Posts Tagged ‘guy ritchie’

Kick Ass: The film served many purposes for me. Interesting fight sequences, a respectable amount of gore and a story that lends itself to be vaguely interesting. Matter of fact, if it weren’t for Peter Stebbings’ Defendor, I would have liked it a whole lot more. Aaron Johnson is Dave Lizewski, geek by day and Kick Ass, geek in a retarded costume by night. Aaron has put in considerable effort into the role, trying to come across as the Tin Man with a purple heart, but I guess he’s at least a decade and a few Natural Born Killers away from bringing the sort of credibility that Woody Harrelson does in Defendor. Thankfully, Christopher Mintz-Plasse as D’Amico Jr / Red Mist, Chloe Moretz as Hit-Girl and Garrett M. Brown as Mr Lizewski tune in good performances and make this film worth a second viewing. I wasn’t a fan of Mark Strong as the psychotic gangster; he uses the same steely-eyed glares from the Archie character in Rock N Rolla to convey pretty much every emotion from anger to excitement and it doesn’t quite work this time around. The conversations between him and his son (Mintz-Plasse) make it glaringly obvious that one of them is trying really hard and the other clearly phoning it in.

Nicolas Cage’s awkward tribute to Adam West almost ruins the entire film. He even reenacts Mel Gibson’s Freedom cry in Braveheart right before his own daughter (Chloe) fittingly puts a bullet in his head and ends his misery and ours, as well. I’ve heard there has been a lot of public outrage regarding the full-on violence and gore involving teens in Kick Ass, to which I can only reiterate, go read the goddam crime section of your local newspaper. Our world can be a messed-up violent place where children and angels get hurt all the time. We aren’t ostriches to stick our heads into the mud and pretend that everything is fine. Plus, when global food and water shortage along with genetic mutation run rampant in the near future, we’d look like absolute morons, getting our faces devoured by zombies and our refrigerators pillaged by those surviving, mostly comprising horror movie buffs and wrestlers. Uhmmm. Yeah.

Daisy Chain: Aisling Walsh’s The Daisy Chain thrives on the weight of superlative performances from its lead actors. Samantha Morton is one of the best actresses to have graced indy films recently. She’s the Parker Posey of the 2000s, taking up roles that would leave A-list actresses breathless from the fright of having to read a well-written screenplay. Then there’s Steven Mackintosh, the stoner guy who had that killer “You went out six hours ago to buy a money counter and you come back with a semi-conscious Gloria and a bag of fertilizer. Alarm bells are ringing” line in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. He’s in such great form in The Daisy Chain that you can almost hear a time bomb ticking every time he hides his discontentment. These two play a grieving couple who have moved to a remote Irish village to mourn their daughter’s death only to be scared shitless by a bug-eyed spooky autistic kid (Mhairi Anderson as Daisy).

Trouble brews to a feverish pitch soon enough, with Martha (Samantha) obsessively considering adopting the little critter and Tomas (Steven) all convinced that Daisy’s a nasty fairy who brings awful luck to all those close to her. The ending falls slightly off track, but with all the great acting and fantastic cinematography by Simon Kossoff, we can hardly even notice such fallacies.

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: Director Mike Hodges took a long absence from directing films after releasing the stylishly film noir Croupier, with Clive Owen. Fifteen years later, he comes back to make I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, a darker and grittier slice of film noir that follows Will Graham on his trail to uncovering the facts behind his younger brother’s suicide. Clive Owen, playing Will, is back to complement Hodges’ no-nonsense storytelling with his Cary Grant meets Red Dragon charisma-slash-viciousness. He’s almost hypnotically brooding in both movement and dialogue; great look too, sort of like a moody Hell’s Angels member who theorizes passages from Wuthering Heights when he’s not raising hell.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who actually doesn’t muck about as much as I thought he did, is a treat to watch as he brings out his character’s cockiness without breaking a sweat; he plays Davey – Will’s sibling – a carefree drug dealer and part-time hustler. Malcolm McDowell however grabs the spotlight from everybody in sight. He’s spectacular as Boad, the vicious man in a suit and deserves as much credit as William Hurt did in History Violence and Karthik in Mouna Ragam. His monologue towards the end is so good that it qualifies as disturbing. Also, Mike Hodges was the brains behind the Get Carter – the original version.

