Thursday, February 12, 2009

A reappreciation of Guy Ritchie

One of my strengths, or glaring weaknesses, as a parent is that I rarely if ever screen content for my kids. The overarching premise is that if exposed to all movies and music with a mature adult present (or, in actuality, me), they will grow as people and understand life a bit better. One caveat - they are not to share what they see or hear with others, since many other parents don't particularly want their kids to get a copy of Reasonable Doubt by Jay-Z.

Now that Guy Ritchie is free of Madonna and can go back to being a movie director instead of a gossip column item, it's time to rewatch some of his films. Not Swept Away mind you. I'll steer clear of that pig. Not only do I want to avoid that on its own lack of merits, but I fear it will mar my happy memories of the original.

We started by renting Rocknrolla, a legitimate return to form from 2008. Joey, 13, loved it. At his age, he's ready to watch a movie laced with profanity, violence and drug abuse, as long as it's in the name of fun. It was worthwhile, but made me hungry to see Snatch again. I just knew Robbie at 16 would eat this one up.

Snatch, surprisingly, didn't get great reviews, but it is truly fantastic, with one of the standout performances ever. A multi-plot caper film, it pulls together Jewish diamond dealers, man eating pigs, bare knuckle fighters, and sly humor. Jason Statham, who plays the lead character-adjective Turkish, is at the center of it all and he is as hard as the boxers he promotes, while always seeing the black humor around him. He sporadic citing of "zee Germans," a catch-all term for any and all dangers is alone worth the watch.

Ritchie makes many bold moves in Snatch. One that stands out to me is making the three black pawn shop owners/thieves comically bumbling. It is rare that African-Americans are made a point of derision in films like this, perhaps out of fear of being tagged as racist. The trio are inept, yet determined and as a comedy troupe provide highlights throughout.

Benicio Del Toro steals the first part of the flick as a Hasidic Jew, but the singularly amazing, life-changing performance is by Brad Pitt as Mickey the Pikey. Stealing an idea from Del Toro's role in The Usual Suspects, Pitt plays the muscular gypsy as an incoherent and unintelligible mumbler. Pitt is alternatingly hysterical and haunting, mirthful and menacing and boy does he pack a wallop. It is on my list of top performances ever.
One more thing. Something was in the air, strangely, in 2001 when Snatch came out. That year the sequel to Silence of the Lambs came out. Hannibal, like Snatch, featured pigs that enjoyed the occasional meal of human flesh. While I can't possibly explain why I think about that often, I do. Wonder what forces were at work to cause a rash of anti-porcine propaganda?

1 comment:

brain salad surgery said...

Maybe the pig inertia came about as a result of the flock of swine that were residing in the white house? They've left us with lots of muck...and Rush Blimpbaugh (same thing, I guess)