Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.
The Long Good Friday
1982 UK. Director: John Mackenzie. Starring: Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, Paul Freeman.
Allow me to use a cliché that has garnered far too much use, yet applies here more so than any other film that comes to mind – The Long Good Friday is the best film you’ve never heard of. Or, perhaps, Bob Hoskins provides the greatest performance that you’ve never seen. In what may be the best performance of the 1980s (hyperbole alert), Hoskins’ turn as underworld kingpin Harold Shand is nothing short of fantastic. He is eloquent yet understated; cold and calculating, yet reckless; domineering, yet sympathetic. Hoskins’ ability to delicately craft such an in-depth character creates a pull on the viewer every time he graces the screen, leaving you tense with anticipation. The supporting cast is understandably a clear second fiddle, though the witty dialogue and staging prevents this from becoming a drag on the film. Francis Monkman’s score was quite good, albeit somewhat awkward within the context of the film, and the camera work (including an incredibly powerful tracking shot) was very strong.
2008 France/Mexico/USA/Belgium. Director: Erick Zonca. Starring: Tilda Swinton, Saul Rubinek, Aidan Gould.
Proving once again that Tilda Swinton is the worst ‘movie-mom’ in cinema (See also The Deep End, We Need to Talk About Kevin) here she is actually a kind of surrogate mother through a chain of events involving kidnapping, desperation and copious amounts of alcohol. A darkly disturbing, yet slightly absurd noir that makes Fargo look like a model of restrain, Julia is nothing if not unpredictable. Beginning with textbook case in how to not elicit empathy for your main character as she rocks out sloppily to the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams (Are made of this).” It goes from bad to worse, as crime enters the equation, and a young child is abducted, drugged, tied up and dragged across the US/Mexican border in a stolen car. Things get kind of crazy from there, as the Helsinki syndrome sets in. Highly, highly, highly recommended – another example of a hidden gem in Ms. Swintons non-Hollywood filmography that seems more based on a dare to the viewer than any sort of commercial or even arthouse intentions.
(CANADA and USA)
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