with many thanks to Merlin Cinemas . Click through above to get all the listings for this and the week’s other movies..
It’s tiring writing skits every time you watch a film, and anyway, nobody appreciates or cares that criticising a movie, and justifying all your criticisms or trying to do both that and render them amusing enough to read, is actually, if not by any fair definition hard work, then at least time consuming.
It’s infinitely easier just to say that all films are quite nice than it is to explain why they’re lazily made and not worth the millions of pounds invested in them, just as it’s easier to assume that judges are just, nurses angelic, and ugly people nasty, than to fight the entire world to prove that the opposite is the case, in order for no-one to listen until fifty years have passed, you’re stone dead, and anyone who lazily agreed with the orthodoxy you exposed is now busily expounding the new orthodoxy you pre-empted, and claiming always to have believed in it.
Which is why on this one occasion, because it’s fairly unimportant who funds a piece of entertainment, and while newspaper readers deserve the honesty about the arts they’ve been denied for decades by the Fox/News International/Sky stitch up, (Sun/Times et al) patronising local corporate media cowardice (Boring Guardian, Yesterdays Boring News and so on), bourgeois bigotry (All the broadsheets), and needlessly moronic lowest common denominator mass-market crap (all the rest of the tabloids) – I’m going to just say that Weekender is quite an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours – although by no means the most entertaining way I can think of as I gratefully doze off having watched it.
If Weekender warranted a skit – it would be of a group of Drama students sitting about and allocating each other the films roles. Because if you’ve ever known the students of a Drama department – you’ll recognise the lot in Weekender.
TBH it’s really less of a film than a long soap episode screened after the watershed. You can almost hear the fuming Withnails gnashing their teeth in the back row and bitching about the rumoured sexual perversion the successful cast endured to secure big screen exposure. And if I were to pick a likely out and out Julian Clary style Queen in the Drama Department that populated Weekender (every Drama department has one) it would have to be Stephen Wight as ‘Gary Mac’, the intense but heroic chirpy Cockney who plays the ‘goodie gangster’ of the piece, although I’m quite sure whatever Stephen Wight’s sexual preferences – and who cares – he’s very unlikely to have had to compromise himself to secure the role, having a good few much better movies to his name already.
The rest of the cast, with the exception of a bit-part policeman Dave Williams, who appears to have no credits on IMDB but has definitely been in something, come from the early rungs of the showbiz ladder, or below them, and while they do all put in good performances: it’s never enough to suspend your disbelief. This is of course much more down to the direction of Karl Golden, which is rotten, than any acting, as it is with all movies good and bad.
Although, actually, meandering off for a bit, there are the odd exceptions to that rule. Kevin Spacey was one: Kevin Spacey was once such a good actor that he could do Hollywood, and then play the lead in the Iceman Cometh in London – a really amazing play you should clock if you ever get the chance – and steal the show. But then…..then he went A-list, came back to play Shakespeare, and was terrible, ceding the stage to elderly bit part TV actors who put him to shame. So maybe it’s a reciprocal thing. Maybe Hollywood, and having too much to do, and all taking the same horrible drugs, and doing the same terrible things to each other, just takes its toll on anything creative after a while. Maybe that’s why Harrison Ford, Hunter S Thompson and Paul McCartney all live in the Desert. Not together. That would be weird.
Paul: ‘Can you pass us the salt Hunter?’
Harrison: ‘He’s dead you fool.’
No – that would be odd. I mean maybe that’s why they all – individually – spend most of their time out of the loop. Because social scenes of all kinds invariably just are, or will go, bad.
Which is handy – because that’s what Weekender is all about.
In fairness, it’s a film that probably looked good on paper. And sounded good as a ‘Player’ style opening silly-pitch.
Studio Writer: ‘It’s about growing up’
Griffin Mill: ‘Rites of Passage…ok…kind of ‘Breakfast Club’
Writer: ‘But it’s a UK thing..drug culture
Writer: ‘It’s Trainspotting…meets The Acid House…meets Layer Cake..meets East Enders.’
Mill: ‘East Enders?’
Writer: ‘It’s a Brit thing. Cheap. Millions of viewers.’
Mill: ‘I like it already’.
Plus, lines like frazzled happy-house DJ ‘Captain Acid’, played by comic actor Tom Meeten, despairingly remarking ‘He’s only going down the road’, after an ecstasy inspired group hug of the number two character when he announces he’s getting a new flat, all probably made it look like a fast-paced, witty, realistic take on the ‘I’ll have an E please Bob’ late Thatcher era of crap prime-time TV and exciting new underground culture. But for that – you need a top director, and probably a big budget. Weekender has neither, and while all the cast are good, there aren’t any Kevin Spaceys or – given that the closest the film comes to is probably Layer Cake, although it steals from Trainspotting and probably other movies I’ve not seen – Colm Meaney or Michael Gambon. (In case you’re wondering – no, I didn’t rate Daniel Craig. He’s a great Bond, but the great Bonds are just that – I mean look at Sean Connery).
The cast is just too young to carry the crap script. They all do a startling job individually, and I hope Jack O’Connell – already well known – goes on to greater things, along with most of his fellow actors. No-one should have been forced to act that last scene on the bridge where he makes up with everyone, it’s thoroughly inhuman, and he should put in to Amnesty International, or seek compensation or something. For the rest of the movie he was fantastic, as were Zawe Ashton and most of the rest.
(Why am I banging on giving these people marks? Are any of them going to read www.cornwallcommunitynews.co.uk? Does their next contract hang on my verdict? I think I’ll go back to skits next time – this is taking ages and I sound like a primary school teacher end of term.)
Special award for extra effort though goes to Ben Batt – who plays the baddie, admittedly, but could still have screwed it up. The Shameless stalwart’s already been spotted and even got a part in Captain America – but it would be a lie not to say his is the best role and the best played role in the whole film. He’s exactly like the psycho-twat we’ve all met who’ve lived any life in Bwoken Bwitain, and this movie would have fallen to pieces much earlier than it did, in about the last ten minutes, without his performance. And even he barely survived the hopelessly derivative LockStock/The Sting/Goldfinger/Layer Cake baddie plays golf scene.
So whose fault is it that, although an enjoyable two hours in front of a polished soap, this is another Brit-flick without any suspense, proper comedy, horror, tragedy, or edge-of-your-seat emotion associated with the dream-like experience of being swamped by surround sound and technicolour that we should all expect from a £7 film? Well, whenever directors get gongs they always bang on about the tremendous effort of all the team don’t they, so let’s be generous and say that Karl Golden and all his team deserve to be taken out and force-fed their own cellulose until they beg to be allowed to go away for the rest of their lives and get jobs in – I don’t know – events management or something. A bit of original scripting and about a hundred per-cent more effort in the direction and with this cast, he could have had a cracking film out. As it is, even if you were in your twenties in the nineties (as none of the cast were – which makes their efforts all the more impressive), this tale of two lovable crooks who hit the jackpot setting up illegal raves only to end up running for their lives when gangsters muscle in leaves the sort of taste a mid 90s raver might have savoured in their mouth after being sold veterinary drugs instead of MDMA.