Sunday, 28 December 2014

National Lampoon: Loaded Weapon

Dir: Gene Quintano (Quentin Tarantino in disguise)
Starring: Emilio Estevez, Samuel L Jackson, Kathy Ireland

Narry Borman has always been intrigued by what impels some films to legendary status, and others to the VHS bargain bins of defunct Blockbuster stores. Is it marketing? The reviews of a few key critics, such as myself? Or is it the quality of the film itself?

It's certainly not the last option. Among countless other overlooked film classics is Loaded Weapon. The National Lampoon's series isn't very consistent, but this is by far the best in my book. Esteves is perfect as the cop with a troubled past and his "butt shimmering in the moonlight", and Samuel L is... well, Samuel L. Nuff said.

In the spoof genre, you expect at least 20% of the jokes to fall completely flat. Loaded Weapon sets the bar quite high as only 18% of the jokes fall flat. The other 92% are pure gold. In fact, it clearly influenced a lot of other later comedy classics, such as Austin Powers, The Other Guys and erm... others.

Next time you want a belly laugh or two after a night out, check National Lampoons Loaded Weapon.

Rating: Staggering Genius

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Eagle Vs. Shark

The line above, and Jemaine's pitiful excuse
for dumping Loren ("I'm too complex") remind
NB of a young NB
Dir: Taika Wai-titty
Starring: Jemaine Clement, Loren Horsely

Eagle Vs. Shark answers the question everyone's been asking; What would happen if Napoleon Dynamite had been born in New Zealand? Basically, he'd be really good at retro video games, and would go on a revenge mission which ultimately leads him to his true love.

The similarities between this and ND are too many too mention; there's even a heavy reliance on nun-chuks for one of the best gags! To be fair, it also has the same charm as ND, albeit with an NZ accent.

Taika - who directs a lot of the flight of the conchords episodes - cleverly adds some imagination to the painfully dull lives of the protagonists with some colorful set design and amusing animated interludes.

Some good moments and quotable lines, but it's kind of incoherent, and ends up just being a bit of fun... and there's nothing wrong with that.

Rating: Good

Twentieth Century

Dir: Howard Hawkes
Starring: John Barrymore, Carole Lombard

Narry Borman loves this film. He also loves Carole Lombard to whom he was once married in a brief period before her engagement to Clark Gable. Those were the days...swanning about on the French Riviera, just me and Mrs. Lombard-Borman. What bliss. All that ended when the big oaf Clark Gable with his handsome face and imposing physique came on the scene. But I'll have my revenge... I'll write a scathing review of Gone With The Wind... "Top Work"... I think not. Try "Good" on for size. Ha!

Both Carole and John B seem to be at their peak in this film. Lombard transforms from a confidence-less lingerie model to the darling of Hollywood during the space of 90 minutes, and yet retains the honesty and playfulness she's known for - the scene where she rapidly kicks her feet out at Oscar Jaffe is particularly endearing.

John Barrymore is brilliantly over-theatrical. For both characters, every moment spent with other people is another scene that they must act out - when Lily leaves Oscar, for example, Jaffe's reaction is utterly dramatic and shakespearian.

Twentieth Century is also damn near perfect in terms of scripting too. It's a sharp comedy full of literary references, depth, and quotable lines ("I close the iron door on you").

Go watch it.

Rating: Top Work

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Fallen Angels

Dir: Wong Kar Wai
Starring: Michelle Reis, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Leon Lai

In one of Narry Borman's many lives, he is a cop on the streets of Hong Kong who solves crimes by day, and at night, he sleeps. It's incredible.

Wong Kar Wai seems to have had similar ideas in the mid 90's. Fallen Angels and Chungking Express capture a kind of HK ethereal-ism - these films dip and dive out of a variety of people's lives, which have some minor tangential connection in practical terms, but are strongly interconnected in metaphysical terms.

The characters here are all on a journey, looking for something they can't quite grasp, but enjoying the view as they go.

