Monday, 28 September 2009


'[La Lengua Muerta] is about the frantic and frayed means of expression, the destruction of culture, the end of art...'1

How many pieces of art have placed a new adjective in the lexicon? In the same way that Catch 22 offered itself up as a phrase to explain something we had never quite so succinctly explained before, so too walks La Lengua Muerta. And how: for the means here are as legendary as the art itself.
Chilean director Gilberto Ayala constructed this paean to the sabotage of his country in secrecy within those tortured borders at various points between 1975 and 1979. Fearful of the regime of General Auguste Pinochet, Ayala cut apart his film and mailed each frame to different locations across North America. In the region of 108,000 frames were sent out. When Ayala fled Chile in 1980, he began the process of tracking down each frame to build his 75 minute film. Friends returned them to him over a period of months, and after an arduous editing process, he debuted the film at the New York Film Festival in 1982.

'Of course, some frames were missing,' Ayaya says. 'Some friends had lost them, or moved, or perhaps they had never arrived in the first place. This slow wave of mail bringing my film back to me proved emotional and revealing. Many scenes I had not watched since I had shot them, being in such a hurry to cut the film up and send it to safety. But each day, several pieces of my jigsaw arrived at my new address in Manhattan, bringing with them shards of memory, and new dreams. Some pieces are out of synch. I know. I accept this. Perfection was impossible. But a new magic was applied in the process, as if the spirit of thousands of my countrymen was enriched by the film's contact with thousands of Americans'1

The missing pieces actually work in the film's favour, giving the action a jerkily hypnotic lack of flow. Ayala didn't realise it at the time, but his accidental discovery of a technique would prove inspirational to a generation of offbeat auteurs. Other directors removed frames from their reels, and what quickly became known as 'Dead Language Style', or simply 'Dead Language' became a common entry in dictionaries of film terms.2

The film itself is wonderful and worthy of discussion beyond the history of its mythical journey. The plot is based on a famous Chilean folk tale, and it is also a commentary on the regime of Pinochet. Said Pauline Kael, 'Ayala's La Lengua Muerta is like Mikhail Bulgakov's novel Master and Margarita, this is magical realism without whim, but with angry claws.' 1

When the land of Alhambria wakes on midsummer's day, a surprising chill is in the air. There is a problem. The statue at the centre of town that was constructed by ancient fathers is gone. This icon was made of lettered building blocks, and their disappearance is calamitous. Without the powers of the blocks, the land has no language; the alphabet is forgotten overnight, and coherent speech vanishes. The written word is meaningless, and books are burned or ignored.

People have only the vaguest sense of what has been lost: How can the inarticulate rembember articulacy with any detail? Forgotten language litters the air. Every now and then, words are spoken, sentences even, as some kind of brain memory spins lines, but they expire, undeciphered.

The country descends into savagery; all the while, there is suspicion of an outside force. A group of young deaf street children realise they must do something. Their sign language is the only form of communication that still carries resonance, and they band together and attempt to rebuild. The strength of the young hopefuls in a dire circumstance is the backbone of the film's thrust and power.

Poignantly, the young star Maria-Maria Cruz disappeared in 1986, suspected murdered by the army in Chile. She would have been just nineteen years old. Her performance as the patient and busy leader of the group of street children is the emotional focus of the film 'Maria-Maria's death reminds me why I made the film in the first place,' says Ayala. ''Brave' is a word that is attached to artists far too frequently. Maria-Maria defined the word in ways that Hollywood, with its 'heroic' films condemning slavery, or Nazis, can never comprehend'.

La Lengua Muerta Directed by Gilberto Ayala Written by Gilberto Ayala Juan Jiminez Produced by Gilberto Ayala Juan Jiminez, Steffan Reuters La Blanca/Fusion Pictures Release Date US: November 1982 UK: March 1983 Tagline: 'How Can You Speak When There Are No Words?'

1. Pauline Kael, 1001 Nights (1990). Ayala was so taken with Kael's vivid phrase that he titled his 2003 autobiography A Life With Angry Claws. The quotes above are all taken from it.
2. Quentin Tarantino famously emulated the style for a disorientating action sequence in his Reel Cool Beach (2002), and Woody Allen paid homage with repeated use of Dead Language in If I Do Say So Myself (1989). Hal Hartley, Vic Vikram and Neil Labute have all also utilised the technique repeatedly.

