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145. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels – Summer of ’99 (#137)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Babu Patel and David Singleton, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every Saturday at 6pm GMT.

This time, continuing our Summer of ’99 season, Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

1999 was a great year for movies, with a host of massively successful (and cult) hits that would define cinema for a next generation: Being John Malkovich, The Blair Witch Project, Go, Cruel Intentions, American Beauty. The Summer of ’99 season offers a trip through the year in film on the IMDb‘s 250.

Four young men in London find themselves in the middle of an elaborate scheme involving half a million bounds, mountains of marijuana, a shady sex shop proprietor, and two antique shotguns. As the situation rapidly escalates outside of their control, can these four young men keep their heads above water?

At time of recording, it was ranked 137th on the Internet Movie Database‘s list of the best movies of all-time.

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Non-Review Review: Rocketman

As has been noted, the iconic Elton John song that inspired the film is titled Rocket Man, while the film itself is simply Rocketman.

The missing space is an intriguing stylistic choice, given that the film is obviously designed to evoke Elton John’s beloved contemplative ballad about space-age truckers. What purpose does the omission of that space serve? What is gained by contracting the song to create a single-word title for the biographical feature film. Having watched the film, it feels like the missing space might have been lost as an inadvertent consequence of a thorough find-and-delete of anything resembling subtext from the screenplay.

Fancy, that.

To be clear, this isn’t entirely a flaw with Rocketman. Musicals are fundamentally designed to render subtext as supratext, to literalise and articulate the themes and ideas and emotions underscoring a character or plot. By their nature, musicals feature characters very theatrically expressing their innermost feelings and desires directly to the audience through the medium of song and dance. Subtlety is not necessary in this context, and could even become something of a hindrance. A musical – especially a jukebox musical like this – is narrative as stadium rock.

The musical sequences in Rocketman capture this beautifully, and are the film’s strongest attribute. The movie just has trouble turning the volume down in the scenes between those numbers.

Key details.

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Non-Review Review: Wild Bill

Wild Bill is the charming directorial debut from veteran character actor Dexter Fletcher. The established actor, who has worked on projects as diverse as Band of Brothers, Press Gang and The Three Musketeers, also wrote the screenplay for this slightly quirky British domestic drama, which sees an absentee father fostering an emotional connection with his abandoned kids. It’s a fairly conventional plot, and Fletcher doesn’t cram too many surprises in there, but the movie is wry enough and has a thinly-cynical exterior that makes the pill easy enough to follow. It’s not  quite a masterpiece, but it’s engaging and diverting enough to leave a pleasant impression.

Wild at heart...

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