Michael Mann’s 1989 TV movie dress rehearsal for his 1995 blockbuster Heat. All the elements from that are already in place, from the ballet between two similar men either side of the law, through entire scenes blocked out in exactly the same manner, to dialogue that is barely changed.
Whilst the actors in this version are clearly not as proficient as those in Heat, what is particularly interesting is how those big name stars ape the cadences and mannerisms of their minnow-like predecessors.
I don’t go with the contrarians’ view that this is the better film of the two, but there is a very strong TVM here, and it’s worth watching.
Aussie comedian Eric Bana puts in an excellent performance as the lead in this unapologetically stylised version of the life of borderline psycho standover man Mark ‘Chopper’ Read. Andrew Dominik’s direction is outstanding, and there are fine supporting performances from stalwart Oz actors like Vince Colosimo (outstanding as Neville Bartos), Daniel Wyllie and Simon Lyndon, several of whom put in similarly memorable turns in historical crime drama series Underbelly (the second series of which features Chopper, played this time by Renato Fabretti).
The Long Good Friday
Classic British gangster flick, eschewing flashiness for rawness, glamorously muscled male models for cauliflower-eared, thick-necked lumps.
Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, Derek Thompson, PH Moriarty, Dave King and Eddie Constantine are amongst the numerous actors who help keep things tight; the other big character in the film is the old East End of London, being torn down to make way for gleaming steel-and-glass palaces of conspicuous wealth and naked power. The actor with perhaps the biggest name at the time, Paul Freeman, is disposed of early on, but remains a presence throughout.
Direction is by John Mackenzie, whose work I’ve been belatedly getting into – A Sense Of Freedom being the best of his I’ve come across.
The History Boys
Written by Alan Bennett, with some schoolboys studying for their Oxbridge interviews, set in the 1980s, they learn about themselves, etc. Alright, but I can’t quite see why it was thought of so highly. Sorry, Andy.