Tuesday, November 11, 2008

RocknRollan on the River

The thing about these English gangster flicks is that it takes a while for the ol' ears to adjust to the myriad accents and quaint sayings and slang and whatnot, and by the time you've adjusted, you don't know who anyone is and have no idea what's going on.

OK, it's not that bad, but I remember getting halfway through Billy Elliot--which had been given an "R" rating for swearing--wondering where all the swearing was before I realized that "fook" and "shite" are naughty.

And so we come to Guy Ritchie's latest production, his divorce from Madonna.

No, wait, it's RocknRolla, the tale of a couple of British "real estate developers" whose deal has gone sour because their partner in crime has prevented the necessary zoning from being passed so that he can get the land from them and squeeze them for his "losses" which ultimately forces them to look for other sources of money which actually ends up causing trouble for the guy who swindled them because of his hot 'n' wild accountant all while searching out the rat who's been turning them in for years.


Oh, yeah, and the big guy's son is the titular RocknRolla, a local drug-abusing musician who has a habit of being reported dead. He steals a painting which doesn't quite act as a MacGuffin, but which provides a fun thread throughout the film.

Surprisingly, this movie is a little slow, at least at first. It picks up momentum as it goes and finishes strong, with lots of good moments.

The cast is very good, with Gerard Butler as One-Two and Idris Elba as Mumbles and a bunch of other Brits with equally colorful character names. The music is what you'd expect. And there's a nice combination of whimsy with really, truly abhorrent gang style violence. Sassy!

We liked it. I'm not a big gangster movie guy, but this was fun.

I noticed something interesting: These guys weren't really gangsters in the traditional sense of running drugs and booze or hookers or contraband: The big boss's power came entirely from government. Zoning laws and building codes, in fact. The money came from the change in value of a property based on zoning changes.

[insert "small government rant" here]

But I wonder if that's not something that's just considered normal in the highly regulated world of London.


  1. The first couple times I watched "Sexy Beast" I had to watch it with subtitles. I had NO idea what was coming out of Ben Kingsley's mouth. Love that movie.

  2. Yes! I've done that!

    I can't make heads nor tails out of "Poetic Justice", though. Subtitles don't help. I need a "jive translator".

  3. If you think that's bad, you should watch the Long Good Friday with Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren. It's a great movie but you can't understand half of the freakin' thing.

  4. I need a "jive translator"

    Maya Angelou wrote the poems for that movie. What you need is a "cheese translator."


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