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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not so secret squirrel..., 26 February 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Based on a true story of 70's drug trafficking, American Gangster stars Denzil Washington as Frank Lucas - a driver for Bumpy Johnson - a Harlem mob boss who is also something of a father figure and mentor. When Bumpy dies suddenly of a heart attack Lucas inherits the kingdom. Dispensing with the showiness of his rivals, and inheriting corporate branding techniques to sell his dope, Lucas' rise is swift. Along with his obsessive reticence Lucas is also unique in his pioneering method of bringing heroin to America via air force planes out of South East Asia. Crap dad/honest cop Ritchie Roberts (Russell Crowe) has his sights set on bringing down the operation but Lucas' 'under the radar' profile makes him an impossible target. Roberts' campaign can go nowhere until he can identify the ringleader.

Apart from the de rigor 'crime doesn't pay' platitude, American Gangsters' message seems to be that there's no accounting for taste and that those with zero dress sense can triumph over those in designer wear. The campaign of Crowe's unglamorous and dowdy cop with rubbish hair appears hopeless against Washington's immaculate Brioni suited drug lord; that is until he commits a massive fashion faux par by attending a prize fight dressed as a squirrel. "The loudest man in the room is the weakest man in the room." Failing to take his own advice the demise of Frank Lucas is mere paperwork after that.

The depiction of Lucas' corporate marketing - a la Coca Cola - to sell 'quality' heroin to the 'discerning smack head' is something of a hoot. Maybe that's how it went down in 70's Harlem but most users in my experience would inject the contents of a leper's colostomy bag on the off-chance of a hit. Also Lucas's smuggling of his product into America via air force planes from Vietnam is not quite the revelation. He may have believed this was his baby but it's a fair bet that this enterprise was closely marshalled and monitored by the C.I.A, partly as a means to keeping urban negroes in a state of stupor so as not to organise themselves 'Black Panther/Nation of Islam' style. Whether he was aware of it or not Lucas was almost certainly working for the 'man'.

The big 'toe to toe' between Washington and Crowe falls short of the build up. For one, it's a long time coming, and by the time this keenly awaited 'final reckoning' takes place Lucas has already been arrested and on the ropes. Nevertheless, it is a great scene but cannot hope to ignite the screen in the way DeNiro and Pacino's 'two guys over a coffee' showdown in Heat does where no one has got the upper hand and the prize is still to be taken.

American Gangster's DNA is impeccable; you've got a director in Ridley Scott who is probably incapable of making a bad film and two of the biggest and charismatic stars of the day in Washington and Crowe. On paper it must have been beautiful but maybe it's this fail safe 'cannot lose' combination that raises the bar of expectation to an unreachable degree which excludes American Gangster from the cigar handing out ceremony accorded the likes of The Godfather, Scarface and Goodfellas. The tone and timbre of the piece evokes the best of gritty 70's crime thrillers but there's a certain restraint about the whole affair – as if taking its cue from its antagonist – and restraint is an arm a mob movie can't afford to chance.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Sex & Drags & Wreck & Roll (Part 2), 4 December 2007

Quentin Tarantino's '5th' film Death Proof was originally conceived as the second part of a 'Grindhouse' double bill with Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror. The idea was to replicate the 70's exploitation movie experience of low budget shclock opera's, where the posters are better than the actual films, and which have clearly been such a huge influence on both filmmakers – missing reels, scratched celluloid, gate hairs, tacky trailers and kitsch corporate graphics all to an ear splitting trumpet-loaded soundtrack. It certainly took me back to the pre-multiplex days of my childhood when audiences had enough of an attention span to watch two films back to back with barely a moment in between to restock on Embassy No10's and another carton of Kia-Ora.

I saw the original Grindhouse 'double bill' version in New York back in April, and appreciated it for the great bit of self indulgence it is on the part of the directors who should be in the happy position of being able to make the movies they want without having to worry too much about box office returns and studio interference. Unfortunately somewhere in the crossfire of a Mexican standoff between the producers, marketing department, distributors and the directors themselves Grindhouse has been mutilated, Black Dahlia-like, and unceremoniously dumped in two halves on U.K audiences. Although reviews were good, Grindhouse flopped in the states, so, with what appears to be a case of contagious cold feet tippy-toeing their way across the Atlantic, our distributors have decided that we're incapable of handling the Grindhouse experience in its entirety - hence releasing Tarantino's half as his 5th film.

