Saturday, July 10, 2010

Flashpoint (1984)

This weekend we're starting to delve into the suggestions that people have been giving us. Generally the mention of this blog and its subject always brings up a suggestion of some film or another. (As I've said if you have a suggestion send them in- just be willing to defend your choice-if I have a question about it I will ask you to defend your film)

To start off I'm going to review two films from the 1980's that were suggested by my brother. Tomorrow's films is a pure guilty pleasure from the last wave of 3D films Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone from 1983. Today however is a film that some people felt was one of the best films of 1984 (ME! ME! ME!) while other feel its one of the great unsung films of the whole decade. The name of the film is Flashpoint.

is yet another of the small genre of films that was still trying to work out what exactly happened during the Kennedy Assassination. I think on some level that genre ended with Oliver Stone's JFK. If it didn't end there JFK marks the point at which the assassination officially past into history of the previous generation much like the war films of the 1970's ceased to be about World War Two and became about that generations war, Viet Nam.

The basic plot has a storm in Texas uncovering a buried jeep. Inside it are a box of money, a rifle with a scope and the body of a man. Figuring no one will miss the money the border guards who found it decide to keep it. However Federal agents and assorted the people come to town looking into the matter and trying, as best they can to cover it up, even if it means murder.

The film starts Treat Williams and Kris Kristopherson as the border guards and they are supported by Rip Torn, Migeul Ferrer, Tess Harper, Jean Smart, and Kurtwood Smith in the role where I probably first noticed him.

Moving like the best thrillers of this sort, the film has the two heroes trying to work out first what they stumbled into, then trying to figure out if they can turn things to their advantage and finally realizing that they are in way over their heads and had been from the start, they just never knew it. The film starts and slowly and surely cranks up the tension to the point where you kind of want to look away because you know where its going but you don't because you're hoping to have things turn around and have the guys were rooting for come out of it alive.

Not to put too fine a point on it this is one of the example of what film noir morphed into when they stopped being made in black and white.

I really like this film. If I remember it correctly, I believe that this film was originally intended to be one of the early made for HBO films but turned out so well that they gave it a theatrical release. Unfortunately I don't think many people saw the film in the theater and most people saw it, if they saw it at all, on HBO. I saw it in the theater and I know I caught it at the end of its run and I couldn't really recommend it to anyone for a theater viewing, however I do know I sold it a lot when I work in a video store back a million years ago.

How much did the film impress me? I remember sitting in the back of the theater at the Syosset triplex at the last show and turning to one of the five people in the theater and commenting about how good the film was.

Sadly, this is one of those movies that's gotten lost. I know I had it on my best of the year list and I know that several critics did too. Unfortunately it was never a big and splashy film with big and splashy names and it quickly disappeared from view. I know that unless you accidentally run across it most people have no idea what the film is.

Then again there are a bunch of us crazies out there who really like the film and will still wax poetic about it.

Currently out on DVD this film is worth tracking down. Its a solid little thriller of the sort that they don't really make any more (except if they are going to make it big and loud with lots of explosions)

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