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