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Woody's Worst Yet!
Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of many of Woody's movies, obviously his late 70's masterpieces (Annie Hall,Interiors, Manhattan)and most of his late 80's/early 90's dramas (Hannah, Crimes and Misdemeaners,Husbands and Wives) in fact I even liked some of his more recent efforts (Melinda, Anything Else, Small Time Crooks) but this was abysmal, I though it couldn't possibly be any worse than last years Match Point but how wrong I was.
It was lazily plotted - basically a cross between Match Point, Manhattan Murder Mystery and Small Time Crooks,with all the jokes taken out - Woody seems to be on the way out as well, slurring most of his lines and delivering 'hilarious' catchphrases 'I mean that with all due respect...' over and over until the blandness of it all becomes to much to bare.
I know that most actors are queuing up to work with him but they should at least read the script first - Scarlett Johansson and Hugh Jackman are so much better than this - and Woody should really take a more behind the camera role in future, if he has any sense about 20 miles behind it.
It wouldn't be so tragic if we didn't have so many great Woody films to compare this to - but it is clear that his best days are behind him and judging by this effort, Woody should call it a day before he becomes an industry joke.
Not quite Crack - ed it!
It's been a decade since the last Cracker (the below par White Ghost) and 11 years since the last decent Cracker so expectations were high, but unfortunately Nine Eleven just did not deliver.
The two hour special was certainly controversial, raising issues about the US's financing of terrorism in the Middle East and in Northern Ireland that most TV dramas, certainly ITV dramas, would usually steer well clear of.
The problem was it just didn't feel like a Cracker episode, McGovern had things he wanted to say and just tacked Fitz onto an idea to make it more accessible to a wide audience. As always, McGovern's ideas were interesting but they just didn't work in this context, it felt rushed and would have benefited from being developed further, into a more rounded Cracker episode or maybe a separate project altogether.
The police were completely 2 dimensional, embarrassingly underwritten when compared to the likes of Beck, Wise, Penhaligan and Billborough, while Fitz really had very little to do - it seemed obvious that McGovern had grown tired of writing for this character, in contrast, he seemed to relish writing for Kenny, the killer, the only new character in this film who seemed at all believable.
Stylistically the production was also a failure. Flashing boxes flickered at the beginning of the programme and in and out of the breaks for no apparent reason - they looked horrible and distracted from the story! I can't believe anybody thought it was a good idea to sacrifice the classic white on black text of the original shows for these new graphics and text - if it isn't broke don't fix it! Cracker shouldn't be trying to emulate the style of Spooks and CSI - it was 10 times better than these shows in it's heyday!
And what was with all the flashbacks?? What worked so well in the original series is that Fitz would get into the head of the killer and we'd understand their motives through ACTING!
Did we have flashbacks to Hillsborough in To Be A Somebody? NO!
Did we have flashbacks to Floyd sitting in a bath of bleach in Men Should Weep? NO!
WHY? Because we didn't need them because the performances alone were strong enough for us to understand the motives of the killers. Flashbacks are usually a cheap devise used to reinforce a story when the writing isn't strong enough - and weren't necessary here. Anthony Flanagan's performance as Kenny was the stand out of the episode and the constant flashbacks to Ireland and the completely unnecessary 9-11 and Iraq news footage only distracted from the story.
Nine Eleven was something of a wasted opportunity, it had good elements - Fitz trying to fit into a very changed Manchester, a classic Cracker killer, and a controversial storyline - but this could have been so much better if supporting characters had been better written and the style and feel of the original series had been retained. On this evidence, I wouldn't want any more Cracker films in the future.