Two Dramas from All Day Entertainment
Treasure Island (June 28/12)
An incoherent, interminable mess, Treasure Island, which bears no connection to Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel, follows a pair of WWII-era cryptographers (Lance Baker's Frank and Nick Offerman's Samuel) as they devise a plan to mislead the Japanese by placing a series of phony letters on a dead body and allowing it to wash up on Japan's shores. It's a perfectly serviceable premise that's botched from the word go by filmmaker Scott King, as the writer/director opens the movie with amateurish fake newsreel footage that immediately establishes an atmosphere of pervasive pointlessness - with this vibe ultimately compounded by a pace that's beyond deliberate and an emphasis on superfluous elements designed to pad out the seemingly endless running time. Far more problematic, however, is King's decision to aggressively toy around with reality; right from the outset, the film transpires within a dreamy realm in which nothing is what it seems and it does, as a result, become more and more difficult to discern what's real and what's imagined. (This wouldn't be quite so bad if King actually had anything relevant to say about anything, but he seems content to stress weirdness for weirdness' sake.) There subsequently reaches a point at which one is forced to throw up one's hands and simply wait for the narrative (and I use that word loosely) to run its course, as the movie, which has been shot on the cheap and looks it, contains about five minutes of actual, coherent plot - with the remainder devoted to inexplicable, inconsequential artiness that accomplishes nothing aside from the total irritation of the viewer.
no stars out of
Wanted for Murder (January 13/13)
Written by Emeric Pressburger and Rodney Ackland, Wanted for Murder follows Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Conway (Roland Culver) as he attempts to suss out the identity of a prolific strangler (Eric Portman's Victor Colebrooke) before he can strike again - with the film also detailing the ongoing exploits of said psychopath's girlfriend (Dulcie Gray's Anne) and her affable love interest (Derek Farr's Jack). Filmmaker Lawrence Huntington has infused Wanted for Murder with an impressively (and irresistibly) stylish feel that's evident right from the get-go, as the movie, in its opening minutes, contains an engrossing tracking shot that pursues Portman's nefarious character as he wanders through a carnival. From there, Wanted for Murder essentially establishes itself as a police procedural that's been augmented with hints of melodrama - as scripters Pressburger and Ackland emphasize both Conway's continuing investigation and the comings and goings of the narrative's periphery characters. There is, as such, little doubt that the movie inevitably settles into a watchable yet predictable and far-from-enthralling groove, with the periodic inclusion of compelling sequences (eg Victor's suspenseful late-night encounter with his latest victim), combined with an irresistible undercurrent of dark humor, ensuring that Wanted for Murder remains perfectly watchable (if palpably padded-out) from start to finish.