Martha Travis is a medium who makes contact with spirits "on the other side" and connects them with their loved ones still alive, in public performances. Trouble begins when she gives a ...
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Martha Travis is a medium who makes contact with spirits "on the other side" and connects them with their loved ones still alive, in public performances. Trouble begins when she gives a message to Mary Kuron from her husband, Tom. But Tom isn't dead... yet. And Martha not only knows he will die, she also knows who killed him. And the murderer knows she knows... Written by
Yuval Kfir <yuval.kfir@Indigo.co.il>
Saying that Black Rainbow is one of its director's best films doesn't sound much of a compliment when you're talking about a man whose résumé includes Morons From Outer Space and not one but two Clive Owen stinkers even if it is true. Mike Hodges' reputation these days rests solely on a gangster movie he made 35 years ago, and the fact that his subsequent efforts have either been too clinical to work (The Terminal Man), too flawed to completely satisfy (Pulp]), outright awful (A Prayer for the Dying) or saw him fired early in production (Damien: Omen II) has done little to deter labelling him as a one-hit wonder. True to his run of luck, this neat little supernatural thriller was barely released, going straight to cable in the US and getting caught up in a distribution scandal in the UK, where Palace tried to get copies into video stores (selling it as virtual soft porn, believe it or not!) before the film even opened theatrically.
It's that old chestnut, the medium who sees too much in this case getting messages from dead people who haven't died yet - and puts her life in danger, but it's rarely been done this well. Starting off as a sort of Emily Gantry as written by Eugene O'Neill (with Jason Robards playing another of his drunken pater familiases), it offers Rosanna Arquette her best role, and she certainly rises to the challenge. The premonition scenes carry a real frisson, there are neat humanising touches (the hit-man for once has a family life and can't get a decent seat on an airplane) and Hodges' dialogue is surprisingly good. But what really caries it is the characterisation: these are all believably damaged people clinging onto any tenuous hope they can find, be it religion or the bottle, to prevent taking a good look at themselves as one bereaved character puts it, "Maybe if we weren't so bothered about the hereafter we'd pay more attention to the here and now." There has to be a catch, and there is: the Curse of Hodges has struck again with Anchor Bay's R2 DVD, which has a good collection of extras but a poor transfer with lots of ghosting and poor detail in long shots (the previous video and laserdisc issues from Tartan and Encore were much better).
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