Death Proof is an intentionally slight tale of psychopathic 'Stuntman Mike' (Kurt Russell) who gets his kicks causing car crashes in his specially designed 'death proof' Chevy Nova (and later a Dodge Charger) in which everyone except himself is killed. After targeting yet another group of nubile young girls as his next victims the tables are turned and Stuntman Mike becomes the subject of their bloody revenge.

Considering the promise of mucho car-nage that the premise suggests Death Proof is dialogue heavy; but then one line of Tarantino's dialogue is more action packed than all of Diesel, Seagal and Van Damme's 'roid' fests put together – and when the violence does descend, it falls hard. But isolated from the Grindhouse concept, Death Proof pales besides the likes of Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill. A 127 minute re-cut of the movie was shown at the Cannes Film Festival last May in an attempt to bring it up to the standard of Tarantino's other outings and this, I believe, is the version U.K audiences are about to witness.

Unfortunately the faux-trailers of 'forthcoming attractions' such as 'Machete', 'Hobo with a Shotgun' and 'Werewolf Women of the S.S' (with Nicolas Cage as Fu Manchu!) which split the original Grindhouse version are not included. This sequence was the highlight of the whole movie and I know I'm not the only one who hoped that they would actually turn some of these spoofs into real films. It's looking doubtful that the original Grindhouse double bill version will be shown in the U.K and even more annoying that the DVD releases of both films are not to feature the trailers either. (Apart from 'Machete' in Planet Terror) Death proof is one thing – but film industry proof?

78 out of 116 people found the following review useful:
"When coke deals go bad...", 3 September 2007

Let's face it; Reservoir Dogs wasn't so much a movie about a diamond heist gone wrong as it was about a gang of actors that wanted to be Lee Marvin. Rise of the Footsoldier (Released 7th of September) is nothing more or less than a bunch of Scorsese fanatics who wished they'd been in Goodfellas – and be fair, who wouldn't?

'Footsoldier' is a gangster film – pure and simple. "Professional" Football hooligans the I.C.F (Inner City Firm) have met their nemesis with a combination of high profile arrests. With the emergence of the 'rave' scene of the late 80's they recognise the lucre generating possibilities of the new counter culture; get 'loved up', 'steam' the groovy train and swap their Stanley knives and knuckle dusters for smiley T. Shirts, Kickers and eh… shotguns. Quickly establishing themselves as major 'faces' in the Essex underworld, it isn't long before these Knights of the glass table are running their cocaine Camelot through a gamut of girls, guns and high friends in dangerous places.

Based on a real life 1995 'hit' which rendered three of those face's blown off at a secluded dirt track in Retterdon, the cinematic possibilities of what is now known as 'The Range Rover Killings' has not been lost on movie land. The semi fictional Essex Boys (2000) took its cue from this pivotal event in gangland history but 'Footsoldier' is a more authentic account, retaining the facts and the actual characters as recounted in 'Muscle', the book written by one of the surviving members of the gang Carlton Leach, played here by a shark eyed Ricci Harnett.

'Footsoldier' also boasts an impressive array of T.V tough guys including Ex-Eastender's Bill Murray and Craig Fairbrass, whose soap appearances had hitherto had me scrambling for the off switch. Both are excellent here, with Murray exuding menace from every pore and Fairbrass chillingly convincing as the 'roid' crazed Pat Tate. Mover and shaker Terry Stone has a face that suggests all the members of the Clash at once and follows his impressive turn in Gilby's last movie, the very excellent 'Rollin' With The Nines' as Tony Tucker; a one man swear-a-thon sporting a syrup that looked liked it could have been a stunt double for Dougal in the Magic Roundabout.

Brandishing its Scorsese-isms loudly and proudly (sweeping crane shots, freeze frame voice overs etc) 'Footsoldier' is no 'feel good' film by any stretch. But there is much to enjoy from watching these guys 'go ta woik' in a similar, but darker fashion to ensemble piece 'Love, Honour & Obey' (Was I the only one that liked that film?!) or the aforementioned Reservoir Dogs. Perhaps not quite dislodging any of the unholy trinity of Get Carter, Brighton Rock and The Long Good Friday from their lofty throne, Rise of the Foot Soldier doesn't let up for a second and holds its own as a 'balls out', 'in yer face' thrill ride, and certainly a worthy addition to the 'Grit Brit' gangster pantheon.