As with all WKW films, it's heavy with symbolism, technique and obscure music. Unfortunately, there are moments (the black and white scenes, in particular) where Fallen Angels looks like a student film because of the indulgent technicality. Ignoring those moments, though, and FA is a beautifully shot film that is too cool for its own good.

Hate off to Michelle Reis for being a droolingly beautiful lead lady, and three cheers to WKW for making a deep film that is honest and humorous.

Rating: Hong Kong-tastic

Ghosts of Mars

Dir: John Carpenter
Starring: Ice Cube, Natasha Hentsridge

In the world of film blogging, two blogs stand out head and shoulders above the rest: Narry Borman and Acidemic.

So, when I noticed Ghosts of Mars in the top 25 films ever list on Acidemic, I immediately watched it. I love John Carpenter. I love Jennifer Carpenter. I love all the Carpenters. But this is just bad.

I understand why Acidemic would place it on his top films ever list, though. Narry B always maintains that films are a far more personal experience than most people recognize. Standard rating systems of 'stars' cannot properly quantify a film's quality. Because films are like dreams. Sometimes you watch a film and it's your dream - there's something about your past experiences that makes you identify with that film - irrespective of quality, sometimes.

But with Ghosts of Mars, I failed to find anything to identify with. It's an interesting idea: A traditional gunslinging Spaghetti Western set on Mars. There's some tension as the 'good guys' are surrounded and have to find a way out. But it's all very flat and predictable and falls into ludicrous shoot-em-up territory too often.

In classic Carpenter stylee, the sets, script, music and acting are sometimes atrocious, albeit in an honest and likable kind of way. The peak of this atrocity is Jason Statham, who for some reason in this film walks like Charlie Chaplin and breathes like an asthmatic teenager who has just been on a 20-mile run.

There are far better Carpenter films out there. Sorry, Acidemic.

Rating: You Tell Me (ooh, it's deep!)

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Dumb and Dumber To

Dir: Farrellies
Starring: Jim Carrey, Jeff Bridges

Dumb and Dumber To is not very good

Rating: Poop

Marvin Sarkar's My Movie

Marvin Sarkar's My Movie is possibly the work of "Apostates"
Dir: Marvin Sarkar
Starring: Marvin Sarkar, Random Singing Lady

When Marvin Sarkar, darling of Bollywood, comes out with a new flick, the world stops to watch. Fortunately, "Marvin Sarkar's My Movie" is only 35 seconds long, so things quickly go back to normal. Just to be clear, by "The World", Narry Borman is referring to himself. And by "Bollywood", NB is referring to "Vivian Sarkar".

Controversially, Marvin Sarkar, or "Merv", as he likes to be called, has set the film in his very own bedroom, like some kind of low-budget DFS advert. This controversial choice pays off, though, as NB was simply blown away by the fabulous decor and furnishings.

In terms of production, "My Movie" combines the minimalism of Yasujiro Ozu with the in-your-face acting of a Steven Seagull epic. It even stretches out toward the kind of deeper significance of a Kubrick film - the world-weary face of the protagonist, with his sleep-deprived eyes and the stubble of someone who has been on the dole too long, seemingly representing the spiritual malaise of the common man.

And, in fact, My Movie seems to be nothing if not a swipe at the kind of purity and spiritual heights to which the main character will never attain, despite his best efforts. So, what is the purpose of this film? Is it to dissuade us from trying to better ourselves? If so, it begs the question, is Marvin Sarkar actually The Antichrist? I'm not saying he is The Antichrist, but the answer to the last question would appear to be 'Yes'.

Rating: Rating pending*

*Rating is to be decided by a judicial committee

Thursday, 20 November 2014


Dir: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Matthew McWannabe, Man Hathaway

Maybe you all know that Narry Borman isn't Christopher Nolan's biggest fan... ever since he stole my car, I've been unable to find joy in his films. But NB goes into every film with an open mind.

