Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, and A Life Less Ordinary

Danny Boyle week continues with a look at his early films from the 90’s:

Shallow Grave  (1994)
Three hard to please flatmates in Scotland (including a then unknown Ewan McGregor) search for a fourth.  Unfortunately for them, they ultimately pick the wrong one who quickly ends up dead, leaving behind a suitcase full of money.  Will they keep it?  And if so, what are the consequences?  How far would you go for a suitcase full of money?  This dark British thriller is very tense and the cast is quite good.  (I may be a bit late on this, but I think that McGregor kid is going places.  The Force is strong within him.)  Considering this was Boyle’s first film, and it was made for very little money, it’s impressive. 
Grade:  B+

Trainspotting  (1996)
Boyle quickly hit his stride with his sophomore outing.  This film about a group of Scottish junkies, also starring Ewan McGregor, is stylish and slick and has a huge cult following.  It’s truly sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll.  Now I’m not generally into drug films, but this one is a classic for sure.  Look for a standout performance by Robert Carlyle (who gained more notoriety the following year with ‘The Full Monty’) as Begbie, their psychopath friend.  ‘But he’s a mate, so what can you do?’  The film certainly has its share of hard to watch scenes and gross out humor, so it’s not for the weak stomach.  (I still cringe thinking about ‘the worst toilet in Scotland.’)  But if you don’t fear a look into the dark side of youth, this one is for you.
Grade:  A-

A Life Less Ordinary  (1997)
Once again, Ewan McGregor stars, this time as an employee enraged by getting fired and takes revenge on his boss by kidnapping his daughter, played by Cameron Diaz.  Unbeknownst to them, two desperate angels under pressures of their own (played by Holly Hunter and Delroy Lindo) are steering their actions to try to make them fall in love and restore god’s faith in humanity.  This underrated, fast paced fable blends action and romance in a unique way.  The dream supporting cast includes Ian Holm, Dan Hedaya, Stanley Tucci, and Tony Shalhoub.  And once again Boyle nails the soundtrack with a mix of electronica and bands like R.E.M. that fit the film just right.  Very original!
Grade:  A-

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow when I review Danny Boyle’s films from the 2000’s!

1 comment:

  1. When I think of Trainspotting, I always think of the worst toilet in Scotland. It sticks with you.

    Definitely enjoying Danny Boyle week. I had no idea all these movies were his!