Death and the Compass (1992/1996, GBR/MEX/JAP) C/B&W-86m. ** D: Alex Cox. Starring Peter Boyle, Christopher Eccleston, Miguel Sandoval, Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez, Pedro Armendáriz Jr., Alex Cox. Attempted art film / mystery thriller by director Cox (SID AND NANCY). Weary police commissioner Sandoval relates the story of top-notch investigator Boyle, whose biggest challenge was to capture elusive super-criminal Red Scharlach. What might have become a cult thriller a la THE ELEMENT OF CRIME (1984) remains stilted and pretentious, also due to budgetary limitations. Improves towards the finale when the sets become more fantastic. Filmed for British TV in 1992, with an original running time of 50m., film was expanded by Cox four years later (mostly by adding Sandoval's frame narration). Based on a story by Jorge Luis Borges. Previously filmed as SPIDERWEB (a short) starring Nigel Hawthorne.

© Ron Altman