Eulogy: This story about a family wallowing in the confines of their socially-retarded suburban wasteland rinses and repeats from a long list of movies about dysfunctional families. It borrows a bit from Death At A Funeral (dad’s funeral, sexual deviances), and throws in a few scenes from American Beauty (quasi-unhappy conclusions), Royal Tenenbaums (genetic disorder) and such. Director Michael Clancy realizes that it’s a formula that would only work if the actors brought something unique to it; luckily for him a few of them do. Despite its unoriginality, Eulogy is entertaining in respectable portions. Zooey Deschanel doesn’t show any of the decay that films like Failure To Launch and The Happening would soon have her fruitlessly fighting against. Here she’s still one of the reigning indy queens, wide-eyed, seductively pale-faced, uncomfortably adjusting her shoulders, pursing her lips and squinting her eyes to squeeze out every bit of intensity. Hank Azaria, Kelly Preston and Debra Winger also bring it like we know they can. Ray Romano breaks free of his sort of squeaky-clean sitcom image and goes all Bob Saget on us, saying scandalous stuff like “don’t throw a lemon at me in front of a lesbian”. Sometimes it makes you laugh, other times it makes you go “where have I heard that before?”. Sort of like this movie.

Sherlock Holmes: Did Guy Ritchie have an orgy with Van Helsing DVDs, the entire cast from The Rocky Horror Picture Show and lots of mescaline before directing this? This is ‘Michael Keaton as Batman’ bad. No. No. Scratch that. This reaches ‘George Clooney as Batman’ levels of depravity. Also, casting Jude Law as Dr Watson has set the benchmark for boneheaded-ness unless someone builds a time machine, kidnaps Zac Efron and goes back in time to convince Sydney Pollack to cast him as Dorothy Michaels to Dustin Hoffman’s Michael Dorsey in Tootsie.

Death At A Funeral (2010): First director Neil LaBute absolutely murdered The Wicker Man, one of the finest horror films ever, and left its corpse rotting in Nicholas Cage’s trophy case. Now he has surgically removed everything that was funny in Frank Oz’s Death at a Funeral, a great Brit rib tickler, and left us with a piss-poor version of it that features the tamest of the Def Jam comedy crew. Thank heavens he at least had the fortitude to retain Peter Dinklage from the original and as expected, his awesomeness is the only saving grace in this film. Everything else hurts as much as this.

Also, me like the reviews at http://www.pajiba.com. Me thinks you might too.

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Shifty: Eran Creevy’s Shifty is remarkably better than the average British film about drug deals gone sour. What it lacks in a proper budget it more than makes up for with grit and candour. Set in the heartland of London suburbia, it follows Shifty (Riz Ahmed), a young drug dealer trying to hold his life together in the face of changes, both good and bad, and sometimes downright ugly. Lately he has been stuck with a fit of miserable luck too. First, his prodigal buddy Chris (Daniel Mays) does a shoddy job of mending fences with him. Then he gets screwed over by unscrupulous middlemen and is very likely to going to get killed over it. To make matters worse, his elder brother Rez kicks him out of the house and into the streets that look to eat Shifty and burp out his need for redemption. Director Eran Creevy is brave for sidestepping the possible drama. Given the anti-racial tones that permeate the second-half of the film, it might have been an enticing prospect for the director to call to mind September 11 or some other weak reference like that. Instead he remains calm and composed to make sure that subtlety is omnipresent. The acting is shockingly good, as well. Riz Ahmed, much like Dylan Duffus in Penny Woolcock’s 1 Day, lets the quiet moments do most of the talking. He also has a credible puppy dog expression whenever things don’t go well that makes us sympathize with him even more.

