All hail and bow before McQueen
film already preparing for its own cosplay convention, but the striking Jennifer Lawrence – Everdeen forever – gave it savage energy.
As the story has progressed, it has became increasingly bound up with convoluted investigations of peripheral politics. There may be something here about the subversion of the Arab Spring. Lessons can be gleaned concerning the irrepressible primeval aggression of mankind. None of that compensates for the fact that the series’ original juices have dried up.
Oh, well. At least we will no longer have to remember how to punctuate The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. and torsos fashioned during the 20th century. The dog looks rough-hewn but is anything but. Over an unspecified duration, workers painstakingly layer goop upon goop.
The assiduous process will not hold much appeal for those waiting impatiently for an X-wing fighter chase, but as with the goop, there are layers of craft in evidence.
TARABRADY STEVE McQUEEN: THE MAN & LE MANS
Directed by Gabriel Clarke and John McKenna. Featuring Steve McQueen, John Sturges, Chad McQueen, Neile Adams. 12A cert, limited release, 102 min In the opening act of this enjoyable, internally conflicted documentary on a film nobody much cares about, we learn that Steve McQueen once lived in the apartment above James Garner. Having heard that Garner (a nice man by all accounts) had beaten him to making a film about car racing – the fitful Grand Prix (1966) – McQueen apparently pulled out little Steve and urinated on Jim’s flower pots. This is one of the more flattering stories in The Man & Le Mans.
Featuring contributions from Chad McQueen, Steve’s middle-aged son, Gabriel Clarke and John McKenna’s picture seems to be attempting a positive, semi-authorised portrayal of the man they clumsily call “the King of Cool”. Unfortunately the history keeps fighting back.
Grandiose flatulence: Steve McQueen
Eventually released in 1971, Le Mans was a vanity project whose grandiose flatulence – though remarkable enough – failed to satisfy the insecurity of its egotistical star and producer. John Sturges, who directed McQueen in The Great Escape and The Magnificent Seven, eventually left, frustrated at the actor’s interference and at the conspicuous lack of script, to be replaced by a genial journeyman named Lee H Katzin. Inevitably, The Man & Le Mans argues for Le Mans’s cult status – as all such documentaries must – but the resulting mess was of interest only to pre-Clarksonian petrolheads.
The filmmakers, who have limitless access to archive footage, do a good job of summoning up the desperate atmosphere. Shooting in and around the Le Mans 24-hour race, Katzin and Sturges were pressed into increasingly dangerous verisimilitude. At least one driver was appallingly injured in the process.
Through it all, McQueen cruised imperiously. “He loved cars liquor and women,” somebody says in apparent awe. True enough. He cheated on his wife repeatedly. He deflected blame for a late-night road traffic accident. He weed on Jim Rockford’s petunias.
Who are we to judge? His former wife speaks of him with affection. Those injured most by the Le Mans experience still seem star-struck. His charisma in earlier films is beyond question. This film doesn’t work as hagiography, but it contains lessons about the blinding power of fame.