When Hollywood takes on sci-fi, it's usually more 'fi' than 'sci'. The lame attempts to put in some scientific reality only serve to discredit the work as a whole. NB would be much happier if they just went travelling through the stars and forgot about reality and science (Gravity was almost there with the whole space travel experience - top film).

Interstellar also straddles that awkward ground between trying to be real, but ending up sounding like it was written by a 13-year old Arthur C. Clarke fan. "Rocket boosters", "relativity", "Warp factor 9"... I have no objection to these words per se, but please admit that you're having a bit of a laugh instead of going all pretentious on our collective asses.

For Narry Borman, Christopher Nolan is the "Coldplay" of Hollywood, churning out likable but ultimately facile hits that appease everyone. Maybe this is the price of popularity? When your potential audience surpasses thousands, millions, tens of millions... and stretches into a hundred million or more people around the world, maybe you feel the pressure of wanting to produce something entirely non-offensive.

"Save me, save me!" Man Hathaway plays the dopey,
emotional female character present in most Nolan films
For, where Interstellar could have grasped at greatness by leaving us with something to think about (specifically by leaving Cooper in the black hole with the task - obviously achievable, I add - of contacting his daughter), Nolan instead chooses to bring him out of the black hole ALIVE, reunite him with his barely living daughter, and give him the opportunity to fly over to see Man Hathaway through a wormhole. Come on! It's apple sauce cinema.

At the same time, at least Nolan does something with the copious financial rewards he gains form such blandness - Interstellar looks amazing, and it's a great cinematic experience. Being able to leave your normal life and travel across time and space is one of the great reasons for going to the movie house. Only a director that can command a budget like Nolan can even try and pull off what is clearly a 21st homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Instellar, though, will age badly. The robots are comically bad. I can only assume that it's a reference to the awful sci-fi robots of the 60s and 70s, because these clunky machines made NB physically smile. Also, as always, Nolan (and his bro) prove that they cannot write female characters. Case in point, Dr. Bland. Her major contributions to the film include the need to be rescued from an oncoming tidal wave (oh, how damsel in distressian), and travelling halfway across the universe... basically cos she's in love. Feminists the world over are removing their pretty little gloves and you're the target, Nolan (try and get my car keys back from him too while yer there).

A few rolling credits before I wrap this up: pretty bland performances from Michael Caine and Anne Hathaway (McConaughey carries this film on his shoulders - he's turned into a great actor - loads of enthusiasm and understated intensity), there a few nice references to superior sci-fi films, and the soundtrack is incredible. In fact, the OST gets 5/5, but the film gets...

Rating: Cosmic twaddle

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Caché (Hidden)

Dir: Michael Haneke-haneke-haneke and McCaully (obscure Marx bros' reference)
Starring: Daniel Twill, Juliette Brioche

"A Great Movie"... trite but true.
There's a lot of pointless pontificating about the meanings and solutions to this film (I'm looking at you Roger Ebert, if that is your real name... which it is). Forget all that. As director Haneke says, it's open to interpretation, like a work of art... Escher said the same thing to a lady who told him how one of his pieces represented a mathematical equation. "Madame", he replied, "if you see it that way, so be it."

One interpretation (mine) is that this is about France and Algeria. There are references throughout the film to the troubled history of Algerian immigrants in France (most notably the hushed up drowning of 200 immigrants in the Seine in the 60s). The hidden camera footage serves as a metaphor for a guilty conscience, or possibly the eyes of the world on France... saying, you can't just get away with it. The suicide of the father represents the life of relative slavery that 2nd generation Algerians had to live. The end shot of the befriended Algerian Walid and the French Pierrot signifying that the third generation can get on with it (this theory is helped along by the presence of a Zizu poster on Pierrot's wall).

Forget all that. Go watch Cache and see what a good film looks like, all you brain-dead spoon-fed blockbuster-watchers.

Rating: Magnifique! Super-Duper!

