Monday, 21 December 2015

Star Wars: A Force Awakens

Dir: J J Abrams
Starring: John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Issac etc.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, something happened. 30 years later, pretty much the same thing happened again. Yes, that's right: Narry B's saying this is close to a remake of Episode IV.

The reaction of one viewer to this
nonsense after ten minutes
But in the intervening 30 years, many of us here on earth have grown up a bit, and the sight of an alien that looks like prawn and the indecipherable twiddlings of a circular robot no longer hold the same appeal that they once did.

Hopefully, those who haven't grown up (i.e. children) will enjoy A Force Awakens. It has action, mystery, epic-ness, and, above all, incredible set design. The script is typically clunky, though, making sure no one gets left behind with complicated plot twists ("You mean we've got to blow up that part of the weapon before the sun goes down?").

The highlight of watching A Force Awakens was the whooping and hollering from the audience in the cinemateque, and one feller even gave a massive shout of "YEAH!" when Princess Leia... I mean Rey grabbed the light saber.

I say, "Bring back Jar-Jar Binks for Episode VIII and go hell for leather for comedy."

Rating: Meh

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Les Miserables (2012)

Dir: Tom Pooper
Starring: Huge Ach'man, Rustle (up some) Crow, Man Hath A Way, EDDIE REDMAYNE

At the age of 6, NB went to see 'Puss in Boots.' He was hooked. The drama! The sounds! The spectacle!

And yet, Narry fails to see the point of musical cinema... excluding West Side Story, Singin' in the Rain and Dancer in the Dark, nothing has captured his imagination. Maybe it's because the musical genre is all about the performance, and therefore it suits the live stage so well, whereas film is essentially a staged, prerecorded dramatization.

Interestingly, Les Mis director Tom Pooper (Damned United, Byker Grove, etc.) decided to film the actors actually singing their parts live, which no doubt presented great challenges to the sound technicians. And the result is quite an 'authentic' performance.

Most of the cast, who are major Holywood stars, can actually sing surprisingly well, altho Rustle up some Crow was kind of flat. Stealing the show as always, tho, was Eddie McRedmayne, who delivers the most powerful moment in the film with Empty Chairs at Empty Tables... ok, so maybe Michael Balls sings its better, but Redmayne's acting talent combines with his strong vocal performance and the best bit of set design and direction in the whole film to create an unforgettable scene.

NB's main problem with Les Mis is not due to the film itself, but due to his issues with filmed musicals, and due to the annoying adaptation and miniaturization of what is an incredible book. Of course, you must leave some material out, but in comparison to Hugo's work, all of the characters come across so flat and unintelligible.

Just watch a few highlights on YouTube, and you'll get the idea.

Rating: Good

Monday, 14 December 2015

Ex-Machina / Guardians of the Galaxy / Lego Movie

Title: Ex-Machina
Dir: Alex Garland
Starring: Oscar Issac, Domnhall Gleeson

Comment: A robot... that's almost human?! Get Down Saturday Night. Yeah!

Rating: Good, with some great bits

Title: Guardians of the Galaxy
Dir: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt

Comment: This worked really well, without feeling forced! A tasty retro soundtrack to boot!

Rating: Good, with some great bits

Title: The Lego Movie
Dir: Chris Milner
Starring: NICK OFFERMAN, Chris Pratt, Will Arnett

Comment: This has no right to work so well... and yet, and yet, it does! Hilarious, deep, gold!

Rating: Very great!

National Lampoon's European Vacation / Snowpiercer / Nightcrawler

Title:National Lampoon's European Vacation
Dir: Amy who-the-Heckerling Cares
Starring: Chevy Chase

Comment: Really bad. Recommended to me by the same putz that recommended National Lampoon's Vacation, which was equally bad,

Rating: Balls

Title: Snowpiercer
Dir: Bong Joon Who Cares
Starring: Jamie Balls, Ian McKellen

Comment: Really bad. Needlessly violent, ham-fisted attempt at an action film with depth.

Rating: Stinker

Title: Nightcrawler
Dir: Dan Gilroy, that's who cares
Starring: Jake Gyllenhal

Comment: Taking footage of awful crimes and selling it? Isn't that a crime in itself? This films asks the questions, you provide the answers. Ee-or!

