Dom Hemingway opens with the title character, played by Jude Law, looking straight at the camera while delivering a soliloquy about the power and majesty of his dick. Dom is nude, but we don't see the object of his impassioned speech. Initially, he is only seen down to his waist level, but as the camera eventually pulls back, the view is obstructed by the head of a person administering a blowjob.
That's the kind of movie Dom Hemingway is. A British crime flick turned redemption story, it follows the path of films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, mixing Quentin Tarantino-inspired shocks with zippy mod visuals of the A Hard Day's Night school of elan. Writer-director Richard Shepard (The Matador) offers a violent, kicky outing. The screenplay struggles – some parts don't work, others are too dumb to be engaging. But the film has style on top of style on top of style, along with a swell central performance by Law. Is that enough for you? I wished there had been more, but I left happy.
Law gained 30 pounds of fat for the movie and proudly displays his naked torso and fanny (despite his efforts, he looks more cute than slovenly). In doing so, he follows The Rule of Cinematic Weight Change, which goes like this: If an actor gains or loses a significant amount of weight for a movie, they must be shown in a notable stage of undress to make it clear how very committed they are to their craft. Think Robert De Niro (Raging Bull), Tom Hanks (Castaway), Charlize Theron (Monster), and Christian Bale in both The Machinist (skinny) and American Hustle (fat). Note: Dallas Buyers Club boldly ignores the Rule of CWC and does not do a shirt-off showcase scene of Matthew McConaughey's weight loss.
Fresh off a 12-year prison sentence after taking the fall for his boss, Dom and his best friend Dickie (Richard E. Grant) go on a three-day celebratory binge of drugs, drink and women. Then they head to France so Dom can collect his reward from his employer, Fontaine (Demain Bichir). Dom blows the meeting spectacularly (and unbelievably), but amends are made, leading to a drive with Fontaine and his girlfriend Paolina (Madalina Ghenea) that ends in a wreck, providing some exceptionally cool visuals.
Dom and Dickie return to London, where Dom tries to reconnect with his estranged adult daughter Evelyn (Emilia Clarke) while getting involved with Lestor (Jumayn), a gangster who can't stand him. The film builds to a ludicrous bet with Lestor (that puts Dom's beloved member at high risk) and the resolution of the would-be reconciliation with Evelyn.
Portions of the production don't work and the change in tone late in the proceedings isn't smooth. But Law is aces, Grant provides solid support, the eye candy is delicious and the film's sense of style triumphs over its deficits in substance. Dom Hemingway is nasty fun.
Ernest and Celestine
★★★★★ (out of five)
Absolutely charming animated feature that was an Academy Award nominee. The story follows the unlikely friendship between Celestine, a rebellious young mouse and Ernest, a lonesome bear. The pastel artwork look like it came straight from the pages of a superior children's book. The details are a visual treat, and the relationship between Celestine and Ernest is rich and satisfying. The message about overcoming intolerance of others is well-presented. Everything about this delightful film works. See it on the big screen while you can. NOTE: I had no idea there was conflict between the bear and mouse communities. Wonder what cats feel about this?
Under the Skin
Scarlett Johansson plays an alien (or a monster) in human form that wanders around Scotland snagging men whose disappearance will likely go unnoticed. Some guy (or guys) on a motorcycle(s) help her, or monitor her, or control her or something. Hell, I don't know. There's not much dialogue and most of what you hear comes from Scots whose regional accents are nigh impossible to understand. That describes the plot, too. The mood is dark, stark and compelling, and the film held my interest. Can't say much more, since I don't know much more.