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film writing by nicholas vroman

Archive for January 2015

10 Best Films 2014

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I usually add a Japanese film or two to my list, as that’s what I write about. However this year, I found nary a single Japanese film that was worth adding to the list. Not a one! The inclusion of 2013 films, Nebraska and Inside Llewyin Davis, is because they finally played Tokyo in 2014. The films below are submitted in order. El Futuro’s structuralist strategies and political savvy, coupled with one of the an amazing sound/visual design, shows Luis López Carrasco’s a complete original. Asaf Korman’s Next to Her also has one of the best sound designs of any film ever, plus amazing performances by his 3 leads, particularly Dana Ivgy, in a hugely moving story about the more destructive aspects of love. The Clouds of Sils Maria, Olivier Assayas’s hommage to Juliette Binoch and the art of the actor was magical. The one oddball of the bunch is Survival is Not Virtue. It’s actually a music video of a song by Jordan O’Jordan done entirely with appropriated footage from Norman Jewison’s Jesus Christ Superstar. Not only is it an amazing short film – you’ll never look at Josh Mostel’s Herod the same way again – but I’ve added it as a bit of a testament to the whole project known as Clyde Petersen, which includes film, music, installations and so much more. Francis Xavier Pasion’s Bwaya is part ethnographic study, part mythic storytelling and totally fascinating. Are the two Brits, who bring up the batch, at the forefront of a new trend of strangely distant and cold storytelling that end up with heartbreaking results?

El Futuro (Luis Luis López Carrasco, 2013)


Next to Her (Asaf Asaf Korman, 2014)


The Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas, 2014)


Survival is Not Virtue (Clyde Petersen, 2014)


Nebraska (Alexander Payne, 2013)


Les jours venus (The Days Come, Romain Goupil, 2014)


Inside Llewyn Davis (Ethan and Joel Coen, 2013)


Bwaya (Crocodile, Francis Xavier Pasion, 2014)


Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2013)


Exhibition (Joanna Hogg, 2013)


Written by Nicholas Vroman

January 8, 2015 at 2:23 am

Posted in Uncategorized

The Punk Syndrome / Kovasikajuttu

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The_Official_Movie_Poster_of_The_Punk_SyndromeIf there was ever a band that represents the epitome of punk, it must be Pertti Kurikka’s Name Day. The quartet consists of developmentally challenged musicians headed by their namesake Pertti, a garrulous and sensitive shouter who writes terse and brutally uncensored songs about his condition, obsessions and problems. An example goes, “I don’t want to live in a group home / I don’t want to live in an institution / I want to live in Kallio / In the privacy of a bomb shelter.” Directors Jukka Karkkainen and J-P Passi document the band with sensitivity, humor and no whitewashing in The Punk Syndrome, one of the best music docs of the year. Documenting the travails of Pertti and his collaborators, Kari Aalto, Sami Helle, Toni Valitalo and Kalle Pajamaa walks the fine edge of being exploitive of this unlikely punk phenomena, but ultimately comes across as a finely-honed and honest look a group of very creative individuals, connecting with their problems and difficulties in life and ultimately, celebrating their brave and wonderful response – a healthy “fuck you!”

Originally published in EL Magazine, January 2015

Kabukicho Love Hotel / Sayonara Kabukicho / さよなら歌舞伎町

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KabukichoDirector Ryuichi Hiroki (Vibrator) builds a pleasant, if somewhat mawkish, La Ronde-ish edifice around a series of tales of the workers and clients of a love hotel in Kabukicho, the last bit of demi-monde in Tokyo. Most of the stories are mediated through the eyes of the hotel’s manager, Toru (Shota Sometani), whose fallen dream of working at a classy establishment haunts him – along with his foundering relationship with Saya (Atsuko Maeda), an aspiring musician. She brings a music producer to the hotel in hopes of fucking her way to a record deal, only have her indiscretion discovered by boyfriend Toru. Several other plots busy the script – one involving a Korean call girl (Lee Eun-Woo) doing her last day of business before going back home. Another with a cleaning woman (Yutaka Matsushige), trying to keep her husband hidden until the statute of limitations runs out on his murder rap. Plot developments are a little heavy handed, flitting lightly on contemporary issues. The performances are solid and sometimes funny in a sitcom-ish sort of way.

Originally published in EL Magazine, January 2015