Tag Archives: Robert Carlyle

T2 Trainspotting (2017, Danny Boyle)

T2 Trainspotting is a victory lap. John Hodge’s screenplay is thorough, thoughtful, cheap, and effective. It goes so far as to integrate unused portions of the original Trainspotting novel to try to get build up some character relationships. Because T2 is an expansive sequel. It’s got a contrived inciting action, which Hodge and director Boyle don’t even try to cover. The contrived nature of it is charming, after all. A slightly twisted kind of charming, but still charming.

Boyle’s a little too comfortable and a little too mature of a director to try much with the film’s visual aesthetic. There’s newly created Super 8 flashback footage–revealing the gang’s childhood friendships–and there’s even cleaned up footage from the original film. Only all the actors are creating new characters and have little connection to either set of flashbacks. Hodge and Boyle try to cover the inconsistency with the charming.

The film starts with Ewan McGregor returning to Edinburgh after twenty years in exile. He used to be a junkie and awesome narrator, now he’s got the Dutch equivalent of associate’s degree in accounting, he loves to jog, and he’s dissatisfied. Ewen Bremner is still a junkie. He’s trying to improve because he really loves his girlfriend and kid, even though they’ve written him off. Jonny Lee Miller is a failing bar-owner and an aspiring blackmailer who’s crushing hard on his sex worker partner (Anjela Nedyalkova). Robert Carlyle is an escaped convict and his son doesn’t want to go into the home invasion trade with him. Son wants to go to college for hotel management.

There are jokes about iPhones, gentrification, modern music, lots more. They’re solid enough jokes, but it’s a Trainspotting cast reuniting the original cast, original director, original screenwriter, original producer and there are no James Bond jokes. It’s like Hodge and Boyle forgot what people enjoyed about the first film’s energy. It’s not an apology, but it’s indifferent. McGregor has one good rant and it could change the movie and it doesn’t. Because McGregor’s not narrating. Because T2 meanders too much for a narrator.

Everyone–except poor Miller–is a protagonist. It starts with McGregor, but then transfers to Bremner through Nedyalkova. Nedyalkova is T2’s secret weapon, even though the film does absolutely nothing for her. She holds the second act together because Hodge and Boyle never figure out the right balance for McGregor, Miller, and Bremner. Carlyle’s on his own for most of the picture, in this dark, dangerous family drama. Carlyle’s story might be where Boyle shows the most interest, actually.

Except he seems to acknowledge Bremner’s giving the film’s far and away best performance, even when he’s actively ditching Bremner for McGregor and Miller’s silly bromance. Hodge’s script is all about personal growth, only he’s also got these goony character twists.

While Bremner and Carlyle have strong characterizations, Miller and McGregor don’t. Miller gets to be black comedy comic relief and McGregor is doing this coming home thing. Only no one wants to commit to a character, not McGregor, not Boyle, not Hodge. They probably should’ve brought him in later.

But they didn’t. Because McGregor’s no one’s favorite protagonist. Except maybe McGregor. Hodge favors Nedyalkova, Boyle likes Carlyle. Everything McGregor gets outside his one rant is thin.

It’s technically superior–great editing from Jon Harris, Anthony Dod Mantle’s photography is spot-on. Boyle’s really in love with the locations. Adds to the charm or something. Sadly the characters have no connection to the locations and neither does Hodge’s script.

Bremner’s great, Nedyalkova’s great, Carlyle’s quite good with a thin character and a lot to do. McGregor’s fine. Miller’s got some good moments, but Hodge doesn’t do him any favors.

T2 is good. It’s expertly made, solidly written, confident; it’s occasionally accomplished; it’s also a really safe drama about male bonding. The movie doesn’t take a single chance. Any time it even flirts with the idea, Boyle unfortunately reins it in. Usually via another charming, manipulative, and narratively pliable sequence.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Danny Boyle; screenplay by John Hodge, based on novels by Irvine Welsh; director of photography, Anthony Dod Mantle; edited by Jon Harris; production designers, Patrick Rolfe and Mark Tildesley; produced by Andrew Macdonald, Boyle, Bernard Bellew, and Christian Colson; released by TriStar Pictures.

Starring Ewan McGregor (Mark), Ewen Bremner (Daniel), Jonny Lee Miller (Simon), Anjela Nedyalkova (Veronika), and Robert Carlyle (Frank).


