Dirk’s Five – Cover Ups

Sorry that this is a bit later than usual. Dirk was enjoying the crooning delights of the nation’s favourite bearded-labrador, Guy Garvey and Elbow on Friday, in an intimate gathering of 20,000 in Manchester’s MEN arena. A good time was had by all, although Tesco saw a sharp decline of sales in the region.

Last week, the Dirk Malcolm film club got together to watch a topical screening of THE CHINA SYNDROME (1979) with Michael Douglas and Jane Fonda as reporters exposing the dangers of nuclear fuel. The film was made famous by the Three Mile Island incident that took place months after its release. The idea that a chain reaction from a nuclear meltdown would result in a hole being bored in the earth is still hanging over every news bulletin surrounding the crisis in Japan, thanks to this film, rather than anything substantial such as facts.

It belongs to a distinct, seventies genre that emerged as ‘the corporation’ increased and New Hollywood’s appropriation of counterculture made its coded protests. Many of them are essentially a replay of Ibsen’s ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE where profit is put before safety (see JAWS). It’s a genre that is ripe for revival.

Looking forward to hearing your suggestions, but trust no one.


1) THE PARALLAX VIEW (1974) Master of the genre, Alan J Pakula, directs Warren Beatty in this assassination conspiracy thriller that uses montage to a startling effect.

2)  SILKWOOD (1983) “Streep on Cher lesbian action” is a summary that will bump up the visitor stats, but does not do justice to this thoughtful bio-pic of a hard working, hard living metallurgy worker who investigates the factory where she works.

3) CYPHER (2002) An intriguing film that uses the conventions of the genre (particularly THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962)) to send its protagonist into a world of industrial espionage to find that the rug is constantly pulled from beneath him.

4) HIDDEN AGENDA (1990) Ken Loach’s political thriller that is a thinly veiled examination of the ‘shoot to kill policy’ in Northern Ireland in the 1980s.


5) LOOSE CHANGE (2006) The internet is the father to a million conspiracies and this is one that managed to gain some currency … a film that suggests that the plane that hit the Pentagon on 11th September 2001 was a cruise missile…. mmmm There are people who consider it a compelling case in spite of no evidence which goes to show that “You can prove anything with facts.”


9 responses to “Dirk’s Five – Cover Ups

  1. Why is there another number 4 at the bottom of this post? What does it mean? Is somebody trying to tell me something? I KNOW YOU’RE OUT THERE.

    * Wag The Dog – Spin Doctor-for-hire Robert DeNiro enlists the help of Hollywood producer Dustin Hoffman to invent a fake war with Albania to distract attention away from a Presidential sex scandal. Norman Wisdom fans interned in Guantanamo bay. This is David Mamet at his sharpest and most hilarious.
    * The Insider – Back when we all thought Russell Crowe was a good thing, which seems so long ago now it’s probably around the same time we thought smoking was good for you. Pacino2 shouts a bit and his wife leaves him for no reason because it’s a Michael Mann film.
    * Three Days Of The Condor – A fantastic cat-and-mouse thriller, I like how Robert Redford is really just a librarian for the CIA but gets pulled into the twisted world of his superiors. I think I could watch anything with Max von Sydow in. Actually, that would include ‘Escape To Victory’ and ‘Judge Dredd’ wouldn’t it. Strike that.
    * Jacob’s Ladder – It’s not hallucinogen-induced paranoid schizophrenia if they’re really after you. OR IS IT? I don’t know, I wasn’t there, man.
    * Aliens – Who is the *real* monster: the acid-blooded extraterrestrial killing machine, or him from ‘My Two Dads’ in his suit and tie? You decide.

  2. Apparently there was a time when Jacobs Ladder would have fallen under a previous list: the greatest script never made; it did the rounds before it was eventually made. I liked it when I saw it but have never gone back to it, the same for The Insider.

    Three Days … Is excellent. Pollock has a flair for these films. I have a soft-spot for The Firm too, which is far superior to the novel.

    The more I think of these the more I want to go back and watch them again.

    As for Aliens, it took ages for me to accept Paul Rieser as a comic actor in Mad About You thanks to his association with The Company.

  3. The original novel is called ‘Six Days Of The Condor’. Presumably Redford’s Condor is twice as efficient.

    I had the opposite experience of Reiser having watched plenty of ‘My Two Dads’ before I was allowed to watch any Alien films (the “other Dad”, Greg Evigan, would of course go on to narrate ‘When Insects Attack’ and ‘When Things Get Knocked Over, Spill, Or Fall Out Of Cupboards’). Reiser’s is one of the best riffs in ‘The Aristocrats’.

  4. Actually it’s Crowe’s wife that leaves him for no reason in ‘The Insider’ isn’t it. Pacino2’s wife leaves him for no reason in ‘Heat’.

  5. Yes. Two different actors, I don’t understand how Equity has allowed this confusion to go on for so long.

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