I think the BBFC title card portrayed the title with the colon. Beware of titles with a colon, they say, as it’s a sign of a film trying to bolt itself on, to ride the coat tails of a much better film. I was never too much of an evangelist about the first one: it was just fine and this one’s fine too, although not nearly as much.
For me, it got points for having some really funny bits all strung together. Some films are ‘bitty’ and are hit and miss and fail to cohere; with this, the funny bits all work in themselves, as true comedy sketches.
Simon and Mark meeting again in Sick Boy’s pub, for one example. Sick Boy and Mark being forced to make up a song on the stage was shot, acted and edited to comedy perfection as was Mark and Begbie both coming to the realisation that the other toilet cubicle might contain their nemesis. So funny was this scene that I wondered if they were filmed simultaneously or if it was shot ‘split-screen’ with the second actor trying to time his movement and show their thought processes in syncronisation with the first one. Perhaps like a Doris Day/Rock Hudson film? Only in ‘Trainspotting’, any hand-holding would only act as a prelude to some hand-breaking.
Mark’s knocking on Spud’s door at that time of great inconvenience for Spud was also a gem, knitted together with that surreal touch of the falling off of the top of a block of flats. It was those strange flourishes, like the projections on walls (recalling mid-90s Oliver Stone‘s quasi-psychedelic work) that made me think again of Danny Boyle’s previous film ‘Steve Jobs‘, giving me a hankering to watch that magnificent movie again.
It’s strange how artists work in certain situations. With ‘Steve Jobs’, it was all set up to be David Fincher directing from an Aaron Sorkin script again – as was the case with ‘The Social Network’ – before Fincher felt that he had to drop out and Danny Boyle was brought in as the ‘hired gun’. What with an ‘auteur’ like Sorkin having major hands-on input, going so far as to criticise the choice of Michael Fassbender for the lead, before his reversal and apologies when his reservations were outed in the Sony email hack, it was surprising to watch the finished film and deduce that it has Danny Boyle’s fingerprints all over it; making all that talking, talking, talking into a great work of direction, of cinema, even though the danger of ‘staginess’ was underlined by being filmed mainly back stage or on a literal stage.
So, with ‘Steve Jobs’, Danny Boyle was a hired gun who was probably under the gun all the time but he made it all work majestically. See the projections or the stunning sequence when three scenes – a back stage conflab; a meeting between the same characters at Jobs’ home years ago; and a boardroom meeting – are all cut together and play with a rising sense of tension and drama. With ‘T2: Trainspotting’, Danny Boyle was probably in a much more powerful, more optimum, position in terms of his own importance to getting the film made, yet the better work, for me, is in ‘Steve Jobs’, which supposedly died a death at the box office while ‘T2: Trainspotting’ is almost guaranteed to be a big hit. No justice. Hopefully ‘Steve Jobs’ will find a home-viewing home. I don’t care about Apple; I don’t care about Jobs; I found him to be a very unsavoury person but I was riveted and watched it three times.
The problem with Trainspotting, though, is when it comes to its third act, a reason for the film to be made, it all falls apart a bit. It makes vague gestures towards a profundity but can’t reach anything interesting. And all of the echoes of the first film worked against the movie. The opening was extremely clever, knowing and funny yet, again and again, one would keep being given throwbacks to the first film, which a dangerous game.
Arthur Penn, director of ‘Bonnie & Clyde’, would say that films can sometimes be violent as one has got to grab the audience by the scruff of the neck; demand their interest; and never let it go. They’ve given you their time and attention, when they could’ve been doing anything else, so make it worth their while. Here, the parts of the first film played almost like testimonials to the first one rather than reasons to watch this sequel; it reminded you constantly that these characters, these film-makers, have made a better film than the one that you’ve now paid money to see…and that can’t be a good impression to take away with you.
Also, ***QUASI-SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH*** I must confess to feeling confused: confused as to what the eastern woman hoped to do with Spud’s manuscript; confused as to how Sick Boy and Renton managed to come across that grant of £100,000 (when they went in to make their pitch, I thought that they were turning up for Simon’s court case but that was all forgotten about, with its rehab and all); confused that Mark would know that Diane was now a lawyer; confused why anyone, anyone at all, would leave their credit/debit cards in their coats before checking them in; confused to there being no proper restrictions on how the business grant money was used and that it couldn’t be transferred and stolen so easily; confused to why Begbie only had one prison officer looking after him in hospital. I could look up a synopsis to find the answers to some of these questions but that I can’t be bothered to do so attests to how meaningless they were in the film. If ‘T2: Trainspotting’ is blasé about the story, why should the viewer be any different?
Still, it all looked great; there was no sign of ‘Sleeper’ on the music soundtrack and the final shot, as the credits started to run, was a thing of beauty. It’s an okay film. Choose waiting until it’s finally on television, perhaps?