Friday, 27 June 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 199: Sat Jul 19

Catch Us If You Can (Boorman, 1965): Hollywood Spring Cinema, 7.30pm


The venue is the coolest new cinema in town. The movie is a delight: a rare screening of John Boorman's surprising road movie, a mordant and critical look at Britain in the 60s. And an interesting comparison to A Hard Day's Night, re-released at the BFI this summer.

BFI review:
John Boorman
's first feature touches on mid-60s themes: the commodification of youth culture, the manipulative role of the 'media industry', the all-pervasiveness of images and advertising, and the resulting sense of alienation. Early scenes of youthful energy (the Dave Clark Five running around parks, playing on the rides) suggest a retread of A Hard Day's Night (d. Richard Lester, 1964), but here the songs are non-diegetic. As stunt man Steve and model Dinah are both in the 'image' business, they drive around London in a E-type Jag to 'groovy' music, just as in the TV commercial 'Let's Go With Shell!'

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 aMonkees-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 one of the musical highlights.

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