Rating: Good

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Tokyo Drifter

Dir: Seijun Suzuki
Starring: Tetsuya Watari

This is the first of Suzuki's works that NB has seen, so he went into with high hopes based on the reputation of SS.

While some of Tokyo Drifter is made supremely well, the use of color and the stark sets, in particular, there are moments that leave you wondering whether Suzuki was skillful or just lucky. The editing, for example, is really choppy; there's a bizarre car chase that come from nowhere and ends just the same. Narry does not need to be spoon fed, nor does he need everything to be neatly tied up, but this kind of editing seems to be of no benefit stylistically or otherwise.

On the other hand, Tokyo Drifter has a sharp script, some cool characters, and presents a side to the Yakuza life (the dutiful, samurai-esque spirit) that is often overlooked in film. Not that Tokyo Drifter presents mobsters in a good light; rather, the conclusion is that the only choice is to get out of such a lifestyle. As difficult as the protagonist (Tetsu) finds that to do.

Big thumbs up for the strange obsession with hair dryers in this film! Narry B, of course, uses a Blastmaster 3000. It's the only haridryer than can keep his quiff up all day.

Rating: Good, maybe very good

The Man Who Stole the Sun / Taiyo wo Nusunda Otoko / 太陽を盗んだ男

Dir: Kazuhiko Hasegawa
Starring: Kenji Sawada, Bunta Sugawara

Finally! After years of searching for this film, NB has found it... and online with English subtitles, to boot! (Link at the end)

Many years ago, Narry saw the very image you are seeing now to your left on the wall of his beloved kind-of brother-in-law, and the image has stuck in his mind ever since. It's so crazy! What's happening in that image? Can you guess what it's about? Even the title of the film doesn't give much away.

And I'm not going to tell you much either. Cos this is a special film where the strength of the story (by American writer Leonard Schrader) is matched by directorial prowess, and, in fact, surpassed by an inspired cast.

Rating: Genius

A big shout out to for uploading this gem.

Raw Deal

Dir: Anthony Mann
Starring: Dennis o Keefe, Raymond Burr

Narry Borman quite enjoyed this film... in fact, he likes anything raw, including sushi, lions, and Sir Henry at RAWlinson End.

Dennis O' Keefe plays a feller that the ladies can't seem to get enough of. But he's trapped in prison, the various gals of his life help him break free with some double-crossing assistance from the always awesome Raymond Burr.

The gripping story of the get-away is used as a backdrop to the more subtle story of which lass Dennis will choose. The steady and stable girl who's loved him for years, or the new girl on the scene... will he trade in his shot at permanence for a few moments of glory? Will Perry Mason kill him before he can do anything about it? It's all so tense!!

Rating: Very good

Friday, 4 December 2015

Bigger than Life

Dir: Nicholas Ray
Starring: James Mason, Walter Matthau

Much like James Mason in Bigger than Life, Narry B got caught up using Cortosine, and ended up off his face for the whole of 1956.

Mason went one step further and tried to change the American educational system before attempting to sacrifice his son in some kind of Biblical rite of passage.

In comparison with Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, Mason's teeth are in much better condition here, which gives the whole film a much "cleaner" feeling. That's not the only thing to love about Bigger than Life: Nicholas Ray's use of DeLuxe Color Cinemascope is another outstanding feature... even now there's something analogically gorgeous about it.

Rating: Great

Thursday, 26 November 2015

They Live / Night at the Opera / Sicario

Title: They Live
Dir: John Carpenter
Starring: Roddy and co
Description: A wrestler starring in a major film? Unheard of!Rowdy Roddy cannot act, but its a good symbol for the ridiculousness of this film. "I came here to kick ass and chew bubble gum... And I'm all out of gum."
Rating: Good, really very good

Title: A Night at the Opera
Dir: Sam Wood
Starring: The Marx Brothers, Margaret Dumont
Description: Narry B grew up watching the Marx's and can pretty much recite this line for line but after taking a 10 year hiatus, Night at the Opera seemed fresher than ever. Pure gold, from start to finish.
Rating: Genius

