I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Vern eyeballs Norrington’s THE LAST MINUTE…

Hey folks, Harry here… With reports beginning to leak online that Sean Connery is now the man overseeing the editing of LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN and a bizarre belittling of Norrington in the Post process on that film, it just sounds like a nightmare. I’m still pulling for a fun movie, but I recognize that there has been quite a bit of chaos behind the scenes on this film, and frankly… I’m saddened about it because I saw THE LAST MINUTE last year at Sitges and the film was quite wonderful. Norrington’s most complete film so far, stylistically unique as well as being emotionally satisfying and challenging. This was sent to Moriarty, but right now, Moriarty is recovering from a tragic fatal computer malfunction that seems to be putting into danger the fate of about 5 years worth of writing. He’ll be working to recover this information and will be offline for a bit while doing this. Let’s all wish him the best of luck. Meanwhile, here’s Vern with a look at Norrington’s THE LAST MINUTE…

Moriarty,

How’s it goin bud I know you’re busy playing Mortal Kombat… er, I mean, “doing research”… but I wanted to send this one to you and not harry. Don’t tell harry about this man, he thinks I’m reviewing SIFF movies for him right now. but I decided to take today off and watch this dvd I got a hold of.

This is the story of Stephen Norrington’s third film, and his first really personal one. I forgot he was even working on it until I found the dvd in some bushes. (I don’t know how to come up†with these fanciful pretend adventures you guys do so I’m just saying I found it in the bushes. Is that okay?) You guys reported on it a couple times before it was finished but even though it apparently premiered a year ago at Cannes you haven’t reviewed it yet. UNTIL NOW.

The Last MinuteNow you may be asking, why do I care about Stephen Norrington. And if you are asking that then sorry, you’re not allowed to read this review. This is only for people who were interested in what Norrington would do next after BLADE. Okay wiseass, very funny, I see you still reading there. Don’t you have some talkbacks to be complaining in? Get the fuck out of here.

By reading this you are signing a holy pact in which we all agree that Stephen Norrington’s BLADE is one of the all time unexpected great pictures. At the time it was a cocktail of deadly poisons (Wesley Snipes, Marvel Comics, vampires, kung fu, techno music) that when mixed with the mighty shaolin filmatic powers of Mr. Norrington turned, against all odds, into a delicious nectar. Of course now many of those elements have been redeemed, but this was before X-MAN and SPIDER-MEN made Marvel Comics movies socially acceptable, before FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, Buffy, John Carpenter and friends made vampires cool post-Ann Rice, before THE MATRIX proved that american martial arts movie didn’t mean american ninja, and before BLADE and BLADE 2 made Wesley Snipes one of the great actors and Americans of our time.

(what in shit’s name kind of metaphor was that? I apologize for that nectar thing.)

BLADE snuck up on us from out of nowhere so we went back and looked at Norrington’s past. If you watched DEATH MACHINE you saw a little bit of his personality crushed beneath a boring and badly acted straight to video type movie about a killer robot loose in a building. If you looked up his filmography you saw that he was an effects guy who played some kind of weird moose/sofa hybrid in RETURN TO OZ. Not somebody you’d expect to turn into a great director.

So was BLADE a fluke? Will his EXTRAORDINARY LIVES OF GENTLEMEN or whatever be a mess? Even those weirdos who didn’t like BLADE are curious. They’re hearing stories about Norrington’s disagreements and alleged fist fights with Sean Connery and thinking Norrington is some egomaniac pseudo visionary who thinks he’s Kubrick even though he’s really a guy doing a movie about the invisible man and the gal from dracula driving around in a giant car. But I tend to give Norrington the benefit of the doubt that he was right in these arguments, I don’t really remember why.

1. Finding Forrester (2000)

2. Entrapment (1999)

3. Avengers, The (1998)

4. Rock, The (1996)

5. Dragonheart (1996)

6. First Knight (1995)

Oh yeah, I remember why. It’s because I just saw THE LAST MINUTE. It’s a flawed film but it is a smart and original one and it makes me suspicious that maybe BLADE was not a fluke. It also takes away my fear that Norrington is just a really good stylist and not neccesarily a thoughtful guy. This is his autobiographical artist’s statement, a rambling but enjoyable stream of consciousness essay about the internal struggles of a popular artist. In this case the artist is Billy Byrne played by Max Beesley, who I’ve never heard of and I kept thinking was Ewan McGregor.

