Thursday, September 15, 2005

the long good friday (mackenzie, 1980)

Most remarkable is that one comes away with a memory of a picture filled with relentless, unsparing violence, but Mackenzie's direction emphasizes little, overplays nothing. This is not a film of excess; in fact, it's terrified of bloodshed, repulsed by the very thought of overreaction, using a shotgun to kill a mosquito. Such is the nature of its protagonist, the bullish Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins), a man who has spent his life transforming himself from street thug to mob kingpin with global ambitions. As a result he courts high-class company, maintains a yacht and a trophy wife (Helen Mirren), while at the same time wears his thug background on his sleeve with a kind of pride, like a rapper who's always reminding you he's From The Streets. Some of this is probably accidental, i.e. his grotesque suits, his inability to lie about the bombs and murders going off and on (respectively) around him, and some failures of instinct in dealing with emergencies, suspicions, panic, and all that jazz.

I for one was not aware that Eddie Constantine was ever trim and athletic-looking, ever, in his 75 yrs. on this planet.

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