Sunday, 13 September 2009


The Day We Lost A Month, the reaction was slow. No-one noticed at first: It was May, and November was the month that had been taken. As leaders took to our screens to tell us, most didn't understand. How could this happen?

Chris Marker (real name Christian Francois Bouche-Villeneuve) emerged internationally with La Jetee (1962), a seismic short composed of still photography that tells the tale of a post-nuclear time-travel experiment.1 It set the tone for his further work, especially La Jour Nous Perdu Un Mois. Both films share a documentary style, a time-travel motif and a bleak outlook. La Jour... takes an absurdist concept and grounds it in grim detail: The governments of the world discover that the month of November has 'vanished'. An explanation for this is not forthcoming. The film centres on events between this discovery becoming public and its consequences: it is, essentially, a pre-apocalyptic panic film, with a vague and not yet understood apocalypse.

Snatches of anonymous monologue surround the film:

One twelfth of our lives will be stolen away. That is at least six years to a healthy Westerner. Where did they go? Who took them? Early government reports were perceived as whitewashes designed to placate and confuse. This only caused people to suspect a conspiracy even more. Angry speeches turned into riots. But truthfully, the governments of the world were as unsure about the situation as the rest of us.

We are healthy. We are well. This will not happen.

But what if November literally caved in, leaving millions fleeing for a safer time of year, and destroying Thanksgiving? The rich might manage to buy themselves a perpetual August, guarded by hired armies, but others would be left scrambling from the void.

A group of revolutionaries in France attacked several May days and successfully captured them, with the aim of turning them into cool November ones; in effect beginning a rationing process of the rest of the days, spreading them along the calendar, pushing the edges of October and December into the void, like stepping stones over rushing black waters. But the French government, backed by the UN, freed the days in a daring televised raid.

The May days wilted, cried, disappeared. Years were shrivelling before our eyes.

A plan was formed that involved a small group of elite marines dropping by helicopter into the day after October 31st to see what was there. This mission was named 'The October 32nd Drop' and was deemed by many experts to be a suicide mission.

Could time be tricked if we supposed a new calendar? Could we trick ourselves into not noticing our cosmic short-changing?

The articulation of a fear of loss is potent here: What is being taken is not material, and thus cannot be saved. The diminishing of November is as strange and inevitable as the slipping of teenage love from its glorious mountaintop, or of one's own life ending. There is no villain to defend against, no cure; just apprehensive misunderstandings, loss, and possible death.

Come October, panics begin. With no November, what will happen? Will we simply jump to December? If so, can we just call that November? Some tried to compare it to the panic over the introduction of the Gregorian calendar, but that was technically a renaming. With this, we were actually losing time.

What if when the clock turns to midnight on Halloween, the world ceases?

The hopeless, black void at the end of this film is one of the most despairing negatives in movie lore. Sad as a D chord held indefinitely, the confusion and fear of the previous seventy minutes is funnelled chillingly into an ever darkening image.

And then, nothing.

Le Jour Nous Avons Perdu Un Mois Directed by Chris Marker Produced by Anatole Dauman Written by Chris Marker, Jacques Sternberg Music by Paul Misraki Starring Helena Chamelaine, David Richard, Serene Vespa Athos Films/Criterion Release Date UK/Fra: June 1966

1. La Jetee was later remade, most famously by Terry Gilliam as Twelve Monkeys (1995), but also by Mamoru Oshii as The Red Spectacles (1987) and by Jeff Poncaby-Ryde as Time Bitch (2001). Le Jour Avons... was remade by Jan Le Bont as No Thanksgiving This Year (2002), starring Nicolas Cage and Madeline Stowe.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Aa (Niko Hämäläinen, 1966)

Bb(Niko Hämäläinen, 1979),Cc(Niko Hämäläinen, 1992), Dd(Niko Hämäläinen, 1999)
Ee(Niko Hämäläinen, 2005), Ff(Niko Hämäläinen and Evan Hämäläinen, 2009)