Place Beyond the Pines

Dir: Derek Cianfrancisco
Starring: Ryan Gooseling, Bradley "smugface" Cooper, Eva Menthols

This film brings to Narry Borman's mind the many cheesy lines in the history of American popular music culture about how "children are the future", how we should "save the children", and "children in need." For Place Beyond the Pines show in stark detail how the poor choices of two fathers conspire to ruin their children's lives further down the line.

In telling this story, Director Derek has used some nice techniques rarely seen in such a major hollywood production - the story is told in three parts, for example, and (SPOILER!) the supposed main character is killed at the end of the first part. Shocking.

As with so many Hollywood productions, PBtP suffers from introducing too many characters, and in the end some of even the main characters come off a little two-dimensional, even if you're watching it in 3d (ba-tum-tish).

Rating: Good

Saturday, 27 September 2014

The Bird People in China

Dir: Takashi Miike
Starring: Masahiro Motoki

Remember Narry's review of Zebraman back in the day? Well, this is by the same director. Like Zebraman, Bird People in China takes a fantastical concept and brings it down to earth. Which is slightly disappointing in this case, as I was hoping to see some outlandish paragliding scenes set amidst the mountains of Yunan.

Bird People tells an interesting story of two people who have nothing in common being thrown into a new situation and finding a life changing experience in the process. Couple this with the visually stunning location, and Bird People makes for compelling watching.

Being a Miike film, there are a few scenes where things get gritty. The Yakuza character is quite dislikable at first, although his transformation due to the effect of being away from the city is inspiring. Bird People also uses music to good effect. It has a mysterious tune that appears repeatedly and plays a key part in the story, a la Close Encounters.

Although it was quite a different film to what I had hoped for, Narry fell in love with the countryside location - more films should be filmed in rural China, says I.

Rating: Good

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Dir: Richard Brooks
Starring: Elizabeth Taylor the 2nd, Paul New Man

My word, ol' Tenner C. Williams had some issues. Why so intense, Tenor Sea? Is the Deep South really so full of drunks, alcoholics and palliative addicts? Is Kentucky such a hotbed of broken dreams, unachieved fantasies and disappointed visions? If so, maybe Narry B would find some kindred spirits there.

As Cat is adapted from a stage play, the script can be analyzed more deeply than most film scripts. And, indeed, the dialog is loaded with imagery and symbolism. Paul Newman's crutch, being the most obvious one (a little too obvious in NB's inflated opinion).

So, yes, there are powerful messages to be taken from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: primarily, don't put yer cat on a hot tin roof. It'll burn its little paws, see? But also, pretending to be happy doesn't mean yer really happy. And, from Paul Newman, who struggles to become a new man (see what I did there?), we learn that life goes wrong sometimes, but you have to forgive yourself and try harder.

What a darling of a film!

Rating: Mendacity!


Dir: Richard Linklater
Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater

The concept of Boyhood is an interesting one: Film a fictional life over a period of 12 years using the same cast and see how things develop. In truly theatrical cliche styling, it "blurs the boundaries between art and life." (I've never wanted to say that.)

This premise has been used only once before... by me. Yes, Narry Borman has been secretly filming his life since the age of 7 months. Now, at the age of 15 months, NB is almost ready to unleash his magnum opus on the world: Babyfood, it's called. Oh, it's incredible. Well, it's better than Boyhood anyway.

For you see, Narry Borman did not enjoy this film. The most entertaining nuggets can be boiled down from the painful 3 hours that Boyhood currently requires to a period of about 15 minutes: His sister singing and dancing in the opening scene, the point where he gets into photography, and that scene where he goes camping with his dad.

Films don't have to be entertaining, though. Aside from the entertainment value, Boyhood should have some merit as a well crafted film. For NB, it falls short in this area too. The soundtrack is well chosen. And there's some nice acting. But for a film that is trying to capture life in its fullness, it falls well short. Indeed, Boyhood manages only to present a very limited, very American take on normality, and while a few of the characters are quite engaging, it's hard to sympathize with them when their lives are mere fictional representations created from a pastiche of modern cliches.

