on 2 April 2008
For anyone that may remember the Biff Cards and comics created by Chris Garratt and Mick Kidd, back in the 80s and 90s, this film will feel like a natural progression but on celluloid. It questions what it perceives as the pointlessness of some of our western ways.
There is no stereotypical narrative to the film. However out of around a half a dozen short "stories" that we follow, the main one is of a middle age man that burns down his business in order to get the insurance money for it. His relationship with wife and other related characters (the insurance representative) are also touched. There is another character, also a middle age man that just struggles throughout the film with just about anything or anyone he gets in touch with. After all, this story uses short episodes, that are seemingly unconnected, in order to bring us to that painful realisation that we go about doing things in life, without knowing why we do them, and not understanding that they do not bring us joy and relief from suffering.
The film's deliberately anaemic colours, bizarre lighting that creates almost no shadows - as even the Sun has decided to give up on us - make for bleak daylight images of an almost post apocalyptic world but with buildings and people intact. The static camera work and deliberately theatrical acting only emphasise this.
However it is all shown through a prism of subtle sarcasm and in a way, where many people will find this to be unusually funny and heart warming, particularly in the startling last two scenes of the film. But be warned - this is NOT a comedy. It is surreal and, while being darkly comical, it somehow never lets you out of its overtly pessimistic grip.
Paradoxically however Songs ... is nothing short of a cinematic equivalent of a very efficient anti depressant and deserves - for its originality and that Nordic wit - full five stars. Apart from the brilliant New Yorker Video R1 DVD, the UK's audience can now get it on the Artificial Eye's edition, with some or most of the extras that were available on the American edition.
on 22 December 2006
Songs from the second floor is the story of a middelaged man, told in a very unique style. Everything is slow. Everything is strange. The camera only moves in one (1!) shot during the movie, and every shot is unusually long. Ther's only some 35 or 40 different scenes in the movie.
If you're looking for Hollywood, famous actors and lots of action, you're looking the wrong place - but if you're looking for a fascinating artmovie, this is it!