itself in spite of lingering effects of British colonial rule.
Both films, alongside The Blue Max (1966), were directed by British import John Guillermin, best known as the actor-friendly co-director of The Towering Inferno (1974). That film was his reward for building up a strong body of work in various genres in film and TV, but it also arrested any chance of tackling the kind of small dramas with which he excelled.
Both Rapture and Batasi feature potent central performances, and very distinct visual styles, whereas Blue Max demonstrated his knack at combining drama and first-rate second unit work without sacrificing plotting or character development.
(Yes, Blue Max us a cold film with no one particularly likeable, but it has that gorgeous Jerry Goldsmith score, and some of the finest aerial combat every mounted. While the new Red Tails is trying to present dramatic combat sequences using CGI, Blue Max is all real planes, pilots, and daredevil stunts that no CGI artist can mimic.)
Rapture also features remarkable cinematography that goes beyond capturing the stunning Brittany coast. There are camera moves that astound, montages that pique, and Georges Delerue’s fine score adds soul to a sometimes flashy camera style.
Batasi is memorable for Richard Attenborough’s potent performance, and one can perhaps presume the issues of colonialism in the script ignited a need for Sir Dickie to bring broader cause and effects dramas to the big screen, hence the epic, multi-generational scope of Gandhi (1982), and the violent racial injustice of apartheid in Cry Freedom (1987).
Coming very shortly: a review of Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel (1979), screening as part of the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s Attack the Bloc Cold War Sci-Fi series, and a review of Ti West’s The Innkeepers (2011), which will not disappoint Westonians wanting a good series of measured shocks.
Mark R. Hasan, Editor
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