Title: Sicario
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolly
Description: Billed as a complicated thriller, its as dull as dishwater with the audience expected to sympathize with a bland leading lady who can't seem to keep up with the story she's involved in.
Rating: Average at best

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

All of Me / Daft Punk Unchained / Carnage

Title: All of Me
Dir: Carl Reiner
Starring: Steve Martin
Comment: Great performance from Stevey M, but there are far too few gags.
Rating: Good

Title: Daft Punk Unchained
Dir: Herve Martin Delpierre
Starring: Paul Williams, Giorgio, Pedro Winter
Comment: Why is Kanye West in this at all? Some great early footage of DP before they were DP, and some interesting insights into Thomas' musical genius, their quest for the perfect sound, and the background of the band (did you know Thomas' dad was a music producer?). Some spine tingling live footage too.
Rating: Good

Title: Carnage
Dir: Roman Polanski
Starring: Christopher Waltz, Jodie Foster
Comment: Adapted from a play, Carnage is an old-school movie with some modern issues at heart. Almost in Mike Leigh fashion, the threads running through the lives of four parents are unravelled as the confront each other about an altercation between their sons. Amazing performance from Waltz! And the most realistic on-screen vomit ever.
Rating: Good

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

High Hopes / Grown Ups

Dir: Mike Leigh
Starring: Phil Davis, Ruth Sheen, Lesley Manville
High Hopes Cinematographer: Roger Pratt

"I want love, I want sex, and I want a family." Grown Ups.
Regular NB readers (all three of you) will know that NB is a huge fan of ML (Mike Leigh). The gritty mix of black comedy and drama really hits the spot for NB, and it also provides a nostalgic taste of life in England. With these two films, Leigh shows exactly why that is.

Both films have very similar themes (in fact, almost all non-biopic ML films have similar themes); a financially struggling young couple is pitted psychologically, and possibly physically, against themselves and the rest of the world, while sub-characters create drama and provide added social commentary.

"I just want everyone to have enough
to eat."
High Hopes 
High Hopes is really something special in this regard. The main couple (played to perfection by Phil Davis and Ruth Sheen) are grim and real, but likable. The bizarre series of sub-characters, including the neurotic older sister, a strange guest, a couple of toffs, and Davis' mum, bring the laffs and the drama.

What sets High Hopes apart is the strength of the characters as a combined whole, the believably positive ending, the flawless dialogue, excellent cinematography (from Roger Pratt who would go on to do Harry Potter, among other films) and endearing soundtrack. I can't rate it highly enough.

As with all good Leigh, in both films, Narry watched from the edge of his seat as the unstable characters had meltdowns, laughed from his belly during the moments of slapstick comedy and humorous dialog, and shed several tears at the dramatic finales.

Go watch.

Grown Ups Rating: Top Work
High Hopes Rating: Genius

Monday, 12 October 2015


Dir: Doug Liman
Starring: Hay-done Chris-10-Son, Jamie Bell

You might be wondering why NB has been watching so many stinky films. NB is wondering the same thing, so please send in your answers if you know.

Jumper, alas, is not about jumpers in the British sense of the word. Rather, it is the America definition of "Jumper"; that is, a person who can jump to any location merely by imagining it.

Of course, like any teenager with the ability to jump, our hero jumps into a bank vault and grabs a load of cash. Then Samuel L Jackon starts chasing him with his hair dyed white. Then Jamie Bell turns up. And the hero likes a lady. Also, it turns out his mum is a jumper too. Again, not the knitted kind.

Rating: Average

Thursday, 8 October 2015


Dir: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Bill Smith

They asked Narry Borman to star in this instead of Bill, but NB insisted they change the title to "Narry Borman is a Ledge." The Hollywood fat cats refused, so they got the Fresh Prince instead. Fools.

Not since he watched Alien has Narry B been so gripped to his seat. Like Alien, it's the lack of action and the expectation in I Am Legend that causes the tension. Director Francis Lawrence works this tension magically. This tension is helped along by the complete lack of a soundtrack (other than the occasional bit of Bob Marley... when will America learn that there are other Jamaican musicians?! Someone give Horace Andy or Burning Spear (see Leon) a spin, please!), and the atmospheric lighting.

