08 March 2009

Grim Pasts, Grimmer Presents

Given that a huge chunk of the video ad space on IMDb as well as on other websites I frequent has been taken up with trailers for Red Riding (a new trilogy of made-for-TV movies based on a quartet of novels by David Peace, which recount gory tales of woe and corruption in the West Yorkshire police force in the 1970s and 1980s), I felt like I had to at least watch the first part, 1974. With an advertising budget that high, you'd imagine there might be something good about it. 

And yes, part one was good--gritty, dark and convoluted but attention-grabbing (especially as watching on 4OD means no adverts interrupting). Yes, it definitely is grim up north; or, at least, it was in 1974. I'm not sure that I found any of the promised "harrowing scenes of violence" to be overly traumatic but I've long since been convinced that I'm fairly desensitised to portrayals of violence on film (although it still upsets me to see animals--particularly cats--being killed or hurt). The acting was good, though, with Sean Bean playing the nasty, dirty, evil businessman and Rebecca Hall with a lot more to work with than in Frost/Nixon (blonde hair really doesn't suit her, though).

Andrew Garfield, who played the keen, rookie reporter trying to solve the crimes and getting in way over his head, looked strangely familiar although the only other film he's been in that I've seen is The Other Boleyn Girl, where he played one of the other other Boleyn girl's supposed lovers, although I was probably too busy wishing that film were more like the book--or like actual historical events--to remember much of him. 

I did, however, notice that Garfield is now currently linked to the movie version of Never Let Me Go, my favourite book of last year, presumably playing Tommy--he looks enough like the Tommy I had imagined for me to support this casting. However, two actresses are also tentatively linked with the film: Carey Mulligan (who hasn't been in much apart from this made-for-TV rubbish, which I only watched because an annoyingly pretty, model/actress in the year below me at school had a bit part playing Samantha) and Keira Knightley. I can only imagine that Ms Knightley will be playing Kathy, the novel's protagonist, and this saddens me greatly (I can see her better playing Ruth, the third part of the love triangle, who has less screen time, although both Ruth and Kathy are pretty complex characters). Of course, as this is still in pre-production, there is plenty of time for cast changes. It will be interesting to see what Alex Garland does with the script and how Mark Romanek directs the project (his pedigree seems to consist mostly of music videos). 

Nearer the time, I might have to decide whether or not seeing the movie might ruin the book for me. Now this book was something that was seriously dark and haunting, without the need for any graphic descriptions of gruesome murders and violence.

ETA (22:58): Actually, IMDb notes that K-Squared is tipped to be playing Ruth and not Kathy but that still doesn't make the casting OK!

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