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The Films of John Boorman

Catch Us If You Can

Point Blank

Hell in the Pacific

Leo the Last

Deliverance (December 24/14)

Based on James Dickey's eponymous novel, Deliverance follows four friends (Burt Reynolds' Lewis, Jon Voight's Ed, Ned Beatty's Bobby, and Ronny Cox's Drew) as they embark on a river-rafting trip and subsequently find themselves under attack by dangerous locals. Filmmaker John Boorman has infused Deliverance with a gritty sense of authenticity that is, at the outset, difficult to resist, with the believable atmosphere heightened by Dickey's naturalistic screenplay and a foursome of extremely strong performances. The movie's travelogue-esque vibe isn't initially as problematic as one might've feared, as Boorman does a nice job of establishing the camaraderie between the central characters and also peppering in a handful of taut sequences. (The protagonists' encounter with a couple of vicious rednecks has lost none of its power in the years since the film's 1972 release.) And while the deliberate pace proves effective at initially perpetuating the movie's convincing vibe, Deliverance eventually (and thoroughly) loses its hold on the viewer due to a rambling midsection that grows more and more frustrating as time slowly progresses - as Boorman, to an increasingly distressing extent, begins emphasizing the characters' dull, seemingly real-time exploits in the wild. The total and utter lack of momentum within the film's second half is, it goes without saying, absolutely disastrous, and it does, as a result, become awfully difficult to work up an ounce of interest in or sympathy for the surviving protagonists' ongoing efforts to reach safety - which ultimately confirms the movie's place as an underwhelming adaptation of an underwhelming book.

out of

Zardoz

Exorcist II: The Heretic

Excalibur

The Emerald Forest

Hope and Glory

Where the Heart Is

Beyond Rangoon

The General

The Tailor of Panama

In My Country (April 6/05)

Despite the presence of a potentially riveting subject matter - Africa's post-Apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Hearings - In My Country never becomes anything more than a dull and surprisingly silly little drama, thanks mostly to Ann Peacock's incredibly simplistic screenplay. Samuel L. Jackson and Juliette Binoche star as reporters assigned to cover the hearings, while Brendan Gleeson plays a sleazy former soldier (his den is packed with animal heads, if that's any indication). In My Country's been directed by John Boorman, an uneven filmmaker who's nevertheless reached a new low (say what you will about Beyond Rangoon, it was - at least - watchable). There's a real sense of heavy-handedness at play here, as the filmmakers imbue the film with extremely melodramatic and unnecessarily obvious elements (ie virtually every single scene featuring a victim's testimony is augmented with shots of Binoche in tears, as if we wouldn't get it otherwise). The supporting cast seems to consist entirely of amateurs, something that thoroughly negates the possibility of an emotional impact in the sequences revolving around the hearings (no small feat, given the kind of atrocities being described). Despite a boatload of good intentions, In My Country just doesn't work - though Red Dust, another film dealing with the Truth and Reconciliation Hearings, isn't all that much better, so perhaps this is just an unfilmable subject.

out of

The Tiger's Tail

Queen and Country

© David Nusair