Monday, September 04, 2006

“What do you take me for, a cunt?”

gangsterno1.jpgThe British movie Gangster No.1 is based on a stage play. The main reason I have been so slow in watching this film is because I saw the play, on its debut run, 11 years ago, back in September 1995 at the Almeida Theatre in Islington, north London. Here's me holding up my copy of the programme. Despite being a one-time acting student and having directed a couple of short plays and a short film, I've never been a massive fan of the theatre. I was always more of a film guy. Gangster No.1, the play, changed that for me, opening a whole new door. It was fucking phenomenal. It was essentially a one-man play starring Peter Bowles (of "I'm H-A-P-P-Y" fame), who gave the sort of performance that can make careers for younger men. The fact that Bowles's performance was so good is why I approached the film with trepidation. I like Malcolm McDowell, but he can be a bit hammy, y'know?

Synopsis: An aging gangster looks back over his violent past when he hears his former boss is being released after 25 years in prison.

The review: As I said above, I'm not McDowell's biggest fan, and he is a touch too muggy in this, for my liking, but he has far less screen time than Paul Bettany, who plays him as a young man. Bettany is a standout in his breakthrough role. The only negative comment I would make is this: It seemed odd to have Bettany be the only actor who doesn't play the same character later in life. All his contemporaries are played by the same actors in both their 1960s and 1990s incarnations. The look and feel of the film is spot on. I'd say this is up there with the best British gangster film, Get Carter, and dare I say it's even better than The Long Good Friday, although it's been a while since I last saw it. It also scores very highly on what I shall henceforth call the "cunt count"; it may have already knocked The Football Factory off the top spot. A comparison with Sexy Beast, by the same authors originally, would be interesting.

The numbers: This film impressed me much more than I had expected. It is on my to-buy list right now. I award it 82 points.



Blogger Candy Minx said...

Wow! I must see this, I love the premise...and I started thinking about Sexy Beast before you said it was by the same writers...and what a great score you gave it. That is something.

I am hoping the original Wiicker Man will be on tv movie network sometime this week...since the new one is out. Are you interested in seeing the remake? Tuffy P said the late night conspiracy program "Spaceman" said it's all about the's a real cult film made by the Illuminatti.

In Britain, do you have those kinds of programs? Conspiracy radio programs?

04 September, 2006 15:04  
Blogger The_'Real'_Batman said...

If it's anything as good as Sexy Beast I'll get it. However, SB had Ray Winstone and 'Sir' Ben Kingsley, though, in SB. What more could you want?

04 September, 2006 21:20  
Blogger Shep said...

I also was a one-time acting student (OK drama graduate, does that count?)...are you, in fact, my evil twin?

Mind you, my dear partner would probably argue you must be the good twin...

I liked this film, if not for McDowell (who played virtually the same role in Our Friends In The North), then for Bettany - who does a bang-up job.

04 September, 2006 23:45  
Anonymous the cappuccino kid. said...

i love this film! cannot agree more that it feels like it should have been filmed in the sixties!

and sexy beast. at six, my son for the last couple of years, has been saying "your doing it. YES, YES, YES, YES, YES." pretty funny to see! he has no idea where it came from, just copying his barmy old man!

05 September, 2006 07:44  
Anonymous the cappuccino kid. said...

p.s. did peter bowles say cunt?
if so, worth the ticket pfice alone. how odd to hear people swear that you've never heard swear before. like my dad saying fuck. still makes me laugh!

05 September, 2006 12:28  
Anonymous ranting dullard said...

ooh its a dark violent film tho innit?

enjoyed it meself.

05 September, 2006 14:20  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Candy: Go get it now. Or add it to your Netflix queue, or whatever you do. And if The Wicker Man gets screened you simply must watch it. I never listen to the radio, so I don't know. Sorry.

Shamash: That's true. And possibly Sexy Beast has the edge over Gangster No.1. But it's a close-run thing.

Shep: Bettany was great, wasn't he. Evil twin, that's funny!

Cappy: Excellent, wasn't it? Yes, Bowlesy said cunt aplenty. And that key pivotal violent scene in the middle: it wasn't acted out; it was all recounted in gruesome detail. Very disturbing. Thought they did not a bad job of that scene, as it happens. I really didn't see how it would be possible to translate the play to the screen, but they done good.

RD: Dark, violent, and good, yep!

05 September, 2006 18:59  
Anonymous the cappuccino kid. said...

"i'm a C.U.N.T. hi",
"i'm a C.U.N.T. hi",
"i know i am, i'm sure i am",
"i'm a C.U.N.T. hi".

lets see that on itv!

just a thought.

06 September, 2006 09:24  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Think ITV will go for it? Maybe, just maybe...

06 September, 2006 12:14  

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