Tuesday, August 30, 2011

THE WORLD IN CINEMA: Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey
Year 1965
Film: Estambul 65

Monday, August 29, 2011

REVIEW: Mr. Nobody

Mr. Nobody
Director: Jaco Van Dormael
Year 2009

Mr. Nobody is a fantastically imaginative film that adds so many layers to its narrative, that it will leave your head spinning in its mind bending logic and original outlook on life by focusing on the consequences of our actions.

The film is told in part by an elderly 118 year old man named Mr. Nobody, AKA Nemo, who often branches off in his retelling of his life, adding multiple lives, loves, and even deaths to spice things up. At first the man comes off as crazy or confused, blending fantastically depicted moments and outrageous contradictions that summarize up key events in his life, but eventually he begins to reveal that not everything is as it seems.

The film is wonderfully energetic and sustains this constant metaphorical sense of meaning and substance that may not carry over too well in the traditional narrative structure, but translates perfectly in that ethereal cinematic quality that reflects a vivid sense of mind. It may come off as madness at first, but results in one of the most humbling experiences about life, love, and all that lies in between.

My what big eyes you have Jared Leto.

Holy shit am I old!

What you first have to understand about this film, is that it is ridiculously random in its nature. Things seem to skip around in a haphazardly way, never making much sense or adding up to a complete or coherent thought, yet once the viewer gets used to this unorthodox approach you begin to decode the insanity as the overall plot begins to open up and come into light. The film is laid out in a symbolic style, showcasing key moments that establish the character or characters' personalities each time we are introduced to a new age for the character of Nemo or even a new dimensional existence that he finds himself in.

That last statement might be hard to grasp, but you have it right. The film seems to revel in playing with multiple dimensions, allowing the viewer to see what Nemo's life might be like if he met a certain person at a different time or made a pivotal decision that would cause a ripple effect of epic proportions to the rest of his life. It's wonderfully ambitious and it never really spells out anything to the audience. The technique rather projects an existential feeling, for a lack of a better word, as it skips around from Nemo's rather diverse and ridiculously contrasting existences. It can get quite confusing and a bit overwhelming, but the filmmakers provide and apply a sort of metaphorical beacon to the narrative that helps us traverse through these most unusual stepping stones of life.

Grandpa Nemo says FUCK YOU!

Mother and Father attempt to scar young Nemo for life.

That connecting thread would be the inclusion of the women in Nemo's life. Divided up between three completely different girls, Elise, Anna, and Jean, the story bounces back and forth between Nemo's first meetings, marriages, and even kids with the motley group of females. Keep in mind that we are often placed in the same place and time, yet at very different dimensional perspectives throughout the film, to compare the extremely large differences that each person has on Nemo and the subsequent effects they have on the outcome of his life.

Some of this stuff is earth shattering and it really hits home in all aspects and outlooks of the character, but what is most interesting about this comparative technique is that it never seems to have an endgame. The plots for the three or more individual lives seem to continue without avail, getting rather detailed and emotionally invested within the viewers eyes. It's almost hard to predict if there is a separation between the group of stories and you often wonder how this collection of events will end or if there is a defining point that will reveal which one is the real one. It's an interesting game that keeps you on your toes, never shying away from the illusion of the branching stories. The film even embraces the concept by intertwining them every so often, making for an unusual addition to an already unusual movie.

Girls of the world aint nothing but trouble.

What will be Jared Leto's fate?

The intermingling of the separate lives of Nemo is another fascinating element of Mr. Nobody. Often at times Nemo will get confused on what life he is living, or retelling from the narrator's perspective. He'll wake up at night and call out the name of one of his wives from another dimension or get his kids' names confused. It's unsettling for the viewer to see the main character going through such a traumatic and emotional experience, resulting from being pulled in so many directions. The residual effects of this mind melting transformation is to pose questions about if the elder Nemo dictating this story is suffering from Alzheimers or some other memory deteriorating disease.

It becomes all the more clearer as the film reaches its climax, that there is something wholly wrong with old Mr. Nobody, not excluding that he lives in a futuristic city that shouldn't be even close to as futuristic as it is or that in his story Mars travel and vacationing seems to be an everyday occurrence in a handful of years within one of his dimensional counterparts. It's the fact that the film seems to be viewed through the eyes of a child that makes it so engaging and thought provoking.

Godzilla! GODZILLA!

Way to go with the over matching, asshole.

In many instances, the character of Nemo switches rapidly from child, to teenager, and then to adult, highlighting specific events and their importance on Nemo's current perspective. These moments are visually expressive and kind of awe inspiring, reminding the audience that all of these branching story-lines originate from one young boy and have sprung into existence by one traumatic event that the film slowly begins to pin down in the closing moments of the film. The use of inserting the voice of the young child version of Nemo, in places that you'd not normally hear it, also helps to send a clear message of the filmmaker's intent.

All in all, it's hard to peg Mr. Nobody in a corner and really describe the magnitude of the story arch and its personal meaning on the human soul and its perseverance to change and choices. It's a fantasy that tries to convey the importance of our decisions and their effects on the people most closest to us in our lives, yet it doesn't condemn the variety of the character's outcomes. The film is an endearing showcase on life itself and all of the crazy places that it can take us.