Adrian Stranik

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The Daddy of the Kai Wai Cannon, 7 June 2007

Fallen Angels could have been so named due to its dropped origin as part of director Wong Kar Wai's previous film Chunking Express, emerging afterwards as a follow up. To hear the critics tell it, 'Express' is his masterpiece, regularly making the 'best movies ever made' lists along side such exalted company as your Citizens Kane's and Casablanca's. But for me Fallen Angels is, to date, the daddy of the Wong Kar Wai canon.

Fallen Angel tells of a not quite burnt-out hit man, Leon, who begins to tire of the whole 'gun for hire' malarkey and decides to quit on account of his burgeoning feelings for the female operative who he has never met, but who plans his jobs for him. The female operative, Michelle, also emotes for our existential assassin but somehow they both realise that if they ever did come face to face the fantasy would evaporate. The unrequited love thing is Kar Wai's forte but here it is more a case of "As long as you don't look at it, it won't disappear." So their love continues on the basis of ensuring that it never really exists. Anxious to avoid an inevitable unprofessional encounter, our navel gazing killer goes off on an adventure into the Kowloon night where he crosses paths with a series of likable reprobates before embarking on that fatal "one last job." This takes us not so neatly into a 'mad as a hatter' subplot about a petty criminal who was rendered mute as a boy by a can of 'out of date' pineapples. He goes out at night and gets up to a range of activities such as massaging a dead pig and kidnapping a family and forcing them to eat ice cream. He too falls in love, with a girl who believes she has been beaten to the altar by someone called Blondie. He helps her go in search of the usurper of her affections resulting in a hilarious beating up of a blow up doll! Cinematographer and Kar Wai regular Christopher Doyle engages a warped and gaudy neon look throughout; something of a trade mark in Kar Wai films. This is the world from inside a Wurlitzer juke box – or, at least, through the eyes of a tranquilised goldfish and this, incidentally, is not a complaint. The other thing I like about this film is that it walks the line between the art house 'heart warmers' of the best of European cinema and the 'Glock Opera' pyrotechnics of John Woo and Ringo Lam.

Genre clash – it's the future.

Apocalypto (2006)
"Never get on to the boat...", 7 June 2007

Mel Gibson's public persona evokes nothing more or less than a portrait of buffoonery of late, what with his drink/driving/anti-Semitism/cop berating; not to mention his English bashing 'The Patriot' and 'Braveheart', (The battle of Stirling Bridge without a bridge! Oops.) But his biblical oeuvre 'Passion of the Christ' and now 'Apocalypto' implies a directing capability bordering on brilliance.

Mayan civilisation on the eve of 'Hurricane Conquistador' is a society in decline after a thousand years of being one of the most advanced in the world. A Young tribesman, Jaguar Paw is captured, along with what remains of his village, after a vicious attack by an army of warriors from the big city and taken on a perilous journey for a date with unspeakable evil. What follows is a breathtaking action thriller that transports you into 15th century Mexico and a world of untold savagery.

An air of mysticism permeates this tale but it never quite spills over into the realms of the supernatural making a couple of seemingly exasperating divine interventions borderline believable. All the dialogue is authentic Yacatec Mayan and the cast are predominantly indigenous to the Mesoamerica's giving the sensation of an authentic glimpse into the past.

Apocalypto is the story of a culture in conflict with itself and thus rendered fair game for the destructive machinations of more powerful outsiders implying that progress and sophistication brings an inherent soullessness, corruption and ultimately self-annihilation. Sound familiar?

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Gory Days, 7 June 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

On the 26th of September 1983 a short dumpy 60 year old woman stood trial for the attempted murder of Leonie Haddad, a lady whose husband had recently died and had agreed to take in a lodger who came via a housing authority for the elderly. Haddad was not made aware that her new lodger had, in fact, come fresh from The Patton State Mental Hospital where she had been incarcerated for an inexplicable knife attack on a married couple three years previously. Haddad soon realised that something was 'rotten in Denmark' when the woman began to lock herself in the bathroom with a tape recorder reciting prophesies about' seven Gods'. Haddad's fears were confirmed one night when she awoke to find her lodger sitting astride her chest holding a bread knife announcing that "God has inspired me to kill you". Haddad managed to knock her assailant out with a telephone but not before she had lost a finger and suffered deep lacerations to her face and chest. It was a miracle she survived. The lodger was judged to be innocent by reason of insanity but sent, kicking and screaming, back to the laughing academy. Ten years later she was released and found that she was now a celebrity; but not for the brutal attacks on her innocent victims, but for her incarnation of 25 years earlier when she was known as the 'Queen of the Curve's, the 'Tennessee Tease' and 'Miss Pin Up Girl of the World' – the Notorious Bettie Page.

