Two more for the "better hurry" market...
Danny Boyle's TRAINSPOTTING was a surprise hit on both sides of the pond twenty years ago, and Boyle has certainly kept a more-than-visible American profile with his subsequent series of hits and misses (including a Best Picture winner, no?). So the belated sequel to TRAINSPOTTING should have been a sure thing, and the trailers were all over the place in the mainstream theatres a few months ago. So what happened? We got an "arthouse only" release and it didn't even crack the Top Ten. Too bad--this "T2" is every bit as shocking, hilarious, honest and human as its predecessor.
"Twenty years later," Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Scotland to repay the money he lifted from his compadres at the end of the original film... but why? Simon, the former "Sick Boy" (Jonny Lee Miller) is having varying levels of success and risk as a pubowner and a blackmailer... he plans to set up his own "sauna" (brothel) with the help of his companion Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova, new to the saga), but pretty much every pound he makes goes straight up his nose. Spud (Ewan Bremner) is just trying to get his life back in order--either that, or end it once and for all. And not even twenty years in the slammer have done a thing to cool Begbie (Robert Carlyle) down. So he finds his own way out. Betrayals are plotted as eagerly as sincere plans for a bright future, the characters ricochet off each other as they find themselves in scrape after colorful scrape (including, as I hinted earlier, the most riotously funny "give us a song" sequence since ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING), and Boyle's trained eye never misses an opportunity to throw a new surprise at the viewer who only THINKS he or she knows what's bound to happen next. It's a rush. Don't miss it.
Speaking of "don't miss it," however, you may have to sprint even faster if you want to catch FREE FIRE on the big screen. A24 took a considerable chance giving this British import (I'm told Ben Wheatley is a 'cult director,' but the only other work I've seen of his to date remains "U is for Unearthed" from THE ABCs OF DEATH) a wide mainstream release; but what they were thinking when they put it under the treads of THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS I can only imagine. It's Boston in the late 1970s, and various factions (including Brits and Irishmen) are looking to close an arms deal in a supposedly abandoned factory warehouse. Whoops... after all the initial tension seems to be defused, two guys who have a major grudge over a completely unrelated incident recognize each other, and, well, see the title... the shootout is ON. And it GOES on. And ON. Yes, there's almost as much weapon fire on the soundtrack as there is dialogue, but that is neither a complaint nor a liability here... this is a Theatre of the Absurd showcase and is as raucously entertaining and hilarious as the gruesome circumstances will allow. The familiar faces include top-billed Sharlto Copley (DISTRICT 9, CHAPPIE) as a slimeball sporting one LOUD outfit (apparently, this is what was taking place on the East Coast while THE NICE GUYS was happening in L.A.), Armie Hammer (a suave and well-mannered facilitator to the end), Brie Larson ("You're a bird... nobody's going to shoot the bird!"), and Cillian Murphy ("That's not what I ordered!"); and that's before Patrick Bergin and another mystery partner crash the party. It's Tarantino but with a straightforward narrative; it's a Spaghetti Western (complete with a dirt floor and a Morricone-inspired electronic riff on the soundtrack); it's politically incorrect... oh, hell, it's everything you could possibly love in such a film and you're almost out of chances to see it already.
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