Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

28 June 2016

Point Blank

If you are interested in an absolutely perfect gangster picture from 1967, John Boorman's Point Blank is for you. This movie is tight, gripping, and haunting. It's filmed, in many ways, like a John Schlesinger film, and it seems to predict much of what he would do with Midnight Cowboy vis-à-vis flashback and slow motion. It's also a very obvious inspiration for Pulp Fiction, although Boorman is doing something other than Tarantino entirely. This is a real gangster picture that winds up being, fundamentally, about what it means to seek revenge, and what the ethics of killing are. The respect among the real guns is my favorite thing about this, but the ending is exquisite, and every bit of it is riveting.

Point Blank is also very violent and in surprising ways. At one point Lee Marvin actually throws a naked man off of a roof! This was, of course, while the PCA was still in power, and so this film must clearly be grouped with those films – The Killing, Bonnie and Clyde – that contributed to the end of the production code. For this we should all be grateful.

One of the coolest things this movie does is recreate the style of a film noir in color. In other words, it uses shadow and the kind of disappearing/reappearing tactics that the noir filmmakers used, even though this is a color film.

And keep a look out for the gay couple that helps Lee Marvin sneak into the apartment complex in act two.

But more than anything, Point Blank just needs to be watched as a brilliant piece of crime cinema. It's perfect.