Created by Scott Frank
1991's Dead Again is a
stylish, over-the-top, rip-snorting old-fashioned movie, full
of good stuff: a mysteryious woman, a cynical private eye, a big
spooky mansion, reincarnation, dirty secrets hidden in the past,
and, um, scissors. Lots and lots of scissors. Directed and starring
Kenneth Branagh as Los Angeles private eye MIKE CHURCH,
the film also features his wife at the time, Emma Thompson, as
a mysterious woman suffering from amnesia who shows up on the
steps of an orphanage, the same orphanage where Mike grew up.
He's hired by the priest who runs the orphange to try and find
the woman's real identity. He decides to enlist the aid of an
antiques dealer and hypnotist.
From there, the plot really starts to cook. It seems the woman
keeps having nightmares involving the murder of a pianist Margaret,
by her husband Roman Strauss in the late 1940's, who used a pair
of scissors. Under hypnosis both the woman and Church seem to
have a strange link back to the Strauss murder, reinforce by the
fact that Branagh and Thompson play double roles here, as Margaret
and Roman. And what's this sleek, darkly handsome newspaper reporter
doing sniffing around Margaret, hours before her marriage?
The plot shuttles back and forth between past (black and white)
and present (colour, natch), suggesting that the past may be about
to replay itself. Everyone plays it straight, making it even more
fun. And Branagh shows a firm, but playful, hand, as he captures
the dizzying camera angles and sly video hints worthy of Hitchcock.
Scissors appear throughout the film, foreshadowing, playing up
the fact that this is a movie, (as if we could forget, when we're
having such a good time) even as the circle of the plot draws
in tighter and tighter.
A real hoot, heartily recommended. One of the most entertaining
P.I. flicks in years.
FROM THE PEANUT GALLERY
- "What is it about scissors in this one? I must have seen it four or five times, and I find scissors in new places every time. (Check out the wallpaper border of a door that Emma Thompson is leaning against about two-thirds of the way through.) A friend and I actually once tried to make a drinking game out of it--take a drink at every scissor reference. Fortunately for all, we ran out of beer early. Yeah, I know, it's sophomoric and immature, but it was lots of fun anyway." (Victoria
- `Dead Again" is like "Ghost" for people who
grew up on movies that were not afraid of grand gestures. This
is a romance with all the stops out, a story about intrigue,
deception and bloody murder - and about how the secrets of the
present are unraveled through a hypnotic trance that reveals
the secrets of the past. ...Kenneth Branagh once again demonstrat(es)
that he has a natural flair for bold theatrical gesture. If "Henry
V," the first film he directed and starred in, caused people
to compare him to Olivier, "Dead Again" will inspire
comparisons to Welles and Hitchcock...I do not suggest Branagh
is already as great a director...although he has a good start
in that direction. What I mean is that his spirit, his daring,
is in the same league. He is not interested in making timid movies.
The screenplay...is old-fashioned (if you will allow that to
be a high compliment). It takes grand themes - murder, passion,
reincarnation - and plays them at full volume. Yet there is room
for wit, for turns of phrase, for subtle little sardonic touches,
for the style that transforms plot into feeling. Branagh...shows
a flair for the memorable gesture, for theatricality, for slamming
the screen with a stark emotional image and then circling it
with suspicions of corruption. When his characters kiss, we do
not feel they do so merely to give or receive sexual pleasure;
no, they are swept into each other's arms by a great passionate
tidal force greater than either one of them, a compulsion from
outside of time. You get the idea. (Roger Ebert)
- DEAD AGAIN....Buy
this video....Buy this DVD
107 minutes, B&W and colour
Written by Scott Frank
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Photographed by Matthew F.
Edited by Peter E. Berger
Music by Patrick Doyle
Produced by Charles H. Maguire
Starring Kenneth Branagh
as MIKE CHURCH (also as Roman Strauss)
Andy Garcia as Gray Baker
and Emma Thompson as Amanda" Grace"
Sharp and Margaret Strauss
Also starring Derek Jacobi, Hanna Schygulla, Robin Williams, Lois Hall, Richard Easton , Jo Anderson, Patrick Montes, Raymond Cruz, Wayne Knight, Patrick Doyle, Erik Kilpatrick, Gordana Rashovich, Obba Babatundé
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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