Director Mary Harron, mainly known for 'American Psycho' takes us back to the glory days of a legendary cheesecake and bondage model (played solidly enough by Gretchen Mol) who inadvertently wrote the blue print for fetish iconography and whose influence can be detected in everything from comic books to catwalks. T.N.B.P is day-glo fun ride through an evocative depiction of the1950's where Page, with the familial help of good intentioned boyfriends and photographers, becomes the number one star of pocket sized men's glossies with titles like Wink, Tab and Parade. Her real dream of movie stardom evades her and a brush with the authorities over obscenity charges in 1957 is the inciting incident which leads her to retire from modelling and give herself to God. The overall style of the film is light and frothy and only darkens momentarily with an allusion to her father's incestuous attentions and a sexual assault which inexplicably appears to have no discernible effect on her. Mol plays Page as she seems in her photographs, happy, carefree and fun - even the bondage shots betray little more than a good humoured incomprehensibility. The film ends on the upbeat with Page cheerfully handing out bibles in a park with no indication of the real life unhappy marriages, personal tragedy and decent into murderous insanity which lay before her; avoiding what I think is the essential core of Page's story - rebirth and resurrection.

Having emerged from a decade of incarceration Page found that her cult had been in the ascendance since the mid 1980's and that she had become a huge underground icon, during which, many were asking "whatever happened to Bettie Page". Her 'mysterious' disappearance fed the fires of any number of conspiracy theories only adding to the allure of her legend. When the world's media finally caught up with her she gave no hint of her darker past and she was soon giving interviews for magazines, T.V and being photographed at Playboy parties with the likes of Pamela Anderson and the equally tragic Anna Nicole Smith. She found that she was now more famous than she ever was in her 'glory years' but in the glare of this 'resurrection' it was only a matter of time before the full story would come to light.

The only notorious thing about The Notorious Bettie Page is they left out the part when she became truly notorious.

Dreamgirls (2006)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
"Stop! In the name of... music.", 7 June 2007

If anything proves the old adage "They don't make 'em like they used to" it's the recent (and I can't write this word without an industrial-scale vat of sarcasm) 'musical' called 'Dreamgirls'.

Starring Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles and Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls is adapted from the highly successful stage musical which is loosely based on the story of Diana Ross and the Supremes and the rise and fall of the Motown record label. The mettle of any musical is tested by the quality of its soundtrack so on that basis Dreamgirls is probably the worst musical I've seen since Moulin Rouge. It's only about half way though the film when, on the way to a fight in an alleyway that one of the characters suddenly bursts into song and we realise that we're watching a musical at all. Up until then it's merely a bad film about the music industry with badder songs (badder in the 'not good sense' as opposed to the James Brown sense) The 'I'm Telling You I'm Not Going' sequence is more than aptly named - I thought I was going to die of old age before it ended. In fact it's probably still going on somewhere. Newcomer Jennifer Hudson, who apparently won herself in an American television contest, steals a show which really isn't worth having. Beyoncé does little more than give 'gorgeous lessons' to all and sundry while Eddie Murphy's much lauded performance is merely adequate. The only oasis in this cinematic desert is the Op-art sets and Beyoncé's 60's/70's Ross-esquire costumes.

