|The Small Back Room
|Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
|This Screening is part of event: DVRfest 2017
For Day Two of this year's DVRfest, I'm bringing back a programming technique I used to massive success last year: rolling Dice. I have three stacks of Criterion movies, all of which I've never seen (although I suspect maybe one or two of these, like Mr. Arkadin, I actually have seen under different titles). I'll roll a 6-sided die to determine which stack I pull from then an 8-sided die (D&D nerd alert!) to pick which film to watch. Watch and repeat. Full disclosure: in the interest of making the stacks equal, I've pulled out the Fritz Lang silent Testament of Dr. Mabuse and Fassbender's 4-hour World on a Wire. Those, along with with box sets, tv shows, and other long movies like Che, will likely have to wait until I get through a few more of these. I mean, still. There are some super easy to watch things in there like All That Jazz and some that have successfully evaded viewing for more than ten years (I'm looking at you, Wild Strawberries). Let's see what fate will dictate I watch this year!
The first roll was stack 2, movie 5: Powell and Pressburger's The Small Back Room AKA Hour of Glory. I have a bunch of P&P criterions although I think the only movie of theirs that I've actually seen (Peeping Tom) was a rental that I don't own. And now that I look that up, it seems that Pressburger wasn't even involved in that one! So how did I like this one? Let me watch it and find out!
Eh, not so much. What I would guess was powerful and edgy at the time - a character study about an alcoholic veteran working in a semi-spy-like military intelligence unit dealing with bomb defusal - today feels pretty slow and plodding. There's one sequence of him fighting against his urge to drink manifested by the scotch whiskey bottle taking on monumental proportions and terrorizing him that gets pretty surreal and the very last scenes feel like precursors to The Hurt Locker but for the most part it's just this guy kind of walking around places and talking to people. I mean I guess that could describe most dramas? Maybe i'm just failing at describing why I thought the movie was slow and boring... but I did.
But there you go. You win some, you lose some. On to the next one.