Billy has an agent who tells him he’s a genius, he’s apparently done something everyone thinks is brilliant and he’s the talk of the town. He goes on a publicity tour getting interviewed on various TV shows that treat him as a visionary or a hearthrob, gets compared to BLADE’s Stephen Dorf and photographed by BLADE’s Udo Kier, and struts through London thinking he’s hot shit. He believes he is now a success.

The world he struts through is obviously the work of the same Norrington we love from BLADE. It is a beautifully shot and edited movie full of fluidly moving camera gimmicks. Lots of sped up photography, kaleidoscopic backgrounds and that sort of crap perfectly timed to a pulsing soundtrack of “aphex twin” songs that seamlessly fades in and out, never outstaying its welcome, letting you breathe with many quiet scenes or a creepy score of ambient hums and buzzes. It seems to be the real world but then you go down a tunnel or through a secret door and find a darker place that is exaggeratedly perverse and unhealthy. Inside a hip dance club called VALVE a woman in a latex nurse costume takes Billy by the hand and leads him to an even hipper club called PROSTHESIS where the elite sit in illuminated transparent inflatable chairs surrounded by mutilated S&M freaks being tortured in dentist’s chairs. It’s a world where a violent maniac is also a talented singer, where agents are repulsive assholes who like to kick their bare feet up on the desk and allow greyhounds to fuck in their offices but who, ultimately, are kind of right.

In one of the movie’s many clever touches, it is left ambiguous what exactly it is that Billy’s successful at. He might be a director like Norrington but he might be a visual artist or a rock star or something. Whatever he did he’s at that moment where everybody loves him and talks about him as the next big thing and worships him overseas.

And then the next day he wakes up to find out he fuckin blew it, he made THE AVENGERS or DEATH MACHINE or something and nobody wants to even talk to him, except to compare his work to “a pile of shit in the corner” as one art critic does. At the same time his girlfriend dumps him and throws him out of the apartment, not because he’s not on Entertainment Weekly’s It List anymore but because she’s sick and fuckin tired of hearing him complain about his art. Next thing you know he gets drunk and gets mugged and vomits on a taxi driver and ends up living with a gang of OLIVER! style pickpocket kids who live in catacombs under the city. He almost gets knifed by the grizzled old failed actor who leads the gang, and he warns, “I’m a minor celebrity, I’ll be missed!”

This section of the movie drags a little bit, except for the part where a little kid tells a story about a junkie shooting up in his testacles. Then out of nowhere there is a big shootout where ruthless drug dealers mow down a whole bunch of the kids. The villain crushes the old man’s head with a sledge hammer and then he and his henchmen turn to the camera and go into a rousing lip synch of “When A Man Loves a Woman.”

The dvd cover compares THE LAST MINUTE to FIGHT CLUB, TRAINSPOTTING and A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. I think this will turn people off and make the movie seem like a self conscious attempt at a profound statement for some generation or other. Some people will definitely hate the movie. It is very anecdotal, sometimes feeling like a collection of random stories Norrington heard or ideas he had or weird things that happened to him or his friends. And there’s alot of ambiguous symbolism and/or surrealism like a vicious dog nipping at his heels or a weird monster that he carries around in a bag but never comments on.

But I do like what the movie has to say about art and life. That artists spend too much time worrying about being famous and trying to please some industry when they should just be trying to do something that makes them happy. That agents and journalists will tell you you’re hot shit and then change their mind at exactly the moment that you start believing it. Of course most of us will think boo hoo, poor famous rock star has problems being artistically fulfilled. But it’s also a movie about trying to find what to do with your life and the fear of wasting it (graphically illustrated in the opening monologue where Billy rattles off statistics about how many days and hours the average person has in their life).

I listened to the director’s commentary and it seems like these were themes that were very personal to Norrington. Like maybe his agents told him he was a genius and he got a big ego and wanted to be some great profound artist who made critically acclaimed movies about retarded WWII math geniuses. But then after being full of himself and annoying all his loved ones to death he realized that instead he was meant to make movies like BLADE. You know, undeniable masterpieces that most people deny are masterpieces. And only then was he happy. He even notes that since Billy obviously represents him, the “pile of shit in the corner” that he made could even be THE LAST MINUTE itself.