Dreamgirls is further evidence that the medium of the musical appears to be an idiom of the past. Unlike the last great film musical Grease (1978), Dreamgirls' editing suggests that none of the dancers are capable of a complete uninterrupted routine and if the songs here were truly of the standard that Motown were putting out they would never have been heard beyond the confines of Berry Gordy's bedroom. Surely Motown, arguably the most important record label in the history of recorded sound, deserves a better tribute that this. No siree-bop, they don't make 'em like they used to. Next time you're in the mood for a truly great musical, with great songs and brilliantly choreographed dance spectacle and you're all Gene Kelly'd out - see James Cagney's little known 1933 classic Footlight Parade' you'll be singing 'Shanghai Lil' for days

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Beyond God and Edie, 7 June 2007

Embroiled, as we are, in the era of reality T.V, new bio-pic Factory Girl is a timely release charting, possibly, the genesis of our fascination with meaningless activities and the meaningless people who do them. Factory Girl is the truncated story of 'Warhol Superstar' Edie Sedgwick, whose fleeting moment in the reflected glare of Andy Warhol's media glory became the prototype of today's production line celebrity machine; where nobodies are marketed as stars then immediately consigned to the out-tray as soon as the new batch arrives.

Warhol, a prime exponent of the American angle on 60's Pop Art, created screen-prints that looked like strips of film and made films that looked like paintings; 8 hour epics of junkies sleeping off amphetamine comedowns or overnight zero-mentaries of the Empire State Building. But Warhol is, perhaps, best known for his Campbell's Soup tins and his apocalyptic prediction that "in the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes." Casting his frosty lens on the lunatics and hangers-on who adorned his upper East-Side studio known as The Factory, Warhol set about creating the world's first stable of manufactured stars. It was from this parade of crashed fabulousness that socialite and would be actress Edie Sedgwick's legend emerged.

The clichés of Edie's poor little rich girl background is almost textbook. The Sedgwick's were an American institution from 'old money' with all the sociopathic pyrotechnics which that implies. Her father was a manic depressive psychotic who abused her and her siblings to the point of insanity, and in one case suicide. Edie high tailed it to New York with a siege on the Manhattan art scene where she was introduced to Warhol, quickly and spectacularly becoming his first superstar. For a year she was the 'face of her generation' and the world revolved around her until her 'walk on the wild side' took its inevitable route into a cul-de-sac of rehab, relapse and death at 28.

Filmed in a freewheeling collision of primary-coloured flash and hi-contrast monochrome, Factory Girl sets a tone reminiscent of the recent Brian Jones Bio-pic Stoned; creating an authentic evocation of N.Y '65. Sienna Miller finally emerges from her own Edie-esquire tabloidia© and give us a performance worthy of the 'near genius' turns of Naomi Watts, Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman at their best. Only time will tell if she shares their versatility.

On less steady footing however is Edie's love affair with the Dylan-esquire figure of Billy Quinn, played by post-Vader boy Hayden Christensen, who, as the film has it, precipitated her demise having rejected her to marry a bunny girl. This is based on an unsubstantiated relationship which may or may not have resulted in any number of rock classics, such as 'Just Like a Woman', 'Leopard-skin Pill Box hat' and the ground breaking 'Like a Rolling Stone' inadvertently establishing Edie's place in the pantheon of pop mythology. But the primary element of any myth or legend is the circumstances of their death. Factory Girl's fast forwarding with a title card announcing her exit via overdose in 1971 renders the rest of the film a waste of time. Why not have a title card right at the beginning telling you everything that happens thus saving two hours which could be spent watching something else? Hell, why make films at all? – Just put up title cards describing them.

It's somewhat telling that there has never been a film about Warhol directly despite having been portrayed time and time again as a secondary character in anything from Bowie's turn in 'Basquiat', Jared Leto in 'I Shot Andy Warhol' and Crispin Glover's cartoon-a-like in 'The Doors' and here we have Guy Pierce playing the role as a detached phone-a-holic; his 'Loner at the Ball' persona perfectly at home as a wan shadow haunting brighter stars. I think Warhol would have relished the concept of being a cameo in his own life story.

Bobby (2006)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
"Waiter, there's a hollow point in my soup..", 7 June 2007

