Wednesday, 25 April 2012
Monday, 9 April 2012
For the last twelve month or so I've been having recurring urges to quit blogging.Partly because I want to do more hands-on DV filmmaking now rather then writing reviews.Partly because, as statistics show, people only come to this blog when googling for 'bear porn' or 'ursula Andress naked'.But mainly because most films I get to see these days are, frankly, shit.Some of the films which left me in dismay were Jean-Marie Straub's GESCHICHTSUNTERRICHT (switched off after 15 minutes ), Godard's FILM SOCIALISME (took me four days to finish), Kenneth Anger's INAUGURATION OF THE PLEASURE DOME (twenty minutes which felt like two solid hours of amateurish boogie-woogie nonsense),Bitto Albertini's L'UOMO PIU VELENOSO DEL COBRA (hateful characters in a clichéd story). Now these are all films by very interesting, daring filmmakers. Each of these movies has it's good points (except for the execrable, pretentious arty wankfest that is GESCHICHTSUNTERRICHT) but on the whole they're unrewarding and forgettable.Yet I didn't act on my urges and still keep writing (even if not too often) thanks to a few truly wonderful films that come my way now and again. Little miracles which seem to come out of nowhere. One such miracle is I HIRED A CONTRACT KILLER (1990) by Aki Kaurismäki.It's a miracle because it gets so many things right in one,fairly unknown, film. Most importantly the film is not overlong. I can't bear movies that run over 90 minutes.That's inexcusable.
I am not at all knowledgeable about Kaurismäki's work but, judging by I HIRED A CONTRACT KILLER, he is clearly a director after my own heart. His way of framing, lighting and cutting is very distinct. This is the kind of cinema that focuses on the actors, their performances.Quiet but never boring.There is no superficial flashy stuff, no flashbacks/flash-forwards. The story is easy to follow, with sparse dialogue and strong atmosphere(just see what Kaurismäki can do with a mere couple of lights placed strategically on those London side streets).
Well done to Kaurismäki' for casting Jean-Pierre Leaud in the lead! The legendary 'boy from 400 blows' is given a lot of screen time and he is simply a joy to watch as a suicidal immigrant clerk who learns to enjoy life, but not before having hired a hitman to have himself killed. His dark gaze, deadpan delivery coupled with a heavy accent all add up to a superb performance. Leaud even gets to romance a flower vendor in the best film noir tradition! Joe Strummer of THE CLASH also makes an appearance.
The ending is a little weak but I found that easy to overlook on strength of the film's merits.
I HIRED A CONTRACT KILLER deserves your time.