Academic journal article CineAction

The Brave One; 'There's Plenty of Ways to Die'

Academic journal article CineAction

The Brave One; 'There's Plenty of Ways to Die'

Article excerpt

  "... precisely because the universe in which we live is somehow a
  universe of dead conventions and artificiality, the only authentic
  real experience must be some extremely violent, shattering experience.
  And this we experience as a sense that now we are back in real life."

--Slavoj Zizek

Neil Jordan's journey is an unusual one marked by anomalies and seemingly radical shifts in direction. The Irish filmmaker has oscillated between mainstream, studio films and films cobbled together with independent funding. Although Jordan had a brush with studio filmmaking in 1988 when he directed High Spirits and again in his following film, We're No Angels, neither experience was a particularly happy one (High Spirits was removed from his control and recut and partly reshot by the studio), and he returned to small budget filmmaking in Ireland with The Miracle in 1991. After the success of The Crying Game in 1992, Jordan was chosen by his "angel" David Geffen for the coveted task of directing Interview With the Vampire in 1994. Thereafter, Jordan worked for Warner Bros. (Michael Collins and The Butcher Boy), DreamWorks (In Dreams), and Columbia (The End of the Affair) before reverting, with The Good Thief in 2002, to a more independent, Euro-pudding method of financing, which was the case with his next venture, Breakfast on Pluto. Jordan returned to Warner Bros to make his most recent feature, The Brave One.

Jordan has managed, throughout nearly all of his career, to remain independent in spite of his studio connections. He has mainly written his own scripts even in cases where he has generously shared co-writing credit with another author. For example, in the film In Dreams, Bruce Robinson is given credit as Jordan's writing partner. Yet, it is clear from a perusal of Robinson's version of the script, that Jordan used virtually none of Robinson's work. The term "art cinema" is one that applies to each of Jordan's films whether studio driven or independent; it is his imaginative vision that motors his filmmaking whether working on small or large budget projects. The Irish filmmaker has been strongly influenced by European art cinema, particularly the works of Godard, Resnais, Fellini, Antonioni and Wenders, amongst others. Apart from his unique thematic and stylistic signatures, he often employs the sort of authorial intervention that I claim for The Brave One, a studio-bred film. The particular stylistic tropes articulated by this intervention are insistent and serve to push the film firmly in the direction of "art cinema." It would be difficult to contemplate a Jordan film that was bereft of the touches that mark his poetic disposition.

The opening paragraph of Neil Jordan's novel Shade begins:

  "I know exactly when I died. It was twenty past three on the
  fourteenth of January of the year nineteen fifty, an afternoon of
  bright unseasonable sunlight with a whipping wind that scurried the
  white clouds through the blue sky above me and gave the Irish sea
  beyond more than its normal share of white horses." (Jordan 2004: 3)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Shade is narrated in part by a dead woman, Nina Hardy, interspersed with the narrative voice of the omniscient author. It is a ghostly presence that seems to haunt The Brave One as well.

The Brave One revolves around the life of a New York radio talkshow host, a storyteller, Erica (Jodie Foster), whose radio tag on her show 'I Walk the City' is 'The Streetwalker'. The programme is comprised of her romanticised and sweetly sentimental commentary on her beloved New York, 'the safest big city in the world'. Throughout the credit sequence Erica's voice is overdubbed from her different sessions in the recording studio, fragmenting her vocals. The art of telling stories is a vehicle for the communication and sharing of human knowledge, understanding and feeling that is vital to Jordan's filmmaking process. …

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