sheridan (sheridanwilde) wrote in wildewood_co_uk,

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Funny how different films, written by different writers, directed by different directors and distributed by different studios but released at the same time can have so many things in common, isn't it?

F'rinstance there seems to be a vogue for twists right now, where you think you know the characters but they turn out not to be who you think they were, or to have different motivations. In those cases I like to see the film again, to see whether it changes how I view it. Here's what I've seen lately.

Lucky Number Slevin (2006-03-07)

Awful title, brilliant movie. About all I'd heard was that (Sir) Ben Kingsley had been making a fuss about his title appearing in the credits (and everywere else). Insert your own pun about lording it over everyone here, please.

Anyway, it starts off with a stylish title sequence drawing us into the web of gambling and book-keeping that will underpin the criminal empires that the film is really about. The stylishness of the opening is reflected by much of the cinematography in the rest of the film.

Revenge, nostalgia and living in the past - they're not overriding themes, but they are there, nevertheless, and they'll inform some of the designs of the film. While it is obviously supposed to take place in the present there are touches of seventies design, clothing and location (including mustard and brown wallpaper designs) throughout, and not just in the strongholds of the two criminal bosses (or should that be one Boss and one Rabbi?)

V for Vendetta (2006-03-17)

It'd been a fair time since I'd read the graphic novel on which this one is based, so I can't give you an extensive comparison of how the adaptation matches up to the source material.

Some changes are immediately obvious though: we are introduced to Evie as she is preparing to go to a colleague's house while in the comic she applies make-up as she is about to - for the first time - go on to the street to earn some money. V then let's her go. We later see her workplace, not in a match factory but in a TV station.

This toning-down, while understandable [0] is also reflected in the depiction of the oppressive government. There is fascistic imagery, but only really used as a shortcut to let you know who the bad guys are, the Voice of Fate has been renamed to the Voice of London (and the average punter gets to see as well as hear him), the Eyes, Ears, Nose and Head are all reduced or removed, leaving only a red cross (based on the Cross of Lorraine (‡), rather than the Bent Cross).

The things that aren't changed are numerous, however - and range from the Shadow Gallery (which is wonderfully realised) to the baby doll dress that Natalie Portman as Evie Hammond wears and to the costume that V himself wears.

Lucky Number Slevin, revisited (2006-03-17)

A second viewing rewards - once you know what's really going on, and who's who. There's no mystery this time, but it's fun to watch things unfurling when you know how they're going to end up. Similarities to Fight Club and another David Fincher film, Se7en, are apparent now - from the stylish opening credits to certain mannerisms and attitudes that some of the characters display. And the twisting, turning plot of course. Like Fight Club also - the events are not presented to us in chronological order - we know we're being told a story, or series of stories here - by various characters at different times.

As in V for Vendetta (though to a far greater extent) the would-be rulers are confined to prisons of their own making through fear of their rivals.

Inside Man (2006-03-19)

Like V, this has what would traditionally be a villain dressing up innocent civilians to confuse the authorities when they barge in and try to reclaim the situation. The motives also are similar, but enough about that.

The film is about a bank robbery, but not a run-of-the-mill incident - there is a plan here, that goes far beyond the usual motives of a bank robber. They seem to rob a bank so that they can take hostages, rather than taking hostages to rob a bank. They make demands, but not because they want them to be met, but because they know they won't be met.

Like V and Lucky Number Slevin, there is more than meets the eye - what motivates the main characters - money, revenge, or maybe both. Who will win, who will lose, what happens after the window to the story contained in the film?

This is one I'd love to see again, but won't get a chance to until it goes on general release, later this week.

V for Vendetta, revisited (2006-03-21)

Taken as a film in it's own right it is not the standard Hollywood fare. Defending precisely those groups that Bush's administration would really prefer didn't exist, it takes a freedom fighter versus terrorist argument and casts a post-Guatanomo light on proceedings. Though this isn't only a comment on USA society and government, the UK is still presented here, and not just as a thinly-disguised façade (though you can't help wondering if Warner would have released a movie in which the protagonist attempts to bomb the Pentagon and the Capitol building, rather than the Old Bailey and the Houses of Parliament).

The film begins with a brief intro to the concept of Guy Fawkes (presumably so that the international audience will know who he was) before going into a near-future Britain, ruled by a totalitarian government. The views we get of this future London are convincing - mostly as we know it, but with a few touches here and there to let us know it isn't the world we know - the propaganda posters, various displays and warning signs.

And I haven't even mentioned John Hurt playing the Big Brother rôle, contrasting his portrayal as Winston Smith in 1984.

I can't believe I didn't mention Stephen Fry! Some have said he's the best thing about the movie and he did turn in a good performance, though there's a few problems. Well, one really - the satire that his character does mid-way through the film. It's just too unbelievable - in a totalitarian state someone with his knowledge would know what the consequences of something like that are. He wouldn't have been able to create his own Shadow Gallery if he'd been naïve enough to think celebrity would protect him.

[0] after all, how many movies feature prostitutes as protagonists, the mainstream Pretty Woman and Ken Russell's little-seen Whore notwithstanding? return
Tags: adaptation, film, film review, review
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