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Trainspotting (1996, Danny Boyle)

Trainspotting moves. More than anything, director Boyle concerns himself with the film’s pace, whether through Masahiro Hirakubo’s glorious editing or lead Ewan McGregor’s narration, the film immediately sets a fast pace and keeps it throughout the film. Nothing can slow the film down, not even big events, because there’s no real plot. It’s sort of a character study, though McGregor’s narration should make him far too subjective to be the character studied. Only John Hodge’s screenplay doesn’t use the narration to move the plot–it does occasionally help keep track of the summary storytelling–mostly that narration is Trainspotting‘s version of exposition. The film drops the viewer into McGregor’s world of heroin addicts and their acquaintances (and their families and their acquaintances’ families); the narration gives the viewer some context. Not a lot, but some.

The first act of Trainspotting, which it turns out is a flashback–Boyle and Hodge only have ninety minutes and change and they maximize it through a lot of nice narrative tricks–introduces the lovable cast of heroin addicts. McGregor’s the most normal, most relatable, Ewen Bremner’s an adorable screw-up, Jonny Lee Miller’s the sort of loathsome but amusingly obsessed with Sean Connery James Bond movies one, Robert Carlyle’s the non-using, loathsome, awkwardly funny, psychotically violent one. Kevin McKidd’s another square. The heroin addiction gives Boyle and company opportunities to visually impress, but it’s not really the center of the film. The relationship between the characters is the center, only it’s not a particularly healthy relationship. Trainspotting has a sort of pithiness to its self-awareness. It’s a whirlwind. It doesn’t calm down until after the end credits have started.

All of the acting is excellent. McGregor’s great, but he has nowhere near as much time to shine in his regular performance as he does in the narration. Carlyle’s just too distracting. Even when Carlyle doesn’t have lines, he’s distracting. He’s this incredibly strange, incredibly dangerous presence in the film. Even though Boyle can visualize the heroin high, realizing McGregor’s internal experience on film, it’s almost impossible to understand how Carlyle can exist in the film. There’s fantastical and then there’s otherworldly. To Boyle, Hodge and Carlyle’s credit, they realize the character. They make it work. They make you believe the bull belongs in the china shop.

Nice smaller supporting turns from Peter Mullan, James Cosmo and Eileen Nicholas. Kelly Macdonald has a good part as McGregor’s love interest.

Great photography from Brian Tufano. Great soundtrack.

Trainspotting is an easy film about difficult subjects. It’s painstakingly objective but almost disinterested in the idea it should be judgmental. There’s no time for it. Boyle’s got to keep things moving.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Danny Boyle; screenplay by John Hodge, based on the novel by Irvine Welsh; director of photography, Brian Tufano; edited by Masahiro Hirakubo; production designer, Kave Quinn; produced by Andrew MacDonald; released by Miramax Films.

Starring Ewan McGregor (Renton), Ewen Bremner (Spud), Jonny Lee Miller (Sick Boy), Kevin McKidd (Tommy), Robert Carlyle (Begbie), Kelly Macdonald (Diane), Pauline Lynch (Lizzy), Shirley Henderson (Gail), James Cosmo (Mr. Renton), Eileen Nicholas (Mrs. Renton) and Peter Mullan (Swanney).


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The World Is Not Enough (1999, Michael Apted)

Denise Richards is not convincing as a nuclear physicist. That statement made, Apted might get her best performance ever in this film. It’s still awful. Her lack of charisma is painful; one has to wonder how Brosnan and Apted were able to put up with it, given the rest of the film’s considerable accomplishments.

The World is Not Enough probably has ten great action sequences. Something about Apted’s direction lets him ground the general Bond absurdity and create these transfixing sequences. Not all of these scenes are important–there’s a couple for pure padding purposes–but Apted makes them work. Given he’s not known as an action director, it’s interesting to see his sensibilities translate so well to the genre.

Besides the direction, the film’s got a pretty solid script. It’s got some goofiness–it’s not particularly believable Judi Dench is a sentimental moron–but it’s fine. There’s some smiles, if not laughs, and it moves well.

And besides Richards, the supporting cast is excellent. Sophie Marceau gets the primary female role and does well with it. The other principle is Robert Carlyle, who gives one of his great, chameleon performances here. While it might have been simpler just to mimic his Trainspotting performance, he instead creates a nearly sympathetic, utterly evil villain. And Robbie Coltrane’s back. He’s hilarious.

The film survives Richards mostly thanks to Brosnan, who carries the weight of their scenes all himself. But he’s also just very assured here.

