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Container (2006)

 -  Drama  -  10 March 2006 (Sweden)
5.3
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Poetic, experimental and different, Container is described by Lukas Moodysson as "a black and white silent movie with sound" and with the following words; "A woman in a man's body. A man in... See full summary »

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Title: Container (2006)

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The Woman / Speaker (voice)
Peter Lorentzon ...
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Mariha Åberg ...
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Poetic, experimental and different, Container is described by Lukas Moodysson as "a black and white silent movie with sound" and with the following words; "A woman in a man's body. A man in a woman's body. Jesus in Mary's stomach. The water breaks. It floods into me. I can't close the lid. My heart is full." Written by Sido Lanters

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10 March 2006 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Kontener  »

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Spin-off Inside the Container Crypt (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

 
If you loved 'A Hole in My Heart,' you'll adore 'Container'
28 February 2008 | by (Berkeley, California) – See all my reviews

Lucas Moodysson is best known for his wry 2000 feature about Seventies Swedish communes, 'Together,' and the stark and heartbreaking 2002 depiction of a Russian girl exploited for prostitution, 'Lilya 4-Ever.' He's also made a film about a man shooting a porn movie in a shabby apartment while watched by his young son ('A Hole in My Heart,' 2004), a much-praised study of teenage girls ('Fucking Åmål'/'Show Me Love,' 1998; Ingmar Bergman called it "a young master's first masterpiece"), and a documentary ('Terrorists: The Kids They Sentenced,' 2003) about anti-globalization demonstrators at Gothenberg. This may give some idea of his orientation, which is very political and takes on a variety of social issues.

'Container' is a venture--not a very accomplished one--into the avant-garde. With a continual murmured voice-over by the young American actress Jena Malone (who at one point identifies herself and says she's never been to Sweden before), in grainy black and white, the film seems mostly to depict a young overweight man who's a cross-dresser, though it's hinted at one point that the man "playing" this role is nothing of the kind. This person, sometimes in dress and wig, plays with clippings and all kinds of only half-identifiable junk, rolls around on the floor, and, in the voice-over, which is not particularly coordinated with any on screen action, describes himself as continually fantasizing about being a celebrity, about being in contact with tabloid film stars like the Spice Girls and the porn queen Savannah. Sometimes these references are funny, and they give the otherwise often mournful or deranged chatter a cozier note. Sometimes he/she also refers to Jesus and pregnancy and virgin birth. Gradually a sense is conveyed that this person is a metaphor, though mixed with other things, for a twentieth-century media-overloaded public. He's fat because he's a "container" for all the detritus of corporate over-production, the junk of life that can never be disposed because there's nowhere left for it to go. The "consumer" consumes all, and becomes puffed up with garbage. We are the detritus of our collective consumer lives.

Another description of the film reminds one that the protagonist "carries an Asian woman, piggyback, through a garbage-filled landscape." There are also sequences that seem to be in a hospital, wandering from corridor to corridor; and still others in a trashy abandoned house with peeling walls and debris everywhere. The film was shot in Chernobyl, Transylvania and in Sweden's Film i Väst studios in Trollhättan.

While obviously Moodysson has been capable of warm humanism, this is more an effort at thumbing his nose at the audience, and follows upon A Hole in My Heart, which has been described as nauseating. Clocking in at around 75 minutes, 'Container' is so uninteresting and repetitious that it seems much longer, and only sheer masochism and an overriding sense of duty kept me from walking out before it was over. Films of this kind are never easy to watch, because they don't have a "hook" of character, chronology, or visual touchstones to keep one watching. One might add that a barely mumbling, depressed-sounding young woman's voice is not much of an addition to the cinematic effect. Compare things like 'Koyanasqaatsi,' which while meandering and repetitious and lacking in narrative content, engages with visual beauty and hypnotic music. Obviously Moodysson eschews the slickness of such work; and why not? But, though surreal and rife with mysterious and strange goings on, 'Container' lacks the visual originality and interest of similarly avant-garde filmmakers like Stan Brakage or Kenneth Anger. 'Container' ultimately is very clearly better to talk about than to watch. Where Moodysson's career is going now is hard to say. One reviewer, perhaps appropriately self-styled as "Movie Martyr: Suffering for your cinema," describes this as the next step in Moodysson's "spectacular career immolation following his first few features" and concludes that "those who still might be willing to give the director the benefit of doubt, and especially those who appreciated 'A Hole in My Heart,' should be encouraged to seek out 'Container.'" Yes, and others can rely on second-hand accounts.

Shown as part of the Film Comment Selects series at Lincoln Center, New York, February 26, 2008.


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