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comedy

The 51st State * Ronny Yu * 2001

Well another action/crime/comedy in the vein of “Snatch”, “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, “Traffic” or “Pulp Fiction”. This time by a Tai director who previously made Tai karate action films.

“The 51st State” is about the American chemist and drug producer Elmo McElroy (Samuel L. Jackson) who made the perfect new drug and he wants to sell his formula for a high price to be able to get out of the business. In the USA he literally blows the deal with the corrupt police agent The Lizard (Meat Loaf) and he seeks his salvation in Liverpool, England. There McElroy is picked up by the supercool Felix DeSouza (Robert Carlyle) and his driver. Being chased by DeSouzas ex-girlfriend Dakota (Emily Mortimer) also this deal gets blown and McElroy has to go find a new buyer together with DeSouza.

The film starts with a totally hip combination of fast images and heavy music. There are also more ‘tranquil’ parts in the film and all through there is a cynical kind of humour combining both British (anti-American) and American (anti-British) jokes. A lot of ‘bad language’ is used to make things totally hilarious. Some pretty good jokes, unexpected changes in the story (not too unexpected though) and quite a lot of action make this film pretty nice. Here and there a bit unbelievable and overall not brilliant, but good entertainment.

24 Hour Party People * Michael Winterbottom * 2002

I had wanted to see this film for a long time, but when I read in the anouncement of the TV-broadcasting that the Sex Pistols are part of the story, I wondered why I never watched this film before. Not that I am a big Sex Pistol fan, but I like films about the 70’s (music) scene, such as “Boogie Nights” or “Almost Famous”. “24 Hour Party People” is even more ‘educational’ than I expected. After the first concert of the Sex Pistols Tony Wilson decided that he wanted to form a plane for independant music. First he gets a show about punk music on a regional TV channel, later he opens the club “The Factory” to organise shows and after that he founds “Factory Records”. There isn’t too much punk in this film, because soon Wilson discovers the genre ‘postpunk’ (later ‘(new) wave’ or ‘gothic’). Quite a large part of the film is dedicated to Joy Division, the controversy about their name and the suicide of the lead singer. In their early days, there wasn’t much of ‘a gothic look’, but later there was. Obviously the genre developed into a scene. After the suicide of Ian Curtis, the band continues under the name New Order.
Wilson doesn’t just sign wave bands though, because he also discovers the Happy Mondays and some avantgardistic bands that I don’t even know. The greatest thing to see is what happens around the person a Wilson, a music lover not interested in genres. He releases punk, wave, indie/avantgarde, funk and eventually he opens a club where ‘the rave scene’ was born, the earliest signs of life of house music, where the attention didn’t go to the creators of the music, but to the medium, the DJ. Touched upon are the problems with drugs, gangs and the like.

I don’t know how historical the story is, but I read somewhere on the internet that the story is very one-sided and focussed too much on the person of Wilson. I suppose that is true, but still the film gives a wonderfull view on the happenings of the Manchester scene of that time.Personally I was delighted to see how different kinds of music and scenes run through and follow up eachother.

Also the film itself is very well done. Most of the time you get the idea that you are ‘part of’ the time the film is about, but the main character frequently makes it clear that the film was shot recently, by saying what will happen in the film, who plays what character, giving comments on what happens, etc. The humour is British and extremely dry, I like that! The film is educational in a way, enjoyable and a great watch. Now I need to see “Velvet Goldmine” (1998) some time soon too!

8 Femmes * François Ozon * 2002

I have been told several times to see this film, but it took a long time before I did. Not really my kind of film though, comedy. Furthermore, it is half a musical! Eight women are in one house and the only man is dead. Then you get a whole film in which the women try to find out who of them could have done it. A few nice jokes, funny characters, but overall not too great.

Bridget Jones’s Diary * Sharon Maguire * 2001

As we all know books, tv-series and movies about single women in their 30’ies are very popular nowadays. Once in a while I can enjoy an episode of “Sex and the City” and I may have watched this movie when it came on tv, but now I already saw in when I flew to the USA a few weeks back.
Not really a ‘plane movie’, because you actually have to listen carefully to what Bridget is telling which is pretty hard with the roar of plane-engines, passing flight-attendants and fellow-passangers.
All in all I found the movie pretty amusing, but I guess I will have to see it again once it is shown on tv.