Equally, not since The Never Ending Story has NB been so gripped by a human-animal relationship. The moment where (SPOILER) Sam dies is genuinely touching.

The only weak point here is the poor CGI... the digital lions look almost intentionally digital, like a digital lion has escaped from a computer, which isn't scary at all. The infected humanoids are also on the comical side... why a virus would give them extraordinarily loud voices, I'm not sure.

A few more notes on this film: There's a subtly placed advert for Batman Vs. Superman, and this was way back in 2007; There's one scene that has a ridiculous number of extras; There's a pointless shot of Will Smith exercising.

Rating: Top Work

Friday, 2 October 2015


Dir: Tony Kaye
Starring: Adrien Brody

Tony Kaye turns his jaded eye over education in America. Narry Borman was once a teacher, but he had to quit cos the kids bullied him. That also happens to Adrien Brody, but he deals with it properly: By looking after a street worker in a totally non-sexual way. Detachment avoids a lot of the cliches of films about schools. There's very little 'inspirational talk'... it's more about the grim reality of getting on with it, which has good and bad outcomes in this messed up world.

Rating: Good

Mission Impossible / Mission Impossible 3 / Mission Impossible 4 / Mission Impossible 5

Dir: Brian De Palma
Starring: Tom Cruise
Comment: The original is best. Or so they say. NB disagrees. It probably has the sharpest script, and there's some really nice shots, but the original lacks the CRUISE FACTOR. For example, in the famous scene pictured, Cruise is wearing glasses. Glasses!! Come on. Tom Cruise doesn't need glasses... he has telescopic eyes that can see through walls.
Cruise factor: 1/5
Rating: Good

Dir: JJ Abrams
Starring: Tom Cruise
Comment: I skipped 2 cos it looked silly, even in comparison to 3, which is pretty silly. After the understated original, MI3 turns up the CRUISE FACTOR several notches. The best moment is when Philip Seymour Hoffman (why did he spend his precious little time on this earth making such a stupid film, I wonder) inexplicably has the chance to do away with CRUISE when he turns his back, allowing TC to pick up a gun and shoot him. Wahey! Also, Tom Cruise runs really fast in this one.
Cruise factor: 4/5
Rating: Good

Dir: Big Brad Bird
Starring: Tom Cruise
Comment: Things just got KER-AZY! Brad Bird, who also directed Ratatouille (go figure) just turned the CRUISE FACTOR up to 5. That's right folks... FIVE (5)! In MI4, CRUISE jumps out of the world's tallest building. Bam! He blows up the Kremlin. Boom! He jumps out of a moving car! Kablamo!
Cruise factor: 5/5
Rating: Top Work

Cruise in various action poses
Dir: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise
Comment: For my money, as a stand alone film, this is the best in the series. It tones down the stupidity a little bit in exchange for a sharper script, and excellent pacing. The first hour is as about as good as a major Hollywood film like this can get.  CRUISE is looking a bit old in this (he is 50 years old) but he can still RUN REALLY FAST and HOLD ON TO A MOVING PLANE.
Cruise factor: 4/5
Rating: Top Work

Edge of Tomorrow / Man from UNCLE / Turn Left Turn Right

Dir: Doug Liman
Starring: Tom Cruze
Comment: Surprisingly so good! As you might see for my other posts, NB has been getting into Tom Cruise lately. Hold on, hold on! He's a terrible actor but, as I've come to realize, he's the American Jacky Chan, so stop taking him seriously and enjoy the cheese. Having said that, Live Die Repeat is actually very sharp, and combines a clever plot with solid action sequences. Enjoy it.
Rating: Top Work

Dir: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Henry Cavill
Comment: So bad. It's like a 2-hour long trailer. People keep acting cool, but if they've got no cache, it's hard to give them credit. Style over substance.
Rating: Poop

Dir: Jonnie To
Starring: Takeshi Kaneshiro (and his near-perfect hair), Gigi Leung
Comment: A fun love story set in Taiwan. It predicates on the idea of being 'meant for each other,' which the film really labors over for a while in terms of showing how terribly compatible they are. Still, it's a sweet movie, and you can watch on YouTube. Yarp!
Rating: Good

