No 466 - Snatch
Director - Guy Ritchie
Righty ho - There has been a slight tweaking of the rules, to make this project more achievable I am dropping the chronological(ish) order. This means I'm going to watch films as and when I get the chance to. This has been prompted by 2 things:
1) I can not find Jailhouse Rock ANYWHERE - That's after searching the library and my nearby rental store which specialises in black and white and foreign films.
2) I really wanted to watch Snatch. And so did Toby.
So, we decided to watch Snatch and I shall subsequently discuss it.
Guy Ritchie is the man who brought back the whole London gangster film which previously had existed in the 70s with films starring Michael Caine (Get Carter etc). Lock Stock really shook up the cinematic scene of the mid to late 90s and created a bazillion imitators and films starring foul mouthed cockernees. It seems almost sad that the few times Guy Ritchie has moved away from this genre his films have not been that good (Revolver, Swept Away) however each time he returns to the London gangster life his films are great critical successes (his latest Rocknrolla seems to be viewed in quite high esteem). Guy Ritchie may wish to diversify and not be pigeonholed with the whole gangster schtick (which is understandable) but he does that schtick so so well...
Snatch is effortlessly cool and endlessly quotable. It has taken the key elements of Lock Stock (multiple story lines around a central maguffin, East End organised crime, Jason Statham, Vinnie Jones being a hard ass maniac, black black humour, swearing) and tweaked and fine tuned to come out with a classic piece of cinema. Not only is it a great plot but it is a plot that introduces dozens of fantastic and fascinating fully rounded characters. I'm going to talk about my favourite few:
Franky Four Fingers (Benicio Del Toro)
This is the first time that I've actually paid attention to this character and thus the first time I realised just how brilliant he is. Benicio Del Toro is an excellent actor and it is only now that I realise what he brings to the character. Every scene he is in after the initial robbery is dripping with malice, sleaze and an awkwardness as Franky wants to get the job done and get out. He is an incredibly menacing character but is very subtle about it, which is a big change for characters in this film. Plus he wears excellent suits (including a gorgeous Harris tweed ensemble) and smokes foot long cigars. How can I have anything but love for this man.
Brick Top (Alan Ford)
I don't think I had ever seen Alan Ford in anything before Snatch and this is a massively iconic role. This means when I eventually saw him playing the priest in the excellent TV show Snuff Box my initial thought was "BRICK TOP".... Alan Ford is forever going to be intrinsically tied to this character and that is probably regardless of future roles.
Brick Top is savage. Brick Top is horrible. Brick Top is too cool for words. A savage old man with enormous NHS specs who drinks cups of tea and feeds corpses to pigs. Each word drips with so much vehemence that you half expect him to snap and murder someone at any point. And he frequently does. Not to mention that pretty much every line he speaks is one of this film's classic quotes. From his introduction:
Do you know what "nemesis" means? A righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent. Personified in this case by an 'orrible cunt... me.
To his massive and terrifying step by step guide on how to dispose of a body.
He is a classic and amazing character and one of the highlights of the film.
And as we speak about highlights of the film.... we must speak about:
Mickey (Brad Pitt)
It is a brave, and somewhat genius move, to hire one of the biggest movie stars in the world for your (relatively) small crime romp and then cast them in a role where they are completely incomprehensible. But by getting Brad Pitt, rather than an unknown Irish man, Mickey becomes a phenomenal piece of work. He is constantly active, bouncing around and speaking in an incredibly thick accent at about a million miles an hour. The DVD even offered me Pikey subtitles so I could understand him. Also, as we learnt from Fight Club, Pitt is at his best when he's looking ridiculously buff and beating the crap out of people (or having the crap beaten out of him in turn).
I could carry on - the cast is sprawling and diverse and their are dozens of excellent characters (insane, invincible Russian Boris the Blade and the pouting, whinging and thoroughly useless Tyrone are two more which immediately spring to mind as needing a mention) who all get their fair share of the quotable dialogue and ridiculous action scenes. But there is more that I want to talk about.
Firstly the cinematography. Now, I don't want these blogs to get too reviewy, I'm not a critic I just want to post my thoughts on a film immediately after seeing it. However I am film geek and things like cinematography and framing impress me. The sequence that I wanted to mention in particular was that of the hare/Tyrone chase. The editing in this is beautiful, flipping between the two chases building up the tension until one party escapes and the other gets 'proper fucked'. It is masterfully handled and I think is one of the best things Guy Ritchie has ever put on screen. And I do not say this lightly as this is the man who is not scared to take risks, I mean he brings together a cast which include an ex footballer, one of the biggest names in Hollywood, a deeply respected and critically acclaimed character actor and Frank Butcher and they all get a fair share of the film and they're all treated with the same level of respect.
I just love this film, I first saw it in a tiny bar in Ecuador which we proceeded to drink dry (much like the Tiger who came for tea) until we were kicked out because they had run out of beer and gin and a spirit called Spirit of Ecuador which was one of the most beautiful spirits I have ever drunk and is impossible to get in the UK. If anyone knows how I can get my grubby mitts on a bottle let me know. So, I love the film because it (and Fight Club - we seemed to be going through a bleeding sweaty boxing Brad Pitt phase) will always be tied to my debauched Ecuadorian adventures.
However, the sick humour (mostly derived from cruel and unfortunate deaths), the slick dialogue and the effortless sense of cool make this a film that is a viewing necessity. It is certainly my favourite of the films I've seen so far. And that includes Back To The Future!!!