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Noah Arkwright is a cult director, whose life is on a crash course with Noah steering himself towards his own destruction. Everything - drink, drugs, girls, fame - that Noah can get his hands on he wolfs down with an insatiable hunger. But he is running towards a brick wall - alcoholism and drug addiction have him firmly in their grasp - until Kristin, a young alcoholic who has seen the light, manages to convince him that he is heading for destruction and sets him on the path to reclaim himself. With the help of his best friend Ray, Noah attempts to right his ship - and when fate sends him a guardian angel in the shape of cellist Clare, Noah tries even harder to shift his focus from self abuse to self preservation - and on the road to selflessness... and that is when Mother Nature deals him the cruellest blow of all...
Dangerous Parking is based on the late Stuart Browne's book of the same name - which itself is partly biographical. It's not a comfortable film to watch by any stretch of the imagination, but then it's one of those rare movies that will stick with you for a long time to come.
I must admit that when this movie opened I couldn't help thinking: "What on Earth is Joey Boswell doing? Time has not been kind to him has it? He looks like Paul Chuckle." I know, I know, a Bread reference! How could I? But I suspect that most people won't have seen Howitt since that show last aired. While he's directed some notable movies (Sliding Doors, Johnny English) he's been almost absent from the world of TV and movie acting for some years now.
I thought that Howitt had made a grave mistake casting himself as Arkwright. The character brought forth strong emotions in me I didn't know were there. Arkwright is awful, a total git with absolutely no redeemable qualities at all. His constant swearing and opinionated comments really annoyed me. It's not unfair to say that I took an instant dislike to Arkwright.
As the movie continues, Howitt turns this to his advantage. After the movie had finished, I was totally blown away by the way the director had introduced us to one of the most unpleasant creatures in cinematic history and slowly, without the audience ever realising it, he switches it so that you actually do feel for the character. This isn't done in a manipulative Hollywood way either, but with an organic and natural flow that makes you realise that there is a good side to everyone - even the lost - if you take the time to get to know them.
The movie is presented out of order and, thankfully Howitt treats his audience with a little respect - never force feeding or patronising them with huge pointers as to where the movie is going. As you zip backwards and forward through Arkwright's life you also get a glimpse of things yet to come in the form of quick flashes. This helps grab the viewers interest as to what on earth is going on. And when that scene is revisited later in the movie, the rewards are huge.
The comedic moments are sandwiched well between the more serious moments - whether it's the calamari scene, or the dangerous parking story, these are jokes that will stay with you for a long time.
Extras are impressive too. We get an interesting audio commentary with the director; The Making of Dangerous Parking (28 min which reveals things not in the audio commentary including the fact that one by one, every actor originally attached to the project slowly pulled out); Audi Channel Featurette (4 min, 15 sec featurette that also includes the fact that all of the cast and crew ended up putting up their own money to get this film made); Film 24 Exclusive (23 min interview with Howitt. The only annoying thing is that the interviewer loves himself a little too much - there's almost as much footage of him as there is of Howitt).
In the audio commentary Howitt reveals that he wasn't going to play the role of Arkwright, but that the original choice (we never discover who) pulled out three weeks before filming began. Off the top of my head, I thought that Ewan Macgregor or even Robert Lindsay (if you remember Alan Bleasdale's G.B.H. you'll know what I mean) would have been perfect in the role. But in all honesty, Howitt does a fantastic job.
Howitt also discusses cut scenes (which sadly aren't included as an extra) including the fact that originally Arkwright was supposed to discover that Etta and Claire are having a lesbian affair. Personally I'm glad this was cut - because as he approached the holiday cottage, that's the first thing I was expecting him to discover. What he does find, instead, I found to be a lot more powerful and poignant.
It was also amusing to hear Howitt's bugbears - including his views on those annoying American trailer narrators and At the Movies's reviewers Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel stupid thumbs up/down rating system.
Audio options are Dolby stereo and Dolby 5.1.
Dangerous Parking is one of the best independent British movies to be released in a long, long time.
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