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EZ Viewing IV: Star Wars & Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels

October 27th, 2009

The first two films shown at EZ Viewing IV (my annual movie marathon) were: Star Wars: A New Hope — The Adywan Fan-Edit and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.

What is the Adywan Fan-Edit of Star Wars?  It is, bar none, the very best version of the first Star Wars film (I refuse to refer to it as Episode IV) that I have ever seen.  FAR better than the DVD version released by Lucasfilm in 2004, and far better than ANY of the other versions that have been released on DVD/VHS/or any other home-media format.  I wrote a lengthy piece about this fan-edit last year — click here for all the details of this amazing fan-edit.

Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels — Director Guy Ritchie has had a hand in some sub-par films recently (although his latest project, Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr., looks promising), but we shouldn’t let that cloud the greatness of his debut feature.

Four friends Eddie (Nick Moran), Soap (Dexter Fletcher), Tom (Jason Flemyng, seen most recently in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), and Bacon (Jason Statham, who these days is a big action star in films like The Transporter) find themselves deeply in debt to East End gang-boss Hatchet Harry (P.H. Moriarty) after losing a fixed card game.Rather than lose any fingers to his menacing enforcer (Vinnie Jones), they concoct a scheme to steal the money from another group of thieves who are themselves planning to rob a small drug-dealing operation.Things don’t go well, of course, and events quickly spiral completely out of control.

I still remember the first time I saw this film.I was blown away (and still am, to this day) by the deftness with which Ritchie juggled an enormously complex plot filled with scores of bizarre characters whose stories would weave in and out of one another.Most of all, I was dazzled by the wonderful, rat-a-tat dialogue which was so funny and so distinct.The word-play comes fast and furious, and the cockney slang that all the characters breathlessly spew out gives the film a flavor all its own.

In his review from 1999, Roger Ebert described this film as “Tarantino crossed with the Marx Brothers.” That’s a wonderful description, and pretty accurately assesses the way the film combines a noir-ish crime-caper plot with a madcap sense of humor and whimsy. This film is a riot.

Check back tomorrow for more EZ Viewing IV fun!  (Click here for my thoughts on A Mighty Wind.)

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