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Monthly Archives: November 2007

There is indeed a central problem with a technically almost immaculate film: the gangsters are not really gangsters, sympathy for the main character obscures the question why anybody would care to hunt the guy Franky in the first place. Because he is a ruthless murderer, without any morale, without care for any of the kids and parents he kills be providing the drugs that destroy their lives. This has been heavily criticized in several media (the podcast from Filmspotting, for example, for a virtual rant, see link below), and I don’t need to repeat. But: I do not blame the authors of the film, really, but could rather imagine that this is to blame on a society where the origin of the money is of less important than its volume. And I actually think that the film shows that pretty well when those who killed most ruthlessly get the best seats at a boxing match. The clumsy effort to include moral judgement by cutting some pictures of dying mothers is to be blamed for making the film look dodgy – had they left that out, the film would have depicted the drug dealer in the way society treated him: a successful businessman with the courage to go new ways of reducing costs. This would have allowed judgements about society without the need to spell them out.

Apart from this, the film is solidly written, well performed and – of course, it’s Ridley Scott – beautifully designed and filmed. It is also not too surprising or dramatic, which I suppose owes to the fact that it is based on a true story. [Did I mention that I do not belive real life makes good film? I find most biopics quite boring (aspecially musicians’, but maybe that is transferable to murderers – I will decide after having watched Zodiac next week…]. It feels sometimes like "motives from previous films, but re-made in a more straightforward fashion", and that comes about sometimes as being too straightforward and lacking the craziness and anarchy or viciousness or just sheer gore that moved those others (Caritto’s Way, GoodFellas, Scarface…) beyond average.

Check out for example:

As most real-life stories, this one has its flaws: you cannot invent a drama that wasn’t there, you cannot decide on whether the hero survives or dies, etc. However: the director uses the elements in a way that puts elements into the right dramatic place by using flashbacks or flashforwards cleverly. And the life is quite stunning: a self-made bike designer amidst a high-tech multi-million machinery, and up against a world cycling association that has the strange desire of having innovation only in bike materials, but not in ergonomics. It would be interesting to analyse why that was, whether it is mostly because of individual atavism and aversion or whether there are more fundamental philosophies behind that position. The way Graham Oebree dealed with the everchanging rules trying to get him out of competition was sometimes clever, sometimes dumb, with triumphs as well as smashing defeats. Maybe a well-made documentary would have made the better film, but with the excellent performances of just about everybody involved (including Pippin or the other Hobbit from Lord of the Rings, that was fun) made up for it. There are oddities, such as the fact that Oebree almost never trains seriously (6 – 8 hours a day, anyone?), but In any case: I suppose only people who love cycling (watching or doing) will see this film – for them (us!), it’s a must!

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