Saturday, July 16, 2016

Circle of Power (1981)

AKA:  Brainwash, Mystique

Director: Bobby Roth

Writers: Beth Sullivan, Steve Bello, Gene Church, Conrad D. Carnes

Composer: Richard Markowitz

Starring: Yvette Mimieux, Christopher Allport, Cindy PIckett, John Considine, Walter Olkewicz, Leo Rossi, Scott Marlowe, Carmen Argenziano, Mary McCusker

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  Where the corporation owns your body and soul.

Plot:  A group of husbands with their wives participate in a reunion where everybody will find his hidden secret. The methods used are terrible, but usually work. Just usually.

My rating:  6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Well here's a little oddity that I'd never heard of.  Think of it as a look into a really fucked up corporate training retreat or Memorial Day Weekend at a Scientology center.  The team running the training/self esteem/brainwashing clinic don't waste time getting down to business.  The film doesn't, either.  It doesn't take long before the audience and the characters participating get the idea that they're totally fucked and things play out like you'd expect it to.  Some fall in line quickly, others resist and then fall in line and then you've got some that don't play well with others and rock the boat until the end credits roll.  What makes it compelling is how easy it is to make someone powerless and completely vulnerable.  We're told at the outset that all the events we will see are true (as told in the 1972 non-fiction book from Church & Carnes.  That's fucked up.  Richard Markowitz's score is really nice.  It's subtle and he uses the interval of an augmented fourth (AKA the Devil's interval which came about hundreds of years ago because it sounds sinister).  I couldn't help but think of John Williams's score for CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977) where he uses the same interval (and I'm pretty sure Markowitz uses the same starting pitch as Williams did).  For as good as the score was, he dropped the ball on the cheesy as shit end credits cue.  [shudders].  The ending is fine but it's not as edgy or tense as what built up to it so it feels rather weak in comparison.  It's still worth watching.  After it was over I noticed that it played at the very first Sundance Film Festival (in '82) and it won the Grand Jury Prize.  Neat.

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