Mix American gangsters, molls and majorettes with Polish avant-garde jazz musicians against a Newcastle background - and what you've got is a curious homage to B movie Hollywood and the rain-washed neon of the pulps. The plot stammers a bit trying to sustain these exotic transplants in Geordieland - it's America week - and generally sacrifices believability for the flourish, but it's an endearingly personal enterprise. At its oddest, the Cracow Jazz Ensemble plays a whinnyingly discordant 'Star Spangled Banner' to Newcastle councillors; at its most violent, enforcers descend upon jazz club owner Sting with a blowtorch, but find they've bitten off more than they can chew. Night-town drifter (Bean) falls in love with American waitress (Griffith), who is struggling to ditch her old life as a hostess in the employ of a vicious businessman (Jones) with plans to muscle in on the city. All these strands are brought together in a fireball conclusion that owes everything to life learned from the screen, tilts at tragedy, but racks up merely moody bad luck. On the credit side, Roger Deakins' camerawork is ravishing, Don Weller takes a solo, and Sting shows he hasn't forgotten his old accent or instrument.
Cast and crew
Tommy Lee Jones