If you're going to document a life and it's interconnecting parts, make it an interesting one. That's why I made Babyfood.

Rating: Hmm...

Monday, 22 September 2014

Splendor in the Grass

Dir: Elia Kazan
Starring: Warren Beatty, Natalie Wood

Elia Kazan's work always brings to Narry Borman's messed up mind the Flight of the Conchords lyric "I rap about reality, like me and my grandma having a cup of tea."

Kazan makes films about reality, like unionist strikes, broken dreams, and, in the case of this film, sexual frustration...

Although that would be a rather trite summary of Splendor in the Grass. It's a deep film, if a little bleak and one dimensional (for purposeful dramatic effect) in its portrayal of the supposedly different views of love between men and women.

In terms of acting, direction and production, Splendor in the Grass really hits the mark. It was Warren Beatty's film debut, which is incredible considering the understated intensity he puts into it. Narry B was also impressed by the soundtrack, which combined some nice jazziness with the usual sweeping orchestra work found in 1960s films.

It doesn't make for light viewing, but Narry Borman doesn't insist on films being entertaining or fun.

Rating: Top Work

When Harry Met Sally

Dir: Rob Reiner
Starring: Billy Crystal Balls, Meg-on-Rye-bread (see what I did there?)

When Narry Borman met his ex-wife Zhang Xiyi, they got on like a pair of chopsticks. Alas, that all ended when the proverbial "chop sticks" dropped the proverbial "noodles" all over the "floor of destiny."

When Harry Met Sally has a much nicer ending, with Billy C and Meg R finally admitting their unending love for each other - whether being wed to either of them in unending matrimony is "nice" is debatable, however.

Harry is a likable and believable character. He possesses all the "twerks" (modern parlance for 'quirks') of a real chap. Sally is equally neurotic and quite sweet. Clearly, the target was to create a realistic love film. One that presented just a pair of folks finding love...

And it works well. There's some nice comedy in there, and an entertaining love story. Rob Reiner is behind the camera, so you know it's going to be well put together and the script is quite sharp.

It's like a watered down version of Annie Hall. Meh.

Rating: Good

Monday, 15 September 2014

The Congress

Dir: Ari Folman
Starring: Robin Wright, Harvey Keitel, Paul Giamatti

Occasionally, life treats you to something special. It's often an unexpected moment of discovery. For Narry Borman, these "life treats" tend to be indulgent combinations of the senses in a feast of music, sight, sound, and imagination. Visiting the cinema house last night to watch The Congress, Narry B. was rewarded with one such life treat.

Perhaps what made the moment so perfect was the sense of discovery. NB had researched nothing about this film before going to see it on a whim. And then... when the magic of this film kicked in, I couldn't keep the smile from my face as the screen took us all away and enveloped us in its story and beauty.

There was a massive feeling of catharsis as The Congress interweaved reality and fantasy, animation and live action, and hope and despair. It was chiefly the sumptuous visual display that left an impression scalded on my mind. NB didn't think he would ever see animation that could match the beauty of Miyazaki's best creations (except, perhaps, for Leiji Matsumoto's work on Interstellar 5555), but The Congress simply picks up Miyazaki's ideas and takes them to the extreme. Sublime.

To say that the visuals are unforgettable is not to disrespect the story or the acting. In fact, the plot of The Congress is clever and complex. It's a film (to some degree) about film. But it's also about Hollywood, the excesses of modern life, the importance of family and honesty, and so much more. Equally impressive is Robin Wright's ability to convince us of the reality of what she's going through. Harvey K is Harvey K... you would expect nothing less. And Paul Giamatti manages to convincingly play both his younger and older self - a skill that not many are endowed with, it seems.

I don't want to go into too much depth about the story or visual style, or even the understated score, which relies heavily on tense strings and moody cello. I hope everyone discovers this film for themselves. If you watch it and you don't enjoy it, I hope you find some other life treat today.

