Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (Guy Ritchie, 1998)
After I reviewed Layer Cake, a co-worker insisted I see this movie, which, if I were a more responsible critic and had the luxury of not doing 9789086 other things besides movie reviews, I would have done before reviewing Layer Cake. I did have a general familiarity with Ritchie's signature style - I saw his second movie, Snatch, which was basically a remake of this one with a bigger budget and more famous actors - and, truthfully, Layer Cake really does forge its own path. Anyway, on its own this is an entertaining little film, although not the masterpiece that some seemed to think it was when it first came out. It's very Pulp Fiction, with its wise-cracking gangsters and circuitous plot and vintage soundtrack, but not in a bad way. It's more light-hearted than Pulp Fiction, and it doesn't leave as much of a lasting impression, but I found it thoroughly entertaining.
Sonatine (Takeshi Kitano, 1993)
I didn't know quite what to expect from this movie, and it surprised me in the way that it played with gangster movie conventions. A good third of the movie is set at a seaside house where a bunch of gangsters lay low, just hanging out on the beach, goofing off, playing frisbee and so on. It's a strange contrast with the extreme violence of the beginning and the end. Takeshi manages to insert a good amount of pathos into his lead character (whom he plays himself), with very little dialogue or exposition. The plot was pretty much incomprehensible to me, and I don't think I quite got the alleged beauty of Takeshi's work, but it was an interesting change of pace.