Skip to main content

Fork it!


Trailers
Dom Hemingway

My appreciation of the career trajectories of Richard E Grant and Jude Law has been nigh on inversely proportional. One started out practically assaulting you with contemptible energy and then coasted on the good will that brought, not just from an adoring public fanbase but also impressionable media peers, for a fair while. The other also attracted superficially affirmative responses. His model-prettiness resulted in indiscriminate casting, and for a long while he didn’t seem to fully mesh with the pictures of which he was a part; he sat above them, sullen or blank.

In the early ‘90s Grant could do no wrong, even though he frequently did. My first conscious experience of him came a few years earlier, via his unlikely heroic time traveller in Warlock. Withnail & I made him an icon to a generation of students (and beyond, of course). Withnail has only been surpassed in status by the Dude, such is the glamour of shameless but witty debauchery. I eagerly sought out anything Grant appeared in. Sometimes this paid off (How to Get Ahead in Advertising) at others I was left indifferent (L.A. Story, Mountains on the Moon). And then came Hudson Hawk, the last word in over-the-top Richard E. Grant performances (“What can I say? I’m the villain!”) Sublime as that box office disaster is, it was the beginning of the end for Richard as a rising star. With Nails, his entertaining journal of Hollywood flirtations and his La-La Land pals (Steve Martin, Winona Ryder – who loved Withnail, quite understandably), is perhaps the only real fruit borne of that sojourn. He can say he worked with Coppola and Scorsese, but only his (first) film with Altman leaves much impression. Over the rest of the decade there was the odd pleasant surprise (the Oscar-winning short Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life, Keep the Aspidistra Flying), but he finished up the decade as a really not that much fun-at-all TV The Scarlet Pimpernel and doing a Comic Relief bit as Doctor Who (a role I foolishly once thought he’d be perfect for). I gave up on him. And I haven’t seen much since that has persuadaded me otherwise. He made a bizarrely appropriate Michael Heseltine in his two minutes of screen time in The Iron Lady, but his recent villainous turn in nu-Doctor Who just cemented the realisation that hardly anyone has cast him to his strengths in 20 years. Now though, miraculously, Grant seems to be back as the Grant we know and love in our mind’s eye. The bitter, splenetically funny Grant. Bilious and given to undisguised, superior disdain. It may be a false dawn, of course; how many chances has Bruce Willis had to return to the witty guy he once was, but never failed to disappoint? But as Dom Hemingway’s best mate, Dickie, Grant at least has the chance to be a flash in the pan.

Law has managed a near reverse of his contemporary Ewan McGregor. McGregor was getting the pick of the roles, but he was unable to retain the iconic status that came with his first two Danny Boyle collaborations. There was the odd Law film that stood out (Gigolo Joe in A.I., Brad in I Heart Huckabees) but his feted appearances for Anthony Minghella (and later not so) seemed too consciously self-important all-round, and his “classic” leading man roles (eXistenZ, Enemy at the Gates) or attempts to go dark (Road to Perdition) didn’t quite fly. I wouldn’t go as far as calling him a terrible cunt, but he didn’t impress. In the last few years though, he’s suddenly become an actor I look forward to seeing. Maybe those ropey Michael Caine remakes were a necessary enema. Maybe, now he’s receding a bit, and his boyishness is becoming a bit more lined, he’s being seen for roles he wouldn’t have before. But he also seems to be more relaxed. His Dr Watson is a perfect foil for Robert Downey Jr. His roles for Steven Soderbergh have played on perceptions of him, from making him rather down at heel and nerdy to stroking intellectual rather than physical vanity. He was by far the best thing it the middling Anna Karenina. And now, he seems to have fully embraced his potential for seedy disarray; his titular role in Dom Hemingway looks like a career high.

I could be wrong, of course. And the trailer for Don Hemingway is full of promise but not quite there. Advance word is pretty damn positive, however. And if it’s even just nearly as good as Richard Shephard’s The Matador, which did marvellous things for Pierce Brosnan as an anti-Bond hit man, it should be a treat. Grant has said “If Withnail had gone into crime, this is where he might have ended up”. That’s all the enticement I need.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

He’s probably paranoid, high-strung, doesn’t like daylight. You know, has a lot of crumbs in his beard, if he has a beard.

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) (SPOILERS) I’d like to report I had a blast with Godzilla vs. Kong . It’s lighter on its oversized, city-stomping feet than its slog of a MonsterVerse predecessor, Godzilla: King of the Monsters , and there are flashes of visual inspiration along with several engaging core ideas (which, to be fair, the series had already laid the seeds for). But this sequel still stumbles in its chief task: assembling an engaging, lively story that successfully integrates both tiny humans and towering titans.

You stink, my friend.

Mulan (2020) (SPOILERS) Let that be a lesson to Disney. It’s a fool’s errand to try and beat the Chinese at their own game, no matter how painstakingly respectful – or rather, pandering – you are. Indeed, Mulan ’s abysmal $40m box office take in the country – where it did get a proper release, so no plandemic excuses can be cited – feels like a direct rebuke; don’t try and tell us how to suck eggs. There’s an additional explanation too, of course. That Mulan sucks.

It's Dark Age, by Jupiter!

The Dig (2021) (SPOILERS) An account of the greatest archaeological find Britain would know until Professor Horner opened the barrow at Devil’s End. And should you scoff at such “ fiction ”, that’s nothing on this adaptation of John Preston’s 2007 novel concerning the Sutton Hoo excavations of the late 1930s. The Dig , as is the onus of any compelling fictional account, takes liberties with the source material, but the erring from the straight and narrow in this case is less an issue than the shift in focus from characters and elements successfully established during the first hour.

