Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Damian Lewis, Jodhi May, Robert Lindsay, Patrick Malahide, Eddie Marsan
Director: Stephen Poliakoff
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
Paul Reynolds is a Gatsby like figure: owner of a magnificent house, a host of grand parties, and a collector of interesting people. He persuades Lizzie Thomas, a secretary in a local estate agent to come and work for him ... more »
inframan | the lower depths | 03/05/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This film starts off with great swirling Felliniesque pageantry, with Damian Lewis doing a brilliant perfectly tuned & on-target portrayal of a calm cool feral madman entrepreneur of the 1960s or 1970s, Paul Reynolds, surrounded by a collection of pretentious sycophants whose archetypes range back to the early Roman era. They party & posture amid the grounds of Paul's palatial estate when Lizzie strolls through, straight & serious Lizzie, for whom Paul develops an inexplicable attraction that ultimately leads to his & the film's doom. Lizzie, fresh from secretarial school, is hired by Paul as his personal assistant, although she at no time displays any sign of aptitude for either business or politics. Given the task of organizing Paul's vast collection of notes & papers into some kind of accessibility, she proudly displays her accomplishment: everything's been prettily packaged & shelved into four big color groups, bright cheery boxes with not a label in sight. Apparently she's interpreted her duties to be interior decor.
As played by Jodhi May, Lizzie portions her expressions out in either coy tilted-head smirks that teenage girls give dad when they want $80 for new jeans and violently hysterical outbursts that make you wonder if this all takes place in an alternate universe that knows no psychotherapy.
There are plenty of other problems placing this film in the known world, although it tries hard to represent specific points in time, *eras* as it refers self-consciously to them. There's pot-smoking, group sex & communal living, so is it the 1960s or the 1970s or the 1980s? Early on, Paul dreamily says to Lizzie, "Computers, you should get into computers, that's where the future is. Women used to prevail in the field of computers but now the guys are taking over." Oh yeah, when was that? Before mainframes or after?
As the film became progressively more choppy & episodic, I felt I was watching a pastiche of "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead" (sans Shakespeare or Stoppard) as done by Ed Wood, all the real action taking place on an alternate stage/screen.
Vague generalizations substitute for plot movement as grand fluffy pronouncements as made about corporations being hippos & the future of business being in telecommunications & the internet rather than vacuum cleaners. Oh yeah? What heppened to PCs & cell phones?
Too bad. The first 20 minutes at Paul's estate and the ideas driving Friends & Crocodiles along with Damian Lewis's fine performance were really promising. Terrific title, too. But the title's explanation & the rest of the movie are a terrible letdown."
Squandering wealth and talent
Bookman3 | Stanford CA | 06/25/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"When Stephen Poliakoff, the prolific British screenwriter
and director, is at his best, he has few peers. But like
Woody Allen, he is too prolific and apparently has no
friends to tell him NOT to release some new creation
of his, and he doesn't seem to lack for funding either.
Hence, on the heels of his BBC gem, THE LAST PRINCE,
he has produced two new movies, one of them so awful
that I shall not even bother with the other.
In a 2006 TV-movie, FRIENDS AND CROCODILES, he spent
a small fortune to mount a lavish production of an
incoherent story about an eccentric American (played
by Damiel Lewis) who has somehow made a fortune in
England and bought a lavish estate. One day he impulsively
hires as his personal assistant a young woman (Jodhi May)
whom he has seen a few times strolling at the perimeter
of his property. He tells her he wants her to organize
his voluminous creative files, but soon after she does
so, he throws a party to which he invites low-lifes and vandals
who trash his property and thoroughly destroy all the
work she has done for him. She quits, of course, but
years later, after a chance encounter, she meets him and
recommends him for a high-paying job as a creative con-
sultant in the company she works for, and he repeats the same
self-destructive pattern. Despite the opulence of the
production, none of this makes any sense-- at most, the
script should have been labelled "rough notes for a future
screenplay." Despite the impressive cast for his
sequel movie, GIDEON'S DAUGHTER, including Bill
Nighy, Miranda Richardson and Robert Lindsay, I shall
What Makes A Working Relationship Successful?
R. Crane | Washington, DC United States | 02/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Poliakoff's films are known for focusing on a slice of British life at a point in time. In "Gideon's Daughter" he captured the emptiness of celebrity culture, when it had reached unheard of heights after Princess Diana's death. In "Almost Strangers", the topic was family relationships, and the obsession with genealogy--digging to discover famous relations. In "Friends and Crocodiles" Poliakoff explores wprk relationships and how British industry and work practices have changed over the past 30 years. As he states, we spend the vast majority of our lives at work. Men and women develop work relationships that are almost like marriages, but lack the love connection.
"Friends and Crocodiles" is an interesting portrayal of such a relationship: A brilliant but non-conformist, wealthy, Gatsby-like figure, Paul, is able to identify areas of future economic growth, but is too disorganized and flawed to bring them to fruition. He hires a personal assistant who is gifted in organization and ability, but the two are unable to function together. "Crocodiles" refers to one of Paul's ideas, that there is something innate within crocodiles that must hold the secret to life. It is the only species to have survived intact from the time of the dinosaurs and has the ability to self-heal wounds.
Ironically, though Poliakoff pokes fun at venture capitalists and their ideas for making money, in fact in the film, what might have looked absurd 8 years ago when the film was probably written, today is actually happening, e.g. electronic book readers (Kindle), windmill energy, and 3-D entertainment, to cite just a few.
Poliakoff shows how the advent of computers replacing typewriters revolutionized business practices that were in effect for fifty years. He also accurately targets the telecommunications industry which went wild, and ultimately bankrupted multiple companies, causing the loss of thousands of jobs, stocks, pensions etc. on both sides of the Atlantic.
Poliakoff is a "thinking" person's director/writer. His films are always profound on one level, but highly entertaining on every level.
A Really Good Drama!
C. Alford | Illinios | 06/14/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is about a power struggle between a rich young businessman and his secretary. He is chaotic and she an organizational wonder but they find out that their styles and personalites clash. They end up driving each other apart only to be drown again and again to each other. A wonderful story."