BLUE & THE LIFE OF DAVID GALE
BY ALEX GRANT
veteran actor Kurt Russell goes the distance in creating a creepy
, whiskey- sodden gunslinger of a cop
According to veteran LAPD cop Eldon Perry ( Kurt Russell ) his mission
is to prey upon predators and guarantee that they will never predate again.
An undercover Special Investigations officer Perry drinks on the job,
roughs up suspects, guns down suspected perps, and is utterly
under the thumb of his equally ruthless, amoral boss at Parker Centre
Jack Van Meter ( Brendan Gleeson ). Perry is teaching his gullible, guilt-ridden
partner Bobby Keough ( Scott Speedman ) exactly how to viciously rid the
city streets of predators. Bobby is a quick study and this trio of monsters
soon find themselves entirely at odds with one another. Perry and Van
Meter have totally bought into the macho cowboy ethos of their
culture as the sons and grandsons of cops. Keough is Van Meters
nephew,too. Their nemesis is Assistant Chief Police Commissioner Holland
( Ving Rhames ) a black rock of integrity determined to demolish the white
cowboy code of misconduct and to punish its most prominent
Director Ron Shelton and his writer David Ayer set their ambitious morality
play during the days between the beating of Rodney King ( twelve years
ago ) and the outcome of the trial of the four LAPD cops caught on video
assaulting the petty thief with batons and with a taser-gun as he lay
supine on the pavement. This very intense and truly challenging film recreates
the riot city-wide that was triggered by the acquittal of the quartet
of cops. And it is a forbidding sight as the black ghettos rise up against
authority to loot neighbour-hood stores and beat and kill their Korean
and Caucasian slave-masters.
For once a cop melodrama does not rely on one rotten policeman to expose
the force. Here almost everyone is tainted. Their disdain for short-term
honesty, and for long-term ethics, is embedded in how they do their job.
They are convinced that they must man that thin blue line between civility
and chaos. Even when their actions are no less despicable and deplorable
than the callous, casual cruelties of their prey.
Police brutality can be endemic in every city - as it appears
to be in Vancouver right now - and Los Angeles, since the late Forties,
has been outstanding in its record of an ongoing fascist police
regime. DARK BLUE had been adapted from a short story by notable crime
author James Ellroy , whose ferocious novels tell it as it is, for example
his L.A.CONFIDENTIAL. Shelton and Ayer faithfully capture Ellroys
frank and gritty vision of the LAPD as an officially approved lynch-mob
of racists, drunks, and thugs in uniforms. And veteran actor Kurt Russell
goes the distance in creating a creepy , whiskey- sodden gunslinger of
a cop. A man who is a law unto himself, an avenging angel gone bad.
is a film that blatantly teases at the same time as it genuinely
intrigues, and shocks
THE LIFE OF DAVID
GALE - A FILM REVIEW
British filmmaker Alan Parkers new murder-mystery melodrama is both
bizarre and macabre. It ties together both capital punishment and euthanasia
in a sinister S&M scenario about the decline and fall of David Gale,
a distinguished philosophy professor in Texas, which - after China - leads
the world in its frequency of state executions, who finds himself on Death
Row with only four days to live after almost a decade behind bars.
Gale ( Kevin Spacey ) has been a leading advocate with "Deathwatch",
a volunteer agency that opposes capital punishment, and where his colleague
Constance ( Laura Linney ) tries to tame his demons. We watch while Gales
picture-perfect family life crumbles due to his escalating dependence
on liquor. Then he falls foul of a seductive graduate student in one of
his classes and is accused of sexually assaulting her. Though he is acquitted
from the rape charge Gale becomes a pariah on campus, a moral leper politically
incorrect forever, and he tumbles precipitously into alcoholism.
Or so we are led to believe.
Enter Bitsie Bloom ( Kate Winslet ) a hugely ambitious arrogant reporter
assigned to conduct three two-hour interviews on Death Row with the doomed
despondent Gale. She painstakingly pieces together an alternative scenario
that has inadvertently led the seemingly innocent Gale to prison and execution.
Or is he a stone-cold killer leading her up the garden path?
This is a film that blatantly teases at the same time as it genuinely
intrigues, and shocks particularly a video of a nude woman expiring
handcuffed on her kitchen floor. Each successive scene is convincingly
played out by all the principals, especially at a drunken party where
the inebriated Gale succumbs to his sexy young siren. Or is this a faked
Parkers direction is rich in atmosphere and wit. His cast give intense
and passionate performances and lend a verisimilitude to the highly concocted
plot, a convoluted scenario that is definitely too clever by half. Not
only is our heroine possibly being conned, but we in the audience possibly
are also being taken for a ride, along a rocky road leading nowhere .The
extravagantly tense climax to this very tall tale concludes with every
single character being rewarded thanks to an elaborate hoax played by
a very smart guy with a very definite death-wish. A man who wants the
world to know just how far his obsessions will take him. Enough said.
© Alex Grant 2003
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