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