Saturday, 28 June 2008

Two disappointments

I’ve watched a succession of good films lately, so perhaps it is due to the law of averages that I’ve just encountered a couple of duds.

Radioland Murders seemed quite promising in theory, a comedy with a background in 30s radio, but it turned out to be dire. At least, the first few minutes were; I couldn’t cope with any more. I can only hope it improved later on.

The Reaping is a more recent film, with two excellent stars in the ultra-watchable Hilary Swank, and Stephen Rea. It’s a religious-themed horror flick, with a focus on the ten plagues of Egypt. Unfortunately, the script failed to match the quality of the cast. There were endless flashy effects, and some genuinely unpleasant scenes; not even a rather good final twist redeemed the movie as far as I was concerned.

It is instructive to compare this film’s exploration of a Satanic cult with that splendid sixties movie based on a brilliant Ira Levin best-seller, Rosemary’s Baby. Roman Polanski’s classic film didn’t rely on gory visual imagery or a ludicrous switch-back plot; cool, clear and under-stated, it achieved its object of frightening the audience by the simple expedient of telling a clever and deeply unsettling story. A real lesson in effective film-making for over-the-top gore-merchants.


Anonymous said...


With respect to "Radioland Murders": I can't explain why, but this film is one of my guilty pleasures. Truly, the "plot" (so-called) is completely incoherent; the murders are there mainly to push the actors into ever greater fits of activity, and the development and denouement are definitely NOT fair play. That said, however, I like it not for the diaphanous "mystery" plot but for its energy; it out-French farces French farces. The pacing is high-octane and never lets up; some people find that wearisome. But by far the BEST aspect of "Radioland" is the musical soundtrack; for nostalgia buffs like me it's hard to resist. (In the closing credits, there are at least three different versions of Ziggy Elman and Johnny Mercer's 1939 standard "And the Angels Sing"; one of them is done in the style that made Spike Jones famous.) Nevertheless, a lot of people hate this film.

I must also admit to a fondness for most of the Three Stooges, an opinion not shared by large segments of the human race.

Best regards,
Mike Tooney

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Mike. Maybe I was too hasty, maybe it just wasn't what I was expecting. Incidentally, I'm a real admirer of Mercer.