Last Orders
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This is one of those films where nothing much happens except that a bunch of characters sit around and talk.  What makes it interesting is that the characters are played by Michael Caine, Bob Hoskins, Tom Courtenay, David Hemmings and Helen Mirren.  That would be enough for a good film even if there was no script but in Last Orders we have a great script too.  Last Orders is adapted from the Booker Prize winning book of 1996.  It is the story of four friends who met during World War II and now live in London's east end.  Except that one of them isn't living anywhere anymore.  The local Butcher (Michael Caine) has died and his last request is to have his ashes scattered in the water of Margate harbor.  He used to go on holiday there with his family.  His wife (Helen Mirren) has asked his friends and his son (Ray Winstone)  to drive down there.  They meet at the local pub with the Urn, and after a few pints they drive off, stopping at a few more pubs along the way.  As they are wending their way to Margate, the history of the four friends is told in flashbacks.  Like I said, not much happens but Last Orders is a nice little film.   And these actors make it look easy.  Of course, for Caine, Hoskins, and Winstone, it was easy. They all hail from the east end of London originally.  Caine, Hoskins and Mirren are well known for their high quality acting as well as for the variety of roles they play.  Helen Mirren is nominated for Best Supporting Actress for another role last year in Gosford Park.  Tom Courtenay is less well known because he mostly does stage work but he has been nominated twice for Oscars (Doctor Zhivago, The Dresser).  My favorite film of his is The Night of the Generals where Omar Sharif is hot on the trail of psycho killer Peter O'Toole during World War II.  Courtenay plays an innocent bystander who spends most of his time making out with the delectable Joanna Pettet, one of my early onscreen loves. This movie came out in 1967.  Hmmm, I seem to to be off on a tangent again.  Ray Winstone was unknown to me until he burst into my consciousness last year in Sexy Beast.  The cast is rounded out by David Hemmings who started out with glamor roles like Mordred in Camelot, another 1967 film, but has spent most of his career directing and painting.  This film had a limited run before Christmas to qualify for Oscar nominations but didn't get any.   I guess it just isn't flashy enough, although the performances stack up against any that were nominated.  Maybe, I've been overstating the lack of action a little too much.  It's really an action movie!  Last Orders has a fist fight, an affair, a thousand pounds being gambled on a horse race and someone dies.  If it had a car chase, it would have starred Schwarzenegger.