Sunday, 17 March 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 88: Fri Mar 29

Catch Us If You Can (Boorman, 1963): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.30pm
This film, which screens as part of the John Boorman season at BFI Southbank, also screens on March 31. Details here.

A road movie starring the Dave Clark Five? I'm not damning this with faint praise when I say this is a lot better than you might think. Boorman teamed up with playwright Peter Nichols to fashion a fascinating film which takes a mordant look at the Swinging Sixties and which takes unexpected turns in the trip from London to an island off the Devon coast. Not to be missed.

BFI Screenonline review:
'The film plays with notions of illusion and reality as they encounter various English types. Are the 'drop outs' (an early engagement with '60s counter-culture) they meet on Salisbury Plain really actors playing 'subversives' to be rounded up in a military exercise? Are middle-aged establishment types, married 'collectors' Guy and Nan, predatory/kinky (do they 'collect' young people)? But droll smoothie Robin Bailey as Guy is very funny, whether spying through keyholes, interrupting Dinah's bath, or as a fancy dress Frankenstein. 

Shot on location, the film makes skilful use of symbols - Dartmoor ponies, water, the tidal island - compare Cul-de-sac (d. Roman Polanski, 1966). The snow-covered Devon landscape is contrasted with the ad agency in Manny Wynn's crisp B/W images. Peter Nichols' screenplay taps into '60s anti-establishment themes - a Utopian quest is destroyed by army and big business. But 'Utopia' is an illusion - there is no 'island' or escape from the media's manipulative influence; materialist Zissell 'walks' to the island. Dinah says, "you arrived - but you missed the journey". Only romantics make 'the journey', and are inevitably disillusioned: a bleak message.

The US title, Having a Wild Weekend, may have led audiences to expect a Monkees-type romp, rather than a film that shifts into melancholy. It becomes a critique of the vacuity of the opening images. For a 'pop' film, that is radical.'
Roger Philip Mellor

Here is an extract.

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