Monday, 25 June 2012
Malcolm in the Outskirts
Joseph Losey directed Malcolm McDowell and Robert Shaw (who also penned the adaptation) in a curious, enigmatic 1970 chase thriller Figures in a Landscape. The film opens with a helicopter scouring the countryside in search of two escapees, Shaw and McD, who, still bound by their never named captors, are in a desperate race to reach a unspecified mountainous border crossing. The spartan plot with it's deliberate obfuscation of almost all details and the stark cinematography foster an atmospheric backdrop for our central duo, who, driven a little mad by captivity and the intensity of their pursuers bicker, reminisce and murder their way across the land towards freedom harried by the seemingly ever present chopper. It's success lies in the two brilliant, searing performances at it's core, with Shaw and McDowell throwing everything they've got into these febrile, traumatised yet determined men. A fantastic film that's seemingly fallen between the cracks but has now tumbled out onto YouTube.
Malcolm McDowell appears in another cryptic thriller, a decade or so later, called The Caller that in the most part is even more abstruse. McDowell plays an unnamed caller at a woodland cabin inhabited by a peculiar single white female, their uneasy encounter soon develops into a vastly more convoluted relationship with a darker tone and some ugly twists. I'd like to say more but it's definitely one of those plots best left unspoiled however I will tell you that while Figures never provides answers to it's questions, The Caller does and the denouement is, er, quite a surprise. McDowell's ambiguous, slightly google eyed performance outshines his co-star's fractured turn and though the script is strong it falters in the final furlong. This film is all about the ideas & the mind games however and in that regard it deserves plenty of credit for it's ambition and chutzpah. A very strange but highly enjoyable little oddity.