MNO Triple Bill

The 2015 Alphabet Film Project returns as promised, wherein I try to reduce the number of films recorded off the tellybox by watching them in alphabetical order. You know the drill by now - today's post brought to you by the number 3 and the letters M-N-O.

Here's a long, but not complete, list of things inspired by the silent classic sci-fi film Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927); Blade Runner, Dark City, The Matrix, Modern Times, Brazil, the lab in Frankenstein, Dr Strangelove's artificial hand, Star Wars' C3PO, Gotham City in Burton's Batman, Superman's hometown, Queen's Radio Ga Ga video, Madonna's Express Yourself video, various performances by Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Kylie. Thus, it's probably safe to consider Metropolis as one of the most influential films ever made, inspiring generations of artists across cinema, music and literature in the 90 years since its release. But is it any good?


Well, yes, as it happens. Primarily, it's still a visually stunning affair, bursting with imagination and invention as several how-did-they-do-that? sequences unfold. This was back in the old days, remember, before whole worlds could be created on your iPhone during a coffee break. A little bit of background reading reveals they did it with no small amount of technical ingenuity in some parts, and borderline abuse of the cast in other parts, as Lang bullied his leading actors and ~30,000 extras (including malnourished children) into performing many takes of dangerous and uncomfortable scenes. He got his shots, though, so it was worth it. Aside from the visuals, it tackles sci-fi staples of dystopia, man-vs-machine, artificial intelligence and mad scientists in stirring fashion, although ultimately the melodramatic storyline which suggests people in society should know their place and burn anyone looking to disrupt the natural class order didn't sit well with me. And as we approach 2026, the year the action is set in, Lang's vision of a dystopian world where many workers toil endlessly to support the comfy lifestyles of the privileged rich now seems ridiculous. Except.......wait a minute!......that's not ridiculous at all!!!........he was right all along!!........MOLOCH!!!!!!!!!! AGGHHHHHH!!!!


In Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946), suave spy Cary Grant recruits feisty Ingrid Bergman to help him spy on the Nazis, only to find himself falling for her in the process. I find the pacing of the film a little uneven, so I wouldn't rank it in the top-tier of Hitchcock, but it's still a classy romantic thriller which generates some good moments of suspense without ever resorting to anything as obvious as an action sequence or gunfight. And let's not forget this is a film in which the heroine is a slut and the hero is a passive-aggressive manipulator who coerces her into marrying the Nazi villain (Claude Rains), who subsequently turns out to be the most sympathetic character of all. Hitchcock sure did like to play with audience expectations.


Ohayo (Yasujirō Ozu, 1959) is set in surburban 50s Japan where two young boys decide to stop speaking until their parents agree to buy a TV. Their vow of silence contrasts with the banality of the adult conversation around them, which ranges from gossip to observations about the weather, but never seems to discuss anything important. But perhaps exchanging pleasantries like 'ohayo' (good morning) are more meaningful than you think? This has garnered much praise as a film where Ozu shows his lighter side in a gentle observational comedy about ordinary people, but he seems entirely reliant on fart jokes here to generate laughs. Now I bow to no man in my love for a good fart joke, but they're not really that funny here and the repetition gets a bit tiresome. In truth I found it all too uneventful and boring, although it was rather perceptive in showing how children are quite demanding and manipulative little beggars when they really want something. Of course, anyone with children will already know that. Why, just this morning I had to give mine money to buy their fags! Bloody spongers.



This series has been brought to you by the number 26 and the letters A to Z. The entire list of reviews can be viewed in one handy list here, in reverse order for extra excitement. Or you can click on the links below because it's still Christmas and I'm feeling helpful. Until next year, farewell

Previously on the Alphabet Film Project....

A-B-C

Atlantic City
Blood of Fu Manchu
Curse of Frankenstein

D-E-F

Django
Esio Trot
Festen

G-H-I

Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Ils

J-K-L

Julius Caesar
Klute
Late Chrysanthemums

M-N-O

Metropolis
Notorious
Ohayo

Perks of Being a Wallflower
Quatermass and the Pit
Roman Holiday

Sherlock Holmes & the Scarlet Claw
Tender Mercies
Under the Skin

Virtuosity
Warrior
X-Men Origins: Wolverine

You're Next
Zombie Flesh Eaters



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