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Friday, June 22, 2012

The Parallax View (1974)

After the assassination of a presidential candidate (Bill Joyce) on top of the Seattle Space Needle, several witnesses to the event die under mysterious circumstances in the ensuing years. A reporter (Paula Prentiss) fears she may be next and when she confides to a colleague (Warren Beatty), he dismisses her claims as paranoia. But when she is found dead, he begins to investigate and begins to uncover something beyond mere political assassination. One of the most admired of the 70s paranoid conspiracy thrillers, the film is absurdly far fetched which makes swallowing it a bit much but as cinema, the director Alan J. Pakula keeps a tight economical rein so that you don't dwell too much on the absurdities until the film is over. Two years later, Pakula would do better in the paranoid conspiracy sweepstakes with much superior material in ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN. The film is gifted with a terrific cinematographer Gordon Willis whose compositions and formatting are perfect. Yet almost too artsy as they often call attention to the shot rather than serving the story as when Beatty and Hume Cronyn as his boss have a conversation in an office but Willis uses a wide shot outside the office focusing on the emptiness of the office. With William Daniels, Jim Davis and Kenneth Mars.

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