Friday, 19 February 2016

Secrets in Their Eyes / El Secreto en Sus Ojos

Dir: Juan Jose Campanella
Starring: Ricardo Darin, Soledad Vilamil

You've gotta love a bit of Darin. He's a cool chap and a good actor. He worked extensively with Campanella, and Secrets is one of their most well-reputed works. And NB has to admit he was impressed. The core story is a bit raw, but it pulls off that mystery thriller vibe with great plumpness.

There are few strange directions; the character of the drunk Sandoval is a bit inconsistent, and the final scene is unnecessarily uplifting. But otherwise its a solid film that pulls off multiple jumps in time with great plumpness, and that clearly had some influence of True Detective in terms of tone.

Rating: Good

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Umbrellas of Cherbourg / Les Parapluies de Cherbourg

Dir: Jacques Demy
Music: Michel Legrand
Starring: Neno Castelnuovo, Catherine Deneueveueve

Yes, yes, yes! Narry B finally has another musical to add to his list of two "NB approved musicals."

There are so many reasons why Cherbourg works well: Legrand's excellent score, the fact that the plot and the lyrics are not overly-dramatic despite being serious, and, above all, the amazing wallpaper.

Great wallpaper
One of the key features of Cherbourg is that the lyrics are almost like a film script that is sung as a coincidence. So it comes across as some kind of bizarro world where everyone sings instead of talks. Which is a very different thing to singing little rhymes and then breaking into talking for no reason.

Beyond just the lovable artistry of this film, there is also a powerful message about love, life and umbrellas. Truly, this is a masterpiece of the genre.

Did I mention it has great wallpaper too?

Rating: Paraplui-tastic

Wednesday, 17 February 2016


Dir: Ed Harris
Starring: Ed Harris

Listen up Ed Harris: Biopics should not try to cover too much time! It's impossible to condense a man's life into two hours, much less something so full of energy and creativity as Jackson Pollock. What you end up with is a watery unengaging film that doesn't bring you any closer to the artist.

It's a fatal flaw for a biopic, but Ed Harris made it.

Conversely, it's well made in terms of costumes and sets, etc., and it's well acted and well cast. But the overriding feeling is one of dilution and flimsiness.

Rating: Ed Harris

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Zoolander 2

Dir: Ben Stiller
Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson

NB is mystified as to how Hollywood manages to become ever more commercial. Product placement and pointless celebrity cameos make a lot of modern films feel like propaganda tools more than works of ART. Jurassic World had some of the clumsiest product placement Narry has ever seen. But Zoolander 2 is right up there with it. It also falls foul of that "introducing a celebrity is funny in itself" schmuck that bears no weight whatsoever. Admittedly, Keifer Sufferland is pretty funny, but the rest of the celeb cameos are really misguided; especially Sting's pointless appearance. Boo! Boooooo!

There are some gags that work quite well, as you would expect from a "comedy film." But there's also a lot of self-referential, painfully commercial, woefully unfunny elements that will ensure that Zoolander 2 does not hold up well over time.

Rating: 6/12

Saturday, 13 February 2016


Mifune looking quite cool... and
strangely akin to NB's brother in law
Dir: Kurosawa
Starring: Mifune... AND Nakadai!!

WhaWhaaaa? Kurosawa and Mifune... and Nakadai all together?!! How can you go wrong? You can't! This is a classic of Japanese samurai films, one of Kurosawa's finest works (it's among his "tighter," more compact works) and features great performances by both Mifune and Nakadai (as if that needed saying).

One of the things NB loves about Japanese cinema is, like Japanese comedy, the way it builds up, delivering its punchline at the end, although maybe "bloodline" would be a more apposite word in this case. Not that Sanjuro is an overly violent film... but the final scene is so incredible in its intensity that NB had to watch the scene twice.

Rating: Great!

Friday, 12 February 2016

Miracle Mile

Dir: Steve De Jarnatt
Starring: The feller from ER, and a (no offense) quite repugnant lady

NB watched this stinker cos he had heard it was an underrated gem of 80s sci-fi. Admittedly, the scene in the diner is rather good as the tension builds up, and no one is sure whether to believe what's happening. But then it goes all mushy. And for what? The guy from ER is in love with a really rather repugnant looking lady (I'm sure she's lovely and I'm sure she looked a lot better without that awful haircut). The worst is that they kiss. That's one on-screen frenchy I do not want to see again.