I’m not gonna try to get everybody to watch this movie but if it sounds up your alley it just might be. It might end up being that weird one in the filmography that you go back to every once in a while like SCHIZOPOLIS is to Steve Soderbergh. I don’t know. But I think it’s a good sign of what we have ahead from Mr. Norrington.

If not he still did BLADE and will go down in the pantheon as signified by this holy pact that we have all signed.

thanks bud,

Vern

Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/15357

View the archived Ain’t-It-Cool-News Talkback

  • June 2, 2003, 5:28 a.m. CST

    First

    by The Si-Man

  • June 2, 2003, 5:32 a.m. CST

    If LXG can match the excitement of The Rock, I’ll be very happy.

    by Sheeld

    So fuck that stupid list of Sean Connery movies. And Dragonheart was good too, the score especially.

  • June 2, 2003, 5:32 a.m. CST

    Wesley Snipes is a great American?

    by Heleno

    He’s a great Blade, but as a person? Doesn’t the rumour mill have it that he is a wife beater? Anyway, I agree that Blade is an undeniable masterpiece that people nevertheless deny (nice writing, that) but I’m not sure about this other flick. While Max Beesley is a better looking version of Ewan most of the time and highly watchable, the whole thing sounds a bit self-conscious.

  • June 2, 2003, 5:47 a.m. CST

    talk about coincidence…

    by phasmatrope

    …I just got done watching “The Believer” on DVD for the first time, watching the trailers on there were there was one for THIS movie, and then my intrigue is indulged even more when I go online and find this very review. Weird. But the film does indeed look interesting, and watching that preview I very much was thinking “Blade” in both tempo, delivery, and to a degree content: it really plays up the whole hedonistic nightlife thing almost as if the celebrities you’re seeing could potentially be vampires too (at least in spirit). But I digress. Soundtrack looks good too. Still, I’ve been hearing about this film for a while now (such that I thought he was still filming it, or wouldn’t film it until after “LXG”), yet now I’m seeing from IMDB that it was finished in 2001?? What the hell? Has it just been awaiting a theatrical release this entire time? How could it have been so swept under the rug? (after all, it looks to be a lot more interesting and a lot less risque than something like fucking “Buffalo Soldiers”).

  • June 2, 2003, 6:06 a.m. CST

    phasmatrope

    by Vern

    The date on it is 2001 because they filmed then, but according to my intense research they spent a full year in postproduction. If you search for the title on the search engine here you’ll find stories about how Norrington did it all by himself in a space borrowed from james cameron’s company. Maybe he snuck in there while Cameron was out dicking around in those submarines. Then apparently it premiered at Cannes last year and now it’s finally coming to dvd. Sad to hear about moriarty’s computer and about that cradle robbing (in entrapment, anyway) old fuck stealing the movie from norrington. Has there ever been a movie where the actor took over editing and made it good? Including Waterworld. In some magazine Connery said that he didn’t understand the movie at all and only signed on because he had turned down the Matrix and Lord of the Rings because he didn’t understand them either. Now suddenly they’re putting him in charge? Let’s let him re-edit lord of the rings and the matrix too, I guess. way to go hollywood assholes. p.s. just kidding about the cradle robbing I would’ve done the same thing

  • June 2, 2003, 6:14 a.m. CST

    Sheeld

    by Vern

    “That stupid list of Sean Connery movies” is his filmography for the past several years. So yes, fuck it. I only skipped PLAYING BY HEART because I don’t even remember what it was about. To be fair, I didn’t think THE AVENGERS was as bad as people say, and that was another case of the studio taking the movie away from the director (hmmmm…). But even in your world where THE ROCK is not a horrible piece of worthless garbage, isn’t it sad that you have to go back 7 years to find something worthwhile from Sean Connery? Oh well.

