A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A very analytical work, using what is required in the theatrical director as decipherer of texts, to expose an elemental framework and its successive increments of development.


Perfect Friday

When you leave your job with bags of money and a mistress and never work again.

The caper takes place on a Monday as it happens, which is when a man who’s good at his job begins the week.

All the critics agreed there was a twist and a caper film, none could see the point.



The Homecoming

Of an English wife, the American cousin’s, he a brother and son and nephew, to North London, her name is Ruth.

Hall has the peculiar advantages of a seasoned cast in the play, also Cyril Cusack and Michael Jayston.

David Watkin is the cinematographer.


She’s been away

Cassavetes’ A Woman under the Influence is directly cited and still Caryn James of the New York Times pronounced it “never as psychologically astute or emotionally compelling as it should have been.”

One might easily see a bit of Plath in the old girl’s plight, the great point at length is rather more along the lines of Losey’s Steaming, the province of women vis-à-vis the understanding of men, still more, matters of life or death not strictly covered in the social sphere.

It was Hall’s first film in fifteen years, the New York Times review pointed out, a film for the BBC, small wonder.



Hall’s Jacob is a fascinating artistic gamble, rather like the curate’s egg or Jacob’s speckled goats at first glance, and to all intents and purposes deliberately so.

The inspiration might have come from Whistler, whose etchings figure as the basis of some astounding compositions, such as the morning after Jacob and Leah’s wedding, bed to the right in the middle distance, table laden with crockery on the left beyond it, far in the center a lighted window. This is almost Dalian, but the meeting of Jacob and Laban to discuss livestock takes place in a sort of wide shed with a low flat table holding jugs and crockery, extending in the background to an open door and daylight, echt Whistler.

Against this, Hall plays with the most conventional television technique, the plain truth of which is matched by the performances of Matthew Modine and Lara Flynn Boyle as Jacob and Rachel, compared with the articulateness and brilliance ascending from Juliet Aubrey’s Leah and Sean Bean’s Esau to Giancarlo Giannini’s Laban (to which Akim Tamiroff could add very little indeed). Esau rides a camel like Lawrence, Leah casts a burning glance on the lovers like a Griffith rival.

But the transparent unknown is the effect sought at the close, and this is where Hall’s strange offhand treatment of his two Americans pays off as they depart from all this English and European artfulness. It’s a daring device, and there is very little evidence of anyone having noticed it.

The special effect of the ladder is convincingly done as a luminous apparition in the night sky after the manner of Grünewald, drawing nearer and then revealing the apparatus. Jacob wrestles with the angel in a scene rather like Dobbs’ madness in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Among the sprinkled compositions here and there throughout in generally well-realized evocations of the Holy Land out of Moroccan landscapes are exteriors of rivulet, sky and habitation, interiors from Italian painters such as perhaps Caravaggio, and a nice dizzying effect as Jacob wanders in the desert somewhere near delirium. A truly great scene counters this with his bride’s ritual bath before the wedding, all the dustiness and authentically worn-looking costumes are put aside for the sound of lapping water and the girl in a modest garment seen from the back as she enters and slowly sits down.


Never Talk to Strangers

Hall’s rendition of a joke whose punchline has one curst leading apes in hell, with very opulent photography.