Daniel Mays, the actor from dreary gems like All Or Nothing and Half-Broken Things, and crap such as Pearl Habour, is in exceptional form here, as Shifty’s best mate. There’s a scene in which he confronts the devious dope fiend Glen (great cameo by Jason Flemyng) that stands out as a great template for young actors learning how to lose their cool in front of the camera, without looking like their anal virginity has been compromised. We are also treated to Nitin Ganatra’s portrayal of Rez (Shifty’s elder brother) – an odd mix of Christoph Waltz’s intensity and my paternal uncle’s sense of misplaced youth. Good film, great performances…just the way uh huh uh huh I like it.

The Baker: Maybe Hollywood would have been kinder to the storyline given its willingness to laugh uproariously at itself at the slightest behest. For instance, if Cameron Crowe had directed the film with Colin Farrell cast as the hit man “seeking refuge from his boss by finding work as a baker in a rural Welsh village” alongside Cameron Diaz, I might have enjoyed it a little more, considering how low my expectations would have been. For an independent UK film directed by its debuting screenplay writer and starring a bunch of talented performers, The Baker ends up looking a bit out of place. Make no mistake director Gareth Lewis has made an entertaining film chockfull of wry one-liners and consistent acting, but somewhere down the line, you might start looking for something more tangible – perhaps a tighter storyline, a less preposterous climax or at least a breakout performance.

Damian Lewis, who plays the Milo, one of those assassins looking to turn a new leaf, and Steve Speirs as Bryn – the bumbling bartender, keep things interesting with their nifty delivery of dialogues. Kate Ashfield, who was awesome in Colin Teague’s Spivs, plays Milo’s trepid love interest as thought it were the easiest thing in the world, which is never a good thing. At one point everything said and done in the film becomes so predictable that we almost want Chuck Norris to make an appearance and knock somebody’s head off. Almost.

A Film With Me In It: Ian Fitzgibbon’s A Film With Me In It is a hilarious retelling of the story of Job, with a dash of Murphy’s Law thrown in for good measure. The story centers on this gigantic failure of an Irish actor called Pierce (Mark Doherty, who also wrote the film’s screenplay) who gets pulled into a hyperbole of a situation in which his loved ones end up dead, one by one, every ten minutes. His deadpan responses to these random deaths are great to watch, considering that Mark looks like Seinfeld’s Kramer after three bottles of morphine.

Dylan Moran, the Irish comedian who played similar roles in Shaun of the Dead and Run Fatboy Run, also stars in A Film With Me In It as the slacker best friend. With a gruesome sense of irony and a large helping of good-old fashioned Irish banter, the duo pulls no punches with the sheer savagery of their moral conclusion. The scene stealer however is a tenderly bitter moment which Pierce shares with his wife (Amy Huberman); the couple uneasily cuddles together, as haunting strings chalk out a moment that looks exquisitely out of place. I can’t help thinking how over-the-top awesome it would have been if it were a short film.

Rock n Rolla: If it weren’t for Snatch or Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Rock N Rolla might have ended up a better film. Guy Ritchie has used up all his best one-liners, twists and turns that once made cockney gangster films remarkably entertaining. What we are left with are reckless machismo and borrowed storytelling. Even though this was the first time Ritchie has included politics of property management in his storyline, his style of cross-cut storytelling is so tiresome and lazy that it felt like I have seen it all before. The acting, apart from the ever-so awesome Tom Wilkinson, is dodgy at best. Gerard Butler is so bad in this that it must have made his inner homoerotic Spartan warrior go, “this is madness”. As for Thandie Newton, who plays another horribly scripted cliché in this film, the chemistry she has with Gerard makes Robbie Williams and Nathan Lane’s relationship in Birdcage look veritably Romeo and Julie-esque. Also, the Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell) character was as much of a saving grace as a Dhanush fight scene normally is one of his obnoxious movies. Pissed-off, punk ass, gawky rich kid who has daddy issues and resorts to snorting coke and spewing existentialist one-liners? No thank you. The actor playing Quid is however extremely talented. Kebbell has shown a lot of fire and intensity in films like Control, Wilderness and Dead Man’s Shoes and along with his David Blaine (but not as remarkably irritating) persona he should be going places.

