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  • Stephen Norrington's "Blade" is undoubtedly a highlight of recent American cinema. It was one of the grandest blockbusters of the 90's - a powerhouse of trend-setting style and beautifully realized action sequences. Norrington proved to be an ambitious and promising director. It's unfortunate that he stumbled with his follow-up. "The Last Minute" is scatterbrained, indecisive and consequently confusing and also too derivative of other hip directors (Danny Boyle, Guy Ritchie).

    "The Last Minute" is semi-autobiographical of Norrington's experience with the entertainment industry. While it's confusing as to just what kind of "artist" the protagonist Billy Byrne is, it is clear that his exploits mirror that of Norrington's. Byrne is hailed as an up and coming genius, then almost immediately thrown out to dry by his employers, the media and all of his so-called friends. What's more, Bryne's old flatmate steals his career, leaving him with nothing.

    In this dilemma, Norrington asks some very good existential questions about the true worth of an artist. There are plenty of brilliant artists living in every city of the world who never have and probably never will be recognized. Having mass appeal is key, as is circumstance, opportunities and luck. The artists who do make it are sometimes self-important, because they wrongly believe themselves to be completely entitled to the recognition they obtain. This shows that the true value of art is not determined by things like mass-appeal and critical praise. A better film would have stayed with these questions.

    Norrington's account of a bought, sold and rejected artist is too complex, because its personal nature interferes with the larger themes and messages. First, Norrington shows a throw away entertainment industry that is fickle and disloyal, meaning many artists are bound to get stepped on. It is a nice set-up for a satire, but then the film takes a misstep by having Byrne realize that he had little life experience in the first place. The movie is then suddenly about Byrne's quest for personal experience and redemption, losing the satirical edge the film starts off wanting. "The Last Minute" is too personal for its own good.

    The story then takes another step in the wrong direction by suddenly morphing into an Oliver Twist-inspired story about the underbelly of London. The biggest problem with this second act is that it was simply not credible. There wasn't a good enough motivation for the fame-hungry Byrne to actually live in complete destitution. It would have been more consistent for him to just observe poverty in order to obtain "experience." Another problem with the second act is the misconception that poverty is "reality". Its too easy, and also far-fetched, for Byrne to learn experience by being poor. Things get especially muddled when an action sequence (followed by a musical sequence) erupts, reminding the viewer just how lost the screenplay is.

    The Christopher Guest movie "The Big Picture" was a similarly satirical look at a young Hollywood director. It share's "The Last Minutes" sense of magical realism, but is more effective in its clarity. Both movies use humor and absurdity to poke fun at and criticize the entertainment business, but "Big Picture" works so much better because it is consistent and concise. "The Last Minute" rambles and loses touch with its tone and purpose.

    That's not to say Norrington's film is uninspired or dull. He is still high off his love of flash and glamor, exhibited in "Blade". He again uses stylish techniques like time lapse, jump-cut editing and extreme mood lighting to show the frantic atmosphere of big cities that leads to large-scale marginalization of many citizens. His cinematographer James Welland picks up where Blade's Theo van de Sande leaves off, beautifully using murky colors and quick dolly-in shots to create a constantly on-edge feeling. Norrington is brilliant in how effectively he brings all elements of production into a seamless whole.

    Norrington's direction does falter in his overuse of Euro-trendy devices. There are bombastic musical sequences and over the top characters which feel way too similar to trends started by Danny Boyle, Guy Ritchie and Baz Lurhman. Norrington proved in "Blade" to be highly original and trend-setting himself, and has no need to borrow the quirks of other filmmakers. Let's not forget that this is one of the first guys to use pre-"Matrix" bullet-time.