The Finns, then, have a school of film-makers unadorned by the garland throwers of the world (impossible as that may be, given that in these times mankind increasingly appears to be an island of garland-tossers, with fewer and fewer worthy recipients of those celebrated woven flower decorations); a school that numbers just one, a furious pedant and painfully precise temperment, a man who refuses to die until he finishes his work, a work that is impossible to finish. A man who describes himself as 'Finnish at the beginning, and at the end...'
Hämäläinen's preoccupation, was, is, and will ever be words. The latest in his 'visualised dictionary' series,Ff, has just been completed and will be released in Autumn 2009, a mere four years after the release of Ee, which itself was only seven years after Dd. 'digital video technology is helping us speed up' he says, optimistically. 'Besides, Xx and Qq won't take me long, they are short letters,'1 The concept: Hämäläinen makes visuals of the the dictionary. Aa is a series of images representing each word in the Oxford English Dictionary beginning with A, in alphabetical order. The sequels follow suit. So Aa begins with an image of the letter a itself, before we see an aadvark, then a and so on. Some of his shots have to be created in interesting ways: 'to articulate both argue and then arguing, never mind argument, in interesting and unrepetitive ways is perhaps the difficulty in this. And of course, how to render abstracts such as abstract in second-long bursts of images is a constant problem.'2

The BBC's Arena strand made a documentary about Hämäläinen in 1975 entitled Dictionary Man, and they returned in 1999 to check on his progress, the result of which appeared that year as The Dictionary Man Forever. The question that the interviewer returns to time and again, is inevitable:

'Why, Niko?'

'Why what?'

'Why this?'

'I don't know what you mean.'

'Why film the dictionary? It is an impossible undertaking.'

(Pause. Niko thinks, as if for the first time, about this.)

'Well what else would you have me do?'

And so, we see in Niko Hämäläinen a romantic spirit specific not only to man, but to men; a foolhardy heroism in which no-one can win, for there can be no glory. And yet, we find it admirable, this bloody-minded devotion, and wonder, what would Hämäläinen's reaction be if he were to get close to completing his task? Would his knees buckle like a rookie serving for the championship at Wimbledon, a rookie who had been fearless until the point that possibility is fast becoming probability? We cannot know, for time will have its win over the project.

But is it a defeat for an artist to die before his work is done? Don't all artists die before their work is done? Some, perhaps, are done long before they die. The interest with Hämäläinen stems from the fact that we know exactly how much further he has to go. He is 70 now, and his latest, Ff is chapter six of twenty-six. And while this chapter has a polish that Aa lacks, and some of the transitions are more imaginative, the truth is that his style and technique are largley the same, over forty years on. Such consistency in art confuses us.

Gilbert Adair:
'Why are our letters in the order they are? What does it mean, besides putting the Alexes and Andrews on the sunny side of the classroom and the Zacharys and Zoes in the dark? What does it mean, beyond putting Springsteen, Bruce next to Springfield, Dusty (but far, far away from Springfield, Buffalo) in the record store? What chiming moments does such a pervasive ordering of the world throw up? Is our alphabet a key? Can it tell a story? What Hämäläinen does, in not so many words (or perhaps, in exactly so many words), is ask these questions, with a direct action so bold and hopeless that we question its sanity.'3

Evan Hämäläinen, Niko's son, who co-directed Ff:
'My father is a man haunted by dreams of an oversized alphabet forest, where rain falls and an l tips over, uprooted, or a k bends to offer a branch for a climber. Whether this is why he chose this project, or because of the project, well who can tell at this point?'

Adair agian:

'The truth is that of course he could have chosen to make films about his his family, or his home, something that was superficially more subjective. But the small decisions he makes in his films express his personality in ways other filmmakers fail to do over countless fictions: The skittering creature he chooses for the word bee, for example, or the grey, ashy block for the word brick; both articulate ceaselessly.'

Aa Directed by Niko Hämäläinen Produced by Niko Hämäläinen Venstock Films/Aqua Film Distribution. US/UK Release Date: N/A.

1. The Sunday Times Magazine, September 2009.

2. Dictionary Man, BBC films, 1976.

3. Flickers 2, Faber & Faber, 2008.

4. The Sunday Times Magazine, September 2009.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

BOBBY'S DREAM (Langston Bailey, 1972)

(...And we know, through epileptic flashbacks, that the situation somehow began with the murder of a young mother; a corpse lies in a bathroom, a baby cries, and a shadowy figure leaves through the door. Our hero (Bruce Dern, or similar) arrives at the scene, and we then flashback further: The young woman is alive, it is three days earlier, and we follow her on her relatively mundane path around her town. It ends, where it begins, with our hero hiding in an abandoned cinema. Bad guys are pursuing, and he's not sure if his gun will work. It is nighttime, and we are in something akin to a bankrupt Manhattan, but perhaps not.)

