Friday, June 03, 2005

Movie: Layer Cake (2004, U.S. 2005)

It’s a familiar story. A criminal (in this case a mid-level drug dealer) who fancies himself above the game makes plans to get out. It’s the skilled assurance of the telling that makes it special.

Producer Matthew Vaughn, making his debut behind the camera, puts the flashy tricks he learned from Guy Ritchie in service of the story. Their earlier collaborations could be fun, but there’s real psychological heft here.

Which receives its sharpest expression through the acting. Daniel Craig, The Man Who Might Be Bond, owns the screen from the first frame. Something tells me that whatever I’m supposed to feel when I watch Steve McQueen is what I’m feeling here. Colm Meaney again proves himself to be one of the most reliable actors in film. And the great Michael Gambon walks off with the movie as a Mephistophelean crime lord.

They’re all aided by the movie’s design. Smart threads, flash cars, guy’s guy furniture. Never underestimate the power of possessions to put a movie across.

But it’s J. J. Connolly’s script, based on his book, that really pops. It has an almost novelistic texture, weaving the story of gunman Crazy Larry into the background, making room for a jaunt into African politics that’s like something out of Ross Thomas.

Please note that I could have said “This CAKE has the right ingredients,” but I didn’t. No need to thank me.

TV: Jeopardy

Just an early reminder that Rosemarie, designer of and frequent contributor to this website, will be appearing as a contestant on Monday night’s show. Check your local listings.