Saturday, 6 February 2010

Random Notes #13

The Final Programme (1973 - Robert Fuest) - Even if you don't quite know what's going on in this early 70s sci-fi freak out (or you do, but don't care too much), from scene to scene there are enough fantastic and fun details to keep you interested. The story has its moments as our "hero" searches for the design of a self-replicating human that his father invented, but it also loses steam in several spots. However, when you've got some great 70s visuals, a whacked out Sterling Hayden and Europe bordering on the apocalypse - well, you can't really go too wrong now can you?

Lorna's Silence (2008 - Dardennes Brothers) - The Dardennes' "L'Enfant" didn't quite grab me the way it did for many (including the Cannes Jury in 2005), but their most recent made a much stronger impression. Lorna is involved in a complicated scheme to gain access to Belgium citizenship by marrying a junkie, waiting for his inevitable overdose and then marrying a Russian in order to get him access to the country. Only after she's worked through both of these false marriages will she then be free to marry her true love. At least, that's the plan. I thought the film did a great job in painting Lorna in a very sympathetic light while also showing that there are consequences to her own silence.

In July (2000 - Fatih Akin) - It wasn't until the opening credits rolled that I realized this was an older film from director Fatih Akin. I had picked it off the shelf solely due to Moritz Bleibtreu (from "Run Lola Run" and Akin's recent "Soul Kitchen") being on the cover and a vague indication of it being an unpredictable road trip. Though not a laugh out long comedic romp, the film is consistently enjoyable throughout and it's actually quite charming in spots. A young school teacher meets and becomes smitten with a beautiful woman who is off to Turkey the very next day. Since it is vacation time and he seems to be the only person without any plans, he decides to go off to Turkey to find her. He is accompanied on the journey by a young hippie woman who is smitten with him. The main characters are likeable and they meet numerous other interesting people along the way between Hamburg and their destination. Sure the ending is never really in doubt and familiar situations occur along the way (misunderstandings, car crashes, fights, border crossings, etc.), but it was a great deal of fun and Akin adds in little surreal touches throughout. Bonus: I nearly jumped out of my seat when the soundtrack kicked in with a song from Korai Orom's "1997" album (a favourite Hungarian band of mine).

Paper Moon (1973 - Peter Bogdonavich) - During the Great Depression, a con man (Ryan O'Neal) finds himself stuck with a young girl after stopping to pay his respects at an old lover's funeral. The girl (Tatum O'Neal) is the deceased woman's daughter and since there's the possibility that the con man could be her father (even though he denies it), he is asked to transport to her Aunt in Missouri. As the road trip through small towns and small cons goes on, the two develop a working relationship and the girl proves to be somewhat skilled in the ways of lying, cheating and stealing. It's a gorgeous film to watch - the black and white cinematography highlighting the wide open prairies and hard times being faced - and an easy one too. The rapport between the characters is genuine, the con games fun and the pace is quite perfect. And Madeline Kahn is cast as Trixie Delight (do I really need to explain why that's good?). A very entertaining film.

Never Give Up (1978 - Junya Sato) - A half hour into Junya Sato's "Never Give Up", we've seen a special forces boot camp, an attack on revolutionaries via hang gliders, a crazed mass killing in a small village, a murdered newspaper reporter, crooked cops, an orphaned little girl, corrupt politicians, contaminated crops due to industrialization and a crime syndicate boss who pretty much owns the region. Every time you think the story may be settling in, it spins out another direction. That's not necessarily bad though - given some of the silliness of the beginning (the hang gliders swoop down on the revolutionary gang standing on a roof without them noticing), it's good to know that you can accept that things won't be overly realistic and sit back and enjoy the constantly moving plot.


James Yates said...

Sterling Hayden has always been a fascinating figure in cinema history, at least in my mind. I find it hard to think of someone who's been in so many great movies (Dr. Strangelove, The Godfather), but never seems to get the proper attention to his extent. Even in his earlier B-movies, he's always been a charismatic figure.


Thanks for the screenshots of The Final Programme. I'm a sucker for films with great psychedelic visuals like this and will be checking it out for sure.