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Films Roundup 2

That's right everybody, this is my Friday night. Bringing you the FACTS (opinions). This entry, I turn my critical japseye towards long-awaited adaptation Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer, Michel Gondry's The Science Of Sleep, US TV sensation Heroes and Terry Zwigoffs third collaboration with Daniel Clowes, Art School Confidential.

Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer

Perfume by Patrick Suskind was one of the books I read when I was about 15. I enjoyed it because it was pacy, unusual, rude, and made me look clever. Apparently it's like the Great Expectations of Germany. And it ends with a huge, fuck-off orgy, which means it's pretty much automatically better than anything Charles Dickens ever wrote.

The film, then, is directed by Tom Tykwer, or Twyker. His first film Run Lola Run was so ultra-hip and post-modern and new-wave and fucking annoying that I only lasted about two minutes into it. If that happens, the pay per view should give you a refund. But anyway this is a period drama, so it doesn't have stupid cartoon bits or anything. The plot is fairly simple. Ben Whishaw (Pingu out of Nathan Barley) has an incredibly highly developed sense of smell. Having grown up in a smelly welly woo fish market and tannery, he doesn't smell anything nice until he is fully grown up and goes to the city. His discovery of the scent of beautiful women obsesses him, and having the social skills of a hyper intelligent chimpanzee coming down off ketamine means he accidentally kills her. And so begins his increasingly violent quest to capture and preserve the scent of these nubile young ladies. If you imagine that he's just smelling their fannies, it also makes the first half pretty funny.

Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman both have supporting roles. Hoffman is forgivably rubbish as a quirky ageing perfumer, and Rickman the nobleman Father of a young girl he is terrified will be the next victim of the mystery serial killer (Ben Whishaw), giving some hilarious CSI-style "think like the killer" speeches to all the old fashioned men in wigs. Twykers involvement in the music helps certain montage scenes of Whishaws twitching nostrils and various sensuous objects attain a kind of hypnotic, woozy ambient quality, which successfully conveys much of the florid prose in the book devoted to the power of scent, one of the main elements which led Kubrick to deem the novel unfilmable. The period style of the film recalls Barry Lyndon, more vibrant and grimy than the National Trust Re-enactment style of films like Girl With A Pearl Necklace And A "Santa Claus"* and various lengthy tracking shots and periods without dialogue (and a finale which retains every inch of the absurd, surreal, mesmerising end to the novel, thankfully) lend proceedings quite a Kubrickian tone. The film isn't Kubrick quality, by any means, but gets a solid three naked virgins covered in goosefat out of five possible dead naked virgins covered in goosefat while Ben Whishaw sniffs their fannys.

(*-a "beard" of jism)

Art School Confidential

This is the third consecutive film directed by Terry Zwigoff adapted from a Daniel Clowes comic. Unfortunately, it's more the broad, satirical strokes of Bad Santa than the bittersweet humour of Ghost World, but it has plenty to recommend it. Including, but not limited to, Madame Du Pompadour off Doctor Who getting her ACTUAL tits out for quite a while and she's sitting still so, like, you can really get a good look at them. Ahem.

Cameos ahoy: Jim "We couldn't afford Bill Nighy" Broadbent as a kooky old boozer professor and John Malkovich in a "it's probably not as hilarious if you're not currently attending art school" bang-on parody of a wanky tutor, Anjelica Huston (who with that nose looks more like Spike Milligan with every film she makes but lets face facts, you still would) as another barmy lecturer. Like The Illusionist in the previous update, Art School Confidential is absolutely ace until it turns into a murder mystery with an "ironic" ending. After The Illusionist and this, is changing genres completely in the last act a new Hollywood trend? If so, I hereby declare intellectual copyright under the intergalactic law of fagronox over the following movie concepts.

1. Charles Dickens is an unpublished young author, struggling to make ends meet. Then he meets a girl who changes his life. Blah blah blah, then a DINOSAUR attacks so Charles Dickens becomes a ROCK-STAR MAGICIAN and invents funk. And anal sex.

2. Willoughby Farnsworth thought he was just an ordinary eccentric billionaires nephew until he recieved a letter from Professor Bloomingforth at Jasper O'Snoodlebys Academy For The Wizarding Arts. Then he gets CHAINSAWED IN HALF by TWO PEOPLE HAVING SEX IN THE ARSE.