  • June 2, 2003, 6:15 a.m. CST

    Sheeld

    by Vern

    “That stupid list of Sean Connery movies” is his filmography for the past several years. So yes, fuck it. I only skipped PLAYING BY HEART because I don’t even remember what it was about. To be fair, I didn’t think THE AVENGERS was as bad as people say, and that was another case of the studio taking the movie away from the director (hmmmm…). But even in your world where THE ROCK is not a horrible piece of worthless garbage, isn’t it sad that you have to go back 7 years to find something worthwhile from Sean Connery? Oh well.

  • June 2, 2003, 6:42 a.m. CST

    It’s been out on DVD here in Australia for about six months.

    by Cash Bailey

    It sucks ass. Imagine a a fucked-up, way-too-long cross between TRAINSPOTTING and THE BEACH with a sudden 180% turn into OLIVER TWIST.

  • June 2, 2003, 8:13 a.m. CST

    Vern

    by Heleno

    American History X? Not a flawless movie, but still a pretty damn good one, and an amazing central performance. And I can believe no wrong of Edward Norton – no way he didn’t improve it.

  • June 2, 2003, 9:42 a.m. CST

    Anyone who thinks THE ROCK sucked has no soul.

    by Tall_Boy

    Seriously, the Rock ruled. Great action movie done with a lot of style. And for the record I liked BLADE II better because the Vampires in it weren

  • June 2, 2003, 9:44 a.m. CST

    Connery editing?

    by Homer Jay

    If this is the case, this is VERY bad news for this film. Connery straight-up admitted in Entertainment Weekly that he turned down both THE MATRIX (as Morpheus) AND LORD OF THE RINGS (Gandalf) because he “didn’t understand them”. He was optimistic about LXG because “didn’t understand it” and look how well those other films did. THIS IS NOW THE GUY LITERALLY CALLING THE SHOTS FOR LXG?!?!?

  • June 2, 2003, 2:50 p.m. CST

    Norrington

    by TheSecondEvil

    Blade rocked! I will definitely check this out when it arrives in the U.K.

    By the way, has anyone noticed ObscureReference seems to have something against Americans, this is the second talkback I’ve looked at today where he’s been badmouthing them. Admittedly Americans have their flaws but so do many countries especially Germany & France.

  • June 2, 2003, 3:08 p.m. CST

    Yeah, how about this “Great American’s” tax evasion scheme…

    by PORKY

    Go check out The Smoking Gun website if you want to know more. Essentially, this asshole thinks he doesn’t have to pay income tax like the rest of us. Go check out his 1040 on the site – just search for “Snipes”

  • June 2, 2003, 3:22 p.m. CST

    BTW, what kind of computer does Moriarity use?

    by Wingnut1A

    Or what kind DID he use? Was it a Mac?

  • June 2, 2003, 3:28 p.m. CST

    President Evil

    by Vern

    So I’m a “pickle smoker” (?) because I like BLADE? You’re the one that violated a SACRED PACT! And then you went and spoke of it openly! What in fuck’s name is wrong with you? Also, I was the one that agreed with you on THE ROCK. You need to start reading all the words in order and quit skipping around, they will form complete thoughts and then you can try to understand what the author is saying instead of just randomly making shit up and criticizing it.

  • June 2, 2003, 4:22 p.m. CST

    ‘Connery rumors floating online’ – where??

    by pavemental

    So Harry mentions that rumors are floating online that Connery is now editing LXG. What site are these rumors on? Anyone care to post a url? I need somewhere to go to get some interesting news rather than fanboy reviews that rarely go above the level of “It was so cool” (admittedly Moriarty, Vern, Beaks, Capone etc all do better usually. So its actually Harry who’s the worst cuplrit of gushing fanboy syndrome).

  • June 2, 2003, 4:54 p.m. CST

    ObscureReference and Americans

    by ZombieChrist

    First off, generalizing about an entire population (e.g., calling all 270+ million Americans “fuckwit Yanks”) shows that ObscureReference is about… oh, I’d say 17 years old. But not a dumb 17. He/she/it is right about the fact that Bush supporters were completely duped into supporting what is to every non-Bush supporter (about 5.85 billion people) clearly a criminal action by corporate power brokers. If you don’t think this is true, there’s very little hope for you. You’re just dumb, prideful, and/or blind. But ObscureReference, what are you talking about with that “once proud history”? Like our invasion of Grenada, Panama, Vietnam, and Cuba? Like Prohibition? Like Slavery? Like using biological warfare (not to mention the good old fashioned repeating rifle) to decimate the aboriginal population? By the way, OR, what country do you hail from? I’m sure it’s history is spotless.

