On the Mount Olympus of cinematic ass-kickers, wed have to rank Michael Caine somewhere around Zeus. In Mike Hodges 1971 pulp masterpiece, a cult movie of almost inconceivable popularity in its native Britain, Caines cold-eyed angel of doom ankles London for grimy Newcastle (where former NaFF artistic director Brian Gordon now runs the local film festival) to avenge his brothers murder. When a porn loop reveals another ugly slight to the family, assassin Caine chucks his loyalty to the London mob and declares war on the locals. Far tougher than the dweeby lad movies it spawned, Hodges frozen-blooded thriller stands in sharp contrast to the elegant Jean-Pierre Melville gangster fantasias in the Belcourts Noir Fest 2. Its smudged with location grit, stocked with seedy birds and ruddy thugs, and steeped in a mortal chill so pervasive that it leaves your teeth chattering. And it has Caine, a bad-ass so self-assured that when two mob enforcers interrupt him mid-shag, he coolly whips out a shotgun bollocks-naked and marches them into the street. What, you say, you already saw the Stallone remake? Nows your chance to atone.
Sat., March 6; Mon., March 8, 2010