Klown (aka Klovn, aka Klown: The Movie) – to prove that he’s father material an awkward and unlucky guy takes his 12-year-old nephew on a canoeing trip with his sex-obsessed friend – what could go wrong!? It’s based on a successful Danish TV show, and the style feels stuck in that format – ‘Dogme 95’ is about as close as you could describe it in cinematic terms. The story plays out like a jet-black feature-length Curb your Enthusiasm episode: lots of small details and throwaway lines coming together for cringe-tastically embarrassing ‘shouldn’t-be-laughing’ mishaps, but don’t let Curb put you off if you’re not a fan as the Danish humour is vastly different. The two-fold aspect that sets Klown apart from contemporary comedies is a phenomenal script outline that gets very dark and risqué; which is built on by two great comedians improvising and bouncing off each other. It’s more male-centric humour than you usually see, but Klown had me continually laughing out loud for the duration. If you can’t handle a finger in the bum, lots of willy talk, or the phrase ‘Tour de Pussy’ being repeated lots you probably won’t be a fan of this. Klown is a crass but surprisingly heartwarming road trip movie that blows most Hollywood output out of the water.
Chungking Express (重慶森林): follows two lovesick Hong Kong police officers as they try to get over their last relationships. You can immediately tell that the visuals are the driving force of the film – the camera movement is light and fluid, framing and camera angles are experimental, the lighting is bright and bold – it ties together to create a very unique look. Unfortunately, no other elements of this movie come close to distracting you from this: the performances are decent but the characters (and their philosophy-lite inner dialogue) feel whimsical and slight; and the plot is inconsequential – relying on artsy / cutesy / quirky moments and fanciful gestures of romance to hold it all together. The film is split into two stories that have a few similarities (talking to inanimate objects, tinned food, chef salads, Indian people, and varying opinions on tears & water) but would have worked better focusing on the second part. If you think of a big HK movie in the 1990s, this is the complete opposite; so much so that it feels like a rebellious statement – ‘screw what you know about HK directors… I’m making a tedious homage to the French New Wave, suck it up losers!’ At over 100 minutes long it doesn’t half drag, which is a shame because a handful of nice moments and ideas get swallowed up by the dominating pop-video style, excessive runtime, and hammy dialogue – see below for genuine quotes. Chungking Express appears on list after list of seminal movies, but in reality it’s a barely-worked-on, directionless, and lightly scripted pet project between other movies – and it feels like nothing more than that to me. I’m sure he’s a lovely Won Kar-Guy, but I don’t understand Won Kar-Why the ratings for this are so Won Kar-High!?!? There are better films about Hong Kong and far better films about love: this is a definitive example of style over substance.
” If memories could be canned, would they also have expiry dates? If so, I hope they last for centuries.”
” Somehow everything comes with an expiry date. Swordfish expires. Meat sauce expires. Even cling-film expires. Is there anything in the world which doesn’t?”
” In May’s eyes, I’m no different from a can of pineapple.”
” When people cry, they can dry their eyes with tissues. But when an apartment cries, it takes a lot to mop it up.”
Top Gun: a hot-headed fighter-pilot is sent to train with the top 1% at the Air Force’s finest training school – Top Gun. This is one of those films I watched in complete disbelief, why is it that this has become such a popular, ‘must see’ movie? The best thing about it is the music, but even that’s criminally overused: Danger Zone pops up 3 times, and Berlin’s Take My Breath Away appears 4 times!! The aerial combat scenes (central to the plot) aren’t quite as fluent and obvious as you’d expect – with limited shots and a lot of rough cuts: it relied more on the pilot’s communications to keep you informed. Not much to say about the script, other than it’s terrible, beyond hammy, and packed with so much innuendo that they had to have deliberately been going for a campy vibe: one character actually shouts “I want some butts”. Kilmer and Cruise don’t have to do much other than oil up, stand about in towels covered in sweat beads, square up chest to chest and erotically whisper lines like…
“Yea, I know”
“What about it”
It’s a film jammed with so much machismo that it unknowingly ends up mincing it’s way over to the ‘camp classic’ section.
“I was invaded!”
Le Dernier Combat (The Last Battle): every man struggles for himself in a bleak post-apocalyptic world. Shot entirely in Black and White and with no dialogue, this definitely a unique and memorable style. It looks great: the sets & costumes feel genuinely post-apocalyptic, and the actors are all interesting and peculiar, with emotive faces that lend themselves to silent film – each character’s eyes in particular tells you more than an hour of dialogue could. Despite such a grim vision of the future, there’s a healthy serving of dry, but humanistic, moments of humour and joy to provide some comic relief – the blow up doll piece is hilarious, and the “Hello” scene is cinema gold. Yet, as visually appealing and interesting as the film is, it’s equally stereotypically ‘French arthouse‘ and feels dragged out, disjointed, and pretentious at various points. Another downside is the jazz-lounge soundtrack, which is hideously dated – and with no dialogue, makes for such a crucial part of the film. For being Luc Besson‘s first film, it’s a surprisingly accurate blueprint for his career so far: ambitious, interesting, looks great, but there’s not much under the bonnet.
Super: A socially inept weirdo with ‘visions and voices’ creates the alter ego superhero, ‘The Crimson Bolt – armed with a monkey wrench, pipe bombs and the catch phrase “Shut up, crime”. It’s the total opposite of everything you’d expect from a superhero movie – the characters are all deeply flawed, the humour is super black and is contrasted with some full-on bone-crunching, brain splattering violence. Technically, it’s also very different, with a lo-fi handheld style and toe-tapping indie/pop soundtrack that give it a unique, botique, wholesome style – I was sold from the TSAR opening credits. The biggest hit is Rainn Wilson, he’s utterly fantastic, pitches the character perfectly, and genuinely makes the movie. Kev Bacon is great as a scumbag, and Page does a decent job as a foul-mouthed youth. The humour is twisted and black with a deep, dark streak running through the movie – very awkward, offbeat, black, but really really funny (“The Finger of God had touched me”, “Don’t steal, don’t molest kids, don’t butt in line”, tentacles, the sex scene… it’s all absolutely mental). On paper Super looks like another Kick-Ass, but everything about it is different and unique, which makes this a little indie belter that stands out from the copy/paste films in the superhero genre.