The Searchers / In A Lonely Place / Out of the Past

Dir: Jacques Torner
Starring: Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas
Comment: Great film noir with an amazing cast. When Robert Mitchum's on form, he really steals the show. The romance angle was a bit weak, but the convoluted plot makes up for it.
Rating: Good

Dir: John Ford
Starring: John Wayne
Comment: You've got to love a good western. Cowboys, Indians... pillaging. And director John Ford is pulling out all the stops here as The Searchers clearly influenced a lot of later filmmakers.
Rating: Top Work

Dir: Nicholas Ray
Starring: Humph
Comment: Another solid bit of noir from Nicholas Ray, who's a surprisingly versatile director. A lot of tension is built up not only in terms of the murder but also the romance with the blonde, and it's the interconnection between these two plot lines that makes Lonely Place so good.
Rating: Top Work

Spring / Upstream Color / Ask Me Anything

Director: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorehead
Starring: Justin Taylor Pucci
Comment: Like (but much better than) Before Sunrise, but with scary scientific monsters. Yeah, you read it right.
Rating: Good

Director: Shane Caruth
Starring: Shane Caruth
Comment: From the Primer guy. Maybe NB's head wasn't fully engaged with this film, but I didn't really figure it out until afterward. Intentionally obscure, but quite well done.
Rating: Good

Director: Alison Burnett
Starring: Who cares
Comment: Really bad. I'd head good things about it being underrated... It's got an awful cliche of a script and it's just not enjoyable.
Rating: Bad

The Descendants

Dir: Alexandar "Bring the" Payne
Starring: George Clooney

Like The Way Way Back, The Descendants is written by Community regular and all-round baldhead, Jim Rash, along with direct Payne and co-creator Nat Faxon. Considering their comedy pedigree, The Descendants is actually a very touching and sincere film about a man who is forced to reassess his life when his wife is in a tragic accident.

But what really is it about? It's about finding peace despite tragedy. And it's about dealing with betrayal and being honest. Also, it's about Hawaii. This is probably the first flick NB has seen that shows so much of that stunning group of islands... why aren't more films produced there?

Well directed, acted and scripted, I'd recommend The Descendants unreservedly.

Rating: Top Wok

Friday, 29 May 2015

La Cabina (The Phone Box)

Dir: Antonio Mercero
Starring: Jose Luiz Lopez Vazquez Gonzalez Garcia del Bosque

A first for a Narry Borman review, I'm actually going to show you where you can watch this online... A little known website called "Your Tube," or something. Here's the link.

Contrary to what NB first thought, Spanish TV shorts are not a pair of bermudas with LCD screens showing 24-hour bullfighting. Rather, it is a style of filmage popular in the 60s in the 70s wherein the filmmakers were limited to 40 minute time restrictions.

If La Cabina by Antonio Mercero is anything to go by, it's a fascinating genre. Within an approx. 35 minute time span, he works in comedy, social commentary, horror and scifi. Incredible!

This heady mix of styles is reminiscent of The Prisoner and the psychological films of Frankenheimer, etc., but with a very strong and delectable Spanish flavor (think jamon + chorizo + paella and you're on the right track).

In terms of allegory, La Cabina works on multiple levels, and with the modern-day reliance on smart phones and other communications technology, the meaning of this film is not hard to miss.

I've given you the link, I've told you it's 'muy bueno'... what are you still here for?

Rating: Genial!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Mirage / Maltese Falcon / Cape Fear / Children of Men

Dir: Various
Starring: People

Narry Borman has been lazy... he's been watching films and eating plenty of nachos, but he hasn't been writing about them. How terrible, as the French would say.

So, here we have four reviews in one:

Interesting, but really flawed. Really clunky performance from Peck, too. 

Classic film noir. Doesn't hold a candle at both ends to The Big Sleep, though.

Hmm... a bit weird. Not sure. Mitchum's pretty scary.

Down-to-earth sci-fi? Only in England... best scene: pushing a Peugeot down a hill. Good film.

Rating: Great

The Way, Way Back

This John Hughes-ish poster is pretty apt
Dir: Fat Noxon, Jim's Rash
Starring: Steve Carousel, Sam Rockwell

Written and directed by Community man Jim Rash, and starring a whole heap of familiar but underrated figures, The Way Way Back was a really pleasantly goodly film that NB enjoyed muchly.