Incidentally, does anyone know if Ghost Worlds Thora Birch gets her neds out in anything other than American Beauty? I want to see if they've changed. Because I don't have a girlfriend. Which reminds me.

"Layabout, 21, would like to meet Chloe from Smallville, or a woman, for financial stability, sex, and occasional small talk. Must engage in heated debate when Big Brother is on, but maintain complete radio silence during Doctor Who. At any cost."

So, back to Art School Confidential, two stars for the first half, a funny and accurate satire of life at an art school, no stars for the last bit, and no stars for the utterly unengaging lead actor. Which adds up to, two stars overall. Two stars.

PS. Dear Terry Zwigoff. Please do a film of "David Boring" next, it is the best of the comics.

The Science Of Sleep

This a curious little film. While it doesn't have the sweeping romance of Michel Gondrys previous feature "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind", it may have more heart. Whereas Charlie Kaufmans script for "Eternal Sunshine" is cryptically complex, The Science Of Sleep tells the much simpler story of Gael Garcia Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg falling a bit in love. With it's blurring of dreams and reality, mirroring the condition Bernals character suffers from, gives the film a surreal Kaufman-esque vibe, so I was expecting the machinations of the plot (which often make his films feel a bit emotionally manipulative) to break in at any point, but they don't really. Things play out in a very relaxed, charming, art-house kind of a fashion. Relationships are refreshingly realistic and complicated, and the characters naive, flawed and charming (although bordering on the kind of 'we're in a romantic comedy' behaviour that annoys the piss out of me). The depictions of Bernals dreams, largely through stop-motion animation and back-projection, aswell as gorgeous footage of Bernal "flying" filmed underwater, are frequently breathtaking, particularly in the final shots. It perhaps suffers from a lack of engaging subplots, but it's a nice lovely dream to be in for ninety odd minutes. Four out of five!


Heroes is the latest big banana on the banana tree of US Television, and will be showing on BBC2 soon. It tells the stories of a group of people around the world who start discovering superpowers, and the twisty-turny ways in which they're connected and headed towards a potentially catastrophic fate. It's trump card is Hiro, played by Masi Oka, a rotund excitable Japanese computer programmer who discovers he possesses the ability to control time and space. He's brilliant. I want a Masi Oka doll to hold at night. Since returning from a Christmas break the show has added Christopher Ecclestone to his cast as a kind of brilliant invisible fagin mentor character, and in the run up to the finale is becoming unbearably tense. It's great stuff, full of political intrigue and prolepsis (look, I used the word prolepsis! I *am* a proper writer!) family secrets - like if Steven Poliakoff wrote X-Men III. Which he didn't, that job went to, who was it? I'll just check the IMDB. It says here that X-Men III was written by "some shitheads" and co-written by "some crackheads" and "some total wankers". Obviously, the show owes much to X-Men in its general concept, aswell as the "mature" comics boom of the 80s, particularly Alan Moore's "Watchmen", and will bring yet more people round to the idea that not all comics fans are complete spoddy wankers. Which is good news for people like me, and most of my friends. Maybe one day I'll say "You know, what nobody ever says is, that Frank Miller one where Batmans really old, the second one of those, it's shit. It's completely shit" and some girl will go "That's so hot, take me now. Take take me now." and I will.

Join me later on for more opinions.

I award my own reviews FIVE STARS for accuracy.

About this entry


I've only seen the first episode of Heroes so far. It was a bit cheesy and the writing as subtle as a sledgehammer but I know it gets better as the episodes go on so I'm definitely gonna watch it when it comes to BBC2. I did see a short clip of when Eccleston comes into it and one of the first things he says is 'fantastic'.

By performingmonkey
February 17, 2007 @ 3:33 pm

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> a solid three naked virgins covered in goosefat out of five possible dead naked virgins covered in goosefat while Ben Whishaw sniffs their fannys.

Why did we not consult Michael when we drew up our ratings system?

By Tanya Jones
February 20, 2007 @ 12:15 pm

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>>"You know, what nobody ever says is, that Frank Miller one where Batmans really old, the second one of those, it's shit. It's completely shit."

It's true, though. I bought the second one for my brother's birthday and he couldn't quite bring himself to thank me after reading it. When I recommend comics to my friends, I don't even bother telling them there's a sequel to DKR.

By Lizz
July 29, 2007 @ 9:46 am

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