Thursday, August 26, 2010

Power Play

(Martyn Burke, 1978)
So what country is this coup d'etat taking place in, anyway? Presumably not the UK or Canada, although the accents in this international coproduction are strictly northern. This glaring lack of specificity turns out to be definitive. Seemingly pivotal dialogue scenes are glossed over with rampaging orchestras to keep the running time down; the climax consists almost entirely of extras in helmets running around the outside of large buildings; the setup introduces a revolutionary underground that barely registers before it is whisked out of view. Obviously social change from below is an imponderable alternative to overthrow by military brass, which the film ponders at length before disowning as well, generating great ennui in the viewer especially since said brass spend almost the entire running time sitting around a table. And even at that most of the generals remain little more than asses in seats, barely permitted to establish a character or a motivation. If I enjoyed this film in spite of itself, it may be because after watching so many damn Canadian movies I was thrilled by the 'all-star cast'. It's great fun watching Barry Morse, Jon Granik, Harvey Atkin, Gary Reineke, August Schellenberg, and (my favourite) Chuck Shamata rubbing shoulders with the likes of David Hemmings and Peter O'Toole for an entire movie. But only diehard Chuck Shamata fans need apply.

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