Weird British Movies
Odd English Films with Mean English People
You know, we are led to believe that British people are all kind and gentle people with impeccable manners. Here are a few weird British films that will set you straight.
He had a simple wholesale cocaine business, very easy, only dealing with people he knew. Until he got an offer to buy a million ecstasy tablets. The problem is they were stolen from some rather hateful Serbian gangsters, and said gangsters know who the prospective buyer is. And the gangsters are pissed. If you think British gangsters are tough, think again. This film has double, triple and quadruples crosses, and yet you can get up and get a beer and still follow the plot when you get back. Very well done, and it ain't over till it's over.
Ray (Robert Carlyle) is a 'Face", or an honourable man, in British criminal parlance. He and his mates rob things, like an armored car service, to have a little spending money. Like all entertaining crime stories, something goes wrong. First they screw up the heist by taking all the small bills and leaving millions behind. With only 60,000 pounds each, the five members of the gang start to turn on themselves. By morning, only four gangsters are left, and all five bags of money are missing. The money's gone somewhere, and three more people turn up dead, so who's ripped them off? They band together and scour the city in search of clues and their cash, but it's far from simple. Face is much grittier than a Guy Ritchie film, and rest assured there are no pretty boys in this cast. Better than most, and directed by Antonia Bird, who also gave us Ravenous. 107 minutes. Rated R. British w/o subtitles.
Leo has lots of problems, and he could use some cash to solve them. His bookie (Eddie Izzard) wants to get paid, his brother is screwing his wife, and a hit man is convinced that Leo killed his girlfriend. Leo is on the run from a variety of British thugs while trying to run the biggest scam of his career. Circus is pretty fast paced, but not quite a Guy Ritchie film. British. 2000. Rated R. 95 minutes.
If Happiness left you feeling uneasy, then Atom Egoyan's film Felicia's Journey may affect your sleeping pattern. Ostensibly a film about a super nice, seemingly normal guy, Joseph Hilditch (Bob Hoskins) who is a serial murder of young homeless girls and prostitutes. He casually stalks them and befriends them in a slow spider like fashion. Ultimately, when he gains his victim's confidence, they unburden their problems. After that, he helps them out by drugging and killing them. It all has to do with a slowly evolving fixation he had with his dominant television star mom. The tale is ordinary enough, but it is the ordinariness of Joseph's life that makes this such a fearful tale. Hoskins is at his best in Felicia's Journey, as this character who is truly the dark side of Humbert Humbert . Elaine Cassidy is very convincing as Felicia. This film left me feeling smarmy and nervous. Somehow Felicia's Journey is rated PG-13. Go figure. 116 minutes. 1999.
I Went Down
Git gets out of prison and heads straight for his local pub. While away, his girlfriend has linked up with his best friend, Auto (David Wilmet). Auto is also in over his head with the local bookies, who are prepared to do him some serious harm. Git intercedes, blinding one thug and breaking up another. The local mob boss is pissed that Git has been damaging his employees. To settle the score, he agrees to do a small collection job. Of course if it were simple, this would be a fairly short movie. He gets teamed up with a veteran heavy, Bunny Kelly (Brendan Gleeson), who give him a primer in basic criminal behavior. It's a funny story and almost believable. All the actors are Irish, so I Went Down must be an Irish movie. 1998. Rated R. 118 minutes.
Why are Americans so fascinated with hard ass British criminals? Perhaps we can't believe there are genuine social menaces lurking amongst such a polite race of people. Regardless, Terrance Stamp is excellent as a cockney ex con who comes to LA to find his daughter's killer. Yes, he is polite, but very mad. Essentially this is a Charles Bronson movie with a UK accent. A good primer for English rhyming slang. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, with Peter Fonda, Lesley Ann Warren and Luiz Guzman. 1999. Rated R. 95 minutes.
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
They need to raise a half million quid in a hurry, or Hatchet Harry will start slicing off their fingers. It seems these four losers dropped a bundle to Harry in a rigged card game, and they go to great criminal lengths in an effort to save their digits. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is actually a comedy written and directed by Guy Ritchie. Sting is in it, too. 1998. British w/American sub-titles. Rated R. 106 minutes.
Sexy Beast might have been just another British thug movie, but this one has Ben Kingsley playing his most un-Ghandian role to date as a gangster, Don Logan. Don has been sent to Spain to take Gal Dove (Ray Winstone) out of retirement to do one last job for boss Teddy Bass. Ray and his ex-porn star wife Dirty Dee Dee (Amanda Redman) really enjoy their debauched sun tanned existence, and they're reluctant to give it up. Don threatens Gal into agreeing but mysteriously disappears en route to London. Teddy is not happy but the heist goes off as planned, and the end twists in a direction that will suck you in. There is so much palpable tension throughout this film, your jaw may ache by the time the credits roll. Directed by Jonathan Glazer. Rated R. 94 minutes. English and Cockney. 2001.
A newer Guy Ritchie film that has all the non stop action of Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels. Plus Brad Pitt as an Irish tinker who is the bare fisted boxing champion of his "Piker" clan. The mob kills his mother by burning her alive in her caravan to try to keep him in line. The tinkers' revenge is both unexpected and thorough. A really intricate tale well woven by Mr. Ritchie and filled with edge of your seat activity throughout. 2001. 90 minutes. Rated R.
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