January 7 - LAYER CAKE (2004)
"Everyone wants to walk through a door marked "private." Therefore, have a good reason to be affluent."
LAYER CAKE is a movie that just oozes cool. It's slick in every possible way: snappy dialogue, badass characters, impressive twists, clever camerawork, drug kingpin lifestyle fantasy fulfillment (just me?) and an ominous movie-villain monologue of "suspect educational value." I wouldn't be surprised if Daniel Craig just sent a DVD of LAYER CAKE over to the casting director for CASINO ROYALE (2006); he's suave and charming in this movie and even wears a suit for no reason at some point.
The biggest thing that stood out to me while watching the movie was how it really felt like a crime novel - which makes sense; LAYER CAKE is based off a novel of the same name written by J. J. Connolly. Having read my fair share of crime novels and watched much more than my fair share of crime movies, it can be obvious and clumsy when a book adaptation fails to translate effectively into a Major Motion Picture. Oftentimes the menacing-but-clever quips fall flat, and the hero ends up sounding like a dorky dad instead of a roguish maverick. The plot will go places that you can tell work better on the page than on screen and characters will be clumsily reduced to a one-dimensional husk of their literary counterparts (I haven't read Lee Child's Jack Reacher books, but the 2012 Tom Cruise vehicle falls prey to these pitfalls). LAYER CAKE manages to navigate this tricky minefield of crime novel adaptation and emerges mostly intact. All of the performances are excellent and appropriately over-the-top in all the right spots. This was Matthew Vaughn's first directorial effort - he previously served as a producer for LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS (1998) and SNATCH (2000), and his deference to Guy Ritchie's English gangster stylings is evident -- and totally the right move. It also doesn't hurt that the music in this movie is really, really good.
I'm going to watch LONDON BOULEVARD (2010) tomorrow. Talking about connection between the two movies would spoil the endings of each, but I remember being struck by their remarkable similarity. See you tomorrow.