    It's a shame Norrington has claimed to have given up on motion pictures. After "Blade," he blew every chance he had to make another classic. "The Last Minute" shows a director who is unfocused, but passionate. Did mavericks like David Lynch not make the same mistakes early in their careers as well?
  • dispet4 June 2003
    to compare this to any guy ritchie film is foolish and plain out bad reviewing. many would simply class it in the same school because it is british, it features "hip" newcomers, and the direction is very flashy and effects rich.....well except for the british part this describes most every film coming out now. the last minute is as far from guy ritchie as one can get. try connecting the dots to david lynch while passing through alex de la iglesia territory and you'll be on the right track. from the insane tap dancing crooner psycho sledge hammer wielding gangster to british literary classics over to the monsters people keep hidden from the world....or should we say gifts? this is a film of many varied and twisting turns which serves up its fair share of bite and bile. one forever feels that around the next corner will be the demon awaiting to devour the souls of the main characters, but lemarchand's box is not quite so literal as it is in a film like hellraiser. the demons that give pleasure and devour your being are much more real and familiar in this world. it is true that the plot balances on the old carpe diem type thing, but unlike every hollywood dungheap to tread this ground in the last 20 years, this film manages to do it with some grace, some originality, and with a large dash of realism amongst the severe surrealism. overall, a very impressive film with intelligence, originalty and style. a fabulous cast tops it off supremely and left me riveted for the entire length of the film and a strong desire to show it to everyone i know.
  • The impression I received watching this film, which at times teeters on the brink of unbelievable intensity, is Stephen Norrington's experience making "Blade". It is not exactly a family friendly film, but mature audiences only! Jason Isaacs will wow you in a way you've never seen him before, I thought "James Bond!" right away. His features are just slightly on the side of pretty to be a proper James Bond but he oozes menace with those eyes! He is easily the best thing about this movie. The film almost loses its way with the Oliver Twist second act (and I know people who love the film only because of that... go figure). The ending is quite memorable and I applauded. I hope to see the magnificent Norrington rise from the ashes of LXG and kick my cinematic a** again.
  • The Last Minute is one of those truly rare motion pictures that deserves far wider recognition than it will ever get. How unfortunate. I'd never heard of the thing until recently stumbling across quite by accident. A virtual eye popping, roller coaster of a flick, it starts with a bang and never lets its hooks out of you. Visually, The Last Minute is as impressive a looking picture as I've ever seen.

    The DVD extras are (mostly) exceptional adding to the whole experience as few extras features ever do. As darkly hilarious as it is, this "Minute" also packs quite an emotional punch. Kudo's to Mr. Norrington.

    One caveat: Director Norrington wisely employs a terrific device by which we never know what our protagonist does to earn then lose his fame (director and star are on record as being at odds as to what Billy actually does). Were only that same thing had been employed on one scene. When Billy is told he doesn't want to know what's behind a certain, we shouldn't find that out either. Personally, I laughed (in horror, but laughed) at this scene but I know others who were put off of the movie altogether because of these few seconds.

    Every other aspect of the truly most bizarre club "Prosthetic" is genius (as, actually is the moment in question, just too off-putting for most people). It is in this long scene at "Prosthetic" where perhaps the films most brilliant moment occurs – which is, of course, Percy "Sledge" breaking into the Sinatra classic "I've got you under my skin" while wreaking a gleeful malevolent stream of violence that is about as close to movie magic as we've ever seen.

    Norrington has a cast that, quite simply, could not have been improved upon with Max Beesley giving a stand out performance as Billy – to watch the youthful energy of his clubby dance moves and the enthusiasm with which he embraces his burgeoning fame slip into confused despair, hopelessness and attempt at self redemption. Beesley has us routing for him even at his worst, for I think most of us can identify with Max's plight.

    As the aforementioned Percy "Sledge" – Jason Isaacs is nothing short of terrifying, executing his violence with a Fred Astaire like grace and precision which is utterly disarming.

    The Oliver Twist twist of the underground urchins with their modern day, more violent, Fagin (who doles out drug treats to the kiddies) is chillingly beautiful.

    I also found the extended mad scene similar resonating strongly with Shakespeare's Lear – Max's meltdown/unhinging being so closely tied with what is happening in nature. Brilliant.

    If "Minute" had been released theatrically stateside, I can't imagine it wouldn't do huge box office. There are audiences literally screaming for this type of originality. Hopefully, it's not too late to try. The seconds are ticking . . .
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I was blown away by the style of Blade, directed by Stephen Norrington. I was also blown away by League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but for the completely opposite reason. Something happened to the director between these two movies, as Blade had an incredible sense of style, and LXG was a complete mess of a movie. In between these two movies, Stephen Norrington wrote and directed "The Last Minute."

