This continues the hygiene thing from Monday, but from a rather different perspective.
Sunday I watched a film called Oldboy. It starts off as a classic oubliette story, with Josh Brolin on his reliable B list form as a man who wakes up in a locked hotel room. He has no idea why he’s there, and certainly isn’t aware he’s going to be there for some 20 years. Nor that he’s going to be set up on a murder rap.
He finally ‘escapes’, though you have suspicion that maybe he’s been allowed to, and goes in search of his incarcerator, who operates through Samuel L Jackson’s disturbingly violent Chaney.
There’s a bit of hiatus in the middle, with a lot of unnecessary kung-fu-style set piece squabbles. Needless to say there’s some love interest too, but that’s all I’ll tell you. I don’t want to spoil things for you. I will say that at some point you may be like me and go, ‘I wonder if…’, and hope fervently that you’re wrong.
By dint of some clever detective work, and aided and abetted by the love interest, our hero finally tracks down his tormentor, who sets him the task of establishing why he set him up in the first place. If he can establish that, he’ll be rewarded with a signed handwritten confession to the murder, a whole stack of diamonds, and the opportunity to see the bad guy blow his own head off.
When you find out why, you realise that the sneaky suspicion you had earlier is all too correct. It’s at this point that you think, ‘Yuck. I feel really grubby now. I could use a bath.’ I had the same feeling the first time I saw Se7en.
There’s an actor who’s been in a lot of films that make me feel like that. Obviously you’ve got hardline weirdos such as Christopher Walken, but he just makes you feel uneasy, not soiled. Some of Paul Bettany’s stuff makes me want to watch from the shower.
He first got picked up on my radar in about 2000 with Gangster No1. He plays opposite Malcolm McDowell in this extremely violent gangland movie. Later, he cropped up as the rather creepy Quentin in Dead Babies, which, as you’ll know if you’ve read the book, is very grub-making. He was that weird priest in (and the only good bit of) The Da Vinci Code*. The fallen angel Michael in Legion. He’s just very good at being threatening and sleazy, even as an angel.
Hand me the loofah, somebody.
*If you thought the books were bad, and I did, then the films are even worse.