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The Limey - 3/7/2006 10:55:45 PM   
Empire Admin

 

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A great film - 3/7/2006 10:55:45 PM   
OMGWTFBBQ

 

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I never really liked Steven Soderbergh much becuase i hated the subject matter of most of his films but this was a great film with lots of excellent moments. I even laughed sometimes. Soderberghs best film in my eyes if only he did films like these all the time. A true treat for fans of the outsider taking revenge in a foreign land. Oh and Terrence Stamp is excellent.

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Coming to America...! - 25/9/2007 4:53:48 PM   
clownfoot


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From: The ickle town of Fuck, Austria
Steven Soderbergh's a strange one. Not only is his surname a real pain to spell, but after winning the Palme D'or in 1989 for the acclaimed Sex, Lies and Videotape he virtually disappeared from the movie scene for near enough a decade. Although a few minor art house films of little note were produced here and there it did little to stop many from asking, "where's Wally”? To much surprise the red and white-striped jumper-wearing director returned in 1998 and achieved what few other director's have managed to accomplish – a decent performance from J'Lo, in the wonderful Out of Sight. Trading in his independent roots for the blockbuster scene, the likes of Erin Brockovich, Traffic and Ocean's 11 have since followed, each maintaining the sophisticated intelligence of Sex, Lies and Videotape, yet adding a dollop of beautifully crafted style to the show. But amongst these giants of cinema Soderbergh has continued in the independent scene, whereby he has produced the occasional gem. The Limey is one such endeavour…  

Wilson (a superb Terrence Stamp) is the titular limey, an old school east-end crook that has been doing time at Her Majesty's Pleasure for armed bank robbery. When he is notified that his daughter Jenny, living in Los Angeles with a record producer (an even better Peter Fonda), has been killed in a car crash he heads to America looking for answers surrounding her death. Assisted by friends of Jenny and hindered by the odd hit-man hired to prevent his snooping, Wilson soon exposes Jenny's death to be more than a simple car accident and, with vengeance in the air, sets about putting right the previous wrongs towards his offspring.       

In the first instance The Limey sounds like your typical vengeance thriller and, in that sense, it doesn't add much that is new to the genre. But where The Limey excels is taking the template for said thriller and throwing a few additional curve balls, which ensures it's different enough to be thoroughly engaging. Luckily, in Soderbergh, you have an exponent of filmmaking who can ensure that even the most basic and drab of scripts (not that Lem Dobbs' screenplay is anything but) are transformed into scintillating viewing. With The Limey, the experimental set up Soderbergh utilises throughout - after all this is a small independent project where he can mess around a bit - transforms Dobbs' script into something deeply satisfying and awesomely stylish.  

Central to this is the portrayal of events throughout the movie. Rather than provide a strict narrative strand from beginning to end, Soderbergh fuses images together in a number of non-linear montages, often out of context with the dialogue being spoken, in an attempt to represent Wilson's recurrent thoughts and feelings. With the concept of memory not being ideal for remembering the order or structure in which events occurred, it makes for a perfect experimental playing field in the editing room. Whilst some viewers will be immediately jarred from the gimmick, as confusing as it is to portray someone "thinking” on screen, it works amazingly well thanks to Soderbergh's superb editing style. Wilson's minds eye, looking back on his exploits in Los Angeles via shards of corrupted and mixed memories and longer streams of consciousness, drives the story in a thoroughly unique and visually realised way.   

Furthermore, the superb additional footage used as flashbacks from Ken Loach's 1967 film Poor Cow (providing the benefit of scenes of a much younger Stamp as a thief) presume a point in Soderbergh's method. Wilson regrets his past and the way he alienated himself from his daughter because of who he was  - the mix of past and present, the fondness of his memories for Jenny with the regret of never really knowing her are essential to give his vengeance purpose. In many ways it's a wonderfully evoked emotive tool developed by Soderbergh's expert craft and, if you can get past it as a gimmick, you'll enjoy The Limey immensely. More often than not because it also provides some super cool sequences. For instance, Fonda's introduction as music impresario Terry Valentine is mesmerising; a collaboration of sequences throughout the film, compiled together in a short vignette to promote his character profile is wonderfully composed. As is Wilson's construct of how he is going to approach Valentine at a party, providing a series of visualised alternatives before he actually undertakes the act. With a set-up that includes two cameras being used on takes and natural lighting the exquisite look of The Limey is worth investigating in its own splendid right.  

However, Lem Dobb's script merely adds to the quality. Shifting a typically hard-bitten English crook to the turf of Los Angeles is a wonderful juxtaposition and allows for some delightful cultural differences to be observed, despite the shared language. Wilson's displeasure in purchasing a firearm from youths in a playground is one particularly subtle nuance. Whilst less subtle, Wilson's cockney accent and extensive use of rhyming slang ensures there's some added humour to events. Luis Guzman's comment of "who are you gonna butcher” after the expression of "having a butcher's” and Bill Duke's delightful summary of "there's one thing I don't understand - every mother****** word you're saying” to a brilliantly contrived monologue of Wilson's are typical of the misunderstanding between peoples who share the same language, and is deftly funny.  