As for Rock N Rolla, well, I’ll end this one with an excerpt from Peter Bradshaw’s review….” That title of Mr Guy Ritchie’s new featcha. Means geeza. Or mobsta. Top bruisa. In his London manna. Sad to say, the film’s a shocka. A right depressa. Bit of a dispirita. For this directa, it ain’t exactly a departcha. And the title means as well as everything else Mr Ritchie’s become a dodgy spella. What a dismaying orthographical decline since his last pictcha” You betcha.

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404-j04001852British Invasion is one of those rare mainstream experiments gone right. Technically, The Beatles kickstarted the genre by simply further expanding on their sensibilities to glue together a triad of the most popular genres – rock, pop and soul. British Invasion was almost England’s answer to Do Wop music; a sort of entry point across the Atlantic for brash youngsters to wield their steel instruments and cockney accents. The flower power ethos of the Sixties let psychedelia slip into the sounds of the Invasion, which previously only focused on song structures that were candy-coated, and almost retarded in its simplicity. By the mid-Sixties, gone were the love songs and lullabies (and I guess we can all quietly thank Bob Dylan for that) with bands such as The Byrds, The Kinks, The Zombies and The Animals flirting with gritty blues and gnarly soundscapes; British Invasion was a different beast altogether.

Suffice to say the beast began wielding a pitchfork and kicking it’s mother in her stomach while giving the middle finger salute to the Queen with the evolution of the Punk scene. We got the dubious distinction of watching to kids sporting bad Mohawks and strumming guitars with bloody fingers. Sort of the Neanderthal stage in the evolution of music where only attitude and nihilism went under the microscope and where emerged an insane vortex in which Sid Vicious was worshipped as a musician.

519os-ddb6lWith New Wave, Synth Pop and Glam Rock dominating the Eighties, it almost seemed that all hope was lost in redeeming the once glorious British Invasion. I guess, only a brave few such as The Smiths, The Stranglers, Talking Heads and Wreckless Eric survived the onslaught perpetuated by Rod Stewart while the others – The Cure, New Order, Depeche Mode – merely conformed to what was popular at that time.

When grunge exploded in Nineties and everyone and his cousin’s milkman were listening to Nirvana, British Invasion was preparing itself for metamorphosis. A few British artists took it upon themselves to ignore whims and fancies of the American industry and more importantly to convince everyone that there was more to life than The Beatles. A lot of people have different opinions regarding the exact moment when this actually happened. Personally, I think that My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless (1991) is birthplace of the new British identity in popular culture. Before Loveless, the shoegazing genre was frowned upon and merely seen as drug-induced stupor and once it was released, for the first time the world stumbled upon what was to be known shoegazing and none could lay a claim to it but the Brits. And it didn’t just stop there as Primal Scream, Happy Monday, Blur, The Brand New Heavies, Massive Attack and a bunch of other bands from England invented new soundscapes and made their into the hearts of thousands who just weren’t impressed with the three-chord mayhem of Nirvana. Also, this was the year when the Greenwood brothers, O’Brien, Selway, and Tom Yorke decided to get together and call themselves Radiohead.

mbvThe second wave continued both in spirit and surprisingly even on the popularity polls well into the new millennium especially, with the rebirth of garage rock and shenanigans of the odd American – Jack White. Muse, Razorlight and Artic Monkeys joined in the festivities, as well, with their re-interpretation of Radiohead and Oasis.

Lately, there has been a lull in original Brit music and with the term ‘shoegazing’ raising more eyebrows than wallets, it is only a matter of time before the second wave is dead and buried. But thankfully, the Poms have made enough good music to keep us occupied for the rest of our lives and probably the Queen’s too. And a special mention to directors Wes Anderson and Guy Ritchie for their impeccable selection of songs in films and to Will Ferrell for a rousing rendition of the best love song of 1978.


