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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Foreign > Songs From The Second Floor (Comedy)

Songs From The Second Floor


Picture: C+†††† Sound: C+†††† Extras: C+†††† Film: C+



The Comedy genre is in a strange place right now.I have seen several funny American films that were void of a solid narrative screenplay, though they operated as if they had one.In European films, when they attempt such a thing, it is never with the pretense of a book-like narrative.That brings us to Songs From The Second Floor (2000), Roy Anderssonís attempt to do a purposely-fragmented comedy by having odd and funny situations constantly pop up.A few, like a man who gets beat up, are not as funny, though they might be intended as such.


Back in the early days of comedy, getting beat up was done with the understanding that it was in cartoon-like fun.The time we live in is far too serious to suspend the far more violent times we live in.For me, the idea that someone being odd is automatically funny is actually a much harder sell in the ďfunnyĒ department, though this film is trying to capitalize to some extent on anxiety from what was then the beginning of a new millennium.


Like Charlie Chaplinís Tramp and Jacques Tatiís M. Hulot, we get Karl, who just committed arson on his own furniture store to get the insurance, as he is sick of furniture, the lie of domestic happiness (which he never had to begin with), and just a sense of being fed up with life.He does not even clean up after the act, so he looks like a bomb went off ala Laurel & Hardy, but the make-up men did not bother to clean him up.


Besides being too fragmented, these jokes are often too intellectual to be funny, though I will add that the film is never pretentious, even when critics keep comparing it to films that are not even comedies.That alone feels like they are making more out of this film that they should and that they were not laughing enough.It was unique enough to get the Cannes Special Jury Prize, but Songs From The Second Floor ultimately did not add up as the humor was too fragmented and more miss than hit to work.As a non-comedy, it almost makes it in stating what a wacky world we live in, but is too preoccupied with the comedy part to finish that.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is a bit soft and seems closer to 1.66 X 1 if viewed on a traditional 4 X 3/1.33 X 1 monitor. Istvan Borbasí cinematography does its best to look like the Hulot films of Tati, especially Playtime (1967) and Traffic (1972), meaning open space is being used to emphasize the humorous situations.Though not as profoundly effective as Tatiís views of man trapped in civilization no matter how much space allowed, the film gets points for trying this approach.The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is in Swedish but offers no surround information of any kind.Extras include trailers for this and four other New Yorker titles, behind the scenes, a few deleted scenes, production notes and Anderssonís commentary in Swedish, which is translated in one of the subtitle options.Some will still want to see Songs From The Second Floor, and I can think of far worse curios, but just do not go in with high expectations and youíll make it through its 98 minutes.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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