1 item from 1998
Playwright Jez Butterworth's "Mojo" was a theatrical hit in London and New York, and now he makes his directorial debut with a movie version that opens up the work considerably.
Featuring playwright Harold Pinter in a small role, "Mojo" is one of the few screen adaptations to improve on its predecessor. The film was screened recently at the New Directors/New Films Festival.
Set in summer 1958, the film concerns infighting and scheming among several employees of Ezra's, a London nightclub. The club is on the rise, thanks to the sex appeal of its up-and-coming singer, Silver Johnny (Hans Matheson). Unfortunately, Silver Johnny has also attracted the attention of Sam Ross (Pinter, displaying a surprisingly powerful screen presence), a local mob figure heavily into the music business.
When Silver Johnny disappears and Ezra (Ricky Tomlinson) turns up dead, things spiral out of control. Mickey (Ian Hart), Ezra's right hand man, tries to prevent disaster, with little success. Among other characters who figure prominently are Ezra's son Baby (Aidan Gillen), a powder keg ready to go off, and the ironically named Skinny (Ewen Bremner), who ultimately becomes the victim of Baby's wrath.
Butterworth's story line still seems artificial and pumped up, mainly an excuse for a series of warmed-over Tarantino and Mametian riffs. But the material works better cinematically than it did onstage, thanks in part to atmospheric settings and locations, excellent performances by the cast (ironically, their heavy accents are more understandable than those put on by American actors) and superb cinematography and editing. The film has drive and tension that help one overlook the plot contrivances and serves as an impressive debut for its writer-director.
Mojo Films/Portobello Pictures
Director: Jez Butterworth
Screenplay: Jez Butterworth, Tom Butterworth
Producer: Eric Abraham
Executive producer: George Faber
Co-executive producers: Steve Butterworth,
Director of photography: Bruno de Keyzer
Editor: Richard Milward
Music: Murray Gold
Mickey: Ian Hart
Skinny: Ewen Bremner
Baby: Aidan Gillen
Sweets: Martin Gwynn Jones
Silver Johnny: Hans Matheson
Potts: Andy Serkis
Ezra: Ricky Tomlinson
Sam Ross: Harold Pinter
Running time -- 90 minutes
No MPAA rating
1 item from 1998
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