lN'l E R‘vitv.’ MIKE HODGES
Director of Croupier
‘A conjuring trick made by two con-men,’ is how Get Carter director Mike Hodges succinctly describes his gambling drama Croupier. The hustlers in question are himself and the writer Paul Mayersberg, whose screenplay credits include the Nic Roeg movies Eureka and The Man Who Fell To Earth. Mayersberg’s script about a croupier who becomes involved in a casino heist found its way to Hodges via what was then the Channel Four Films department. ‘It needed work,’ explains Roeg, ‘but I liked the themes in the writing, especially the idea that things in our lives are actually far more random than we care to believe.’ That thought was extremely prophetic, as it turned out.
Made back in 1999, the finished film struggled to attract much interest from UK distributors, and it was left to the British Film Institute to provide the film with a very limited release. Across the Atlantic though, where the film was initially shown at a Hodges retrospective in Los Angeles, Croupier received ecstatic reviews and became a significant arthouse hit, playing on as many as 150 screens (big numbers for a non-commercial film). Now on the brink of seeing Croupier re-released in the UK, I ask Hodges why he thinks his film has experienced such a turnaround in fortunes.
‘I think people were initially wary of Croupier because it defies the usual commercial rules,’ explains the late sixtysomething. ‘There’s very little music, and there’s lots of voice-over. It’s not an intellectual fim, but it grapples with interesting subjects. I think it’s crafty and subversive. Americans though seemed to love the idea of
Croupier’s unexpected success has given Hodges a new lease of creative life
somebody watching people lose; their ﬁlms are often about success and have to be warm. Croupier is the antithesis of those sort of ﬁlms, which perhaps accounts for its success. And the fact is the whole of their country has been conditioned by the principles of gambling since its inception.’ That would be the difference between La Vegas and Ascot, then?
Two years ago Hodges was seriously contemplating retiring from ﬁlmmaking, and devoting his time to painting, sculpture and gardening at his Dorset home. Croupier’s unexpected success has given him a new lease of creative life. He’s completed a documentary about serial killer ﬁlms for an independent cinema
channel in America, for which he got to meet the likes of David Fincher, Michael Mann, Richard Fleischer and John McNaughton, and he’s rehearsing a play in London about the movie business, which he describes as ‘mad and funny, but then you can’t write about the film industry without things being totally surreal.’ Hodges ought to know. Come the autumn he hopes to start shooting a new feature, I Will Sleep When I’m Dead, which will re-unite him with Croupier star Clive Owen.
‘There’s life in the old dog yet,’ he grins. (Tom Dawson) I Selected release from Fri 7 Jun. See revrew, page 29.
LESBIAN AND GAY FILM FESTIVAL ON TOUR
New movies from around the world
Dyke icon Kelly McGilIis finally plays gay
Offering a whole galaxy of ‘specialist' mowes to suit the most eclectic tastes. London‘s Lesbian And Gay Film Festival on tour reaches Scotland. Highlights include Kelly McGilIis. dyke icon ever since Top Gun and The Accused in the sexy Australian mystery. The Monkey's Mask (pictured). A whodunit set in Sydney's womens' poetry scene. McGilIis is apparently untorgettably sexy as a lesbian professor. From the producer of High Art comes The Girl. about obsessive love between two beautiful women. which Diva magazine called. “A steamy. Sultry noir experience. Dan Futterman, the young lead of The Birdcage stars in the American independent. Urban/a and according to the New York Post he gives. ‘one of the best performances of the year.‘ He is supported by Alan Cummings and
Fassbinder diva Barbra Sukowa. Another American Festival entry is Big Eden. a teelgreat valentine of a movie about a gay man returning to his childhood home in Montana. It has already won six awards at international ﬁlm festivals.
From Thailand comes the feelgood comedy, The Iron Ladies. It is a bizarre but true stOry about a cross-dressing volley ball team marching to the Thai national championships in 1996. France provides us with visuals and graphic sex in Presgue Pien (Almost Nothing) where Stephane Ridleau of Wild Reeds tame plays a Speedo-clad heartthrob causing havoc to an 18-year-old boy on his family seaside holiday. Escape To Life is a documentary about the extraordinary gay offspring of Thomas Mann. and there's a chance to see Bona Comcopia. a compilation of the best bits of the unique Kenneth Williams' career.
It is a Film Festival for everyone and it you want a taste of how eclectic and rich gay life is. sample the lesbian and gay shorts. For the boys there is Cock And Bull Stories. while there is Titbits for the girls. Not every film will be a masterpiece. but so what! Take an Opponunity to discover new talent. Buy yourself a season ticket and chat to the ‘specialist' festivalgoers sitting next to you. Who knows. it might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. (John Binnie) I GET. Glasgow. Mon 4 Jun—Mon 2 Jul; Film/louse. Edinburgh from Mon 2 Jul.
WAR PEARL HARBOUR (15) Mins tbc
Pearl Harbour is one of the most expensive films ever made. according to Jerry Bruckheimer, the Hollywood producer responsible with the late Don Simpson for launching the 80s ‘high concept‘ movie (see Top Gun) which has mutated into noughties popcorn trash (see Gone In Sixty Seconds). Pearl Harbour is prime material for Bruckheimer, who is working once more with his director on The Rock and Armageddon. Michael Bay. from a script by Randall Wallace (Braveheart) and on a budget supplied by Disney.
On Sunday morning. 7 December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the US Naval base at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii. The attack devastated US forces; in response America came out of isolation and entered the theatre of war. which for Japan ended with the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
It's going to be quite an achievement. not merely recreating the bombing of Pearl Harbour (the film's scenes of destruction are likely to make James Cameron's sinking of the Titanic look like a drop in the ocean), but also turning America's catastrophic defeat into a dramatic victory. To this end Bay and Wallace are using the destruction of Pearl Harbour as a backdrop to the lives of a small group of individuals. As Wallace says. ‘I believe the fate of the world lies in the hands of each individual.‘ Heroes. in other words.
Pearl Harbour's heroes are two young flyboys (played by square—(awed Ben Affleck and pretty Josh Hartnett) and a beautiful, dedicated nurse (Kate Beckinsale. whose modelling of 403 fashion has reSLilted in her being hailed as the English Kathryn Hepburn). Scotland's own Ewen Bremner also makes an appearance. as ‘Red'.
Bruckheimer, Bay and Wallace insist authenticity is high on their list of priorities, but if you recreate history in the form of an old-fashioned war mowe how accurate can you be? Let's not forget the outrage caused by Hollywood's World War II adventure. U-577 — even Tony Blair was criticising Tinseltown tor erroneously taking the credit for breaking the German communication codes. Maybe Bruckheimer and cos authenticity is of the dramatic type. and romance and heroics against the backdrop of mass destruction is authentic Hollywood.
(Miles Fielder) I General release from Fri 7 Jun. Unable to be reviewed at press time, Pearl Harbour will be star rated next issue.
All’s fair in love and war
24 Mar? Jun 2001 THE LIST 27