Dr G’s Random, Inconsistent, and Unqualified Film Recommendations
The Limey, Steven Soderbergh. 1999. The most sophisticated of Soderbergh’s films, a compact, nifty postmodern confection that hews close to its roots in both California noir and British gangster movies. The casting is metatextual genius: Sixties icons Peter Fonda and Barry Newman play the baddies; has-been Brit bad boy Stamp is the ex-con hero out to avenge his daughter’s death. We recognize them for who they are yet still believe them in character, which creates strange resonance. But it’s the editing that steals the show. The narrative is mostly flashback from Stamp’s perspective on the flight home from LA. The weird cross-cutting, the out of sequence dialogue, the odd mixing of background sound from one scene to another—and the infamous use of clips from Ken Loach’s 1967 film starring Stamp to create backstory—all create a narrative grammar that elevates the film into the art house. That the whole thing plays like an enjoyably slick Hollywood flick is testament to the director’s canny powers. Me moment: I met actor Luis Guzman when he was filming on location on the block where I lived in Harlem; nice guy!