Clive Owen Film & TV Reviews

9/18/00 - Dark Horizons Presents... Toronto Film Festival Report #9 by Eric Lurio ...

Greenfingers Written And Directed By Joel Hershman

One of the annoying clichés of the cinema is beginning a film in the middle and then going into flashback mode for the first half to three quarters of the film. Joel Hershman does it here, when Colin Briggs (Clive Owen), breaks into a flower shop in order to get his beloved Primrose(Natasha Little) a farewell bouquet before he goes back to the pokey. The flashback technique is then used to explain the mystery. It seems that Colin is a murderer who, after fifteen years, had been selected to be transferred to the minimum security prison at Edgefield. Here he rooms with the aged Fergus Wilkes(David Kelly), and while they don't exactly strike up a friendship, Fergus gives Colin some seeds as a Christmas present, which they plant in the sandy soil, and to their surprise, sprout in the spring.

A fight which accidentally breaks out over the newly discovered flowers between Colin and a fellow inmate named Raw(Adam Fogerty), inspires the warden(Warren Clarke) the idea to assign the two, plus Fergus and two others(Patterson Joseph and Danny Dyer) to the long abandoned gardening detail, which is clearly not macho enough for them. But what could they do? They're in the poky.

The garden thrives, and the warden's wife convinces TV gardening expert Georgina Woodhouse(Helen Mirren) and her daughter Primrose to give the place a visit. She's impressed, and soon the guys are on a work detail landscaping some of the prison's rich neighbors.

This leads to an invitation to compete in that World Series of Weeds, the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Who'd have thought that they'd make a sports movie out of something like that?

Considering what this is about, it's a rather enthralling movie. Kelly is at his best, Mirren delightfully ditzy, and Little and Owen have great chemistry together. Owen himself is particularly good here and has a Clint Eastwood-like quality to him. But what makes the film is the script, which is based on an article in the New York Times from back in '98. It's lots of fun, and is worth at least a matinee or eventual rental. 3* (Thanks, Selene)

Here's one fron the Aint It Cool news site:

GREENFINGERS (Dir. Joel Hershman) Any of you who know how much I love Hershman's other film, Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me, knows how much I couldn't wait to see this one. Granted, I was probably the only one in the audience who even knew of Hershman's first film, so I was the only one slightly disappointed that it was a major departure from that film.

That said, on it's own merits, it's still a really good film. It is somewhat predictable, however. It's in the style of many recent British comedies (hence the comparison to The Full Monty) and the unique point about all that is that Hershman is American.

The plot involves a motley group of prisoners sent to a "halfway-house" prison of sorts. There, the elder Fergus (played by the guy from Waking Ned Devine) teaches Clive Owen about gardening. From there, the warden puts it upon several other inmates to start a gardening program and then they become quite good at it. Yes it was predictable but it had such a good soul with many charming, funny moments, that it was certainly light fun entertainment.

All the characters had great personality and were given some fun lines to act upon that personality. So, yes, most importantly it's enjoyable and while not LIKE the Full Monty, if you enjoyed that one this one will certainly fit you just nicely.

(Again, thanks, Selene)

9/1/00 -- From The West Australian:

THERE are no aliens in Second Sight, a two-part British crime drama beginning on the ABC on Sunday at 8.30pm. But the leading couple have more than a passing similarity to The X-Files brooding spook-busters Scully and Mulder - with a telling gender switch, that is. While the voice of reason in The X-Files is the woman, in Second Sight it is Detective Inspector Ross Tanner, who is played by that wonderfully intense actor Clive Owen (best known for his work in quality movies such as Century and Close My Eyes).

"Given the choice," he tells his young partner Catherine Tully (Claire Skinner), "focus on the facts. There will be time for the psycho-babble when we've got the big picture." The X-Files has maintained this reason/emotion dichotomy through several seasons--rather absurdly as you'd think by now Scully's cynicism would be whittled away to nothing after so many encounters with the paranormal.

Second Sight's hard-boiled Tanner, on the other hand, is literally forced to see things differently when he's struck down by AZOOR - which we learn is not a Pakistani fast bowler but the acronym for a rare virus that will ultimately render him blind. Thus we get a very juicy set-up in which the hard-nosed, take-charge copper who has an eye for the ladies must look deeply inside himself if he wants to solve the mystery of who killed an upper-crust 19-year-old and save his career. While it takes almost the entire first episode to set up the drama, the slow pace greatly enhances the realism and allows for the development of the characters the vision-impaired Tanner must decipher.

What makes this thriller from the pen of Paula Milne (The Politician's Wife, The Fragile Heart) so interesting is the way in which the policeman's physical disability is incorporated into the drama. The blind detective is not a new idea--remember the early 1970s James Franciscus series Longstreet?--but Second Sight looks to have a couple of good tricks up its sleeve. And it doesn't mind telling the odd Stevie Wonder joke.


Girlfriend: "I love you Jack, you know that." Jack's voice-over: "And he half-loved her. And she knows that, too."

The Toronto Sun Friday, August 18, 2000 Movies LIVELY CROUPIER A SURE BET BY BRUCE KIRKLAND Croupier is the sleeper hit of 2000.

Already a smash in its native Britain, exploding in limited release in the U.S. and one of the most exciting discoveries of the 2000 Floating Film Festival, Croupier arrives in Toronto today bursting with energy and attitude.

Directed by veteran Mike Hodges as a contemporary film noir, this lively if cynical thriller rocks the Casbah and makes a real star of mature British actor Clive Owen, who comes to us fully formed, and informed, in his mid-thirties.

Croupier is the kind of British film that arrives rarely, yet steadily. It reminds us of predecessors such as The Last Good Friday, Mona Lisa and Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, not in story or style, but in toughness, intelligence and energy. Hollywood doesn't make these movies.

Set in the world of hard-core gambling in London and layered with a novelist's interior angst, Croupier is a multi-layered, bittersweet caper flick that deftly combines intrigue, romance and familial complications.

The cast is uniformly delicious. Owen especially is riveting on screen, a quiet, intensely male presence in the film in much the same way Russell Crowe commands a scene. Owen's eyes smoulder, his restraint suggests something darker, edgier and more dangerous than some callow youth.

In the film, he plays a failing novelist who is obliged to go back to work as a croupier at a London casino. He gets the job through his gambler father's extensive contacts.

As the work takes over his life and his psyche, a new novel begins to take shape in his head. It will be his own story as a croupier. Owen's exceptionally well-written and beautifully delivered voice-over narration gives the audience the character's interior life and the movie its tortured soul.

As is usual in film noir, the women in our hero's life are catalysts yet secondary to his focus, in this case the emerging novel and the casino adventures that fuel it.

Three women are crucial: His skeptical girlfriend, who is a store detective (Gina McKee); his fellow croupier and a wild card in the deck he is dealt (Kate Hardie); and a classy South African gambler (Alex Kingston), who is as seductive as she is mysterious. All three femmes fatales are terrific. Kingston, though, deserves special praise because she is so different, so much more engaging than on TV's ER series.

Croupier is a near masterpiece. The startling beauty of Hodges' film, which was written by Paul Mayersberg, is that I could give away the entire labyrinth of plot and it would still be enjoyable, and thoroughly so because of the multi-dimensional people it portrays with such an uncanny knack.

Obviously, I won't do that, so there is double the pleasure in the genuine surprises that enrich character development. The point is that the plot is more than a mechanical device and the movie is far more complex than its plot.

CROUPIER Time: 1 hour, 29 minutes Rated: AA Director: Mike Hodges Stars: Clive Owen Alex Kingston 'SUPERIOR THRILLER!'

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