Friday, 27 March 2009

Tampopo (Dandelion)

Film: Dandelion
Dir: Juzo Itami
Starring: Nobuko Miyamoto, Tsutomo Yamazaki
Year: 1985

There are countless films about love, lawsuits, war, and road trips, even, but so few films are about food. Yet food is one of the most delightful things about living. Tampopo is a celebration of that fact.

Overall, the story is about a struggling ramen store, but there are lots of mini-stories within it that serve no purpose other than to show how much people enjoy food: the homeless man who breaks into a restaurant to make an omelette, the old man who eats all the foods his wife tells him he shouldn't, the couple who like egg yolks...

Ramen is Japanese soul food, the English breakfast of Japan. Nothing tastes better than slurping the soup of a delicious bowl of steaming noodles, and I strongly advise you to have some noodles, or some snacks at worst, to hand when watching Tampopo.

Top work!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Magical Mystery Tour

Dir: The Beatles:
Starring: The Beatles, Bonzo Dog Doodah Band, Jan Carson

In the 16th century the atlantic slave trade began. In the 19th century it was officially abolished. Yet today, people are still slaves. We keep them captive through economy and trade (see Black Gold review, below).

War keeps on going. People keep dying.

I can't stand it anymore. But I can't stop it.

At the same time, Dali creates the most imaginative art possible. Kandinsky messes with your head through colours and shapes. New musical forms spring up across the world. The human spirit triumphs.

The frustration with our leaders leads us (see what i did there?) to a kind of mental insomnia that, frankly, hurts my soul, or in real terms, makes me cry. If even one of my brothers or sisters hurts then it's too much. You hear me, too much. When millions of them are hurting, then we all feel it. We were never meant to hurt each other. What are we doing? The joy of colour of life shines through, though, and that's why we have films like Magical Mystery Tour.

A non-sequitur series of events looslely based around a Harry Shaw trip to the countryside, backed by a trippy soundtrack courtesy of the lads. Viv Stanshall makes a legendary cameo.

Frustration x Creativity = Magical Mystery Tour.


Thursday, 19 March 2009


Dir: Akira Kurosawa
Starring: Takashi Shimura, Miki Odagiri
Year: 1952

It's a little known fact that Narry Borman lives in Japan. Some say he arrived before the first Dutch traders, but that's another story. This gives him the perfect opportunity to watch some fascinating Made in Japan films.

Kurosawa's films are famous worldwide, granted. Ikiru isn't his most well-known flick, though. There's no Toshiro Mifune, there are no Samurai, and it's even set in modern times...

Ikiru is about a man who questions his whole reason for ever being alive when he learns he has stomach cancer. He regrets being emotionally distant from his son, regrets his 30 years as an administrator who stamps papers, and doesn't know what to do with his remaining time.

This powerful story of the meaning of life becomes positive only after the main character has died, thanks to some bizarre and sensational storyboarding and editting. It has one of the most memorable closing scenes ever in which the talented Shimura sits on a children's swing and sings a song about the brevity of life.

For me, this very intensity is its weakness, however. Over 2 hours of constant, pounding emotion, that examines what is in the heart of every man - it's all too much. It's like a man who only reads Satre for two years... he's intense, occassionaly interesting, but actually a little bit dull...


Monday, 16 March 2009

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

Dir: John Frankenheimer
Starring: Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury

Ah, the 1960's. A simpler age, where you could still cast South American, Native American, and even even plain American people as 'oriental'. Narry Borman means no offense to anyone and wishes to state that he personally believes every man is his brother and he is every man's cousin.

You can understand why they chose to remake this film (see 2004's remake of the same name... or better yet don't). The plot, heavy with espionage and intrigue, is tense, disturbing, and all too real. In an age in cinema that was prone to some truly awful acting, The Manchurian Candidate stands tall. Lansbury excels as the scariest, most demanding mother ever, outside of Arrested Development's Jessica Walter of course. Franky S carries off the role as a disturbed but dedicated Army Major in fine style. And Janet Leigh has a nice pair of hooters.

So, why exactly did they choose to remake this film? I'm not too sure, actually. The 1962 film is well-produced with some really imaginitave direction, such as the scene that shifts between a flower convention, a communist war meeting, and another flower convention for older black women. The acting is top class and the story could not be improved. Do yourself a favour and watch the 1962 version.

