‘The Numbers Station’

Grosse Pointe Blunt

It was late on a Sunday night, and it was either this film or the Tom Cruise movie ‘Oblivion’ on offer. ‘Oblivion’ is over 2 hours long, while ‘The Numbers Station’ is a mere 1 hour 29minutes. That sealed the deal.  Afterwards I was able to watch episode 3 of ‘Vikings’ on SBS catchup TV.

It’s a film that came and went with nary a bit of promotion in Australia. It’s hard to be heard in the din and clamour for more and more comic book superhero movies, but sometimes a film is simply too small to get any purchase on the zeitgeist. It’s a bit of a shame because it means that the thoughtful little films that made cinema truly wonderful are more likely to be missed, and then become infrequent.

This film isn’t one of those deep and meaningful little films, it just seems to be a little pot-boiler made by indies.

What’s Good About It

It’s a tense little thriller, mostly set in one location. So it must have been relatively low budget. Considering the relatively low budget, it was a credible little action thriller. A bit of shooting, a bit of fighting, a bit of tense stand offs, and all the other trappings. It has one good trick in it.

What’s Bad About It

The political landscape that affords the story is left deliberately blank in this film. This helps to make the conflict rather abstract, but at the same time robs us of the ability to empathise with the cause. Without a cause there’s no rationalising away the feeling of “why are they doing all this any way?” It’s the dead opposite of ‘A Few Good Men’ where Jack Nicholson gets up and tells the court why he’s such a brutal bastard. This movie progresses on the assumption the cause doesn’t matter but having watched it, I sort of disagree.

Maybe part of the problem of the creeping fascism engulfing the West is that it really does not allow itself to be opened up for inspection and dissection. It’s a lurch to the  brutish side of life without nary an explanation. Plenty of films touch upon this as a problem but this film sort of blithely slips by, thus making it a more or less empty exercise.

What’s Interesting About It

There’s a bit in it where John Cusack’s character Emerson describes his psychological profile. It’s surprisingly similar to Martin Q. Blank’s profile, as told by Martin Q. Blank in ‘Grosse Pointe Blank’. I was thinking that maybe this film was the sequel to ‘Grosse Pointe Blank’. It might have been, had it had a modicum of humour. Instead it’s decidedly bleak and largely mannered – The affectations of the genre are a bit on the nose instead being turned on its head.

An Odd Look

It’s not every day you come across a film that has a truly odd look,but this film has it. It is strangely grainy and under exposed in parts and yet some of the colours like yellows and greens seem to be saturated. So much so that it’s hard to believe it was shot on 35mm. If somebody said it was a RED camera or some kind of digital format like the one used on ‘Drive’, I’d believe it.

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Filed under Cinema, Film, Movies

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