It's hard to balance a story of angsty teenager with comedy stylings that appeal to older people, but by gawd they've done it. Sam Rockwell brings most of the comedy with his rat-a-tat delivery of one liners, although there's a kind of Mike Leigh-esque humour to the whole thing as everyone's lives fall apart while the angsty teenager builds his life in secret.

There's something unconventional about The Way Way Back... NB found himself expecting the nerdy teen to have some kind of hidden talent, to show some kind of incredible passion for something that he'd kept hidden... but the fact is that he is just a normal chap, nothing special about him. That was pretty refreshing. No incredible revelations. No secret nun-chuk skills. Just a dude growing up.

Well, go find out for yourself. Recommended!

Rating: Top Work

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

The Big Sleep

Dir: Howard Hawks
Starring: Bogart & Bacall

It's crazy how good this film is. Everything just comes together perfectly - the world weary face of Bogart, the straight-talkin' attitude of Bacall, the way-too-complicated story from Chandler, the razor-sharp screenplay from Faulkner... every element of The Big Sleep is spot on.

Narry B, of course, was on the scene in LA in the 1930's and knew Philip Marlowe in person, so he can verify that Bogart plays the hard-boiled shamus with great authenticity.

NB has very little else to say. Go watch it and enjoy it.

Rating: Genius

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Apartment

Dir: Billy Wilder
Starring: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine

In general, seedy humour does not make Narry Borman laugh, and The Apartment is full of it. Those seedy little backstreet dalliances. Let's not try to normalize something so "out of order". So, the comedy element of The Apartment did nothing for NB. In fact, the script isn't even very sharp - Jack Lemmon's lines are delivered with comic timing, but there's not much to back it up, which makes him come across as a kind of Disney character. Shirley MacLaine has some funnier lines. The real comedy gold, though, comes from the Jewish wife next door - "Max the Knife!" being a standout line.

Forgetting the humorous side of things, The Apartment stands out for it's dramatic elements. Billy Wilder can sure tell a story, and he gets you involved in the characters, too. C.C.Baxter is super-sympathetic as he stands outside his apartment in the cold and the rain.

His gradual transformation into a minsch (spelling?) is quite inspiring - leading up to his delivery of one standout line in particular: "I used to live like Robinson Crusoe, shipwrecked among 8 million people. Then one day I saw a footprint in the sand. And it was yours." Soppy genius!

Well made, well acted, but not very funny.

Rating: Good

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Orson Welles' Macbeth

Dir: Orson Welles
Starring: Awesome Wells

Unwatchably bad. I started viewing it with the best of intentions, but this was not NB's cup of tea. Massively over-serious, as bleak as Russia in the 1980s, and poorly written (I don't care if yer name is Shakespeare). One good point: Macbeth's wife (Jeanette Nolan) puts in a great performance.

Rating: Piffle


"Oooooh no. I've forgotten how to act"
Dir: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Russell Crowe

Is there any event in the history of humanity as fascinating as the flood? Although we're talking ancient history, the impact of the flood is still palpable today. Furthermore, the antediluvian world seems to have been, by all accounts, a place vastly different to the one we know today in terms of topography, technology and culture.

Narry Borman fully understands, then, why Darren A chose to make a film on this subject, and why he combined a variety of flood facts and myths to create his story of Noah. What NB does not understand is why the result is so bad.

Part of the problem is that no one in this film puts in a good performance except for Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins. Ray Winstone and the feller who played Shem should be singled out for particularly bad acting. Booo!

The other part of the problem is that, while the first half of the film has an interesting slow build up, the second half of the film destroys all of that good work by adding unnecessary, over-complicated and pointless twists to the plot, such as the stowaway on the ark and Noah's insistence that humans should not reproduce. What rot.

Probably the best idea in the film is that the animals hibernated during the long sojourn on the ark. NB fully subscribes to this idea. NB also recommends that you hibernate through the screening of this poorly executed flick if forced to watch it by a "Christian" or by a "Teacher" at "School" who will inevitably consider the film to be "open-minded" and "fair"nopah.

Rating: Bad