    The less you know, the better, but the basics are:

    ** Start Minor Spoilers **

    Billy Byrne is the next big thing. What he does (writer, artist, pop singer) doesn't matter. We join up with him as he's about to break into the big time. When that doesn't happen, we see him completely fall apart, but it takes time. He doesn't become a drug addicted homeless thief over night, and Mr. Norrington properly plays up the romanticism of that lifestyle. When he first wakes up in the catacombs, the room is bathed in a warm light, it's clean and Hawaiian style music is playing. We only see what we want to see.

    The movie skips ahead a year, and we see the reality of the situation. He's a drug addict living in filth. Begging and stealing to live. The lighting is dark, and cold. The people look sick and depressed. Billy realizes he's wasting his life and tries to get out. Will he?

    ** End Minor Spoilers **

    This movie moves slowly sometimes, and I wish there were sub titles, since I had some trouble with the accents in some scenes, but it's also got scenes that look like poetry. Mr. Norrington has quite an eye. I highly recommend seeing this IF you can pay attention. I also recommend seeing it a second time. You'll be AMAZED at the things you missed the first time.
  • Billy Byrne (Max Beesley, who bears a passing resemblance to Mark Wahlberg) is the proverbial new kid on the block. Thanks to the game of hype he's IT for the top being. However when his first work bombs horridly both critically as well as commercially, he has to figure a way to get back on top even as he sinks lower and lower into the metaphysical goo. Stephen directed 2 movies before this one and wrote one of those. A bit early for a semi (very) self-autobiographical introspective work one would think.It strikes me that perhaps he thought of him brilliant when he was writing this. A bit over inflated ego perhaps. He seeks to shock the audience by subjecting us to a barrage of images and keeping the film moving at a lightning quick pace (aside from a few slow spots) It might have been enough to get by 20 years ago, but to today's much more jaded viewers it doesn't resonate nearly as much. Not to say the film is a total loss as Beesley provides a pretty good, if not especially engaging, performance and I was rarely bored with it. It's just not that memorable. For a film that argues you shouldn't waste even a second of life, why would one choose to kiss 120 minutes away on this?

    My Grade: C-

    DVD Extras: Director's commentary; Max Beesley commentary; Producing of TLM, Style of TLM, Character Tree video; Cast and Crew Bios; Crafting Prosthesis; SN Connection; What Billy does; 3 music videos that did nothing for me; 4 faux TV show snippets; Production Notes; a game to determine how many weeks you have left until your 90th birthday and you get short clips of interviews or behind the scene footage (I had to F'n clue how to work this); Theatrical Trailer; Trailers for "Sex and Lucia", "The Believer", and "Scratch" (Honestly there may be a bit more but the extras menu is akin to the one found on the bonus disc of the "Nightmare on Elm Street" collection in as far as how you have to navigate through it)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The Last Minute is a quirky and edgy independent film about fame and how to deal with it. It's quite the film with excellent direction by Stephen Norrington (the director of Blade and the indie under rated film Death Machine) Great acting and a lot of weird scenes for sure. It sure does hammer home the whole idea of not wasting your time or your life. Especially the scene when the guy wakes up a year later and realizes he's accomplished nothing. Plus the ending is cool how he changes his life. I also really like the fact that when he becomes famous at the start we never find out what he does (musician, writer, director, actor) a lot of people didn't like this and I thought it was genius! There's a hilarious scene when the main character gets robbed and the robber feels sorry for him and gives him taxi fare home. Good music too!
  • It's late, it's extremely humid, every breath is like a drink of city soaked in smog water. I pop the DVD into my player and was transported to a late feast of clever visual effects, smart script lines, and a wicked soundtrack. So wicked that I immediately started to hunt the internet for it.

    I was impressed by the very fine acting of Max Beesley, very convincing character transformations throughout the film. Not since discovering Christian Bale did I feel like wanting to see more films from someone.

