Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More films seen: The Catamount Killing, Rock & Rule, Mars

Last Monday the Finnish Film Archive treated us with two rare films: the Canadian Rock & Rule from 1983 and Mars, a Soviet documentary by Pavel Klushantsev, from 1968. Mars was very beautiful and the scenes on the fictional Mars were breath-taking. It's evident Kubrick learned a lot from Klushantsev. The print was very pretty, with beautifully faded colours, and the Finnish voice-over narration held some poetic descriptions, such as "jos tuhka keväällä vihannoisi".

Rock & Rule, however, was something entirely different. It's an animated film, about 80 minutes long. The tale is set in a distant future after the nuclear war. Rodents seem to have evolved into humanlike creatures and they play rock'n'roll. The soundtrack has some great tracks by Cheap Trick (a band that I've otherwise never really got into) and some not so great by Lou Reed ("My name is Mok") and Debbie Harry. Have these ever been released? I couldn't make out if there's ever been a soundtrack release. The original synthesizer music in the film is horrible.

The animation in the film is actually very good and boasts many different and striking styles. I seem to remember reading that the making of the film took three years to complete. Now it would take three months, with all the computers and shit.

But the storyline in Rock & Rule is not enough - the premise is funny, though: Mok, a super rocker (who's sold "plutonium"), seeks to find a way to bring a demon into one of his concerts. What would Ozzy Osbourne think of this? The story line is a bit thin and there are not enough funny gags. Furthermore, the acoustics in the film are pretty noisy. All the characters are shouting in stupid voices all the time and then there's the synthesizer whining. It's as if the makers didn't believe in their own dialogue. Well, it's evident in many of the recent animated features that there's just gotta be speed and noise all the time.

Lots of people walked out during the film, but I didn't think it was really all that bad. There's a whole web site devoted to the film.

I also managed to see through The Catamount Killing from 1974. It's the most pulp-related film of the three, as it's based on a novel by James Hadley Chase, one of the most important hardboiled writers of Britain. The film is a bastard, to put it nicely: it's situated in America, it's based on a British novel, it's financed by German money and directed by a Polish director, namely Krzysztof Zanussi, who's better known as an art-house director (and one or two of his films that I've seen have been pretty powerful). Also the lead actor is the German Horst Buccholz. He's quite hysterical throughout the movie.

There are some nice touches here and there (especially the climax at the end with Buccholz rushing out of a house with camera following), but overall the film is too slow and you never quite believe how a neurotic jerk like Buchholz could be a bank manager. The music by Wojciech Kilar is very good, eerie and atmospheric.

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