Break on through to the other side man.

When star-crossed homeless bums fall in love.

Mr. Nobody is a film that has a life of its own, celebrating the randomness of life and the importance to never second judge the path we have created for ourselves, because all paths are the right path. The whimsical nature of the production is just top notch, mimicking the child like wonder that one has when growing up and experiencing the world for the first time.

The film's prophetic nature is unsettling yet at the same time, perfectly acknowledged within the inner workings of the narrative, giving us a god's eye view of all that can happen or could happen to Nemo. The entire cast also does an impeccable job in delivering a film that is more of a feeling and experience then anything else, while at the same time giving us bits and pieces to cling on to and sympathize with as we embark on this wonderful journey of realization and self preservation. I highly recommend this film for lovers of the abstract and thinkers of the cinematic plain. Experience this film for yourself.

5 out of 5 stars       A Mind Boggling Film About Choices!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

FLICKS OF THE WEEK: August 21-27

Mr. Nobody was one hell of a ride. The flick is trippy as all hell and really makes you think. Its story is basically told by an elderly man named Mr. Nobody, whose recollection of the past seems contradictory and scattered. He depicts at least three separate lives in which he was married to three separate woman, all with their own unique outcomes. Is he a three timing son of a bitch or is there more to the story then meets the eye? Mr. Nobody is a film that you really can't peg down. It throws the viewer for a loop and never really lets up, by blending a multi-layered storyline that rewards those of us that love mind bending films. You need to check out this movie. Full review coming soon.

Sonny Chiba you're one crazy son of a bitch! I'm ashamed to say it, but this was my first time watching a Sonny Chiba flick. I've recently bought at least three collections of his work, so I'll be remedying this problem very soon. The Bodyguard is so much damn fun though. The film follows Sonny Chiba as he wages war against the drug elements of Japan while taking a job as a bodyguard. Kicking ass and not even bothering to take names, Chiba explodes in a fury of bloody kicks and punches, bringing down anyone who stands in his path. This film has made me thirst for some more Chiba. I'm currently taking down the Executioner and loving every minute of it. Chiba you beautiful bastard!

Hot Enough For June can be rounded up in the Eurospy genre, but I'd lump it in with films like Charade or North by Northwest. It's a lighthearted spy film that features a good amount of romance, sprinkled with a pinch of comedy. The film stars Dirk Bogarde and Sylva Koscina as the two lovers mixed up in some entertaining espionage. Bogarde plays the perfect clueless spy who starts out the film as an ordinary guy, but after being tricked into involving himself in some spy games, evolves into a pretty damn clever agent. I had one hell of a good time with this flick and hope to get a review up as soon as possible. Check this film out. It's a lot of fun. 

Priest is one of those films that every critic seems to love to hate, but I really had some fun with this one. Set in a post apocalyptic world where vampires and humans wage war against each other, Paul Bettany plays a Priest that kicks ass for the lord. That is until he finds out that his niece has been kidnapped by a band of nasty vampires. Forced to go against the church's wishes, the Priest sets out into the desert wasteland for a good old fashion ass whooping. There are some very ambitious moments in this film and the history within the cinematic world is very rich and quite epic in scale. Hopefully they will make a sequel, because I would love to explore this world some more.

Stopover Tokyo is very similar to Hot Enough For June, because even though it is a spy film at heart, the movie focuses on more of a love story between the two main actors. Robert Wagner and Joan Collins provide the romantic elements of the film and man do they make a great couple. Also the film is set in 50's Tokyo so the look of the movie is really great and quite breathtaking at times. It's not the most action packed spy film that you'll ever see, but it does have a certain style to it that makes the lack of suspenseful moments a moot point. There's even a cute as a button little Japanese girl named Koko for crying out loud. KOKO....FTW!

Now this is a film that I had no prior opinion on before I sat down to watch it. I've seen the original Night of the Demons series and enjoyed them for what they were, but they were never meant to be masterpieces. They were fun and outrageous, but most of all entertaining. That's what you get with the 2010 remake. Following the same premise as the original film, a group of young punks decide to have a party in a supposedly haunted mansion and wouldn't you know it. The shit hits the fan. One by one they begin to change into demons, doing all kinds of crazy shit to each other. They even throw in a nice homage to one of the most unusual scenes of the original. The disappearing lipstick trick. Say what? You have to see it to believe it... ah who am I kidding? You still won't believe it.

Istambul 65, or That Man in Istanbul, is one insanely fun Eurospy ride. The film stars Sylva Koscina and Horst Buchholz, as they desperately try to reclaim a kidnapped scientist from a mysterious organization. Both Koscina and Buchholz have their fair share of action, but it's Buchholz who gets the bulk of the screen time, milking it up for all to see. The guy is an absolute ham, often breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to the viewer. The film is hilarious and has a great amount of memorable scenes and situations that come off as some of the best and most entertaining moments in Eurospy history. Hunt this movie down.