Roswell was a smokescreen, we've had a half a dozen better salvage operations.

The X-Files 1.24: The Erlenmeyer Flask The Erlenmeyer Flask makes for a fast-paced, tense and eventful ride, but does it make any sense? That less than mattered at the time, but revisiting the mythology arc (for probably the fourth or fifth time) reveals increasingly tenuous internal coherence as the various conspiracy elements begin to pile up and the situations become ever-more convoluted. This will become the Chris Carter’s signature: don’t examine the details too closely, go with the flow. Trust Chris implicitly.

UFO IN MOSSINGHAM?

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (2020) (SPOILERS) One might reasonably suggest the recourse of the ailing or desperate franchise is to resort, seemingly out of nowhere, to space aliens. Even Police Academy didn’t go that far (to Moscow, yes, but not to space). Perhaps animators think kids have no skills of discernment and will swallow any old sugar-coated crap. Perhaps they don’t, and they will. Ice Age had been enjoying absurd success until Collision Course sent Scrat spinning into the cosmos and grosses tumbled. Shaun the Sheep has been around for a quarter of a century, but this is only his second movie outing and already he’s pulling an E.T. on us. Of course, this may all be part of the grand scheme, and Nick Park is simply doing his bit to familiarise the tots in time for Project Blue Beam.

Careful how much boat you’re eating.

Onward (2020) (SPOILERS) Pixar’s Bright , or thereabouts. The interesting thing – perhaps the only interesting thing – about Onward is that it’s almost indiscernible from a DreamWorks Animation effort, where once they cocked a snook at such cheap-seats fare, seeing themselves as better class of animation house altogether. Just about everything in Onward is shamelessly derivative, from the Harry Potter /fantasy genre cash-in to the use of the standard Pixar formula whereby any scenario remotely eccentric or exotic is buried beneath the banal signifiers of modern society: because anything you can imagine must be dragged down to tangible everyday reference points or kids won’t be able to assimilate it. And then there’s the choice of lead voices, in-Disney star-slaves Chris Pratt and Tom Holland.

Our "Bullshit!" team has unearthed spectacular new evidence, which suggests, that Jack the Ripper was, in fact, the Loch Ness Monster.

Amazon Women on the Moon (1987) Cheeseburger Film Sandwich . Apparently, that’s what the French call Amazon Women on the Moon . Except that it probably sounds a little more elegant, since they’d be saying it in French (I hope so, anyway). Given the title, it should be no surprise that it is regarded as a sequel to Kentucky Fried Movie . Which, in some respects, it is. John Landis originally planned to direct the whole of Amazon Women himself, but brought in other directors due to scheduling issues. The finished film is as much of a mess as Kentucky Fried Movie , arrayed with more miss sketches than hit ones, although it’s decidedly less crude and haphazard than the earlier picture. Some have attempted to reclaim Amazon Women as a dazzling satire on TV’s takeover of our lives, but that’s stretching it. There is a fair bit of satire in there, but the filmmakers were just trying to be funny; there’s no polemic or express commentary. But even on such moderate t

By heaven, I’d thrash the life out of you… if I didn’t have to read the Nine O’Clock News.

The Green Man (1956) (SPOILERS) The Green movie from Launder and Gilliat starring Alastair Sim that isn’t Green for Danger. Which is to say, The Green Man can’t quite scale the heady heights of that decade-earlier murder mystery triumph, but neither is it any slouch. Sim is the antagonist this time – albeit a very affable, Sim-ish one – and his sometime protégée, a young George Cole, the hero. If the plot is entirely absurd, Robert Day’s movie wastes no time probing such insufficiencies, ensuring it is very funny, lively and beautifully performed.

Well, I’ll be damned. It’s the gentleman guppy.

Waterworld (1995) (SPOILERS) The production and budgetary woes of “ Kevin’s Gate ” will forever overshadow the movie’s content (and while it may have been the most expensive movie ever to that point – adjusted for inflation, it seems only Cleopatra came close – it has since turned a profit). However, should you somehow manage to avoid the distraction of those legendary problems, the real qualitative concerns are sure to come sailing over the cognitive horizon eventually; Waterworld is just so damned derivative. It’s a seafaring Mad Max. Peter Rader, who first came up with the idea in 1986, admitted as much. David Twohy, who later came aboard, also cited Mad Max 2 ; that kind of rip-off aspect – Jaws birthing Piranha – makes it unsurprising Waterworld was once under consideration by Roger Corman (he couldn’t cost it cheaply enough). Ultimately, there’s never a sufficient sense the movie has managed to become its own thing. Which is a bummer, because it’s frequently quite good fun.

Wow. Asteroids are made of farts. Okay. I got it.

Greenland (2020) (SPOILERS) Global terror porn for overpopulation adherents as Gerard Butler and his family do their darnedest to reach the safety of a bunker in the titular country in the face of an imminent comet impact. Basically, what if 2012 were played straight? These things come to test cinemas in cycles, of course. Sean Connery struggled with a duff rug and a stack of mud in Meteor , while Deep Impact plumbed for another dread comet and Armageddon an asteroid. The former, owing to the combined forces of Bruce Joel Rubin and Michael Tolkin, was a – relatively – more meditative fare. The latter was directed by Michael Bay. And then there’s Roland Emmerich, who having hoisted a big freeze on us in The Day After Tomorrow then wreaked a relatively original source of devastation in the form of 2012 ’s overheating Earth’s core. Greenland , meanwhile, is pretty much what you’d expect from the director of Angel Has Fallen .