God loves Mel Gibson. And how could He not? Mel’s entire career is about abasing himself; metaphorically (and, one infamous night in Malibu, literally) rending his shirt and crying: “What are you looking at, sugar tits?” Some people might walk around as if they were carrying a cross; Mel Gibson made The Passion of the Christ. Even when he was drunk and leering at Malibu police officers, there was a sense he was shaming himself for us. But God looks kindly on a guilty conscience. Lethal Weapon, Braveheart, What Women Want… all the superfluous torture Mel’s put himself through. He’s at it again in Edge of Darkness. (Note to Mel: God knows you’ve sinned.)
Let me take you to a wooden planet. Far out in space, imagine a giant satellite inhabited by monks. A medieval cathedral – almost a mile high – dominates the skyline. It’s surrounded by wheat-fields. In the distance there are windmills turning. This was to be the setting for Alien 3… if director Vincent Ward had had his way. I, for one, would have chopped down several trees to see it happen. But sadly, fate (and a management re-shuffle at 20th Century Fox) killed the project. Alien 3 was shifted to a space gaol. Vincent Ward moved on. Now, he has a new movie about his native country. It isn’t set on a wooden planet, but it still has Ward’s touch.
Cormac McCarthy looked incongruous on The Oprah Winfrey Show. If he’d been denouncing the show, fine. If he’d been denouncing the show with blood on his hands and a burning church in the background, and a high plangent wail of a grieving mother shredding his words, and a look in his eyes as if Hell was close… no problem. But to see him chatting – for Cormac McCarthy to chat with Oprah – was disturbing. The very fact that his apocalyptic sermon, The Road, had been chosen for Oprah’s Book Club was strange enough. But I suppose (to use a Biblical parallel) even Moses had to talk to someone when he came down from the mountain.
Guy Ritchie’s true subject has always been London; the moneyed, brutish boxer’s fist that knuckles the Thames. London, that city of thieves, scoundrels and massively over-priced hotels, where the air turns your snot black and the weather drives a shiv into your bones. Like New York, but without the iconic silhouette, London is known more for its streets than its skyscrapers: Downing Street, Fleet Street; Carnaby Street. Even London’s most famous detective has a famous address: 221b Baker Street, home of Sherlock Holmes. In Guy Ritchie’s new movie, the cerebral sleuth returns to a city rank with wrongdoing. London’s tourists will know it well.