Bob Hoskins Collection
by Jef Burnham
Coming to DVD on June 7, 2011 from Image Entertainment.
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Image Entertainment presents another in their recent line of HandMade Films releases with the 4-Disc Bob Hoskins Collection. The set features The Long Good Friday (1980), Mona Lisa (1986), The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1987), and The Raggedy Rawney (1988). Any one of these films is enough to convince you that Hoskins is an incredibly talented performer, but when viewed together, these films are sure to make devoted Hoskins fans of anyone.
When Francis Monkman’s awesome late-70s score kicks in at the opening of The Long Good Friday, you know you’re in for a cool flick. And man how it delivers. Hoskins stars as Harold Shand, head of “The Corporation,” a crime syndicate that controls London by simple virtue of their out-muscling all rival gangs. Looking to take The Corporation global, Harold flies the American mafia into London for a meeting on the long, Good Friday in question. Unfortunately, this is the very same day an unnamed force begins a bloody dismantling of Harold’s operation. With 24 hours to settle the score, Harold tears through the London underworld searching for the identity of his organization’s assailants in this intense, gangster mystery. The film co-stars Helen Mirren (The Queen) as Victoria, Harold’s wife and dedicated right-hand partner, who Mirren imbues with a palpable strength and sophistication; and Pierce Brosnan (GoldenEye) makes a notable early appearance as 1st Irishman.
Neil Jordan’s Mona Lisa earned Hoskins 10 Best Actor Awards in 1986, including those awarded by the Cannes Film Festival, the Golden Globes, and BAFTA, in addition to a nomination at the Academy Awards. Hoskins stars as George, a classless ex-con who becomes the chauffeur for high-class call girl, Simone (Cathy Tyson). George develops a tentative friendship with Simone that ultimately finds him searching the London underworld for a missing young prostitute. As a pseudo-mystery venturing into the topical arena of child prostitution, there are shades of Chinatown and Taxi Driver throughout.
However, the film is really about love and devotion with the friendship between George and Simone as the picture’s driving thematic force. Their relationship develops with realistic subtlety, allowing Hoskins to show virtually the entire range of his abilities in his exchanges with Cathy Tyson alone. And in its ambiguity, their relationship raises more questions about love than the rest of the film does about the mistreatment of women, preventing the darker themes of George’s journey from dominating the film. Robbie Coltrane (star of Cracker, and, of course, the Harry Potter series) and two-time Academy Award-winner Michael Caine (Get Carter, The Dark Knight) also star, delivering marvelously understated performances in key supporting roles.
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne is without a doubt the most minor picture herein, at least with regard to its showcasing of Bob Hoskins, for he plays but a secondary role to the titular lead played by two-time Academy Award-winner Maggie Smith (A Room With a View, the Harry Potter series). Judith Hearne is the character study of a woman battling with the emotional scars left by the psychotic aunt who raised her. When she meets James (Hoskins), the seemingly worldly brother of her landlady, Judith believes she has found her redemption. Smith delivers a stunningly subtle performance in this picture, and Hoskins adds invaluable depth to the world of the film.
Lastly, there is The Raggedy Rawney, a unique film about the innocent casualties of war. Hoskins not only stars in The Raggedy Rawney, but co-wrote AND directed the film, proving himself to be a more than capable filmmaker at that. In an unnamed country at an unnamed time, an AWOL soldier named Tom (Dexter Fletcher, Kick-Ass) dons garish, black and white face paint and a dress; and is subsequently taken in by a tribe of gypsies as a fortune-telling “rawney”— a kind of magical mad woman. Although the film loses focus near the conclusion due to its shifting protagonists, The Raggedy Rawney is still an incredibly interesting picture, reminiscent of the works of Federico Fellini and Lindsay Anderson.
There is a tragic lack of special features on this set. The only bonus feature to speak of is a terrific collection of HandMade Films trailers that curiously appears on both the Raggedy Rawney and Judith Hearne discs. Another unfortunate aspect of this release is the packaging, which finds the four discs stacked one on top of the other. When packaged in this fashion, I really don’t see how the discs can escape scratching. Even still, if you haven’t already invested in Image’s budget Blu-ray releases of The Long Good Friday and Mona Lisa (without a doubt the strongest films in the set), the Bob Hoskins Collection will make a terrific addition to your DVD library.
Read about Image Entertainment’s concurrently released Michael Palin Collection here.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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