Rating: Bad


Dir: Lenny Abraham's Son
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhall

NB identifies muchly with the big-headed Frank: we both need an alter ego - a metaphorical disguise - in order to express ourselves. Admittedly, Frank does it much more successfully, and eventually (SPOLER) learns how to do it without the big head... NB however is trapped inside his character for life.

Frank combines many different elements of musical mythology, primarily, of course, the legend that is Frank Sidebottom and the Oh Blimey Band. The story focusses on what happens if someone ordinary gets involved in something extraordinary. The results are pretty bad.

In terms of the cast, I know he's scoring roles all over the place recently, but NB is actually unimpressed: No, it's not Michael Fassbender (who is surely one of the best and most diverse actors of the new millennium), it's Domhnal Gleeson. Admittedly, his character a bit weak and unlikable in this, but he's pretty wooden in general.

Thankfully, Michael B and Maggie G are here to keep things believable; if a story about a musical genius wearing a giant freak head recording an album in rural Ireland can be called believable.

Rating: Great!

Thursday, 11 February 2016


Dir: Andrei Tarkovsky
Starring: Alexander Kaidanovsky, Nikolai Grinko

Sci-fi meets religious symbolism in this thinly-veiled attack (?) on deification. A grim Russian cast takes you on a journey into an unknowable area where all of your wishes will come true... or will they? Whether that's your cup of tea or not, you can't deny Tarkovsky's skill as a director. It's amazing well shot and the sets and atmosphere of the whole thing really make you believe that this is a "forbidden zone."

Just look at that grim face on the image and you'll get the idea.

Rating: Overbearingly intense and significant but undeniably well-made

Seppuku / Harakiri

Dir: Masaki Kobayashi
Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai

Can anyone rival the immense presence of Tatsuya Nakadai? When NB was 16 years old he watched the Seven Samurai and was completely blown away by Toshiro Mifune's performance. And yet, in a much more understated, controlled way, Nakadai steals your attention in an even more profound way than Mr. Mif. (The comparison between the two fellerz has been made too often for me to go on about it here.)

In Seppuku / Harakiri, Nakadai plays a ronin who visits the house of a local lord looking for a place to die. Or does he? Kobayashi reveals the real plot bit by bit, and after everything is in the open: BOOM! An action scene to rival the best of them.

Rating: Great!

Bleak Moments

Dir: Mike Leigh
Starring: Anne Raitt, Eric Allan

Ohh, this is so bleak. I love it! It takes 45 minutes to get going, and the sound quality is atrocious, but once things really kick off, it's hard to look away from Bleak Moments. It's a story of disappointment, frustration, small joys (mainly dry sherry) and daily life.

One of the key scenes is in a Chinese restaurant where a couple who are on a date are being constantly watched by the only other feller in there. The conversation is stilted, the food looks bad, and it's all just... well... bleak. Another amazing scene involves the uptight boyfriend asking his girlfriend if she prefers television or radio. It's cringeworthy enough to make you shudder.

If you know how to enjoy bleak misery, this is a masterpiece!

Rating: Great

North by Northwest / Dial M for Murder / Stay / Inside Out

Dir: Pete Docter-y, Ronnie Del Carmen
Starring: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, etc.
Comment: Has NB become old and cynical? Everyone seems to love this film, but I really didn't get into it. I could see that it was good... but it seemed to try too hard to give me a message, and I don't like to be manipulated. I am manipulat-er not a manipulat-ee. Animation's pretty ropey in some places too.
Rating: Good

Dir: Marc Forster
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Ewan McGregor
Comment: Tries too hard and comes off a bit contrived, cos the complex plot and psychological twists are ultimately kind of un-engaging. Ewan McG's hair is pretty amazing in this, tho.
Rating: Alright film, great hair

Dir: Alfred Spatchcock
Starring: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint
Comment: Sharp script, sharp suits, dangerous blondes, lots of running around. A true "film." NB prefers Hitchcock's more claustrophobic works, but NBNW is unquestionably a "classic."
Rating: Genius

Dir: Alfred Hitch
Starring: Ray Millan, Grace Kelly
Comment: NB realised he's forgotten all of the details from some classic Hitch films so he's been watching them again. Dial M is genius. Really well directed... I felt genuinely shocked by the attempted murder scene.
Rating: Genius