Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Hijacking of Studio 4

(Joseph A. Gaudet, 1985)
This latest offering from the Emmeritus pile is surprisingly concentrated and coherent. Most of the first act consists of the crazy guy silently planning his terror campaign, and surprisingly enough it works pretty well - when they aren't looping transparently bogus dialogue over the back of his head. It was quite a task to measure this extended sequence into a narrative comprising some two dozen characters, and sure enough the arcs get lumpy and ends are left dangling; but while the individual players never mesh into an ensemble, that is appropriate to the varied neurotic preoccupations of the characters, and taken one at a time they're functional enough. The recasting of the terrorist as a heroic crusader in the third act is silly, and the expose of corrupt third-world dictatorship is not particularly daring or insightful, but at least they implicate first-world corporatism in the critique. And at the center of that critique is television itself; this made-for-TV movie is startlingly cynical about its chosen medium. Station grunts utter countless home truths about the gap between talent and success, and from very early on the film shows examples of how facts are bent to ideological and economic agendas. The commentary is lent flavour by the control-room procedural stuff, which is quite fun in its mid-80s detail, and it's pretty funny that the evil station owner is portrayed by none other than the Emmeritus mastermind, Lionel Shenken himself. Likable trash.

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