8:00 PM, 30th October, 2004
When the daughter of a high ranking public official is kidnapped, the secret service rush in an experienced agent, Scott (Kilmer), to assist in tracking the girl down. Time is particularly of the essence, as the situation is likely to get exponentially worse when the press get their hands on the story. As Scott begins to unearth a far more sinister plot running through the corridors of power he quickly comes to realise that the only person he can trust is himself. Yeah, it's a clich((eacute)), but the last thing I want to do is give too much away! The depth of the plot is what really sets Spartan ahead of the pack.
Spartan is a very high paced action thriller from the prolific film producer and playwright David Mamet (Ronin, The Spanish Prisoner). The story truly builds up at a mile a minute and completely changes direction as soon as you think you've got it figured out. Much like Ronin it succeeds largely because of the solid, frequently conflicting characters and a complicated web of intrigue. This is David Mamet's best film yet (and yes, I saw The Spanish Prisoner!).
10:06 PM, 30th October, 2004
Wonderland concerns the true-life fall of John C. Holmes aka 'Johnny Wadd' (Kilmer), the 70s porn legend. By 1981 Holmes was unemployed, mooching drugs and sleeping with his wife's younger sister. When a scam goes awry, Holmes arranges for his drug dealers to rob a drug lord whose revenge matched the Manson killings in brutality.
Wonderland is told from competing perspectives. Confronted by a succession of recollections (rich in humour, joy, greed, despair and savagery), the audience can no more recover the truth than the police or courts did. We get no simple answers, no heroes and no reassurance for our moral values.
Val Kilmer provides the best, most vivid, performance of his career. He is utterly convincing. The rest of the cast are also superb: Lisa Kudrow, Kate Bosworth, Josh Lucas, Dylan McDermott, Tim Blake Nelson, Christina Applegate, Janeane Garofalo and Eric Bogosian shine in their roles.
Wonderland is a gem: amoral, profane, violent. It's a clear-eyed account of a heartless world of excess that has all the force of a punch in the face. It will leave many aching with nostalgia for the hedonism that graced the world before AIDS and the war on drugs spoiled it all.