Click. Muffled movements; possibly his own. An alarm in the distance. Source unknown. He clutched the gun in both hands, put his ear to the wall and listened. Silence.

Hard Silence (1955) had been the first movie he had seen in this cinema, and now he thought of it, the dark moved, and he studied every suggestion. The building creaked with possibility, even more so now that it was empty, save for himself and his prey. Or his assailants, depending on who got the upper hand. His narrative had arrived at this point breathlessly; tedious stakeouts and crosswords had bled into action before he knew it, and now it came to this.

He cast his mind backwards over the facts of the case, looking for a detail that might help. Profile of the enemy? They outnumber me, I'm sure of that. They are more at home in this part of town too. One of them is at least twice my weight. Any pertinent fact that might help? One of them a southpaw? Colorblind? Temper? We've all got tempers. Kill remaining lights or turn them all on full? When? Athlete? Olympic runners run anti-clockwise. If I can get him going the other way, he'll lose some seconds. Similarly, always kick a boxer.

Bobby mentally unwrapped his black notebook. From the beginning it had made him think of another case: the girl, the prize, the double-triple cross; then there was the obscure artifact, the conspiracy, and the trap. He was sure that he had walked into it deliberately, but had spent so much time acting like he knew what was happening over the years that he was struggling now to pin down the specifics here. He was sure that they thought that he knew it was a trap, and as such the fact that he wasn't sure if he had known could be an asset: He knew something they didn't, which was that they didn't know what he didn't know. But what he didn't know was exactly how much he didn't know. He checked his gun. six bullets. He knew he hadn't shot anybody yet.

But the route to the present is hazy... there had been the letter that had arrived at his apartment, unnoticed for days in the bills. It sat on the dresser, the provocation of its hot knowledge ignored, until while driving one day it came into his mind; he turned for home, unsure why he hadn't opened it sooner. It was a valentine, with a sad sailor on the cover, bending a girl into an awkward kiss. He opened it, waiting for a punchline. Do you ever think of me? Love, Roxy. 3rd Mai, Never Again.

His instincts had been questioned by Johnson more than ever on this one. Old Girlfriends. Get over it, Bobby... and while he had met it all with bravado, it had troubled him. Roxy, his first girlfriend, was long dead. Another town, another time. Who here knew? Had May 3rd had been the day they'd moved into new territory at the fair? the day they knew the cartography of their separate lives might be shared? It seemed possible...

it was not long after that that she was taken away from him. She wasn't a cross on a map, she was a ghost.

And so the line nagged him. Someone who knew something wanted to tell him something.

It took him a while to get it. The French spelling of May was the end of the thread he had to pull, his way of unravelling the tangle. He circled it, tugged, it didn't give, he walked away, came back. Then, while sleeping, it came to him:

Roxy. 3rd Main. Ever Again.

The Roxy cinema, on 3rd and Main. The place. When he looked at their schedule in the Times, he saw the rest. Ever Again (Fritz Lang, 1952) was playing next Friday, midnight. Just the one time.

And so here he was. Question: What time is it? Past midnight, because the place is empty. He saw the last cleaner leave before he broke in. But it was Friday, he was sure, and that meant the late showing, which started at midnight, and finished at around two. He knew the last train would pass at 3 am, and that the noise would give him cover to make a move. But when was 3 am? He figured it was at least forty-five minutes since he came in here. How long was the film? If it was long, then that train might be any moment. He pictured the marquee in his head, saw the poster, saw everything, except the running time. Incorrect informations could not be filtered out: His memory, for example, repeatedly replayed photographically an image of himself , back before his hiding place behind screen one, across the red velvet seats, the lobby, the sign: BUS 5TOP (1956). Marilyn Monroe. A name with no S's, lucky, as the 'S' of 'Stop' had to be represented by a 5...
But that was weeks ago, a double bill with The Killers (1946), in a backroom of a bar; they had no marquee.

He had written a letter to Burt Lancaster thanking him for the genius of The Killers when he was in college. The moments otherwise undetected: When Marie's head dissects the 'Bus Stop' sign, so that it said, in sequence, B, US, TOP, then BE US on TOP, a subliminal message of hope, that they might Be Us on Top of the world, or even, he explained in an appendix, it could be the U.S. on top of the planet.