    Even though this movie centered around London's Underground, I felt like this could've been any city...reminding me of it's inhabitants running about half-asleep, forgetting (ignorance is bliss) about existence and valuing life.

    The movie made me feel guilty for feeling guilty about wanting to indulge and live a little in life.

    I recommend this movie anyone who likes movies that give you that feeling of "there's a message here for me".
  • As a ex-Brit who is of a similar age and born in the same place as Norrington, but I am wondering what went wrong with him. I had never heard of this film until I saw it advertised on STARZ movie channel. I thought "oh good, fellow Brit, sounds like a good movie". Oh dear was I wrong....Parts I liked (no spoilers)...the camera work, Max Beesley's character, comic touches....Parts I didn't like....Tom Bell's character (totally unbelievable) as to was Jason Issacs, the end, the middle and about 90% of the story. Some of the scenes with Jason Issacs (Percy) actually were so gross and unbelievable that two of the people I was watching this with asked me to turn it off. I did not and watched the whole lot. I wished I had not bothered at all.

    Norrington is a genius, no doubt. But "The Last Minute" is for true UK fans only, Americans beware.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is probably one of my favorite English import movies in the new millennium. Gritty, dark, poetic, and funny-- with a cast of very talented actors by and large unknown to the American audience (one possible exception may be Jason Isaacs, who played Percy). While there are elements in this movie that do remind me of other Brit classics such as: Snatch, Loch Stock, and perhaps, 24 Hours in London, it does stand on its own as a feature worthy of viewing.

    Billy Byrne, played by Max Beesely, is a starving artist who has a lot of hype behind his latest art project, the nature of which I'll omit here. When critics and the public turn on him, Billy falls on hard times. Dumped by his girlfriend, he is left to his own devices when he meets a homeless girl who introduces him to some seedy, urban denizens. Drawn into a life of drug abuse and general mayhem, Billy takes another crack at the big time with his next great idea. But his the pitch men will have none of it. Forced back into the streets, Billy and his young companion struggle to survive their addictions. When the opportunity comes to escape their dismal lives, it is Billy who answers the call and abandons his friend. We end the movie with an implied flight to Greenland which neatly ties in with the opening scene of the movie.

    A very smart, existential film with wonderfully-colored characters.
  • duluman21 October 2004
    outside of seeing this as auto-biographical for Norrington I can see it deals with his traumatic experiences with Blade. Then it got worse. On LXG. OK, Last Minute is not The Divine Comedy and it's flawed, but wow, what a trip !!! and sure it's personal, though i got turned off a bit by the whole techno approach.. One of the best scenes in a film I've seen in the last years is Jason Issacs doing his "I got you under my skin". It's an update of Malcolm Mc Doewll doing his "Singin' in the Rain" in Clockwork Orange. Or it's not. Then later Norrington pushes further repeating it with "when a man loves a woman". Anyway, as Gene Kelly was shocked, Frank must be spinning in his grave. Or he might get the sick fun. And I am not sure Dickens would have liked the Oliver Twist bit... As for this being put in the same category with Trainspotting, Clockwork Orange and Fight Club, I can't see why people are bother, try to describe a film using normal words. Coke, acid, Ecstasy gone bad or just anger and frustration puked out ?

    all fueled out and hyper-pumped out, ah, and poetry finally... ///// as for latest rumors that Norrington quit making movies, hey Steve, don't get mad, get even ! ah, and one more thing-just don't get confused about Udo Kier's performance, it's a great cameo but just a cameo, same with Stephen Dorff.
  • The atypical gritty Guy Ritchie British school of modern film class has reared a muddled mess of a movie. With a grandiose, meaning of life premise, the somewhat shallow and undefined plot leaves little room for depth of any real substance. Between the drawn-out stylistic vignettes and the over-abundance of effects, the film falls flat on it's fashionable face. A lower rating would have been in order had it not been for some humorous and entertaining moments, where levity and brevity are welcome friends and make the almost unbearable bearable. Overall, it's a mildly entertaining bit of mindless madness with a side order of "seize the day." Not worth a trip to the theater, but might do in a pinch at your local video store.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I love watching Jason Isaacs. He is an INCREDIBLY talented actor. I don't know if it's a British thing but it seems that British actors just have an incredible knack for playing villains and making them extremely sexy and appealing. That said, The Last Minute is one of the most bizarre movies I have EVER seen. I tried watching it SOLELY because of Jason Isaacs.

