Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Perrier's Bounty and my bizarre attachment to its director

It's a little weird to feel possessive of films just because you've covered them in one way or another, but people do - or at least, we feel more connected that we might otherwise. I know I'm not the only one who gets this way; during the Chlotrudis nominations, one member who has a podcast or radio show or some such would start advocating for a film with "I interviewed the writer/cinematographer/etc." And this wouldn't necessarily be followed by some sort of specific insight gleaned from that interview; the implication was that the film was better/more important to her because there was a personal connection.

I felt something similar when I opened the IMDB page for Perrier's Bounty and saw the director's other work. Now, I already felt a little ashamed about taking so long to get around to Bounty in the first place; I'd wanted to see it at IFFBoston last year, but opted to fit something that didn't seem as likely to play Boston otherwise - after all, if an Irish crime movie with a few reasonably well-known actors doesn't play Boston, where will it play. And it did - the week I went down to Maryland for my cousin's wedding and then hung around an extra week to see the Smithsonian and watch the Red Sox play at Camden Yards. So I missed it, and then didn't grab it when it came out on video because... Well, I wouldn't say I've become an HD snob, but I have trouble buying stuff on DVD that might come out on Blu-ray, and since I'm not in NetFlix, haven't tried Redbox, and didn't have a good way to hook my computer up to my TV to see it streamed, I missed it.

So I was kind of happy to see it announced as playing at the Paramount Theater as part of the Irish Festival (which is not, apparently, the "Irish Film Festival Boston", formerly the "Mangers Boston Irish Film Festival", formerly the "Boston Irish Film Festival", and now confusingly sharing the same initials as Independent Film Festival Boston). The screenwriter was going to be in town to introduce it, although that fell through. I was a little annoyed that it would fall the same weekend as the Sci-Fi Film Festival, but it turned out to be running against Summer Wars, which I like but have seen (and which, it turned out, had projection issues that night anyway). So I went, got there just in time because I thought the 6:45pm show was a 7:00pm show, and it was good.

And then, I got home, started writing the review, and saw that Ian Fitzgibbon had also directed A Film with Me in It - and then I felt really bad about having taken so long to catch up with his follow-up. Which is kind of silly - when I reviewed it at SXSW two years ago, I gave it a thoroughly middle of the road grade. I only thought about it more later because I tend to obsessively check which reviews of mine are getting hits on EFC, and it would show up on occasion. For a while, I was one of the few folks in North America who had reviewed it (it played the late show at SXSW, and there wasn't a lot of us press there), so I guess I considered it "mine", and when I realized I'd missed the director's next film, I felt like I'd let someone down.

Which is screwy, but go figure. I'm also trying to figure out why A Film with Me in It isn't available on DVD, despite having played American theaters over a year ago and being released by IFC Films here, not some fly-by-night outfit. (Near as I can tell, the only way to watch it legally in the USA is on SundanceNow). I wouldn't buy it, but for some reason, this is my movie and that it's not available almost two years after I gave it a neutral review vaguely offends me.

Perrier's Bounty

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 12 February 2010 at the Paramount Theater, Bright Screening Room (ArtsEmerson)

Does film's articulate-criminal/caper genre tell us something about the various cultures it appears in? Just among English speakers, you see clear differences, especially in the language: The Americans have their staccato cursing; with the Brits use it as a marker for class mobility (or the lack thereof). What of the Irish, then? Why, poetry and romance, of course, even when the words are casual and the situations rapidly spin out of control.

Michael McCrea (Cillian Murphy) is no master criminal; he's just a guy without a proper job. What he does have is a crush on his neighbor Brenda (Jodie Whittaker), a father (Jim Broadbent) convinced he's about to die, and two thugs (Michael McElhatton and Don Wycherley) who show up to tell him he has his choice of two broken bones unless he pays the grand he owes to their boss, Darren Perrier (Brendan Gleeson). He figures to shift his debt by borrowing the money from The Mull (Liam Cunningham), but he's not flush. A confrontation with Bren's boyfriend Shamie (Padraic Delaney) gives him an opportunity to earn more money than he needs, but also leads to breaking & entering, stolen cars, warrior dogs, dead bodies, a price on his head, and a great many parking violations.

The script, especially at the start, is wonderfully tight; writer Mark O'Rowe does an unusually good job of tying the opportunities, double-crosses, and disasters together so that the entire story ultimately comes back to Michael and his desire to do right by people. It's easy for a story like this to degenerate into complete randomness, and while there are certainly moments where coincidence takes over, O'Rowe strikes a nice balance between having things be unpredictable and there being some sense to how things play out. He also picks good words to put in his characters' mouths and amusing situations to put them in.

Full review at EFC.

No comments: