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Insightful, messy (in a good way) and deeply interesting
Wow. This is a big conversational film, often made interesting, awesome and makes you want to perform wonders with this new knowledge, much thanks to Gondry's willingness to go out on a limb, but first and foremost thanks to Chomsky's words. His mind is, if you have not sampled it before, vast and amazing, ironically by how he can make both complex and complicated matters very simple. Together, these two delve through linguistics, cognitive understandings, how important criticism is (especially from a very early age, preferably as soon as possible) both where science and life is concerned, and other very interesting scientific stuff, e.g. Young and Feinman, recent discovers of kids' understanding of language at a much earlier age than we've thought so far. Also, Chomsky has relatively recently lost his wife, which he doesn't want to talk about. "Is it too soon?" asks Gondry. "I can't get over that", is all we hear Chomsky explain. He talks some about his marriage. It seems they were living in symbiosis, as individuals, which seems beautiful. Chomsky explains simple, mind-blowing concepts of continuity, how religion can help people - but he sees himself as coming from dust and going to dust - talks about what generative grammar is, and where inspiration comes from - all of this is actually interesting in this film! I zoned out a couple of times but got to grips. It's well worth it. Check this film out.
Wholly, hole-y not so good
Spoiler alert! At the end of this film, Riddick is almost eaten by a huge hole, that is, a gigantic mouth with massive teeth attached; he is then rescued by a woman whose lesbian sexuality is somehow important to the film; he has converted her, she now wants him. While this film is surrounded by a hole umbrage - pun intended - the lack of acting skills and the lame script lets this film down. It's like a mix of "Rambo", "Alien" and "Starship Troopers" but with the mouth of Philip Marlowe on Riddick, played well by Vin Diesel. All in all: avoid unless carnage is what you're looking for; I would encourage you to see the first Riddick film instead of this.
The Condemned (2013)
Interesting, but should have had some Q&A
This documentary is about life in a Russian, secluded maximum-security prison designed for sentenced murderers. While the documentary dished out a fair sense of isolation and desperation which was quite powerful by being solemn, I would have loved to see the response to some questions to the administration, such as "Why are the prisoners merely isolated and not rehabilitated?" (unless the documentary missed the rehab part), "Why does this kind of super-harsh prison exist, really?" and "Why are there so few visits allowed to some prisoners, and what makes some prisoners more privileged than others?". All in all, it is interesting, but I think it should have had more of a Q&A feeling to it; how would the prisoners have changed the prison stay if they could? What would the administration like to change? Naturally, this may be impossible to ask as they're all under Putin (the dictator), but still...
Clumsiness that works: unorthodox film about bullying, decades on
At a school reunion, a person starts speaking about how she was bullied throughout their nine years together. That's how this film starts; the plot obviously reminded me of Thomas Vinterberg's "The Celebration", but they differ, mainly because of two facts on the side of "The Reunion": a) it's supposedly based on facts that happened to the lead character/the director, Anna Odell, and b) it's cut into two parts. Odell treats this film as an art project, and as such, it loses some to her non-acting skills but wins a lot due to its quite non-sentimental views of what school gave and took away; by "school" I definitely mean the pupils, the teachers and the parents.
The unorthodox build of the film and Odell's clumsiness works to the film's advantage. The real strength of the film is, I think, where it displays some ugly sides that most humans try to hide when the magnifying glass is upon them; bullies play down the blame, the guilt and responsibility, while the obvious victim is shunned, and history is repeated. All are responsible and no-one can say their "child self" is another part of some universe that is not touched by their current responsibility and mental state.
Social structures, meeting your demons, fleeing your guilt, it's here.
Vi är bäst! (2013)
Human and punk - to the core
This is punk! Even more punk than Julien Temple's "The Filth and The Fury", the great documentary about the Sex Pistols and England in the late 1970s. Presented are a few young individuals who think alike and don't waver for a second to present their own opinions. They're unique - just like the rest of us - and just so you know, just because disco came around, doesn't mean punk's dead.
We're shown families, their lives, their honesties and lies, and what makes them tick; I think this is one of Moodysson's biggest strengths as a director. And he's used unknown actors, which is another one of his strengths.
This film is not nostalgia, but a document of what life can really be like. Just as Joakim Thåström sings in one of the soundtracks to the film, you're encouraged to stay a rebel - and this is just one of the many ways to stay one.
It's a hardcore film that's cute, sad, very funny, very Swedish and human from the core on out. The script is great, the dialogue should be a blueprint on how Swedish realism should be, Moodysson still claims the throne as the best living Swedish director, and this film will live on forever. I really hope this gets syndicated throughout the world, because that's what it deserves.
Odd and wonderful
First of all, I loved how this film was wholly unapologetic. It feels like the work of someone who's done what they wanted, without compromise. Still, this is not without its merits and problems. While the film stands out as odd and, as such, interesting without knowing more about it, I feel that it could have gained by using more traditional work on the plot, a little like Wim Wenders did on "Paris, Texas", or by Gus van Sant's "Paranoid Park", which are both odd films where the somewhat straightforward plots worked wonders without taking away from the unusual contents. Having said that, this film is filled with wonderful, everyday, never-before-seen imagery with wonderful human beings, a fresh view of presenting a film, photography where the object of a shot is rarely in the center of the image and a storyline that goes a bit all over the place - thank Bog for that. All in all: recommendable, and gets better as the film progresses.
