Friday, December 16, 2011

Closed Circuit (1978)

Sometimes you see a movie that you never have heard of before and have no expectations about, and many of these movies turns out to be a lot better than I ever could imagine. Why? Maybe because no one have hyped - or hated - them and they stayed fresh because of the lack of interest from the cult movie community. Closed Circuit is a TV-movie from 1978, and even if some people call it giallo I'm not so sure I would consider it one. Sure, a giallo in Italy is a thriller/mystery with none, one or several murders. Even if Closed Circuit actually has three deaths and at a first glance is a thriller, it's more of an absurd black comedy with a healthy dose of Twilight Zone and Ray Bradbury.

It's time for cinema! A spaghetti western matinée with Giuliano Gemma and William Berger in the leads, I Giorno Dell'Ira (not to be confused with the 1967 classic with Van Cleef and Gemma). The audience is gathering. We have the young couple, the dirty old man spending more time on the toilet than watching the movie, a man and a woman having a secret affair in the darkness, a hysterical man who don't want to be disturbed by anything, two gangsters waiting for a "business companion" etc. Everyone from every part of society. During the last act, the dramatic duel, a man in the audience gets shot exactly when Gemma shoots first. He dies and within seconds panic strikes. The police seals the cinema very fast and keeps the whole audience locked up, while they're trying to figure out who's the killer is and where the weapon is hidden... but soon a second murder, identical to the first, happens right under their nose and the police gets more and more perplexed...

Closed Circuit is first of all a celebration to cinema and how the movies can work as a second reality that can affect us in the same way as real life. The movie is filled with movie posters, which is natural because it's set at a cinema, but it's only genre posters. A huge billboard of Paul Leder's  insane A.P.E (under it's Italian title Super Kong) adorns the outside wall, the lobby has a gorgeous posters of Tentacoli and in the room where the police interrogates everyone Mimsy Farmer looks down from a very nice poster of The Perfume of the Lady in Black. The movie on the screen is a fictional western made to look like the real deal (but I suspect that some of the footage comes from California, a western with Gemma and Berger from 1977). The mystery becomes even more a mystery towards the end, but is not the most important thing in the movie. What's strong about Closed Circuit is it's fantastic gallery of characters, all with their own secrets and agendas and how some of them starts to enjoy being prisoners in the cinema, demanding food, cigarettes, 12 different TV's (one for each channel). The most fascinating character is the first victim, a character we know very little about, but somehow creates the situation with his almost absurd interest in the moving pictures.

Don't expect blood and nudity in Closed Circuit, it's still an Italian TV-movie quite far away from the budget and spectacle of the cinema thrillers from the same time. But it's also a damn fine and intelligent movie, original and almost spooky. It has one sequence that gave me goosebumps because it was so intense, so magical and so macabre with very small means. It's not out on any official DVD what I know, but a TV-rip is able to download and is also used at the bootleg I have, from ZDD Visual Media.

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