Still, I can’t help wondering who else auditioned for Richard’s role.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Michael Apted; screenplay by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Bruce Feirstein, based on a story by Purvis and Wade and characters created by Ian Fleming; director of photography, Adrian Biddle; edited by Jim Clark; music by David Arnold; production designer, Peter Lamont; produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring Pierce Brosnan (James Bond), Sophie Marceau (Elektra King), Robert Carlyle (Renard), Denise Richards (Dr. Christmas Jones), Robbie Coltrane (Valentin Zukovsky), Desmond Llewelyn (Q), John Cleese (R), Maria Grazia Cucinotta (Cigar Girl), Samantha Bond (Miss Moneypenny), Michael Kitchen (Tanner), Colin Salmon (Robinson), Goldie (Bullion), Serena Scott Thomas (Dr. Molly Warmflash) and Judi Dench (M).


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28 Weeks Later (2007, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo)

If 28 Weeks Later weren’t executive produced by Danny Boyle and Alex Garland and produced by Andrew Macdonald, it would not be any better (in some ways it would be worse) but it certainly would be less offensive. Before seeing the film, I remarked to friends about what made 28 Days Later, in the end, work. It wasn’t cheap. Weeks isn’t just cheap, it’s also gimmicky. It’s the worst written, well-made, frequently well-acted film I’ve seen in quite a while. It’s not just a bad script, it’s a cheap, incompetent one. The setup for the film is fine, but then instead of playing the Drew Barrymore role in Scream (in what I understood to be a thirty minute or so episode, I had understood the film to be episodic… but it doesn’t really make up for going to see it), Robert Carlyle becomes the subject, sort of, of the whole film. At first he’s a tragically human coward, but at the thirty minute or forty minute mark, he becomes the zombie version of Jack Nicholson in The Shining. I suppose it’s lousy to spoil that one for interested viewers, but really, if you’re going to like a piece of crap like this film, you’re not going to care.

But the gimmicks don’t end with Carlyle becoming a super-zombie (he’s apparently got some consciousness and a real hatred for his family). No, see, Carlyle’s wife (played by Catherine McCormack, which I had no idea about until I looked at IMDb), who he left for dead, see… she’s a carrier, but immune. So, the whole plot rests around Carlyle’s family. How convienient his lame and fearless kids have just come to London, so they can restart the zombie holocaust.

As a director, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo shoots and edits some great montages. It’s all very frenetic, but it actually works with the content here. Lots and lots of beautiful visual montages. There’s even a really nice montage scene where the U.S. Army snipers, bored with lack of zombies to shoot, watch the repatrioted Brits. Even after the really cheap gimmicks, the film maintains a level of intensity until it just becomes cheap overall, with characters doing unbelievable things–smart ones becoming stupid. So stupid I almost spelled it stoopid, Weeks‘s stupidity has killed so many of my brain cells.

It’s frustrating because there are some nice scenes and some good performances. When he’s not super-zombie, Carlyle is fantastic. Even better is Jeremy Renner as a sniper. Renner’s got very little to do besides be a decent human being, but he does it with a lot of force and it’s good stuff. Rose Byrne is the, obviously, best, because she rules this movie in her terrible role. She’s an army doctor and she doesn’t want kids, but then she hangs out with them, but is it just because they might carry the cure? Who knows, because Weeks doesn’t even give subtext to its contrived coincidences. The kids, Imogen Poots and Mackintosh Muggleton, both stink. Muggleton’s worse, but it might not be his fault, the script sets him up as the kid from The Shining but ominous and possibly evil (so I guess more Omen-esque, but not having ever seen one of those, I’m not sure). Harold Perrineau’s in it a bit and I’m glad he got a job in something intended to be high-profile, but he’s way too good for this kind of work. He, Byrne and Renner ought to reunite for something written by someone not trying to remake Halloween 4. Hell, Fresnadillo could even direct it. The only times he fails in Weeks are with the lengthy action scenes. The chase scenes, when from the chasee’s perspective, get tiring, but the action scenes are boring. You can’t tell what is going on so why even bother trying (or carrying).

I find it horrifying Alex Garland could make the time to write a Halo movie, but it couldn’t give this crappy script a rewrite. It’d take maybe a week to fix it. Some of the dialogue especially. My friend said it sounded like a bad Spanish-to-English babelfish translation.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo; written by Rowan Joffe, Fresnadillo, Enrique López Lavigne and Jesús Olmo; director of photography, Enrique Chediak; edited by Chris Gill; music by John Murphy; production designer, Mark Tildesley; produced by López Lavigne, Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich; released by Fox Atomic.

Starring Robert Carlyle (Don), Rose Byrne (Scarlet), Jeremy Renner (Doyle), Harold Perrineau (Flynn), Catherine McCormack (Alice), Mackintosh Muggleton (Andy), Imogen Poots (Tammy), Idris Elba (General Stone) and Emily Beecham (Karen).

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