London Kills Me (1991)
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The characters are very real, and you truly begin to feel for each one of them. Even the supporting cast gives such life to their characters. Of course Steve McIntosh is great as Muff Diver, McIntosh never disappoints with his acting.
It's not a documentary, so I won't really go into the subject of it giving a realistic image of the early 90s England or not.
Clint wants out of the drug life and to do this he aspires to be a waiter. Aim high, I always say. Brad Dorif, or a faxed photo of him, or quite possibly a curly wig on a stick, it was hard to tell, offers to hire Clint if he gets a pair of shoes.
Clint, and a huge entourage, apparently wander the whole of England trying to get him some shoes. Eventually, they end up at a suburban home. Whose isn't clear. Mum helps a girl shoot up. Oh, now THERE'S some realism for you! Mrs. Brady may have been a ridiculous stereotype of American housewives, but she never helped Marsha tie off and find a vein. Good God! Dad comes home and sings some Elvis tunes and then chases the kids away.
Why didn't Clint borrow some money and buy shoes at a second hand store? Why didn't he go to a church and ask a kindly nun for some help? Why didn't he hang out in front of a shoe store and panhandle? I just don't know! None of these things seemed to be beneath him. Benevolent groups, like Goodwill and the Salvation Army have stores to help people. I know people who work there! If someone with no money showed up and needed shoes, the staff would give the person some shoes. Maybe not Prada or Gucci, but some form of foot covering. Not many of these groups hand out cell phones to the underprivileged, but shoes are usually no problem. What a dumb concept. The world, or at least the western part of it, simply isn't that cruel. In England, maybe it's from "The Queen's Royal Charity" rather than Goodwill, but people who need shoes do get them.
Aside from the quest for shoes, there was no discernable plot to get in the way of the action. Not that it made the movie any quicker or more bearable, mind you. Despite checking the tape jacket several times, I was not watching the 20-hour extended version, it only seemed that way.
Did Clint get his shoes? Did the cardboard cutout of Brad Dourif hire him at the restaurant? Did I ever watch anything else foreign ever again?
Yes, yes, and yes.
As for the fate of this particular film, I decided to end it all. I took out my S&W .45 and shot a half-inch hole through the cassette. Blammo! (I made sure to rewind it first.) I put it back in the tape sleeve, returned it to the rental store, and amazingly NO ONE EVER CALLED TO ASK ABOUT IT!!! Meaning, of course, that no one else rented it for at least the remaining three years I lived in that city. Others knew something that I didn't. Live and learn.
BTW, if you rent something you've never seen before and someone has actually put a bullet through it, take it as a sign. And if you work at the Kroger video department, I'm just kidding.
Footnote: this classic has yet to see the light of day on DVD, for which we should be eternally thankful to the digital gods.
This movie, however, shoots for the same heights but misses badly. Characters are unlikeable. Situations ridiculous. Language is relentlessly coarse but doesn't further the characterizations. Perhaps the hero's quest for a decent pair of shoes is meant as a parable -- if so, it was a rough little story that didn't teach me anything.
Kureishi's other works remain some of my favorites, but after this movie was over I needed a shower. Looking for a good rental? Try "Sammy and Rosie" or "Laundrette." If you have two or three nights to watch the tape, find a video store with "Buddha."
The problem with it is that even with Brad Dourif in it (met him - nice guy) the film has absolutely no international appeal whatsoever. It is so mired in the late eighties - early nineties that is has no universality and the world it portrays - a rather dull UK with a wasted Alun Armstrong as an Elvis impersonator - is completely misleading for any international viewer.
It's interesting that Hanif hasn't flooded the world since with stuff he's directed - no surprise on this evidence - he's a great writer - stick to that.
The £90 I got went on fares and food - shame it didn't put me off a career as an actor - might have stopped me wasting 2 years at drama school!