Friday, 13 March 2009

"RocknRolla". A Review of the 2008 Movie issued on DVD and BLU RAY in 2009.

“What Do You Think We Are…Criminals!”

Guy Ritchie makes films for guys about guys, and frankly "my son", this one is loving it...

I say this because there's appalling film critic snobbery surrounding Ritchie and I for one can't stand it. Ok, so "RocknRolla" is not Shakespeare - nor David Lean - so what! When you sit down to it, you do so with a grin on your puss the size of Britain's National Debt. Why - because you just know you're going to spend the next two hours giggling and grimacing (for all the wrong reasons of course) and you're going to be rightly and royally entertained. And bluntly how many British film directors-cum-writers are 'this' good - can entertain you 'this' much? In an industry that seems to have lost the knack of actually turning us on, on the strength of "RocknRolla", I for one will be looking out for the Blu Ray box of Guy Ritchie films and not yet another version of Bourne or Aliens (good as they may be).

The story is layered and smart; the dialogue is either crude or ballbreakingly funny - or frequently both - and the casting is varied and immaculate - all of them clearly enjoying themselves. The songs are apt and used sparingly and there's an already classic one-liner that had many of our customers in the shop laugh out loud when we played the CD the other day (dialogue inbetween the music tracks).

The good news for fans is that the BLU RAY version of "RocknRolla" is beautifully filmed and I think actually suits Ritchie's film style to a tee - it makes the sharp suits and the London locations shine more. Actor wise - "RocknRolla" is crammed full of great cameos and has a lot of classy leading double acts. Tom Wilkinson is the bigwig old-school London criminal Lenny Cole with Mark Strong as Archie his sidekick. Both are typically outstanding. Gerard Butler as One Two and Idris Elba as Mumbles (the drug dealer Stringer Bell in The Wire) play their counterparts - the likely lads who get caught up in deals way over their small-time heads. Jimi Mistry is a corrupt London councillor, Jeremy Piven and Ludacris as producers and nightclub owners who can't control Toby Kebbell as the drugged up rock star Johhny Quid (feigning death to up his sales). The girls are all molls, there's the unkillable Russians, the thieving philosophizing junkies, ticket-touting gangsters covered in Bling living in Range Rovers and yobs who talk about art, culture and the beauty of cigarettes as they whack a difficult bouncer over the head with a bin lid....luverly!

I'll freely admit that as a dabbler in screenplays myself, I sat there with a huge streak of jealousy running through me, because there's truly fantastic writing and skill on show here. One example is the scene where Gerard Butler is sat at a dinner table in a posh London restaurant with the corporate lawyer totty that is Thandie Newton. Butler's character clearly fancies her, but suspects she's just 'too' dangerous and out of his league. Slipping the bulging loot bag he's delivering under the table towards her long and unfeasibly delicious legs, he relays how the swag was attained...with a "bit of bother". It then cuts back to the actual robbery - which of course goes horribly wrong - and then just get progressively worse - not too clever types doing not too clever things. From this hilarious flashback, the movie keeps flicking forward again to their sexually loaded conversation - and back again to more carnage with an escalating pumping soundtrack. It's kind of Ritchie's trademark style, but it's so damn good that you don't even notice how cleverly its been worked out and edited together. It's slick stuff and impressively so.

The movie is not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a damn good watch and more importantly - wildly entertaining. And come the sly and clever ending, you're left wanting more - and there's even a hint of a sequel in the closing credits.

In the vernacular "RocknRolla" is a blinding bit of fun and on Blu Ray - looks and is - the absolute business. Highly recommended and a job well done.

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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