Posts Tagged ‘british

05
Dec
08

Movies on DVD Review: The Bank Job

bank_job

 

 

Bank heist movie, Seventies style.

 

Starring Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Stephen Campbell Moore, Daniel Mays, James Faulkner, and Richard Lintern. Directed by Roger Donaldson

 

Terry Leather (Statham) owns a small car dealership/ garage in London. Constantly harassed by thugs he owes money to, opportunity knocks in the form of Martine Love (Burrows). Love lets him in on a foolproof score: the Lloyds Bank on Baker Street. Terry rounds up his friends Dave (Mays) and Martine’s former lover Kevin (Moore) to help him plan it out, along with “proper” Englishman Guy Singer (Faulkner) and on lookout with a walkie-talkie, Eddie (Michael Jobson). What Terry doesn’t know is that the bank job is a setup being orchestrated by Tim Everett (Lintern), a member of MI5 (which is akin to CIA covert operatives) which doesn’t want to be connected to the crime. MI5 want to get a series of photographs being held in a safe deposit box at the Lloyds Bank by Michael X, the British version of Malcolm X. When a ham radio operator listens in on the walkie-talkie conversations and alerts police, events take a turn. When Terry realizes the objective of the caper (the photos of a Princess in a ménage a trios) wasn’t just money or jewels, everyone is at risk. The heat is turned up when a porn producer’s “real” ledger is being held by the group, unbeknownst to them. Terry must try to keep the group together and keep from being killed by the porn producer’s thugs, the cops, MI5, and the guys he owes money to.

 

Honestly, I didn’t think I would like this movie as much as I did. For the more “Americanized” movie watcher, it’ll take a bit to get into London circa 1971. My only experience with British gangster movies is “Snatch,” “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels,” and “Get Carter” and this is an interesting addition to the genre. Playing more as a drama than action/adventure, the film is a little slow on the setup of the principal characters. However, once the job is pulled off everything shifts into high gear and you’ll want to stay to the end to find out how it all works out.

 

With it being “based on a true story,” is it all true? The movie does a great job at suspending disbelief. In reality, the bank job was a success. A group of people did rent out a shop and tunneled under it to break into the lockbox area of a bank .A ham radio operator did intercept and record the calls, notifying the police. While four people were supposedly sentenced to twelve years none of the money was ever recovered, the “take” being valued at over $5 million. The rest is speculation. Were the newspapers given a D-note, telling them not to talk about the robbery for the purposes of National Security? Was MI5 really afraid of Michael X and the pictures he had? Couldn’t they have just went into the bank and retrieved them? One of the biggest mysteries is that Michael X’s “file” is closed until 2054; most criminals’ records stay closed for 25 years, spies for 100. Guess we won’t know until then.

 

Overall, a good British caper movie.

 

My grade: a recommended B

11
Nov
08

TV Update: The Prisoner

“I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.” – Number Six, Patrick McGoohan, from “The Prisoner”

 

patrickWith these words Number Six (Patrick McGoohan) sets out to escape his confinement: The Village. Number Six was formerly a secret agent; now he was being housed in a village where people only had numbers, not names, and he was constantly being questioned as to why he retired. Each week Number Six matched wits against Number Two (a character that changed from actor to actress), who looked out for the interests of Number One. Whether it was brainwashing, an art competition, or being voted in as Mayor of the Village, Number Six could never truly escape. Adding to his problems was Rover, a giant white ball that would be released from the ocean to capture a captive, usually by suffocation.

 

Currently AMC is remaking the series. Jim Cavieziel plays Number Six, while Ian McKellen plays the head of the Village, Number Two. The filming is said to finish shortly, putting the series on the air sometime in 2009.

 

3dvd_Dangerman.epsThe original series came about because of its main benefactor, Patrick McGoohan. McGoohan was in a series called “Danger Man”/ “Secret Agent Man” from 1960-1962, then 1964-1966. In it he played John Drake, at first an agent for NATO assigned to cases in (and outside) NATO jurisdiction. During the second season he was retconned and became a British agent, working for MI9 (as opposed to MI6). Rumor has it that during a dinner party McGoohan said that he was quitting the series which prompted one guest to ask, “What does a ‘Secret Agent’ do after they retire?” In the case of “The Prisoner,” one puts in their resignation, packs up at their home, then is gassed. When they wake up their in a carbon-copy domicile, except they’re in a place called The Village, and everyone wants to know why they left.

 

I became a fan of “The Prisoner” while in college in the early 2000’s. The series had just been released on DVD, and from the time I watched the first episode (“Arrival”) to the last (“Fall Out”), I was impressed by the writing and acting in the series. McGoohan’s character was “Everyman”; a thinking person putting individuality over conformity. Without using guns he had to outwit his captors, who unfortunately saved their best card for last. Another interesting twist in the series was the revolving of “Number Two.” Number Two would report to the unseen Number One and if he was one-up’d by Number Six, he or she would be replaced. I count Leo McKern as my favorite of the Number Twos.

 

tv_prisoner1“The Prisoner” would go on to influence the spectrum of film, tv, and music. The TV show “MacGuyver,” with Richard Dean Anderson playing the titular role, was based on Number Six. Afraid of using guns, MacGuyver had to find his way out of situations, employing his pocketknife, bubble gum, duct tape, the moon’s gravitational pull on the Earth, what-have-you. Heavy metal group Iron Maiden made two songs in homage to “The Prisoner”: “The Prisoner” and “Back in the Village.” There have also been numerous books, comics, and video games that directly, or indirectly, reference “The Prisoner.” An upcoming film is also slated to be directed by Christopher Nolan (“The Dark Knight,” “Memento”).

 

For more information on the “Prisoner” remake, check out AMC’s site at:

http://www.amctv.com/originals/the-prisoner/

 

For more information on the original series, check out Six of One, the Official Prisoner Appreciation Society. They’re site is:

http://www.netreach.net/~sixofone/

 

 

 

Be seeing you.

13
Jun
08

Movie Review: Son of Rambow

 

 

Make film. Not war.

 

Starring Neil Dudgeon, Bill Milner, Jessica Hynes, Will Poulter, and Jules Sitruk. Directed by Garth Jennings.

 

Setting: England, some point in the 1980’s. Will Proudfoot (Milner) is a young schoolboy with a great ability to do drawings. His main problem is that his family is under the religious regime of the Brethren, a sect that outlaws media, art, and most of the outside world influences. Enter Lee Carter (Poulter), the “trouble” kid. He smokes, helps his brother bootleg movies, and gets into trouble just about every day. When these two opposites meet, Lee makes Will feel indebted to him, and pulls him into helping to win a filmmaking contest. When Will watches “First Blood” for the first time, he transforms from mild-mannered kid into the rambunctious “Son of Rambow.” What follows is a tale of friendship, religion, family, and small-scale filmmaking.

 

What I liked about this movie: it’s endearing. Instead of your CGI-based movie, or the standard sugar-coated Disney fare, this film has heart whereas the others have money. It’s not a perfect film; it has its flaws and it can meander, but overall I enjoyed it.

 

The only movie I could even compare it to would be “Bowfinger.” Thing is, it’s not as campy or corny as “Bowfinger” was. However, it does show filmmaking on a small scale: getting the people, the prima donna actor, “losing control” over the production… all of that is in here. Again, it’s a nice movie. Not great, not earth-shattering, but nice. And that’s all it really aims for.

 

My grade: B