The Long Good Friday

A part of this view­ing list: Criterion Collection Spine #26: John Mackenzie’s The Long Good Friday.

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The Long Good Friday stars Bob Hoskins and con­tains a Gayish Pierce Brosnan. It was made be­fore I was born, but hav­ing seen it, I be­lieve that Guy Ritchie loves this movie. Maybe be­cause the film is ar­got­ful of the London un­der­ground, and films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, and char­ac­ters like Don Cheadle plays in the Ocean’s fran­chise echo so strongly with the nat­u­ral ca­dence, of bob [Hoskins] and weave. It is a gang­ster film only loosely, and even 27 years af­ter it was made, the po­lit­i­cal sub­text in­volv­ing the IRA and hands-dirty po­lit­i­cal cor­rup­tion is what is most ob­vi­ous. We don’t find out that it is the Irish caus­ing Harold [Hoskins] to have such a long Good Friday, but we do dis­cover a sin­cere re­spect for the ef­fec­tive tac­tics of the IRA, if not quite an out­right en­dorse­ment of them.

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Hoskins is meant to be the hero, as much as a crime-lord can be; so we have to find some­thing even more de­spi­ca­ble to at­tach the ran­cor to­ward. Betrayal is the mo­tive which al­lows this to hap­pen, and when it turns out that be­trayal was only ap­par­ent and ac­ci­den­tal the cliff ahead seems in­evitable. Harold has ruled London, in peace, for ten years, but in a lit­tle over 24 hours ends up so far out of his el­e­ment that we have al­most as com­plete a re­ver­sal as pos­si­ble. Notwithstanding the afore­men­tioned Gay Pierce Brosnan, there is a sig­nif­i­cant amount of ho­mo­sex­ual sub­text to the film as well. The al­ways ex­cel­lent Helen Mirren is the only fe­male char­ac­ter of any sub­stance in and en­tire film of gun-wield­ing gang­sters tak­ing show­ers, hug­ging each other, tak­ing more show­ers, be­ing stabbed by Gay Pierce Brosnan while tak­ing show­ers, etc. Pierce Brosnan’s char­ac­ter isn’t ac­tu­ally gay, he just acts like it in or­der to stab the left-hand man and bo­som-mil­i­tary-buddy of Harold, who ac­tu­ally is gay, at least in the movie. Follow me, didja?

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The American Mafia is present in the form of a lawyer and some dude who is go­ing to help fund Hoskins in his real-es­tate ven­ture to make a mint buy­ing prop­erty for the Olympic Stadium be­fore it is built, or some­thing. The de­tails aren’t ever crys­tal, and don’t need to be. What also isn’t crys­tal is whether the Mafia is in ca­hoots, or at least con­tact, with the IRA who are de­stroy­ing Harold’s em­pire. So this gang­ster film also raises some hairy for­eign pol­icy ques­tions. There’s plenty of the deca­dence that char­ac­ter­ized 1980s cul­ture, sans the co­caine, since Harold “never got into nar­cotics.” I kept ex­pect­ing a Goodfellas-es­que un­sanc­tioned drug ring af­ter that, but it never ma­te­ri­al­ized. That’s what the film ex­cels at, the im­ma­te­rial ex­pec­ta­tion, there are shad­ows in the London fog, but noth­ing clearer, even for those used to walk­ing its streets, in­nit?

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