The Kinks – Nothing In This World (Rushmore soundtrack)

Wreckless Eric – Whole Wide World (Stranger Than Fiction soundtrack)

The Stranglers – Golden Brown (Snatch soundtrack)


The British Invasion DVD set

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Gangsters are an intriguing lot. Their impact on films can be traced back to D.W. Griffith’s 1912 short film – The Musketeers of Pig Alley. While that probably sucked, a lot of them didn’t. I have been fascinated by these larger than life personas ever since I watched 1995 version of Baby Face Nelson, in which C. Thomas Howell played the chocolate-faced marauder.

And yes, Godfather too. While I feel that Francis Ford Coppola’s epic is vastly overrated, there’s no denying that Marlon Brando, James Caan, and Robert Duval played pivotal roles in Hollywood’s obsession with Italian mafioso culture. Well, I’m just a stickler for ruthless gangsters, not just the elegant ones. Unpredictable, brutal, and quite capable of crossing the line. And yes, there’s a list.

But the cast of Godfather doesn’t feature on this list. Personally, I have always thought it would have been sort of cool to be related to the Corleone family. As ruthless as they were, everyone from Don Vito to Tom Hagen had a bit of sympathy in them; maybe not enough for Mother Teresa to throw a cocktail for them, but certainly enough to make me not fear having a chance encounter with them in dark alleys.

Onto the list then…

Movie: Rise of the Foot Soldier

Character: Carlton Leach

Actor: Ricci Harnett

Quote: “Break into my house and I will bath in your fucking blood

Based on true events, this film chronicles the series of violent events that led to Carlton Leach becoming one of the toughest bastards of the British underworld during the late Eighties and early Nineties. He started his dubious career as a football hooligan and soon grew up the ranks as a nightclub bouncer, drug dealer and eventually a force to be reckoned with. While the movie was largely dubbed as a crappy mixture of Green Street Hooligans and Guy Ritchie’s worst moments, Ricci Harnett certainly brings authenticity to the violent parts of the film with his unique brand of street fighting and brass knuckle boxing.

Movie: Sexy Beast

Character: Don Logan

Actor: Ben Kingsley

Quote: “Retired? Fuck off, you’re revolting. Look at your suntan, it’s leather, it’s like leather man, your skin. We could make a fucking suitcase out of you.”

Sexy Beast is probably the best gangster film that you haven’t seen before. Kingsley’s character Logan gets all rowdy and nasty as he looks to “convince” a retired thief – Gary Dove – to do one more job in London. So off he goes to the picturesque Costa Del So to crash into Dove’s serenity like a freight train packed with enough expletives and violence to send the Corleone family running for cover.

Movie: City Of God

Character: Li’l Zé

Actor: Leandro Firmino

Quote: “Where do you want to take the shot? In the hand or in the foot?

City Of God is arguably one of the most entertaining foreign films of all time. Born in the one of the housing projects in Rio De Janeiro, aspiring photographer Rocket (played by Alexandre Rodrigues) tells us the story of Cidade de Deus. Along the way, we learn that Rocket is an oxymoron; too frail to indulge in violence and too clever to live in poverty. Li’l Zé is another kid who spends his childhood in one of the housing projects, and he too is not fond of living in poverty. But unlike Rocket, he lets the need for social elevation drive him insane. The scene in which he orders an eight-year-old to shoot his best friend (presumably younger) bears testament to Li’l Zé’s unflinching brutality. Riveting stuff.

Movie: Snatch

Character: Brick Top

Actor: Alan Ford

Quote: “Do you know what ‘nemesis’ means? A righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent. Personified in this case by me

Guy Ritchie probably single-handedly convinced the world to forgive England for giving us the Spice Girls. His films were that good. None better than Snatch. Much like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, this film’s awesomeness could be largely attributed to its characters and their eccentricities. Alan Ford plays Brick Top, a psychotic gangster whose penchant for setting off Rottweilers on petty thieves is only rivaled by his fascination for the eating habits of pigs. Brick Top’s interactions with Turkish (Jason Statham) are truly brilliant as are his chilling monologues.

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