The 1960's was a golden age for assassins - beginning in '63 with civil rights leader Medgar Evers getting it in the back and culminating in '68 with yet another instalment in the curse of the Kennedy's with the gunning down of Robert F. If you imagine that the JFK shooting five years earlier is the Beatles of assassinations then RFK's is probably The Small Faces; nowhere near the scale or impact of the earlier act but still had a resonance that shook the decade that followed and can still be felt to this day. Affectionately remembered as BOBBY in this Emilio Estevez directorial debut Robert F. Kennedy appears in actual news footage leading up to his date with destiny at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles at the hands of a simpleton named Shiran Shiran. Around this historical event Estevez weaves a tale of twenty two guests of the hotel at which Kennedy is to give his fateful last speech in the build up to the California Primary elections. Because the story follows no one character in particular the film has the episodic feel of a soap; but even then the stories rarely involve each other and the strands are only tied up a the end when they all wind up in the pantry when the bullets start to fly - which is fair enough if that is how it went down - but it appears that, apart from the assassin himself, all the characters here are fictional which kind of makes a mockery of the end title telling us that all the other people who were injured in the shooting survived. How did they manage that when they never existed in the first place? Even the iconographic shot of 'Bus Boy' Juan Romero leaning over the dying senator has, here, been rendered as the fictional Jose Rojas. The myriad characters in question are played by a veritable smörgåsbord of A-listers. Sharon Stone and Demi Moore's scenes together are an enjoyable joust, as a beautician who's had her day and a whiskey soaked diva respectively. Less interesting, however, is Anthony Hopkins and Harry Bellefonte's yawn-fest as a pair of old retired doormen who spend their time (for reasons unexplained) hanging about the hotel playing chess and talking about knocking on. Haven't you two got homes to go to?

Lacking the creeping tension of Oliver Stone's gloriously overblown JFK, BOBBY leaves you with the sense of a dashed hope; that this senator, appearing as he did among an endless litany of political clowns, gangsters, charlatans and fools, could have really made a difference and may, just, have been the leader he pretended to be.

7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Sunglasses after dark, 7 June 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The third in Director Andrej Wadja's war trilogy, Ashes and Diamonds is set in Poland on the last day of WW2. The German High Command have issued their unconditional surrender and the Communists quickly fill the vacuum left by Hitler's goose-steppers and set up shop. Warsaw is lousy with rats and not all of them are of the rodent variety as power hungry bureaucrats jostle for position in the new order.

Having spent the last half a decade under the Nazi junta; the prospect of a future under Stalin's jackboot is met with keen opposition. Maciek, a resistance fighter, is ordered to kill a local Socialist party official, which he is more than happy to do, but soon discovers he has killed two innocent civilians instead.

Maciek books a room at a rundown hotel where his quarry is staying. While he waits for the right moment to make amends he meets and falls in love with the barmaid Krystyna. His connection to the girl leads him to rethink his part in the endless cycle of violence.

The central role of Maciek was played by the brilliant Zybigniew Cybulski who came to be known as the 'Polish James Dean.' Dean's death in a highway smash in 1955 meant he would never fulfil his promise and so would forever be frozen in movie goer's minds as a deeply troubled boy. Cybulski was 30 when he played the role that made him and gives us a glimpse of what his western counterpart could have achieved. Cybulski's Maciek is a worldly wise, vodka fuelled skirt chaser, (not a million miles away from his real life persona allegedly) and far from being made twisted and bitter by his war experiences, Cybulski plays the character as a man who laughs at the cruel joke of life that his been played on all of us and is determined to "have fun and not be swindled" even in the face of imminent annihilation.

It was a conscious decision on Wadja and Cybulski's part that despite their story taking place in 1945, ASHES AND DIAMONDS' central character was going to be 'all out' 50's cool. Parts Brando, Dean and Clift – Maciek, in his army fatigues and 'sun-glasses after dark' became a symbol for Polish teenagers who would emulate his style for years to come; and his Anna Karenna-esquire death beneath the wheels of a late night train in 1967 only exacerbated his legendary status. Even now we see shades of him in any number of Hong Kong 'glock operas' and John Cusack's 'assassin in Raybans' from Grosse Point Blank is a clearly a direct ancestor.

Often charged with being overloaded with symbolism as scenes are obscured by upside down crucifixes; characters rendered almost invisible in morning light whilst unfurling flags or inexplicably joined by white horses as they ponder the possibilities of a brighter future, ASHES AND DIAMONDS makes no secret of its Expressionist credentials. The youthful hero dying on a mountainous rubbish dump to the accompaniment of screeching crows is an image lifted almost directly from Van Gogh's apocalyptic 'Crows over Wheatfield's'.

Two years after Cybulski met his destiny on the snowy platform of Wroclaw station Wadja made EVERYTHING FOR SALE about an actor missing from the set of a film. The missing actor was clearly meant to be Cybulski who even in death dominated every scene. It still stands as probably the best film an actor never made.