Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Nocturnal Emissions.

2004, Russia
Timur Bekmambetov

There was a time when Russian film was known mainly for its editing. They ran the gamut from Sergei Eisenstein’s rapid seizure cutting in the 20s to Andrei Tarkovsky’s bong-mellowed montage style in the 70s, where he postponed ending his shots in favor of sitting on the couch for another twenty minutes and polishing off a bag of Fritos while watching Duran Duran music videos. There was, strangely, nothing in between these two extreme editing styles, probably because Russians were otherwise occupied with trying not to starve while waiting in line for toilet paper. Then, communism collapsed, falling prey to the lure of capitalism, which promised the free flow of money through a meritocracy and easy access to Guns & Roses cassettes. American films were finally allowed over the border, and Russians discovered that along with moral superiority, they clearly had an intellectual one, because while Russia had discovered the power of editing to create associative links and mould time into emotional arcs, Americans had found that people will watch stuff about cars that talk.

I actually feel dumber having searched for Knight Rider photos.

So, Russia was clearly superior to the US in terms of filmmaking, though the US still won in the categories of music not involving balalaikas, food, and women who don’t look like lumberjacks dressed in brightly colored shawls. However, this did not last, for though Hollywood isn’t intelligent, it is contagious. Hollywood is like the bassline of a Jennifer Lopez song; it’s not something you would willingly allow into your home, but your girlfriend is inevitably going to pick it up by accident through a car radio or a speaker in a mall, and then it’s going to dance around in her head like an earwig in an urban legend until you either replace her with a latex Kobe Thai moulded vagina or shred her vocal chords with a cheese grater so she will finally please god stop humming that goddamned Herbie Mann sample so I can get some sleep. Now, where was I? Oh yes, Nightwatch. Apparently, Russia watched too many American movies on newly acquired satellite channels, and lost their ability to make intelligent films. Instead, they made Nightwatch, which is an overly-stylized fantasy film that’s something like watching Harry Potter fuck Frodo while watching a Mazda commercial, except not as good, because you don’t actually get to see a hairless pre-pubescent boy porking a midget. Not that that’s particularly arousing, but I’d still like to see how it ends. And an ending is exactly what Nightwatch doesn’t give us.

Yes. Now stick it in his one true ring.

Nightwatch is the first part of a planned trilogy of fantasy films based upon a series of Russian books. Apparently, there are forces of light and darkness that are forever in conflict with one another, kind of like Democrats and Republicans, except the forces of darkness are vampires that suck blood instead of money from MediCare and IQ points. The two sides have held an uneasy truce for several hundred years, administered by the Nightwatch and the Daywatch, who are sort of like the fairy police. However, there is a prophecy, as there tends to be when screenwriters don’t want to delve into too much back-story, and a child is born that can sway the balance from one to the other. Which side will he choose? I suppose we’ll have to wait for part three to come out, which is really annoying. These aren’t comic books or Saturday afternoon serials, people. These movies take years to make and release, and the fact that this film feels so incomplete, like an unfinished sentence, is almost an insult to the audience. I can forgive the over-reliance on special effects, the rapturous worship of Tony Scott evidenced in the editing, and the choking, smothering sense of style that overwhelms the senses, but I cannot forgive the lazy story-telling that denies the audience at least a sense of closure. There have been trilogies and to-be-continueds that at least offered an end, if not the end, without compromising the nature of the story, but to just give up like that and expect the audience to be waiting around three years later to find out what happens is completely


Blogger Fatman said...

Well, I guess you could always learn enough Russian to decypher the Cyrillic alphabet and read the last two books. I'm a sucker for films or literature (sic) with two opposing Immortal races who spend hundreds of years waging war on each other (Underworld anyone?)I just have to say this film was pretty enjoyable despite the lack of a True Ending and a wimpy lead guy. The subtitles were actually quite cool, changing colour and size depending on the mood of the character talking.

1:13 a.m.  
Anonymous Rin said...

I completely hated this movie to the absolute maximum that I could. Also, bits of it made me feel ill. And I didn't really get it.

See you!

7:25 a.m.  
Blogger Sean said...

but DUDE, the KID chooses EVIL!

also - it seems that The Lord Of All Darkness practices his moves by playing a russian bootleg of Street Fighter. Which is kinda like Sauron lazing around the Orthanc rec-room, playing Soul Calibur on his Dreamcast.

12:54 p.m.  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

Yeah, he chooses evil, but that decision has no impact, so it still feels incomplete.

And I had forgotten about that video game. Weird.

10:58 p.m.  

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