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Parallax View

Year: 1974
Production Co: Doubleday Pictures
Studio: Paramount
Director: Alan J Pakula
Producer: Alan J Pakula
Writer: Lorenzo Semple Jr
Cast: Warren Beatty, Hume Cronyn
One of the more sombre paranoid conspiracy thrillers of the 1970s as Warren Beatty plays political reporter (Joe) who keeps rocking the boat after a political assassination he almost witnesses.

When people connected with the assassination like witnesses and investigators start dying - some of them people he knows - he goes digging.

What he uncovers is an atypical shocking truth about the collision between government control and the market economy, an ultra-secretive corporation called Parallax that identifies, recruits and trains killers for specialist interests.

It's all directed with a deft subtlety, lots of impassive long shots that show us what's going on but don't implicate us in the action, the clinical view almost a metaphor for the business transaction killing in the name of politics has become.

Joe (Beatty) tricks his way into the Parallax recruitment program where he's contacted by a handler and treated to one of the most stunning sequences of in-movie footage anywhere; an extended propaganda film designed to confuse emotions with images, where love is aligned with state brutality and terror with images of cleanliness, health and family.

It's narratively purposeful, each discovery and death around him propelling Joe further into the lions den of risk, but it unfortunately all falls to bits in the last sequence where he follows an operative to the shooting of a rising politician.

With the intrigue conducted in the rafters of a huge stadium where the band's rehearsing below, we can't see what's going on, who's doing what to whom, and we wonder what the significance is in Joe's mad dash for the lighted doorway until he meets his fate at the end of it and the film ends. It doesn't explain anything that happened as soon as we followed the action into the dark overhanging walkways and leaves you very unsatisfied.

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