Monday, August 22, 2005

From Gangsters To Blood-Caked Money Shots, And Everything In Between


Layer Cake
2005, UK
Matthew Vaughn
35mm

Am I the only one sick to death of things being ‘hip’? I know I sound like a grouchy pensioner when I say stuff like that, but if that’s what it takes to distinguish me from the legions of Ipod Mini-sporting idiots in Von Dutch trucker hats, sign me up for shuffleboard and classes in leering creepily at young women in the drug store. I realize that phrases like “style over substance” tend to be the dying words of suicidal film critics sitting in a closed garage with the engine running after screening yet another 100 million dollar music video directed by some jackass with a one word name who graduated from an ad agency, but that’s one of the few stock phrases that apply to film today. Every movie needs to be slick, nowadays, with scriptwriters pouring over 50 Cent videos to see what kind of car their drug dealer protagonist should be driving on his way to getting his teeth replaced by sharpened diamond spearheads. It’s all this contrived, corporate version of cool, so glossy and slick it looks like a Vanity Fair photo spread for the retarded, and seems just as staged. I’d say a good sixty percent of all the movies released in theatres stink of a marketing meeting mock-up, like Poochie from The Simpsons slanted towards the 18-35 demographic.



Layer Cake is no exception to this trend. It’s a mix of British crime cool and music video special effects, as if Guy Ritchie had a baby with David Fincher, only the kid had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and spends his life laughing at shiny things and saying ‘cheers’ a lot to no one in particular. The film starts out with a sequence torn straight from Fight Club, a kind of animated tour through a Sears catalogue laced with street drugs, a scene that had the dimmer audience members cheering and made anyone in the crowd with a university degree in anything other than Communications or Leisure cringe. Then, through the use of expository voice-over borrowed heavily from Casino¸ our story unfolds. I supposed compressing pages of character backstory and development into a soundbyte is a necessary evil in an age where people don’t even have the patience for skin flicks with dialogue anymore, but at least if they tried to find a subtle way to work it into the script without having a narrator essentially read the film treatment to the audience, it would feel a little less awkward. I know there’s a rush to get to the gunfights, but a little drama would liven things up a bit. I guess there’s a reason these films are aimed at men rather than women; women tend to require a little more foreplay before a disappointing ending, and men just want to skip all the boring crap and get to the spraying fluids. I know I certainly do, but there’s enough blood in my fluids already that I don’t need to get my hemoglobin fix from movies.

What? That's normal, right?


The story of Layer Cake is a basic one. A drug dealer tries to get out, but they pull him back in, trying desperately not to word it quite so much like Al Pacino. Then, through various encounters with quirky characters and pop culture references, he rises to the top, only to fall spectacularly from a symbolically high location into either a pool of water, blood, or Scarface DVDs. I’ve seen this movie a million times under various names, and so have you. It’s time to finish with this plot line and move on to something more original, like a team of young misfits and losers pulled together by a gruff but lovable coach to win a championship, any championship, or a high school stud who takes a bet to go on a date with the school weirdo only to realize he loves her five script pages before the third act. Or at least a sexy delivery guy bringing a large pizza to Belladonna’s sorority. Then, we can skip straight to the fluids.

3 Comments:

Blogger Sam Kahn said...

While I didn't think the movie was terrible, it really was thoroughly unoriginal.

6:47 PM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

Yeah, I didn't hate it, per se, but it just wasn't trying very hard. The best British gangster film of all time is The Long Good Friday.

10:57 AM  
Anonymous I HATE BRITISH FILMS. said...

CANT THE BRITISH FILM INDUSTRY SOMEHOW BE DESTOYED, IT MUST BE DESTROYED NOW!!!!, WONT SOMEONE PLEASE DESTROY THE BRITISH FILM INDUSTRY, DESTROY IT NOW!!!!, IT IS A FUCKING AFFRONT TO HUMANITY A BLOODY ABOMINATION THAT MUST BE WIPED FROM THE PLANET LIKE SHIT FROM AN ARSEHOLE, DESTROY THE BRITISH FILM INDUSTRY NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW RIGHT FUCKING NOW!!!!!

5:21 PM  

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