Mr Nice Blu-Ray Review


The rights to make a film of Mr. Nice were sold into the BBC from Howard Marks as soon as the milestone autobiography of perhaps the very innovative medication baron of all time topped the bestseller lists at 1996. 1-5 decades later and his vivid memoir has finally been taken to the big screen by the iconic writer/director Bernard Rose (Immortal Beloved) who faithfully captures the rambling, often comic, nature of this original book aided by an outstanding performance from Rhys Ifans in the title character.

In researching this article I have found many notable parallels between the reported facts, their fictionalised account from the first Marks book and the way in which they are presented by Rose in his screenplay. This opaque notion of reality has really helped to offer”Mr. Nice” his legendary outlaw status with comparisons drawn to Robin Hood and Butch Cassidy to name but two. Whilst this absence of absolute veracity might irritate some, to my mind it merely serves to heighten the movie for a thing of beauty in its own right.

In trying to replicate the essence of an autobiography Bernard Rose chose to take on almost all of the major technical roles behind the camera, not content with writing the script and directing the performances, then he is also the cinematographer (operating a handheld 35mm camera to catch the required period look) as well as being the film’s picture editor. This singular vision provides a necessary counterpoint to the force of nature that’s Rhys Ifans who controls nearly every scene in the movie.

Ifans actually must understand Marks in the afternoon when he had been playing with the Deadly Welsh psychedelic rock combo Super Furry Animals, before the massive success of this book the two became firm friends and a deal was struck that Rhys should play Howard when your film was made of his lifetime. This long standing amicable association supplies the movie with a heart that might have most likely been missing with anyone else in the lead role, Ifans admiration for Marks is demonstrable Asis his own empathy, specially within the Terre Haute Penitentiary scenes.

The film opens from behind theatrical props together with Howard Marks addressing a favourable audience during a few of his live shows, following the book’s victory he became a popular speaker on the raconteur circuit. It then flashes back to his early life at a small Welsh coal-mining village near Bridgend, the black and white picture stock shrinks to a 4:3 ratio giving the feeling of a drain drama of this period, that the young Howard is also played by Rhys Ifans; a surreal device re-collecting the televised plays of Dennis Potter.

Like most of his generation during his undergraduate years he had been exposed to various recreational drugs including LSD but his drug of choice was cannabis, particularly hashish; as he chooses his first took the scope of the picture widens and dramatically changes from black to vibrant colour, reminiscent of Dorothy’s entrance into Oz.

After Howard graduates from Oxford with a degree in Atomic Physics, ” he heads back to Wales, gets married and starts a family, that could be the version of events unique about Rose’s film as this really is not how Marks recalls it into his publication nor could it be true to documented reports however it creates perfect stunning sense. He chooses a constant instruction job to pay bills and to get a while leads a sober yet boring existence, until he attends a party thrown by his old college chum Graham (Jack Huston) who generally seems to be doing incredibly well for himself by selling hash. Howard is easily chained back into the hippy culture when he meets shares a combined together with Judy (Chloe Sevigny), culminating in a long relationship with her and also the weed.

When Graham is detained while trying to smuggle a massive haul out of Germany,” Howard agrees to courier the remaining return to the UK where he could be quickly baptised into the machinations of time drug dealing; turning into a fast profit and agreeing to collect additional shipments by the Pakistani supplier, Saleem Malik (Omid Djalili). This whirlwind period in Howard’s life brings him in to connection with the energetic character of Jim McCann, the Irish freedom fighter allegedly kicked out of this IRA for drug-trafficking played FullTilt by David Thewlis. Marks engages McCann’s Provo contacts in Shannon Airport to covertly import medication from the European mainland.

At a surreal twist right out of those pages of Ian Fleming or John le Carre, Howard is approached by some other older chum out of Baillol,” Hamilton”Mac” McMillan, played with the great Christian McKay (Me and Orson Welles), who currently works for MI6 and wants to recruit Marks as his eyes and ears in various cases concerning narcotics or terrorism in return for a degree of protection against lawenforcement.

Between the late 70s and early 80s Howard Marks gathered a complex network of connections controlling one point 10% of their international hashish market and by the mid-80s he had 43 aliases, 89 phone lines, also 25 companies trading throughout the world. Authentic to this book the film tries to imply that his fateful decision to move in to the American economy was his ultimate undoing and that Judy, who by that time he had 3 kids together with, tried to discourage the usa expansion and pull Howard back to the commitment of family life but the temptation to create even greater piles of cash was too much.

Bernard Rose uses a smart stylistic device to convey the 25 year time period covered within the duration of movie, he takes actual filmed stock footage wallpapers after which digitally superimposes Marks over the very best matching the grain, as the effect is an obvious artifice ignored by some critics as simply amateurish and economical it actually acts as a striking visual quirk that reflects Howard’s constant state of enlarged consciousness. It also reminds me about the spine projection shots evidenced by Alfred Hitchcock in his gold Hollywood period, notably Marnie in 1964.

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