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Alan J. Pakula.  Alan J. Pakula.  Alan J. Pakula.  I should stop here.  The Parallax View is the second movie in Pakula’s political paranoia trilogy, with Klute and my all time favorite All the Presiden’ts MenThe Parallax View is a straight-forward movie about a reporter, Warren Beatty, who gets in way over his head while investigating the assassination of a Senator and the mysterious deaths that follow.  His investigation leads him to the Parallax Corporation who is in the business of identifying potential assassins and hiring them out to clients.  Their motivations seem to be monetary and not political.  Trust no one and suspect everyone.

What I found to be refreshing is that the good guys don’t always win.  Political/conspiracy thrillers today, like The Interpreter, Vantage Point or The International, don’t do that any more.  Michael Clayton might be the best recent example and although the good guy wins the bad guys aren’t blown away after a brawl on top of the U.N.  The one fault with the Parallax View is that it is too straight forward and doesn’t argue or delve into conspiracy theories but this is hardly a criticism.  Pakula chooses not to dwell but to entertain.  Lone gunmen are hardly alone but to have it pinned on one keeps things tidy.

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It is refreshing to know that it is possible to make compelling movies that don’t rely on fast cuts and special effects.  Thank you Mr. Hitchcock.   And I love movies that essentially take place in a single scene.  12 Angry Men and Glengarry Glen Ross are examples.  I like these movies because it feels like the  filmmaking takes a backseat and the actors and story are center stage.  Again thank you Mr. Hitchcock for your talent and skill as a director.

The first thought I had, probably because it is in the first five minutes, is the meeting of classic Hollywood, or my stereotype of classic Hollywood, and new hollywood or what will become new Hollywood.  First we meet Constance Porter, played by famed Broadway actess Tallulah Bankhead,  who after the destruction of the ship is dry and put together nicely in the lifeboat.  Then comes Kovac, this dirty gritty character, that reminded me of Brando.  For some reason when I think of classic movies I think of actors all clean and well put together delivering lines and  never as dirty as Kovac.  And for the rest of them movie we see her character turned upside down and broken.  But this is not the point of the movie.  The point is the extreme scenario these characters are thrust into, the decisions they must make, and the good and evil that is revealed during their attempt at survival.  With World War II as the backdrop you learn a lot about human and civil rights.  When they encounter the German, Willy, the thought of many is to throw him overboard but one gentleman pleads they cannot because although he is the enemy we must uphold the law we are governed by.  Willy then proceeds to manipulate and direct the boat towards a German supply ship.  A mirror is also held up as they criticize the German and the Nazi party for their heinousness but no American notices their behavior towards George Spencer, the sole African-American on the boat.  I thought this was a bold move for the time of the film.  And we go on to watch all of the characters exposed and say things that come from deep within until they are eventually saved.  It is a truly great character study and it had me on board from the beginning.

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