Hello Mr _ Mackenzne

. Two decades before Lock Stock And

Two Smoking Barrels made cockney

; capers flavour of the month, JOHN

MACKENZIE made a British gangster

' movie which towers over Guy Ritchie's '- super hyped opus. Words: Rob Fraser

As The Long (land l-‘riddv celebrates its 20th anniversary with a re-release and the director's latest film. When The Sky I’d/ls. hits cinemas. Scotsman

; John Mackenzie recalls receiving a script with a great

deal of topical relevance.

3 her ugly head.‘ Mackenzie remembers with a shudder.

. committed

‘Thatcher had just reared

‘And I thought of Harold as a Thatcherite gangster. A capitalist thug. pitted against a terrorist

i organisation. he thinks he can win because he doesn‘t ; recognise fanatical idealism.‘

This isn‘t merely a revisionist view imposed on

the film as the political subtext is an integral part of

the anti-hero‘s dramatic DNA. ‘I loved the character

of Harold Shand. He gave these great speeches a 3 would-be mogul promoting the delights of London to

{ That’s why they loved him in America; lots of

foreign investors which is where the satire and irony arose. but he was also a very serious criminal. The character was multi-layered. and Bob was able to bring all that out.‘

The Bob in question Hoskins is an electrifying figure in The Long Good Friday. and Mackenzie recognises his star's contribution. 'You can‘t imagine the film without Bob.‘ he says. admiration evident in his voice. ‘lt was unusual to find a British actor at the time with so much energy and physical presence.

' reviews compared him to Cagney.‘

26 THE “ST 25 May~8 Jun 2000

When The Sky Falls: 'They got about three quarters of the way thro

ugh the script when she was killed'

Twenty years on and the director’s latest work features another superb central performance. although the roles of Harold Shand and journalist Sinead Hamilton couldn't be more different. “Joan Allen [The lee Storm. Pleasantville] is a real pro with tremendous talent; an actress rather than a movie star.‘ enthuses Mackenzie. ‘We didn't want to make Sinead a knight in shining armour; she was a real rounded. complex person, and Joan brought those ambiguities to the character.’

The ‘real rounded person‘ in question is Veronica

Independent who waged a one-woman campaign against Dublin drug dealers which culminated in her murder in 1996. Mackenzie is aware of the difficulties inherent in bringing actual events to the screen. but feels he has the implicit blessing of his late subject.

‘Veronica approached (screenwriter) Michael Sheridan about five years ago about making a film around the Dublin drug gangs.‘ The writer pointed out

. _ what was obvious to Thatcher had just everyone except reared her ugly head Guerin herself. ‘He and I thought of said to her “the real Harold as a Thatcherite

story here is you“. She agreed. but gangster.’ John Mackenzie

insisted they change her name. so it wouldn’t be a biopic. They got about three quarters of the way through the script when she was killed.’

So it was that Veronica became Sinead. and Mackenzie was given the dramatic licence he needed for a movie as opposed to a documentary. ‘We‘ve used that freedom to get at the real truth of the character and the situation through drama.’ he says.

I i l I

Rough cuts i Lights, camera, action . . . E

OVERHEARD IN CANNES: So, you 1 know Lars von Trier and Bjork cleaned up with Dancer In The Dark, but did you know Terry Gilliam was promoting his next film, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, reuniting him with Johnny Depp? . . . Following Pi and Requiem ForA Dream, his collaboration with writer Hubert Selby Jr, Darren Aronofsky has been approached to direct the next Batman film . . . John McTiernan (Die Hard) is to remake the 705 sci-fi sports film, Rollerball, with star Jean Reno . . . ’Though she seems professional, she isn’t acting at all. I felt like her executioner, dragging her through these emotions.’ Lars von Trier (Breaking The Waves) on creative differences with Bjork. Next up for von Trier is a third instalment of The Kingdom . . .

1 Britain's Film Council CEO John Woodard stated, ’We will never

again invest in underdeveloped literary adaptions’ (a likely story) . . . Geri Halliwell stole into Cannes to

' promote Therapy, which starts shooting this autumn . . . Scotland's

deputy minister for culture, Rhona Brankin, announced £20 million of public money will fund Scottish filmmaking over the next three years . . . Early footage of Catherine

. . ~ Breillat's (Romance) recently . (ruerin. a crime reporter for Ireland s Sunday '

completed coming-of-age drama, Fat Girl, was screened . . . 'The idea

is for an alternative view of the

culture. I'm not a fashionable

, director. But, you know, fuck

fashion,’ commented Lynne Ramsay l on setting up a director-led UK

production company . . . Menahem

Golan announced his new film,

3 Elian: The Gonzales-Boy Story, while

at the other end of the commerce- art scale Peter Greenaway

announced his next project, The

Tulse Luper Suitcase: A Trilogy . . . Finally, John Malkovich is currently

shooting his live (not puppet) action film directing debut, The Dancer

Upstairs. BACK IN BRITAIN, Roman Polanski

. makes Mark Cousins sick in the latest Scene By Scene (BBCZ. Sat 27

before admitting to concern regarding those who

knew and loved the real person. ‘I do feel a responsibility to the family. I would hate them to say this is a total travesty.‘

Reports coming out of Dublin suggest the (iuerins

are less than thrilled at reliving their traumas. but

Mackenzie can‘t be blamed for this. He and Joan Allen should be congratulated for their compassionate. intelligent work.

The Long Good Friday opens Fri 26 May. See review. When The Sky Falls opens Fri 16 Jun.

May, 11pm). The pair discuss the director's oeuvre while eating

oysters, to which Cousins was


Bjork in Dancer In The Dark