Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Tunnel & Lab Rats

The Navigator is a stylish scifi about a bunch of manic miners from a plague besieged medieval English community who start tunnelling at the behest of a child seer. The kid's vision drives them forward towards a Cathedral in need of a spire a deed which will provide succour to their village however they resurface in 20th C. New Zealand where they're split between perceiving it as hell or as heaven. Though the script and acting are perfunctory there is some lovely ideas here and the whole shebang is executed with such style that it's hard not to be swept along with their revelatory journey.

Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon is one of those rare scifi novels that transcends its genre to reveal poignant and profound human truths. The film Charly not so much, sure it's a reasonable facsimile of the book but it's swinging 60's style critically punctures it's potency at key stages and it limps towards it's tragic conclusion. If you haven't read it the plot follows a affable man with learning difficulties who becomes a test subject for an intelligence increasing procedure that's wildly successful but ultimately bittersweet. The acting is decent enough however the director's obsession with "new" techniques like slo-mo and split screen become tiresome and culminates with an unforgettable wig-out/biker scene in the final third that had me rolling about with laughter. That disastrous sequence is somewhat offset by the still pertinent and pointed address Charly gives to the assembled scientific symposium but it can't undo the damage to the heart of the peice. Book first, film only for the curious and lovers of 60's cinema.

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