Monday, January 09, 2006

Almereyda's 'Nadja', and other things

Michael Almereyda's Nadja is so uncannily similar (at least in its basic premise) to Abel Ferrara's underrated and equally adventurous, The Addiction, that it's difficult not to compare the two films. Both films offer a dreamy, wandering female who happens to be a vampire in a quasi-philosophical quest around New York City at night. And shot in black-and-white (added POV Pixelvision shots in Nadja), both films are visually spectacular. The key difference between the two, besides Nadja being a lot funnier and seemingly existing a state of druggish high which it never really descends from for its entire duration, is that Almereyda's anti-heroine is simply the lonelier of the two, and bases her actions to get some sort of attachment (which is why her encounter with Galaxy Craze's hypnotised Lucy is as moving as it is erotic), and her romantic longing for Lucy and desire for reconciliation with her vampire-no-more twin brother is equated to her desire for survival.

Favourite moment: Nadja is floating, moving in the foreground, chased by Van Helsing (a hilarious Peter Fonda, who has obviously wandered here straight out of Easy Rider) in the background, in slow motion, the whole thing set to Portishead. Almereyda says of this scene: “In some ways it encapsulates the feelings that are at the core of the film, not being able to catch up with the thing you're pursuing. The faster you run, the farther away it gets.” This scene reminded me of the crazy sped-up/slowed-down dance/run that Denis Lavant spontaneously breaks into in Mauvais Sang (with Bowie's 'Modern Love' in the background), and I wondered what Lavant is chasing...

Other films seen this past week:

Lightning Over Water (Nicholas Ray, Wim Wenders, 1980) ***
Street Scene (King Vidor, 1931) ***
The Wedding Night (King Vidor, 1935) ***
Road Movie (Joseph Strick, 1974) **½
Kievski Freski (Sergei Paradjanov, 1966) Interesting short film (or rather, a film fragment) that anticipates Paradjanov's masterpiece, Sayat Nova.


First pictures from David Lynch's next project, Inland Empire (or is it INLAND EMPIRE?). I like the horse!


Blogger Martin Degrell said...

I'm glad you liked Nadja - it was one of my favourite "new/old" films I discovered last year!

9:34 AM  
Blogger Mubarak Ali said...

Yes, Almereyda's been on my radar since I saw his treatment of Hamlet last year for the first time. Gotta catch up with some of his earlier films now - think I'll rent Twister next.

6:07 AM  
Anonymous Adam said...

I also highly recommend checking Larry Fessenden's "Habit," (if you haven't already) another East Village Vampire film of sorts. Although stylistically different, it's, like both Nadja and The Addiction, an intelligent approach to a tiresome story.

6:27 AM  
Blogger Mubarak Ali said...

Thanks Adam - didn't know about that one at all. Sounds pretty fantastic.

11:20 AM  

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