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Sunday, July 24, 2005


Point Blank -- I finally was able to pick up the Point Blank DVD re-release yesterday, after weeks of hunting it down and finally having to special order it from the local mall DVD store. It was certainly worth the wait.

Although obviously not tied directly into comics in any way, I have a hard time believing knowledegable readers won't be blown away by this film: Point Blank visually and from a storytelling perspective is simpatico with the work some of the most accomplished creators I can think of, including Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (this movie is about as close to Sleeper as you can get, at least until the story of Holden Carver is actually filmed), Darwyn Cooke and Gil Kane.

First and foremost, the movie's look, feel and especially the animal naturalism of Lee Marvin in the role of Walker was a direct inspiration for Kane's landmark His Name is...Savage; some of the night driving scenes, so marvelous with their shadows and neon signage, reflect the pop noir sensibilities of Cooke and his stylistic brethren. The use of vertical angles as a visual motif reminds me of Frank Miller's Daredevil heyday, and the love affair that director John Boorman's camera has with the architecture and settings throughout the film can clearly be seen in later works by directors as diverse as Quentin Tarantino and Jim Cameron. Los Angeles becomes a character under Boorman's skilled stewardship, here closing in on Marvin and his enemies with the stark diagonal planes of the LA river basin storm drains, there opening up the world as Marvin stalks the Hollywood hills with the city laid out beyond him in magnigficent, eye-popping clarity.

The story is one of passion, treachery, and revenge; the mechanics of the story are implicit not only in the spare, at times near-impressionistic dialogue, but in the stunning visuals Boorman's camera utilizes. From the acid-trip grooviness of the backstage nightclub battle, with the action reflected and commented on by the models' faces cast huge on a projected screen, to the splashes of psychedelic colour on Marvin's face at the conclusion of the scene, colour, lighting and angles are counted on to carry so much of this story -- and they bear the burden well.

I don't know if Patrick McGoohan was thinking of this film when he created The Prisoner, but fans of that series will also see echoes on the screen, in the way each scene is colour-coded across the board. On the commentary track, Boorman talks at length about his theories of colour in relation to the film, and it's a lesson with strong practical applications for anyone working with colour, in movies, comics, or any artform.

Point Blank is a movie I know I will be returning to again and again, to relish Marvin's primal scenery-chewing presence, and to bask in the glow of Boorman's vivid colour choices, so wonderfully recaptured on this DVD. If you want to tell stories, or if you just enjoy them being told to you well and with a challenging wit and intelligence, Point Blank is absolutely indispensible viewing.



Blogger Bill said...

I love this movie, too, and would also recommend the prose series that inspired it: Richard Stark's (a.k.a. Donald Westlake) Parker books. Very taut, smart and viciously tough in a way that Frank Miller can only dream of being. . .

25 July, 2005 15:36  
Blogger Bill said...

Stark's Parker novels do have a small connection to comics, I should add, in that they proved an influence on sometimes comics scripter Max Allan Collins, who wrote a series of paperback imitations featuring a character named Nolan. . .

25 July, 2005 15:40  

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