More appropriate to the plot is the way Wilson is continually undermined as insignificant by the LA criminal fraternity he continually bumps into - an aged, relatively harmless crook from a country where the police do not even carry guns. Indeed one of the best scenes in the film arises after Wilson survives a shoeing from a small gang at a warehouse and is dared into coming back for more of the same. Immediately picking himself up off the floor he pulls out a gun returns to the warehouse and shoots all inside (an expertly composed sequence where the camera remains still and outside the building Wilson has returned to ensuring the viewer only hears and doesn't see the aftermath) – it certainly highlights that you underestimate this hard-boiled limey at your peril.  

Terrence Stamp is excellent as Wilson. Sure, at times the cockney accent seems a little forced, surprising for someone born in Stepney, but he has a magnificent presence throughout be it snarling at bad guys or enthusing about the memory of Jenny. Certainly a hard-bitten ex-con, but there's a tenderness there as well required for the audience to sympathise with his plight, and with a glint in his eye and a raised smile here and there, Stamp certainly seems to be having fun. Guzman's Eduardo and Lesley Ann Warren's Elaine are perfect foils for Wilson, providing friendship in a strange land and eeking out that more human side of a man not used to sharing thoughts and feelings. But the show is positively stolen by what seems an effortless performance from Fonda. Ad-libbing his way throughout – note the motorbike accident Valentine recalls, a real life incident of Fonda's – all flashing teeth, wide grins and unnerving cool, he instils the character with a real sense of charm and, alternatively, fear when he learns that Wilson is on the look outto ruin his pleasuredome.  

Indeed, it is a pitch perfect performance from all involved. Combined with the super script, technical showboat and unique refreshing style, it's difficult to see why critics dismissed the film so harshly on its original release. When you add a deeply satisfying ending, whereby looking into the abyss for monsters Wilson comes upon himself, it certainly rises above the intelligence of most vengeance flicks and, in many ways, this defines it's quality. Thought provoking, yet hip and smart, The Limey is a welcome addition to the likes of Traffic and Out of Sight, made by an experimental director at the top of his game. If you're looking for a small, previously unheard gem of a movie, there's little better and for Soderbergh fans this is a must see.    

Overall – Depending on your perspective you'll either love The Limey or consider it pretentious art house guff. But if you can get beyond the concept Soderbergh's attempting to employ this is intelligent, sophisticated and stylish movie making and puts many a modern blockbuster to shame. Marvellous.

< Message edited by clownfoot -- 25/9/2007 4:55:00 PM >


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One of my faves! - 26/9/2007 10:26:11 AM   
tallaght24

 

Posts: 733
Joined: 20/2/2007
Watched this for the first time some years back, bought it on a whim and fucking loved it!!!

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One of my faves! - 26/9/2007 10:26:21 AM   
tallaght24

 

Posts: 733
Joined: 20/2/2007
Watched this for the first time some years back, bought it on a whim and fucking loved it!!!

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RE: One of my faves! - 26/9/2007 2:54:51 PM   
Lydia_H


Posts: 3799
Joined: 26/11/2006
Though it has an interesting approach and storyline I found this film quite disappointing, mainly because of Terrence Stamp and an often cringeworthy, bloated script that drops too many clangers

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RE: One of my faves! - 28/9/2007 12:47:23 PM   
filmburner30

 

Posts: 1556
Joined: 5/12/2006
From: guildford
I saw this film on its first release and then bought it last year on dvd and realised its a real lost gem of a film.

Peter Fonda is great and So Is Barry Newman as his guy who has to clean evrything up.

keep an eye out too for Nicky Katt (A very underused actor) and Joe Dallesandro (Star of Wharhols 60s and 70s films)

And finally good to see Luis Guzman getting a role with some substance to it

And of course Terence Stamp is marvellous as Wilson  

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Magnificent! - 7/4/2008 8:32:24 PM   
Jim Bob


Posts: 178
Joined: 8/10/2005
From: Rotherham
Give me The Limey over pap like Ocean's 11 any day of the week. This is Soderbergh's best film by a country mile.

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RE: Magnificent! - 15/9/2013 2:21:28 AM   
AnamorphicWidescreen

 

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Edited from another post I made on another board:

Recently re-watched The Limey. Wow. Simply.....brilliant. One of the best & most underrated crime noir thrillers of the '90's, and made even better with a nostalgic late '60's/early '70's vibe/tone re: the amazing soundtrack with The Who, The Byrds, etc. & poignant flashbacks. I always felt the Terry Valentine (Peter Fonda) character is what Fonda's Wyatt character in Easy Rider would have ended up becoming - if he had lived.

It was a stroke of genius for Soderbergh to use flashbacks from the old Terence Stamp film Poor Cow (1967) to show the character in his youth; this type of thing is rarely done in films.

< Message edited by AnamorphicWidescreen -- 15/9/2013 4:46:57 AM >

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RE: The Limey - 31/12/2013 12:05:25 PM   
chang

 

Posts: 103
Joined: 28/12/2013
An apparently simple movie that demands and rewards a deeper look.

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Post #: 10
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