Friday, May 20, 2011


(Giuliano Montaldo, 1987)
The first half of this movie is exactly the kind of demeaning, insufferable tripe that gives international coproductions a bad name, as a stupefying assemblage of nominal humans interact amid a twenty-day bomb shelter habitation experiment. They observe procedures, they state philosophical positions, they get the hots for each other, at such length and with such cloying predictability that you want to strangle them, especially the goddam little boy. In the second half they throw a nominal curve, rescuing us from the filmmakers' self-imposed purgatory with a bit of action and intrigue. Finally, Papa Burt Lancaster intervenes with a stern lecture on moral themes. The moral - fallout shelters are no answer to the insanity of nuclear war - is hard to gainsay, but the delivery is so full of finger-wag it recalls the worst offenses of late Chaplin. Then you read the box, and the first sentence gives it away: "CONTROL is a disaster movie." Of course! For all its high-mindedness, this is another bunch of international celebrities playing not characters but unidimensional Types, marking time until the Peril arrives, then trotting out the door afterwards to absorb the Moral and cash their cheques. My only excuse for not noticing this is that everybody else stopped using this template about ten years earlier, for the excellent reason that it always, always sucks! There are less aggravating ways to save the planet, that's for sure.

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