7 items from 2016
The late Ingmar Bergman brought an unprecedented force of philosophical clarity to cinema. From The Seventh Seal to Wild Strawberries to Persona, he crafted some of the most fascinating and seminal work — not just out of Sweden, but the world of film at large. The feature that has stuck with me the most from him, The Hour of the Wolf, is a haunting, hallucinatory journey that is completely mesmerizing and utterly unshakeable. Bergman could apply dream logic to scenarios in the most unexpected and terrifying ways, blending them with “real” moments until you questioned which was which. His films have a towering presence and energy, and his visual vocabulary stands as a testament to the power of images — singular in their capacity as conduits of ideas, emotions, and story.
- Mike Mazzanti
"We have no control of time. Except, of course, you're a filmmaker." There's an excellent new video essay made by Julian Palmer to check out, this one all about the use of slow motion. The video examines the slow motion work in films ranging from Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries (1957) to many of Scorsese's films including Mean Streets (1973) and Taxi Driver (1976) to recent films like Zack Snyder's Watchmen (2009), Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker (2008), Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive (2011) and Pete Travis' Dredd (2012), which had a crazy cool slo-mo storyline. Of course there's the scene in The Matrix, because it's so iconic. There's plenty to admire and plenty to learn in this video essay on slow motion, so check it out. Here's the video essay from Julian Palmer titled "The Art of Slow Motion" (thanks to Tfs for the tip): In addition, check out this older video »
- Alex Billington
★★★★☆ The winner of this year's Un Certain Regard prize, The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki is Juho Kuosmanen's chronicle of a Finnish pugilist. A unique and beautiful boxing movie shot on 16mm in black and white, it's like Wild Strawberries meets Raging Bull - though the bull isn't so much raging as in love. Olli Mäki (Jarkko Lahti) is a humble baker, an affable and resourceful man who seems a million miles away from the ferocity and Eye of the Tiger attitude you'd normally associate with boxing. Indeed, we first see him escorting a girl, Raija (Oona Airola), to a wedding he's totally unprepared for.
- CineVue UK
My original review of Wild Strawberries This film was the last role by legendary Swedish actor Victor Sjöström, who directed The Phantom Carriage You can’t fly directly from Stockholm to Lund these days, you have to go to Malmö and drive. It takes about two hours total A flight from Stockholm to Sydney, Australia takes almost 24 hours, so a bit longer Ingmar Bergman was having an affair with his leading lady Bibi Andersson during the making of this film Norwegian Black Metal and Swedish Death Metal are two things that I associate with Scandinavia A Mitzvah is a good dead, and a Mensch is someone who does them Virtually every Bergman film was »
- Arik Devens
In his new film "Louder Than Bombs" Norwegian director Joachim Trier masterfully captures the underlying, aimless desires of very decent people who struggle to be authentic in their own lives. Written by Trier and Eskil Vogt, the film is structured as a collage of episodes that fit together like a perfect puzzle, packed with emotions let loose by the death of the mother and wife of a suburban New York family. The action does not offer anything overtly dramatic, yet the emotional intensity is louder than bombs which the dead woman famously photographed in the war zones around the world. Those still images pulse with explosive emotions; the actual lives of the protagonists are woefully devoid of that raw energy of authentic, harsh life. The players, however, keep searching for what they cannot have and do not possess any more.
Three years on, the father and two sons keep trying to make sense of their lives, left rudderless after the death of the mother and wife. She is played as beautifully as ever by the wonderful Isabelle Huppert. Cinematographer Jakob Ihre gives us a full measure of her expressive face in unforgettable close ups on the scale of Bergman’s famous shots of Victor Sjöström’s face in "Wild Strawberries," or Visconti’s close up of Burt Lancaster in "The Leopard." We see her in flashbacks, edited to perfection by Olivier Bugge Coutté, with her searching eyes that have seen so much outside her suburban domestic routine. She knows that she loves her husband and sons, yet struggles to understand why that knowing of love does not exactly feel like love when she is with them.
For them, her comings and goings to and from the war zones have filled the family life with a measure of second-hand authenticity. Her death pushes them to examine the void that suddenly presents itself as mundane and unsatisfying. They have everything the people she photographed lacked, yet they are the ones left lacking.
Each tries to understand his own circumstances and his place in his own life. Living seems a difficult task, and it’s that difficulty of living in a contemporary western society that is the subject of Trier’s precise, powerful examination. He guides his actors to heights rarely seen these days, with Gabriel Byrne’s father outshining everything he has done before this film, and Jesse Eisenberg as the older son and very confused new father giving a perfectly calibrated, nuanced performance. The emotional center of the film rests with the teenage son, played by the incredibly talented Devin Druid in a career-making turn that might very well net him a handful of awards.
Trier’s work with actors, his writing, and his taut treatment of the difficult subject of contemporary search for our human core in a world that lacks any sense any more is the great sum of "Louder Than Bombs'" emotions. Trier catches us in his carefully plotted net and lets us feel the confused emotions of people living good but ultimately unsatisfying lives, struggling with the realization that it is what it is and not more. This is a film that charts a whole new course, a singular one, with people trying to figure out how to live life after it is no longer possible to just let life play itself. An extra marital affair or a computer game are the devices that provide semblance of a pulsing life, in the same way that any activity outside of daily routine provides anyone living today with a sense of accomplishment. Trier beautifully captures the moment in time of the still comfortable middle class, and displays a great understanding of the human soul - at least the woefully self-centered and self-examining, quietly and politely dissatisfied one that inhabits the body of a Western man and woman. »
- Vera Mijojlic
A note for readers – although I will attempt not to reveal crucial plot details that don’t fall under the general umbrella of the film’s premise (and which will certainly be incorporated into future trailers and the like), everyone has their own definitions of these things, so consider this fair warning.
All three of Kenneth Lonergan’s films deal with how people cope after tragedies. In You Can Count on Me, it was the past – two siblings who lost their parents in a car accident at a young age develop different ways of surviving that. In Margaret, the present; a teenager witnesses a horrific bus accident that leaves a woman dead in her arms. Manchester by the Sea folds a tragedy of the past into one of the present.
Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is a handyman for a block of Boston apartments.. He’s stuck in mundanity – shoveling snow, »
- Scott Nye
Every week we dive into the cream of the crop when it comes to home releases, including Blu-ray and DVDs, as well as recommended deals of the week. Check out our rundown below and return every Tuesday for the best (or most interesting) films one can take home. Note that if you’re looking to support the site, every purchase you make through the links below helps us and is greatly appreciated.
A young woman (Meiko Kaji), trained from childhood as an assassin and hell-bent on revenge for the murders of her father and brother and the rape of her mother, hacks and slashes her way to gory satisfaction in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Japan. Rampant with inventive violence and spectacularly choreographed swordplay, Toshiya Fujita’s pair of influential cult classics Lady Snowblood and Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance are bloody, beautiful extravaganzas composed of »
- TFS Staff
7 items from 2016
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