Sunday, May 13, 2018

Get Carter

Get Carter; crime thriller, UK, 1971; D: Mike Hodges, S: Michael Caine, Ian Hendry, John Osborne, Tony Beckley, Dorothy White, Rosemarie Dunham, Britt Ekland

London. Hitman Jack Carter gets the permission of his boss, gangster Gerald, to travel to his hometown Newcastle for his brother's funeral, Frank. However, Carter decides to investigate since he suspects foul play: Frank namely died in a car accident due to drunk driving. Settling in a motel, Carter captures a man who was spying on him and forces him to give him a name of the assassin, but the trail leads nowhere. Frank's mistress Margaret also supposedly knows nothing. After landing in bed with a woman, Glenda, Carter accidentally spots a porn movie featuring Frank's teenage daughter, Doreen, who is forced to have sex with Albert and Margaret. Leading upon this trail, Carter kills Albert and finds out Eric was the one who killed Frank, since he wanted to persuade Frank to clash with gangster Kinnear. Carter catches and kills Eric near a coal mine, but is himself assassinated by Gerald's hitman, since Carter had an affair with Gerald's girlfriend, Anna.

Similarly like Melville's "The Samurai", Mike Hodges' "Get Carter" is also a raw, "clinical", cold, bitter, brutal and unglamorous minimalistic gangster film that has no association or sympathy with its main "hero", a hitman, here played brilliantly by veteran actor Michael Caine. The whole movie is all style over substance—its revenge story is rather standard; its dialogues are scarce are banal; its scale is confined to only one town—and its episodic structure is unusual—for instance, Carter aimlessly searches for the killer of his brother and discovers nothing all until 70 minutes (!) into the film—yet it has some rough energy that engages the viewers throughout. Kudos goes to Hodges who used the telephoto lens in an intreresting way in order to create a few remarkable, aesthetic shots and conjure up a feeling as if he is filming Carter secretly from a distance, but also to create a confusing, distorted effect of the hitman feeling 'out-of-place' in his own old hometown. The whole film seems modern even today, from its quick, naturalistic death sequences (Carter, for instance, just stabs a man, or throws him from a building, never lingering on violence longer than he has to) up to its several erotic moments (the highlight is probably Carter having "phone sex" with his mistress, Anna, to whom he says to take her bra off and touch her breasts), which caused quite a shock to some conservative movie-goers during that time. With the passage of time, Hodges proved right, since "Carter" achieved that status of both as a cult film and a classic, giving a synthesis of European art-films and American gangster films, whereas the plot twist at the end comes as a real surprise.


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