Rating: The Congress*

*In honor of the quality of the film, I am rating it simply as 'The Congress' as it sits alongside only a few other films that surpass the NB rating system.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

The Grandmaster

Dir: Wrong Car Way
Starring: Tony Leung, Zhang Xiyi

Narry B together with flight ace Smaltzy Baby once watched Wong Kar Wai's masterpiece "In the Mood for Love" over a cheese fondue.

Since then, Kar Wai has gone a bit wrong. 2046 was an overwrought sequel to the above... My Blueberry Nights was a needless entry into the mainstream... and then we have The Grandmaster.

The Grandmaster is, at heart, a martial arts film, although it quite nicely tells the story of the Japanese occupation of China, the history or Martial Arts, and the formation of Hong Kong. Also, as a WKW film, it looks stunning - and I'm not just talking about Narry B's ex-missus, the statuesque Zhang Ziyi.

With some nice editing, artistic fight scenes, and top drawer acting, The Grandmaster seems to build up to something special... But it all goes a bit wrong at the end. The film becomes rather pointless and bleak. There's also a lack of focus, with the unnecessary introduction of "The Razor", for example.

Hopefully, WKW will get his mojo back soon, cos The Grandmaster ain't his best work.

Rating: Good

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Raizing Hariso-na (Ford!)

Dir: Joel Coen
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Holly Hunter

What was the deal with all the films about babies in the late 80's? It went 'baby-crazy'. Three Men and a Baby... Three Men and a Little Lady... erm... this film. The list goes on.

Maybe it was in an effort to appeal to the 'baby boomers' who had cash to spend... Or could it be that Holywood was trying to promote family values, having noticed the declining birth rates following the Vietnam War? Either way, Narry Borman doesn't care, so quit whining, pipsqueak, or I'll bust yer chops.

Raising Arizona is the Coen brothers' attempt at a baby film. Like many others of its kind, the baby in this flick gets kidnapped - albeit by a pair of wannabe (but sterile/barren) parents. The rest of Raising Arizona is a (cough) hair(izona) raising experience for the would-be child-bringer-uppers, as they are pursued by the law, the real parents, a bounty hunter and, ultimately, their own consciences.

The story is more centered on Nicholas Cage's poor attempts to become a real man, father and husband. The baby is quite incidental to the whole thing. The problem is that the character of Hi (Nick Cage) isn't engaging enough for us to care. He's entertaining, but not very deep or captivating. So, instead of getting hooked by the story, you look out for the comedy highlights - of which there are several. John Goodman delivers most of the humour... how he manages that when at least 50% of his dialog is nothing but yelling at the top of his voice I don't know.

The ending goes a bit nasty and dark, which was disappointing as the rest of the film was lighthearted. But, then, this is a Coen Bros film., and as such it hints at some of the better things to come throughout their careers.

Rating: Good

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Another Year

Dir: Mike Leigh
Starring: Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen, Lesley Manville

From Narry B.'s other reviews of Mike Leigh films, you'll know that he's a big fan. There's something about the awkward Britishness that reminds NB of his own childhood in a London orphanage in his pre-boxing days.

Another Year is classic Mike Leigh - it's face-cringing in the extreme as Mary slips deeper into a self-destructive cycle throughout the course of a year. This film is made for people who can stomach intense character studies, and see the funny side of it (the humorous side of it is helped along nicely by Jim Broadbent and comedienne Karina Fernandez). Are you that kind of person? No? Then go away.

Rating: Top Work!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

A Serious Man

Dir: Coen bros.
Starring: Michael Stuhlbarg, Fred Melamed

Is Narry B. a serious man, would you say? Or is he frittering away his life writing reviews under a stupid pseudonym, and creating blogs about guitars dressed in suits that no one reads? You decide.

Michael Stuhlbarg asked himself the same question. Had he been using his life for something worthwhile? Was he worthy of being called 'man'?