    Now, I'm not sure if this counts as a spoiler or not, but in case it is I've marked it....

    When Jason Isaacs went into a burst of song I went into a fit of hysterical laughter. It was so unexpected, but I must admit (if it's really his voice) he does have a nice singing voice, and he can definitely dance! Outside of him, there really is no saving grace to this movie. Perhaps it's because I'm American, I really don't know, but I found this movie hard to follow (much like Clockwork Orange, another movie I never understood) and I really could have done without the drug scenes and violent fight scenes.

    As stated previously, Jason Isaacs was this movie's ONLY saving grace, and unfortunately even with him in it, I cannot really recommend this movie.

    However, if you are a Jason Isaacs fan and you just HAVE to watch every movie he's ever made (like me), then go ahead and watch it. But make sure it's either a rental or you have it on TIVO so that you can just fast forward to his scenes......
  • A really weird, unknown and rare film that attacks you out of no where and strikes you to the bottom of the unpredictable downer pit.

    Long story short, it is about a guy who is the new and hip guy, until he isnt and falls down to obscurity, including becoming a Junky. As you might already have written a couple of times about this film, there isnt much to read about it out there, it seems to be a semi autobiographical piece of work about its director Stephen Norrington (Blade, Death Machine, League of....), which even though i hope he didnt became an addict, who left directing & directing right after "League of... ", due to having again being traumatised and shattered by the studio system (you can look it up for yourself what went down). The film could and should be seen as a metaphorical dream turned nightmare turned re-awakening. Its themes of Fame, celebrety cult, creativity, ego centrecism, exploitation and much more couldn't be more relevant today, in the age of social media reality tv and talent shows where most of the western and eastern world seems to seek fame and attention like heroin addicts to an absurd extreme. We live in an age of people becoming famous for the sake of it without having any talents whatsoever and others for having video channels with millions of followers without doing anything more than reacting to other videos infront of the camera, people watching other people play video games and so on. The film indirectly predicts that obsession for attention and shows its aftermath that will come someday to whomever seeks that attention for whatever. What surprised me about this film was its sheer nihilistic madness and chaotic nature that until the very end doesnt quite seem to match up, by the end you'll understand and as only a few movies do this flick gets better the more you watch it.

    Be warned this film ain't for the faint heart and especially is not for the traditional moviegoer, at times it reminded me of the spontaneous chaotic nature of Godard' s Breathless (make no mistake it is not near as good as Breathless). This film surely deserves more attention and a cult following, not many people have seen or do even know about that film, so i say spread the word for this bizzare and unique experiment called film
  • The Last Minute had the potential become something great. The synopsis of the film cited other titles such as "Fight Club" and "Trainspotting" yet I failed to make a connection. Yes, the main character is an overnight success. Yes, he wakes up and it's all gone. And yes, he falls into a life of crime and drugs all the while wanting to return to his cozy life as a star. So where does the Fight Club come in? The only thing I found to even be remotely like Fight Club was the main menu on the DVD. I could see a slight Trainspotting influence with the heroin but just because a movie has heroin doesn't make it a Trainspotting-esque movie. If they had let the movie stand on it's own instead of trying to cite all those past hit movies like "Bruises you like Fight Club", "Injects you like Trainspotting" etc. What is that? It's almost as if the director wanted you to compare his movie to those. And sorry mate, those are the future cinematic classics of our time. Anybody would be a fool to plaster all over their own movie that it's like Snatch and Lock,Stock and Resovoir Dogs etc. Those movies have huge cult followings so even if The Last Minute was a decent movie, the fact that the director was so hell-bent on drawing the Tarantino/Ritchie/Lynch crowd he in reality just drew a crowd of critics. I'm ranting now. As you can see, I didn't like this movie. No, I really didn't go into why, but that's only because it had so much potential. My review would better resemble a "woulda, coulda, shoulda". Bad movie.
  • Mesmerising, witty, weird, disturbing, hallucinatory, nightmarish, compelling, visually and sonically dazzling ... this very original retelling of the Orpheus myth is a dark, funny, scathing, scary satire on the perils of fame in the 21st century. Although certainly not for the faint-hearted - there is some very confronting content - I have no hesitation in rating this as one of the best movies I've seen in a long time, and a must-see for any serious cinema fan.

