Midnight Return: The Story of Billy Hayes and Turkey
Runtime 99 minutes
This is a fascinating documentary about the making and veracity of Midnight Express (1978), a film that supposedly told the true story of Billy Hayes (Brad Davis) and how he was arrested at a Turkish Airport accused of smuggling what were alleged to be small amounts of dope into Turkey.
Originally sentenced to five years, just a few months before his scheduled release he was resentenced to life in prison, so he made a daring escape, wrote a book that was made into the movie and became a celebrity. The case came to be the poster child for a Nazi-like system of justice in Turkey.
Written and directed by Sally Susman Morina, in this film we meet the real Billy Hayes, not the Hollywood actor (that Billy himself tried to be after becoming famous) who played him in the film. It shows how the movie devastated tourism in Turkey. With interviews with lots of the people involved in the film (like producer Peter Gruber, Billy Hayes, Oliver Stone, Alan Parker, David Puttnam, Ahmet Ertegun and others) and showing Hayes going back to the prison and the places in Turkey that he visited, it is as much an indictment of Hayes himself as it is of Turkey.
One of the stories of the making of the film is finding a location. Obviously Turkey was out, but when they tried Italy, Spain, and Yugoslavia, objections from Turkey caused those countries not to cooperate with the filmmakers. Finally they discovered that the government of Malta had had a falling out with the Turkish government, so that’s where Midnight Express was filmed.
I won’t prejudge Davis so you may make your own conclusions about him. He’s not a bad looking guy and this incident, book, and film have basically constituted his entire life. I have my opinion of him. Now it’s up to you to see the film, the content of which seems honest, and make your own judgment. I found it very interesting.
War for the Planet of the Apes
Runtime 140 minutes
These movies have all been pretty good, starting with the first one with Charlton Heston. The story has changed over the years and now the apes are the good guys. In this one, the story is finally what appears to be Armageddon for the apes as bad guy U.S. Colonel (Woody Harrelson) is out to get good guy ape, Caesar (Andy Serkis), who has led his apes to a hiding place deep in the forest.
As usual, the motion capture technology presents the apes as believable and intelligent creatures, although Caesar is the only one who can speak English. He is a bilingual ape who can speak English but also communicate with his fellow apes who just emit guttural noises.
Even though it’s very long, it’s also entertaining throughout.
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