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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.

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Exorcist II: The Heretic (January 23/18)

An often astonishingly terrible and inept sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic follows Richard Burton's Father Philip Lamont as he's tasked with investigating the death of Max von Sydow's Father Merrin from the original film - with the loopy narrative also incorporating Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) and her efforts at moving past the horrific possession. It's worth noting that Exorcist II: The Heretic opens with a fair degree of promise, as director John Boorman kicks the proceedings off with a relatively engaging stretch detailing Burton's character's exploits and his initial encounter with Regan. The inclusion of an overlong and somewhat interminable hypnosis sequence brings the movie's momentum to a dead stop, essentially, and there's little doubt that Exorcist II: The Heretic becomes less and less interesting as time slowly progresses, with Boorman's decision to pepper the story with a series of pointless flashbacks undoubtedly exacerbating the already-tedious vibe. Equally problematic is Boorman's growing emphasis on elements of a decidedly (and aggressively) nonsensical and avant-garde nature, as the majority of Exorcist II: The Heretic second half is devoted to ludicrously off-the-wall subplots that increasingly alienate the viewer and ensure that the movie, particularly in its final, incoherent stretch, fizzles out long before reaching its laughably overblown climax - with the film's complete and total failure certainly forcing one to look at the comparatively masterful original in a whole new light.

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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.

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The Tiger's Tail

Queen and Country

© David Nusair