starring Daniel Craig, Colm Meaney, Kenneth Cranham, Michael Gambon
screenplay by J.J. Connolly, based on his novel
directed by Matthew Vaughn
starring Lee Seung-yeon, Jae Hee
written and directed by Kim Ki-duk
starring Ellen Barkin, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Richard Masur
written and directed by Todd Solondz
by Walter Chaw Producer Matthew Vaughn makes his directorial debut with the Brit underground gangster flick Layer Cake, and he does it with a sexy, cool savoir-faire that runs slick and smooth. It's softer than Jonathan Glazer's fabulously decadent Sexy Beast (most of that due, no doubt, to there being no baddie the equivalent of Ben Kingsley's Don Logan in Vaughn's film) and more coherent than Paul McGuigan's Gangster No. 1, but it slips snug into the same conversation. Now that Guy Ritchie's been gobbled whole by his very own vagina dentate, it stands to reason that Vaughn, Ritchie's producer on Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, would seek to fill the void left in the only U.K. pop genre with any sort of international currency all by his own self. Yet the product of Vaughn's hand isn't so much an imitation as it is a refinement: not better necessarily, but calmer--closer to the lounge lizard James Bond of the 1960s than to the feisty punk Michael Caine heisters from roughly the same period, though Layer Cake is infused, of course, with a healthy dose of nastiness and post-modern irony.