'When you see Malcolm McDowell, you just go: "fuck, he's really scary'”
There may be too many British gangster movies around right now but that's no reason to ignore PAUL McGUIGAN's terrifying venture into the ultraviolent world of 19605 London. Words: Brian Donaldson
When an artist is sweating blood over a project. they must feel like the loneliest person in the world. The vacuum they exist in only squeezes to a close when the film is released and vies with the opposition for cinema space.
In Paul McGuigan's case. it's hardly his fault that he has made a British gangster movie at a time when everyone from cross-dressing comics (liddie lzzard). girl groups (All Saints) and dirty midfielders (Vinnie Jones) are getting tooled up. Should McGuigan’s follow-up to Tltt’ xlt'ld House and Playing Nintendo Willi (ior/ (his (‘hannel 4 documen- tary about American kids with AIDS) fail due to the current proliferation of this genre. it will be a crying shame.
Malcolm McDowell plays an unnamed gangster (aka No l) reflecting on his career while contemplating the impending release from prison of Freddie Mays (David Thewlis). the man he replaced as the kingpin of their London turf. In flashback. Paul Bettany (the chain-smoking villain from Killer Net and the teetotal hero alongside Siobhan Redmond in livery Woman Knows A Secret) plays the young gangster as an impressive cross between I’er/orntanee's James Fox and a young David Bowie (the thin white mook‘.’).
Much attention will fall inevitably. but deservedly.
32 THE lIST 8—2? Jun 2000
'This is more of an old school 605 movie rather than one of those 905 lost causes.’ Paul McGuigan
upon McDowell's return to form. 'Iiven he would admit that some of his career moves have been a bit dodgy.’ notes McGuigan. ‘But he's as good as Finney or Caine: he just hasn‘t been interested in suffering for his art in the same way. He’s got this amazing charisma and there is this weight of public perception. so when you see him. the subconscious just goes: "fuck. he’s really scary”.'
Rather than indulging in the knockabout style of
the current batch of UK crime films. Gangster No l is unﬂinching about evil. the lengths people will go to to preserve or change their status and the violence required for someone to make their mark. ‘I didn't want to make a "watch it. guv" kind of gangster ﬂick.’ admits the director. ‘To be honest. I was a bit nervous about making a gangster film because I was entering into a genre that was riddled with cliches. Being from Scotland. I thought I could put a new spin on it and I wasn‘t anal about getting all those cockney gags in; this is more of an old school (30s movie rather than one of the 90s lost causes.’
While many of those lost causes should have been withdrawn for sheer artlessness (the All Saints” ill— fatcd Honest actually has). McGuigan was concerned that Gangster No l was set to feel the wrath of those sensitive types in the censors” office. ‘There was one scene that I was worried they would go for.‘ he says of a brutal and very long torture scene shown from the victim‘s point of view. ‘I don't want to sound all grown up or anything but if you show violence I think you have to show the full consequences and stand tip for it. rather than trying to make it hip and trendy and put music behind it. There was a time when people were saying to me “this will never. ever pass" and that kind of comes into your thinking.‘
Selected release from Fri 9 Jun. See review.
Lights, camera, action . . .
LATE NIGHT SHOPPING, the feature debut of Saul Metzstein (director) and Jack Lothian (writer), gives a new meaning to after hours consuming as the film gets underway for eight weeks in the city. Billed as the 'ultimate late night slacker movie', Late Night Shopping is a comedy about sex and, erm, shelf-stacking. It’s also the first feature from Angus Lamont's Ideal World Films and the Glasgow Film Office's debut as financier (in partnership with FilmFour).
Metzstein and Lothian previously collaborated on the short film, Santa Claws, which was screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Those inspired by this news to try their hand at a short film could do worse than contact Edinburgh's Film & Video Access Centre (0131 220 0220), which runs the starter training and production scheme Small Wonders. In Glasgow, aspiring Orson Welles should, in the first instance, contact G-MAC (0141 553 2620), which runs similar schemes under the Screenworks and Cineworks banners. Those with a short film already under their belt might care to submit it to Kinofilm 2000, Manchester's International Short Film And Video Festival, which runs 23—29 October. The deadline for submissions to Kinofilm 2000 is Friday 16 June.
GRADUATION FILMS FROM Edinburgh College Of Art, Telford College and Napier University are to receive their annual screening at the Filmhouse on Tuesday 20, Thursday 22 and Monday 26 June, respectively. Outside of a film festival, this is the place to catch the filmmakers of tomorrow, today.
LOCAL BOY DONE good Kevin Macdonald makes a personal appearance to talk about his Oscar- winning, controversial documentary, One Day In September, at Edinburgh's Filmhouse and Glasgow’s GFT on Friday 9 June and Sunday 11 June, respectively. 60 ahead, support your local filmmaker.
Left to right: Late Night Shopping's Saul Metzstein, Jack Lothian and producer Angus Lamont