Much like Job, when faced with an existential disaster, he has three comforters  - in the form rabbits. I means, 'rabbis'. Each rabbi presents a different perspective on Michael's problems. And his problems are quite perplexing - a bizarre divorce (with Fred Melamed putting in a great performance as the sympathetic home wrecker), accusations of bribery at work, and a brother who won't leave his house.

A Serious Man is a deep, highly allegorical film from the Coen bros., but it's also a comedy with some clever and bizarre moments of humour.

Rating: Top Work

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Captain America: The Winter Shoulder

Dir: Russos
Starring: Chris Evans, Samuel Al Jackson, Scarlet Johnson

Here, "Captain America" bullies a little guy of "unknown ethnicity"...
There's a metaphor in there somewhere.
I'm just not smart enough to know where because Hollywood
has dulled my mind too much! (Double satire!)
As we all know, America rocks the world. And who rocks America? Captain America, that's who.

From the moment Chris Evans strides onto the camera, with his beach-buffed body proudly hidden under a t-shirt three sizes too small, you know that this is not going to be the same character from the previous CA film, who, in comparison, was complex and, yes, even likable.

The next two hours of your life will be spent watching Captain America punching various things. That's not to say there isn't variety. Sometimes Scarlet Johnson kicks various things.

Two good points: The story at least hints (in a half-baked fashion) at the kind of overarching global conspiracy theories of, for example, Metal Gear (which it also shamelessly imitates in the opening scene). The second good thing is that The Winter Shoulder himself is (at first, at least) an intriguing villain. Also, Stan Lee's cameo is as dreadful as ever.

Rating: Bad

Drifting Clouds

Dir: Aki Kaurismatik
Starring: Kati Outinen, Kaarl Vaananen, Shelley Fisher

There's an old joke that goes, "Finnish yer dinner."

Pretty bad, eh.... So su(o)mi!

Drifting Clouds is the first Aki K. film to be reviewed on Narry B.'s web blog. Aki K. is a legendary Finnish director, perhaps best known for his arthouse flick, "50 First Dates."

Drifting Clouds moves as slowly as, well, a cloud, although it's not as lonely. The story is based on the changing fortunes of a couple whose lives are turned upside down by unemployment. It's an interesting psychological analysis of how people react to misfortune... pride, determination, alcoholism, gambling, etc. Although the film is rather bleak, it is in fact a comedy of sorts, and one hopes that the overall message of industriousness will uplift.

But forget the story - the direction takes precedence here. Narry B doesn't like to sound like a poopy Guardian film critic, but the shadows in this film are stunning. I've seen better lighting in other films, but I've never seen better shadows.

On top of this, the soundtrack is expertly selected, from the opening shot of Shelly Fisher at the piano, to the ending theme of Rauli Somerjoki's Pilvet Karkaa.

Rating: Top Work

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman

Dir: Albert Lewin
Starring: James Mason, Ava Gardner, Nigel Patrick

Much like "The Flying Dutchman", Narry Borman has been around for centuries, wandering the seven seas, looking for his gardener.

Pandora seems to enthrall every chump who crosses her path on the tiny seaport town of Esperanza in Spain. And you can't blame them. As the picture on the left shows, she has a face that is both enormous and pristinely statuesque in its composition. Hubba hubba.

Pandora and The Flying Dutchman is a magical, abstract kind of film. I like films to have an element of unreality to them - it opens up the opportunity for symbolism (which this film is full of) and imaginative direction. And it's the ethereal dream-like sequences that are grounded in obvious real-life parallelisms that give this film an edge. Reminds me a bit of A Matter of Life and Death, which was released a few years before.

However, Pandora falls short in two regards: the second half of the film really drags along at a slow pace as the various lovers try to woo her. Some of it is quite self indulgent (we're treated to a suicide, a bull fight in her honour, and an attempt at the landspeed record...).

The second downer is thus: James Mason's teeth. He's really flying the British flag here - the teeth are crooked, stained and downright stinky. The film goes down a notch in my book for that.

Rating: Good