Midnight Express (Blu-Ray) Alan Parker

Midnight Express (Blu-Ray) Alan Parker
Most often, when venturing into cinema's past, I am inexplicably hesitant but then mostly surprised by what I've been missing. Midnight Express won two Oscars (one of which went to screenwriter Oliver Stone) and was heralded as director Alan Parker's greatest achievement. It was nominated for four other Oscars, including Best Picture and Director. Watching it now, more than 30 years later, I cannot see how Midnight Express managed to wow anyone. While there are moments both harrowing and moving, the whole is at times, held back by poor acting and almost laughable melodrama. Some productions just don't age as well as others. Midnight Express, which refers to a prison break, is the true-life account of Billy Hayes, a young American caught smuggling hashish as he was leaving Istanbul. Being stripped naked and placed in the centre of a room while arresting officers speak loudly around him in a language he doesn't understand, and with no knowledge of what will happen, is an incredibly frightening scenario but Hayes (played very thinly by Brad Davis) shows no fear. It could be American naiveté or ignorance of international law but as the film progresses and the scenarios Hayes finds himself in become increasingly horrific it becomes clear that Davis doesn't possess the depth to carry this role, nor the film. The only attributes he brings are a pretty face and a body that Parker sexualizes whenever he can. Packaged in a collector's book, the Blu-Ray edition of Midnight Express boasts a feature commentary with Parker, "The Making of Midnight Express" (which is a throwaway promotional piece from the period) and some incredibly tedious interviews with different production staff. The whole thing will have you wanting to pull off your own escape from the prison of boredom it creates. (Sony)