Sunday, September 25, 2005

Oliver Twist - Movie Review

Oliver Twist (2005)

Hey, bitches! There’s this cool new movie by Roman Polanski (luv his work, his personal life we won’t get into) all about this cute little kid Oliver Twist (what a porn name! must be vers) and his like really tough life, all because he’s an orphan. And by now, if you haven’t got the blatant sarcasm, well obviously you haven’t been reading The Bloody Red Carpet, and SHAME ON YOU!!!!

Okay, so this is the umpteenth version of the Dickens plot. And really, by now, all of Dickens storylines are just about the same. Oh!!!! You mean that was his father!!!!! We kid. We love the dickens out of Charly. WE do. And we enjoyed this latest rehash very much. We will admit to wandering thought patterns towards the end, BUT only because we were so familiar with the previous versions, it was all a matter of being able to appreciate the choices made by Roman and his cast and crew. We must pause now, to state unequivocally – that David Lean’s 1948 version of “Oliver Twist” remains our favorite. ‘Effin near perfect, it is! Dark, creepy, brilliantly cast and nail bighting tension all wrapped up into one great flick! (Go rent the Criterion® dvd, NOW!!!) But we also understand that most of you kids have probably never watched a movie made before the Reagan years . . . and how sad this make us, but we have bowed down to the inevitable remakes throughout the years. We admit it. We’re Hollywood’s bitch. But we still hold our heads and cocktails high! Anyway, on to the current version.
First. The kid. A-fucking-dorable. We’re trying to figure out exactly when he turns legal, ‘cause he is just cute as the bees’ knees! Oh, calm down. We only really meant that when we first watched Jamie Bell in “Billy Elliot”. (And we’re still waiting for Jamie to call us - you’re nineteen years old now, you have our number bitch, what’s up with that?) Anywho. Barney Clark is his name. And he is perfectly cast. As the script calls for, he has a wonderful face filled with “melancholy”, and the camera loves it! After a hundred plus years of moviegoing (we’re old, we admit it), we have grown positively steel hearted to the erstwhile charms of tiny tykes trying to milk our tear ducts dry. So, it takes an especially talented youngster, and a brilliant director (check!) to break the impenetrable barrier around our hearts. Well, Barney and Roman pull it off quite nicely.

Ben Kingsley. What can we say. You had us at “Gandhi”. And if any of you all have missed his last two Oscar nominated turns in the brilliant “Sexy Beast” and Debbie Downer Fest “House of Sand and Fog”, then we want you to stop reading this and go rent them now! WE SAID NOW!!!! Okay, the rest of you know how wonderful an actor Mr. Kingsley is, and he will not let you down in the role of Fagin. Much has been written about the character Fagin over the years, from pedophile to being declared an anti-Semitic portrait. Well we say, what’s wrong with an anti-Semitic pedophile? We all can’t be perfect. And kudos to Kingsley for dabbling here and there in all the possible darkest corners of this charmingly disgusting rogue and still managing to tug our heart strings in one of the final heart breaking scenes.

As befits the Dickensian milieu – “How Bleak was that House?” The design throughout is top notch. Applause and flowers to the production team, with a special nod to the fab Anna B. Sheppard, whose costume design manages to peg characters spot on, and still reflect the “haven’t a farthing to show for it” economic status of Fagin’s motley crew. I mean, honestly. Who wouldn’t be a headstrong, petulant petty criminal if they were forced to wear muted browns every day? Exhausting. And pity the poor orphan who has to walk seventy miles from the poorhouse to London in clodhoppers laden with holes. (Wasn’t there a Kenneth Cole® en route?)

Shout outs to Leanne Rowe as the saucy wench, Nancy – yowsa! What a rack! And the perfectly slimy and detestable Jamie Foreman as Bill Sykes. Hissssss! Booooooo! As for the Artful Dodger, our fave character, young master Harry Eden gets to take a big bow alongside the Oscar nominated Jack Wild interpretation from the musical version of Oliver Twist . . . “Oliver!” (Composer Lionel Bart may have been a musical genius back in his day, but not so great with the titles, that one.) We wish Mr. Eden a long and fruitful career . . . unlike Mr. Wild, and no “H.R. Pufnstuf®” remakes for you!

So, in closing. Thank you, Roman. You done good again! From “Knife in the Water”, “Repulsion”, “Rosemary’s Baby”, “Macbeth”, “Chinatown”, “Tess” all the way to your recent deserving Oscar winning “The Pianist” – we continue to applaud your work.

Sidenote: The showing we attended (Thanks, Angelina!), was chock full of weekend dads with their bratty kids. And this left us wondering. Do people really view this as a “family film”? If so, then might we suggest: “The Hours” and “The Woodsman”? After all, there were small kids in those films too. Our point is this. We have never believed that Dickens work was written for children. Yes, he often used them as protagonists, but don’t you think he was using them as a naïf, thereby being able to reflect the whole of London’s society – good and bad, upon an unsuspecting toddler?

No? Fuck off, then. Unless the dead beat dads in our theater were trying to scare the crap out of their bratty little bitches: “See! Aren’t you glad you’re not an orphan? You’d have to eat gruel and wear uncomfortable shoes.”

So, all in all. Take a crowbar to your wallet and go see the latest twist on Oliver. You’ll be glad we sent you. Bless you all.

Barney Clark as Oliver Twist
Ben Kingsley as Fagin
Harry Eden as The Artful Dodger
Leanne Rowe as Nancy
Jamie Foreman as Bill Sykes
Edward Hardwicke as Mr. Brownlow

Directed by Roman Polanski
Written by Ronald Harwood based on Charles Dickens’ novel
Original Music by Rachel Portman
Film Editing by Hervé de Luze
Costume Design by Anna B. Sheppard
Cinematography by Pawel Edelman
Production Design by Allan Starski
Art Direction by Jindrick Kocí
Set Decoration by Jille Azis