...a sound. He could hear a patio door sliding back and forth. Where was it? He was aware that the sound hadn't suddenly appeared, but that it had been growing for some time. There were no patio doors in the theater, none in the whole borough for that matter. He held his breath. The noise stopped. Letting out a breath, there was the sound again, long and slow. It had been his breathing, louder and more frantic than he realized, sucking back from his collar.

Which film had it been where the DRIVE-THRU sign was inhibited early in the first scene by the lead, a handsome innocent, so that it read D-I-E, instructing those open to such coding? Bobby had stood up, shouted 'he will be the killer', and walked out, leaving his date alone in the dark. The Avalon, - St. If only such certainties could be grasped here in the Roxy. I mean, The Ritz. This is the Ritz.

Oxbow Drive (1956), a film of such leading and misleading words (OXen? BOWs and arrows? Racing Drivers, Cattle Drives, Night Drives...) that poked through the images that he felt like a neon whiteness had burned into his eyes, never to be rubbed away.

This is the Roxy, not the old Ritz, remember, Bobby. You didn't see Cold Silence here. You saw Farewell, My Lovely here with that secretary, and Chinatown alone, more than once. The Roxy is gone.

... flashback in which the young mother is found dead in her bathroom, and the cops rage hard, and clues are given and given as this is more of a witch hunt now... he had spoken to a friend Doc about his doubts about being involved, Doc who was a doc, but off the record, but his words had fallen quickly and falsely onto the tape...'If I talk about it somewhat they'll prescribe the doctor or a massage or something more psychodramatic for which I have not the desire or the fire in my resolve to stand in that dark room for several visits visiting persecution upon my frame. If I don't, then they'll increase my workload to that of a healthy individual free of skull pain and worry. It would of course be a double-bind, were it not for the third factor, my own beady eye casting judgment upon my own (under) achievements... But I can't remember.... I just... can't... remember. I have a lyric in my head that was central to a previous case, but I don't remember how. It goes like this... 'I am a relative of the dancer/ Second cousin twice removed/ I'll steal a piece of his garment/ For you to do with what you do.' It is from... something. It solved something. But I don't know what, and the melody is murdering me over and over.'

...and when he heard it back, it seemed meaningless and wrong, somebody else's voice reading somebody else's script, bad enough to warrant a dismissive tagline... Bobby Spritz is a detective [pause]... with a problem. But it was noir lite, a melodrama-by numbers, far from the pivotal doubt and potential triumphs that elevated his skull.

It had all started so well, he was sure. But now he might just be an old man responding to noises in the night. Those kids. The first sign of trouble was the dead girl. There were always dead girls, pregnant and poor. But this one was called Prestbury, Alice, which had also been the name of his first girlfriend. It wasn't her, but a loop opened at the mention of the name. The chief suspect, missing, was an ex-army sergeant, Bates, Lucas. The name of his second girlfriend had been Lucy Bates. And here, that metaphysical engine, the angel driving all of them, had jolted: the card they all played, the Hunch, that hot chill from the nostril to the stomach that said something with this picture is slightly amiss exploded, and he knew that it was something more: The picture frame is askew, busted loose.

A taxi passes by, emitting late-night radio. Love excerpts hang in the air hopelessly out of context. Romantics, and there were plenty of those in his line of work, talked of the old days, but the city was different to the one sainted by memory. Same name, same vague location, but people were newer, traditions had shifted. The city was remembered in ceremony but chewed and rebuilt every second with the competing energies of a child who longs to be adult and an adult lnging for childhood. The city was ever-shifting, somewhere between this perceived present and perceived past. This, somehow, added to the tense uncertainty of people. He knew, that if he could articulate it, he could blame this feeling for half of the crimes he had witnessed. He'd sat with Johnson, talked, and Johnson had listened, indulgently, but Bobby had only circled the feeling. He couldn't quite hum the tune.

Bobby had followed as many dead ends as the rest of them. But a few celebrated leaps of faith over the years (The Case of the Quicksand, The Lost Watch) had marked him out as something of a clairvoyant, a seer. All it took was a couple of loudmouths at the station to call him 'Madame Bobby' or ask him to pick a winner on the horses, and his reputation was fixed. And he said nothing, it helped his business, kept the cops slightly in awe of him; but all the while he was paddling furiously underwater, desperate not to be perceived to have lost it. Personally, he doubted he had ever had it. But that didn't matter. Appearances held, and when a case needed opening, they'd call him up, ask him a favor. Hey Bob, let's get you drunk and see if we can't get you to dream, huh?

Reputation was everything. Take Eastwood, a P.I. he had known. Head full of Hammett, he looked on his profession mystically, as if it has come into it's way of being due to some abundance. An abundance of humanity. The day we're not human is the day I can retire. Not that he thought it was noble. It just was. Eastwood was a fine PI: quiet, tidy, inconspicuous. Made it seem like office work. Until a movie star came along with the same name. It was funny at first, when kids would call the number from his listing and ask for a Man With No Name to save their small town. Eventually, the cranks weighed him down, inhibited his business, put a spotlight on his doings. He took upon using his wife's name professionally. Changed the listing, changed his documents. But soon, that too was problematic: there was a new actor, named Hackman too. He retired before he could use his mother's first name, and it was just as well. Talk about instincts.

The truer the hunch, the more firm and fixed his conviction, the more he lost a grip on his bearings. If you have one ear on the cusp of the future, yesterday slips out of earshot. Past events murk together. Bobby felt a chill. He held his gun tigher. He recalled little now, which meant that the sudden feeling in his gut was likely correct: I'm going to die tonight.

The city lulled around him, low tide, and he pictured it outside the cinema, gray and black. He saw the alleys and fire escapes, but not in their correct configuration; in his mind they re-arranged themselves to aid his escape, and fell in over his tracks like new snow to conceal his position after he had gone. He couldn't leave the city, but instead opted to burrow into its depths until he was out of sight.

In that, of course, was the fitful existence of cities; his foes also imagined such assistance from the buildings, as did the millions around, favoring routes on a whim, sticking to wind-blocking paths, wishing for faster journeys across on their own graphs. This pulling in different directions lent the place it's frustrated energies, and caused the walls to tense defensively. A pipe tap-tapped overhead and threatened to flare like a poisoned nostril. It held. Water from somewhere moved through the walls. Normal sounds? Or are they trying to get my attention? Flush me out?

'Hey Bobby. They should call this one The Case of the Lost Girlfriends.'

'Or The Case of No Girlfriends.'

'Bobby Confuses Himself.'

'Or Bobby's Dream. The only lead you're following is your own tail. You're dreaming. Damn, I wish I could see it. Bobby's Dream. Ha. Man, every case you're ever on should be called that.'

He decided to move. He stuck his gun into the crack of the door and levered it open. He peeked through. More dark. But there was a sign, illuminated. NO EXIT. Punctuation? No, Ex it! Bobby, call your wife, apologize again, if you get out of here then make a go of it; Or No Ex, fall off the Earth tonight, say no prayer, and throw the suggestible alphabet onto the floor in a crash of bricks. Take a vow of silence, ignore the Maltese Falcon line, 'talking is something you can't do judiciously, unless you practice.'

Focus, or somesuch mantra, was muttered lowly, and it was him talking at himself. His words rang hollow. Focus meant nothing to him. On what? His guts were conspicuous, his senses untrustworthy. Recent dreams had slipped away from their usual parameters and into completely new space. Old friends had visited him, prompting crushingly sad mornings when he awoke and realised where he was, and that Jim was dead, or Suze had lost her mind, and that Bryan was gone. Johnson had bought him coffee and told him that the station saw him as a renegade now. Johnson had tried to keep them off his back, pulled as many strings as he could reach, everybody knew that. But Bobby had apparently gone too far this time. The police couldn't help him, in fact they were actively looking for him. One witnessed error, and his licence was gone. 

'There's nothing romantic about a P.I. with no gig,' said Johnson.

P.I. Pi. 3.14159.

'...and if you're out of this circle, then you're no P.I. at all.'

Pi. Circle. 
'Johnson, I think I can predict the future. Only sometimes, the patterns don't make sense. I get confused.'
'Bobby, you're off the case.'

Opinions, loud guesses. Bobby knew that he had no way of knowing what was round the corner. He had been in this theater forever, and perhaps would never find his way out.

Bobby's Dream Directed by Langston Bailey Starring Bruce Dern Nina Van Pallandt Francois Truffaut United Artists Release date US/UK: May 1972 Tagline: 'Somewhere between prophetic and pathetic, Bobby Spritz is a detective with a problem'

1. The film was the first of a loose trilogy, a homage to film noir, and was thus frequently known as Noir I. In some parts of the US, Bobby's Dream was re-released in 1978 as Bobby's Dream: Noir. Nobody has a compelling reason why.