Monday, 20 October 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 315: Wed Nov 12

Seconds (Frankenheimer, 1966): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 8.50pm

This film, part of the BFI's sci-fi season, also screens on 9 November. Details here.

Time Out review:
Hemmed in by an arid marriage, paunchy middle-aged banker John Randolph grasps another chance at life when a secret organisation transforms him into hunky Rock Hudson and gives him a new start as an artist in Californian beach-front bohemia. Freedom, however, turns out to be a rather daunting prospect, and the struggle to fill the blank canvas comes to typify Hudson's unease with his new existence. Saul Bass' unsettling title sequence sets the scene for the concise articulation of fifty-something bourgeois despair, as visualised by James Wong Howe's distorting camerawork and the edgy discord of Jerry Goldsmith's excoriating score. After that, the film's uptight view of the hang-loose West Coast feels like a slightly forced argument, until Frankenheimer regroups and the jaws of the narrative shut tight on one of the most chilling endings in all American cinema. Little wonder it flopped at the time, only to be cherished by a later generation, notably film-makers Siegel and McGehee who drew extensively on its themes and visuals in their debut Suture. (This downbeat sci-fi thriller completed Frankenheimer's loose 'paranoid' trilogy - earlier instalments being The Manchurian Candidate and Seven Days in May).
Trever Johnston

Here (and above) is Saul Bass's great title sequence.

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