  • June 2, 2003, 4:57 p.m. CST

    Mori, Mori, Mori, you gotta know better!!

    by Manaqua

    I can’t tell you how many times I hear that song. ‘Oh my computer crashed, I lost everything’. At this point, any body that doesn;t back up is begging for a catastrophe! Especially if the content of your drive is your livelyhood! Not backing up data is like having ass sex in a SF bathouse without a condemn. You will get burned eventually………………………………………………………………..Also, is it just me or are the effectsin teh LEAUGE trailer SEVERELY sub-par. As in embarrassing. Dude the CG looks WACK!

  • June 2, 2003, 5:14 p.m. CST

    Connery “not getting it” is the funniest thing I’ve heard all we

    by earthworm

    Admittedly its only Monday, but thats still priceless. It looks like he’s turning into the acting eqivalent of Tom Jones. Anyway, I actually like Blade, I and II. Not love, nor loathe, just like. Good, solid, actual entertainment. Could’ve done with some raped deer though (sorry…)

  • June 2, 2003, 5:29 p.m. CST

    Where’s my dictionary?

    by RJ Fletcher

    I need to look up the definition of self-indulgent crap. Oh wait, I just read it…

  • June 2, 2003, 8:50 p.m. CST

    Hey. Moriarty. There’s something called a Zip drive. Buy one.

    by Batutta

    Me personally…I make a hard copy of everything I write as often as I can, but I’m anal like that.

  • June 2, 2003, 10:09 p.m. CST

    Connery as Morpheus…

    by phasmatrope

    …would’ve been absolute SHITE. I don’t care if he WAS once Bond, there’s no way that grey-haired geez would’ve been able to pull off shit like the semi-fight (and let’s face it, having a black actor like Fishburne in a leading role like that certainly expands the film’s audience). I could see Connery as one of the wizards in LOTR, but it’s great that they allowed two less marketable actors like McKellan and Chris Lee to do it, considering how great they are in the roles. Still, what about those movies is there NOT to get?? (and what was so comparitively great about “First Knight” and “The Avengers” that he was able to GET those?). Yeah, I’m sure confusion is always a great reason to commit to a role, Sean (bet he’s just kickin’ yourself now after all those fights with your director too…)

  • June 3, 2003, 10:29 a.m. CST

    Lesson to the reviewer: be careful of listing an actor’s

    by minderbinder

  • June 3, 2003, 10:30 a.m. CST

    Ah, fuck it…with great enormity…

    by minderbinder

  • June 3, 2003, 6:30 p.m. CST

    BLADE came before FROM DUSK TILL DAWN? I Don’t Fucking Think So.

    by SouthSide_2010

    Blade came out in 98′. FDTD came out in early 97′. You do the math.

  • June 3, 2003, 7:22 p.m. CST

    nOrRiNgToN muSt BE a REaL pRiCk

    by Louis P.

    I remember Snipes quitely bad mouthing the guy during the “Blade 2” junkets. Snipes would make offhand remarks like “this new one is better directed”. Then I hear about his problems on the “League” set. Is this why the guy hasn’t directed since “Blade”? Norrington might be talented but from this angle maybe he should also get some grounding as well.

  • June 3, 2003, 8:30 p.m. CST

    nice review vern

    by Chief J

    And yes people stop denying Blade(and in my opinion Blade 2)are masterpieces.In 10 years this movie will be considered a cult classic.

  • June 3, 2003, 8:43 p.m. CST

    good call south side

    by Vern

    You’re right about FROM DUSK TILL DAWN. I was just thinking about that period when everybody thought vampires meant fruity guys in blouses talking about their curse. You’re right, FROM DUSK TILL DAWN was the first to pierce this because they had that ad that said “Vampires. No interviews.” But it took the combined forces of the various vampire movies mentioned to bury the Anne Rice vampires once and for all so I got kind of mixed up there. but thanks for the correction there making me look like a jackass.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

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