Daily Archives: April 18, 2021

Three Routine Short Reviews from 1976

Three short reviews for the Monthly Film Bulletin in 1976, the first two for their April issue (vol. 43, no. 507), and third for their November issue (vol. 43, no. 514).  –- J.R.

TheBattleofBillysPondBattle of Billy’s Pond, The

Great Britain, 1976

Director: Harley Cokliss





Finding a dead fish in a pond where he frequently goes fishing, Billy Bateson takes it home, where his cat makes off with it and becomes ill. Informed by a vet that the cat’s illness was caused by chemicals, Billy investigates the pond further with his friend Gobby, discovers more dead fish and eventually learns the cause: industrial waste is being emptied into an underground stream, originating from an abandoned quarry, which feeds the pond. After secretly witnessing two lorry drivers in the quarry and then seeing green fluid enter the pond, the boys report their findings to the police and learn from Billy’s father about “Breeze”, a detergent manufactured at Con-Chem nearby. Getting into the factory by subterfuge, they videotape the tanker drivers with Gobby’s father’s camera and sneak out to the quarry that night to trap them in the act, rigging up speakers and lights and then letting air out of the tanker’s tires.… Read more »

En movimiento: Imaginative and Unimaginative Detection

A column for the Spanish monthly Caiman Cuadernos de Cine, submitted on February 16, 2021. — J.R.

I can’t decide which is more depressing — the capitalist suppression of Woody Allen’s latest comedy (Rifkin’s Festival) in the U.S. for stupid reasons or the stupid film itself and all that it doesn’t have to say (i.e., as little as possible) about Spain, the Basque country, San Sebastian, sex, romance, growing old, cinema, publicity, film festivals, Fellini, Bergman, Buñuel, Welles, Godard, and Truffaut — to mix metaphors, a veritable flood of empty holes. Film historian Joseph McBride, who like me sneaked an unauthorized look, finds “pleasurable” and “relaxed” what I find juiceless and inert. (What other film removes most of Gina Gershon’s sex appeal?) 

The fact that some colleagues can find fun in Rifkin’s Festival epitomizes for me a particular American pathos — a sadness akin to labeling some of Donald Trump’s Republican slaves heroic martyrs if they briefly broke away from his directives after spouting and supporting his dangerous nonsense for months. But I’m susceptible to the same sort of foolishness when I pass some post-surgery recovery time enjoying the audiobook of Mark Harris’ Mike Nichols: A Life (over 20 hours long), as undemanding in its professional polish as all the Nichols films I’ve wasted my time watching.… Read more »