Top work!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Dir: Tom Shadyac
Starring: Jim Carrey, Courtney Cox

Narry Borman usually watches the most tasteful films. But the recent viewing of Dumb and Dumber has melted his brain, so he again watched a crass comedy; Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

It's not a bad film it's just that... let me re-phrase that. It is a bad film. Ace Ventura is bad. It's no good. I didn't like it. Sure, the story about a psychotic, cross-dressing American footballer made no sense (which I applaud), but the comedy is light - endless catchphrases and impressions, backed by 'rock' guitaristry that smacks of 1992-95.

Carrey provides a few moments of magic, of course, most notably the search for the dolphin inside the millionaire's mansion - the pointless espionage scene is golden. But the ending is frankly disturbing. Why his 'winky' is on backwards bemuses the Borman more than anything.


Black Gold

Dir: Marc and Nick Francis
Starring: The coffee farmers of Ethiopia, a Starbuck's store manager,
Tadesse Meskela

Narry Borman is angry. Being a life-long coffee drinker, he has always been intersted in the plight of coffee farmers (some say he introduced the first coffee beans into Europe, which indirectly led to the French revolution). Plus, Africa is his homeland, so he feels some kinship with the exploited people of Ethiopia who are the subject of this documentary. Black Gold has four elements:

1. The stupid commercialisation of coffee
2. The ridiculous paradox of Aid and Trade in Africa
3. Ethiopian coffee is the best in the world - Mocha, Yirgacheffe, Sidamo, Harar etc.
4. Ethiopia is a beautiful country

This is perhaps the most tasteful documentary ever made. No shock tactics (although lord knows they could have shown some powerful images from the malnutrition camps in Ethiopia), no 'emotional' questions, no anti-politcal demonstrations. Just the facts, and the blindingly obvious conclusion that either something needs to change or Africa will implode. Excellent soundtrack, and some wonderful shots of Ethiopian farmland. Respect to Tadesse Meskala.

Top work!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Dumb and Dumber

Film: Dumb and Dumber
Dir: Farrelly Brothers
Starring: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels

Stupid films can be classified into two categories: pigeon turd (Scary Movie 1-4 exc. 3), and golden turd (Naked Gun 1-3 1/3).

Dumb and Dumber is definitely a golden turd. Jim Carrey cannot be contained - this was the mid-90's and he was at his peak. Schoolchildren all over the world were repeating his lines, and trying their best to mimic his actions (some of us even got the 'bowl haircut' in honour of Lloyd Christmas - the bruises from the beatings I got still hurt 15 years on). And Jeff Daniels tries his best to make us laugh - mostly by going cross-eyed. Narry Borman swears that Daniels spends half of this film with cross-eyes.

One magic touch the Borman picked up on was the man urinating against the wall when Larry and Harry escape from the 'gas man' at their apartment. Public urination is always hilarious - and Borman should know! He's been thrown in the clink 12 times for that offense alone.

Dumb and Dumber was made to be watched when you are either boozed up, or when you need some relief after watching too many war documentaries. Go to it.

Top work!

Monday, 9 March 2009


Film: Ali
Dir: Michael Mann
Starring: Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Jon Voight

I always get obsessive after I watch biopics. First I research everything about the person. Then I do my best to start looking like that person. Finally, I convince myself I am that person. Fortunately, it's a phase that only lasts about 20 minutes after watching the film.

Considering they had such quality source material to work with, the only way they could mess this up is through sloppy editing or unconvincing acting. The acting is top notch - esp. Foxx as the Jew who acts as Ali's aide. The editing though is sloppy as turd. Ali is like 'the top 10 things that happened in Muhammad Ali's life'. There's no constant theme. Characters are brought in and taken out without introduction, assuming that the viewer knows who they are and their background story (Narry Borman, of course, knows all, but the regular viewer wouldn't stand a chance).

One thing I loved about Ali was that some of it looked real. No, I don't mean like when an explosion look real. I mean it looks like everyday life - not the glossy, over-processed image that normally comes out of Hollywood.


Who the turkey is Narry Borman?

Narry Borman is the brain of Barry Norman, noted film critic. Here, I will tell you what I really think about films. Generally, I watch two or three films a week, so check for regular updates to this blog. I'm based in Japan - expect reviews of films different to the Barry Norm .