    I watched this for the first time last night and as you can tell, I was hugely impressed. I have long admired Norrington's fine work on 'Blade', and he undoubtedly transformed what might otherwise have been a real corn-fest into the keystone of a very successful franchise. I also recall being pleasantly surprised to enjoy his equally stylish League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as much as I did it (and, boy, would that have made a dream Saturday-arvo double feature with the wonderful 'Van Helsing' at my childhood local cinema!). I was sad to read that Norrington famously had such a bad time making LXG that he swore he'd never make another film, and to date he still hasn't - which is a terrible waste of a great talent. It's a real pity that such an obviously gifted writer-director has only been able to make four movies in 20 years - but I'm very glad he got to make this one!

    I'm also sorry that other viewers didn't enjoy it as much as I did ... perhaps some were put off by its more extreme moments, and/or by its odd and distinctive style and approach. As mentioned, it is quite confronting in some parts and creates a powerful sense of unease, so I can understand why some won't appreciate its many virtues - but mega-kudos to Chris Blackwell and his colleagues for getting behind Norrington and letting him do this, because I have no doubt will come to be seen as his masterpiece, and I hope it will eventually be recognised a very fine and original film that deserved to reach a far wider audience.

    I was hooked from the outset and love the dazzling, edgy, off-kilter way he handled the story, the characters, the images, the sound. I loved how he lets the audience go through so much of the film without showing what Billy actually makes/does - and the scene in which this is revealed is an absolute tour de force - Frank Harper as the ultimate cabbie from hell should get an Oscar - an astounding performance.

    I love its cool and freaky visual style, the great music tracks, the wonderful locations, but I especially have to take my hat off to Norrington and his audio team for the soundtrack. I watched this late at night, and in order not to disturb my family, I wore headphones. I'm SO glad I did. It's not just the music that's great - the entire sound design on this film is just *superb* - there is so much happening on the audio track in every scene, so many subtle touches, that you really MUST watch it with headphones on and get fully immersed, or you'll miss a big part of what makes it so cool and so weird.

    The performances were uniformly great but the underground kids are really amazing, Tom Bell is TERRIFYING, and Jason Isaacs is wonderful too - a big, juicy, scenery-chewing role if ever there was one, and he plays it to the hilt! His singing scenes are terrific and superbly weird.

    I really think is is a very potent film - profound, funny, edgy and one that leaves a very powerful impression on the viewer. Well done to all concerned. This is an outstanding work, and one that should be far better known. 10/10.
  • "The Last Minute" is an abysmal film. I have seen some rather hideous films in my life, but frankly this one qualifies as one of the all time worst, particularly in light of the immense talent of writer & director Stephen Norrington, an otherwise fine cast, and some incredibly gifted technical people such as the editor and the cinematographer. Mind you, the production values are top-notch as are the performances by a terrific cast. Nevertheless, this pretentious as well as cynical commentary on fame and its fleeting quality for some unfortunate folks ranks at the bottom of the barrel. I sat through this ambitious film in its entirety because some very dear, close friends of mine loaned me the DVD and I made a commitment to them to watch it. Furthermore, I have enjoyed Norrington's other films: "Blade," "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," and "Death Machine." "Blade" was a masterpiece, and I truly loved "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen." Even "Death Machine" surpassed this depressing drivel. I can understand why this film did not receive a general mainstream release in the United States. Generally, I love all things British, but this dreadful film proved to be an exception to the rule. I don't even want to recount the plot or its place in the context of film history as I usually do in my other IMDb reviews. Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! I look forward to future Norrington films, and I envy anybody who can find anything remotely redeeming about this balderdash.