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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Dull Yet Compelling Movies 

The other night I was treated to one of the lesser movies of the 1980's: Hostile Takeover (1988), directed by George Mihalka. It appears to have been based on a novel by Michael Gilbert, whom I took to be the crime novelist, known to librarians as "Michael Francis Gilbert", and probably better known as the author of Smallbone Deceased and some others. But I was sadly deceived. This Michael Gilbert is one Michael A. Gilbert, a professor of philosophy who has written books about arguing with people. The novel on which this movie is based is Office Party.

Hostage movies can be interesting, but this one makes no sense. In brief, a man who works in an office comes in one day heavily-armed and takes his mouthy boss and coworkers hostage. It is never explained what purpose there is in the hostage-taking, other than the protagonist's desire to take some hostages. This provokes a whole series of humiliation scenes, etc. Meanwhile the cops are trying to figure out what's going on in a sort of parallel drama, but nothing comes of that.

There is a fairly interesting story buried in here somewhere. The forces at work in any office are worth studying, but I think you do need to have some payoff in any movie that has a big crime in the middle of it.

I wondered who was playing the main character, as he looked familiar. It turns out to have been David Warner. He has been in well over a hundred movies, but I remember him chiefly from the excruciating Morgan!: A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966), in which he played some sort of quirky young repulsive crank whose girlfriend is, of course, Vanessa Redgrave.


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Watching TV is a good way to tear yourself away from the computer.