Fair yet flawed
Swedish films are often plagued by the same problems: campy acting, unbelievable dialogue (definitely in the bad sense of the word) and a crappy plot. This film, however, shows younger blood and a lot less stodge than most of what's been made in Sweden over the past 100 years. It is a modern, not too over-the-top story of abuse between an abuser and the abused, where both they and their environment is concerned. The acting is mostly good, even though I feel that Skarsgård saves the couple where Åström fails due to her acting. Good direction, fair script, but there should have been more work done to make the timing work. I would have loved something more to turn this film up a notch, to make it feel more real and to really burn the viewer and make it feel that yes, relationship abuse is a pandemic. Overall: recommendable, and leaves a bad taste in your mouth (in the good sense).
Sommaren med Göran (2009)
Mia and I watched "Once in Phuket" a while ago. I gave it 1/10 without blinking and would rather forget it. "Sommaren med Göran" is worse. We saw it tonight.
Right now I long to see the most depressing film ever, just to feel something. No, nothing special has happened to me, the film is the reason that I feel this way. I think of the movie "G" where Nazi band sang the line "You are bursting with apathy." I'm bursting with apathy right now.
I'm totally honest now. I really try not to pick cheap points or make fun at someone's expense. Suddenly I feel like I need to express myself, therapeutically, in a different way than when I visited Auschwitz.
Seeing Peter Magnusson's movies makes me ask myself so many questions:
Why does he write them? Where does he get the money to do them? Do the movies sell? How do people feel when they have seen them, if they are able to feel afterwards? Does he really think he is funny, and he has reached some kind of deadline that must be met, whereupon he fills a movie with platitudes and non-jokes? Note: this film is supposedly a comedy. Why does Stockholm display throughout the movie? It is neither beautifully filmed nor fills any function.
Mia wondered why the film is called "Summer with Göran"; indeed, why? It doesn't take place over an entire summer, just a few days, and if the title is just a pastiche of "Summer with Monika", I think Magnusson deserves even more crap than he gets here and now.
A character in the movie has tics. I do not know if Magnusson means it to be funny, or if he has put it in the movie to show that it's okay, because it shouldn't be censored; however, this is just incredibly ugly done. This is not to mention the dialogue. Nobody in Sweden speaks like characters in this film do. I would have preferred the bone-dry Dramaten type of dialogue, but this was just bad. Inappropriate. Arid and stupid.
Magnusson's character is not interesting in any way. He doesn't say anything engaging. His job is not interesting. His character is uninteresting - not unlike his character in "Phuket", which was also boring and bland. Pointless and meaningless.
Hardly anyone in the film can play. Peter Dalle and Dan Ekborg are with, and they should be ashamed, they can really act, but not here. Why did they join this? Why?! I'm really asking.
Why was there a dancing and singing scene in the middle of everything, half-assedly choreographed? In a half-empty room with people that look so enthusiastic out that Death from "The Seventh Seal" feels like Håkan Hellström in the video for "Come on Lena" (=very enthusiastic and filled with joie de vivre). This is just so misplaced, rotten and riddled with moths that it goes over the edge to elicit maximum anger and rage, and only makes one apathetic.
A dog is in the film. Is its only rôle to make people laugh from the way it looks? I can find no other reason. But what do I know?
I feel almost apathetic. Writing about this movie gives me more of my life back.
If I had paid to see this movie, I would beat myself, for real. I would like to go through the film with Magnusson and really, really get to know exactly what he means by everything in it.
The protagonist's friends are so uninteresting, and all passages containing his friend's wife is just boring and unnecessary. And nobody cares about the protagonist: in one point in the film he escapes a party by jumping from the balcony. When he did it I thought it was just as well for anyone who was at the party. Damn. I really try not to be funny; I'm merely pointing out how lousy this movie is. As you can see I keep on getting angry again.
There is nothing romantic in this movie. It could be great, but any chance of that was thrown away. All female roles are pathetically written.
Someone should have told Magnusson. Someone should have pulled the emergency brake, shouted a "What are you doing?" If not for his sake, then for their own or for others. Those of you who have been in this but really, really, really didn't need the money (which you really didn't need that bad, I wager a sporting and somewhat cruel guess): shame on you.
The only funny speaking of music: Måns Zelmerlöw can laugh himself lucky to SFI calling him "Måns Zemmerlöf" in their list. And why has nobody laboured any love over the soundtrack for this film? Recently I saw on "Klassfesten", a good Swedish comedy, that features a soundtrack that a) fits the movie and b) is good.
Damn all of you, who made "Sommaren med Göran".
Sound City (2013)
Inspiring, a bit luddite and sweet camaraderie
This is a documentary in two parts: the first is about Sound City, a recording studio. The second is, to me, about people who want to make music and the importance not to diss or love new technology, but perhaps to care about the human aspects about playing in a group, being physically connected to other musicians, and what that brings to the table and into the recorded results. Even if some people - e.g. Tom Petty - sound like complete luddites, I feel there are a couple of valid points made in the After School Special points of this broadcast, but the best bits were the kicks: recording, hanging out, hearing about the technology (beware of extreme recording studio producing nerdiness), the story of Sound City, but mostly hearing the music. It's a creative documentary. And it's fun to see big musicians freak out over playing with Paul McCartney.
Martyrs despite saving an industry, or money-making thieves?
This is a well-made documentary on the three main people that make up The Pirate Bay; or, at least, the three most well-known people. They all come across as smart, intelligent and arrogant, and looking back, why shouldn't they have been? Their lot basically made the movie and music industries come out of their shells and accept change, rather than negate it. While Spotify, Netflix and other services make money because of things that TPB laid a lot of groundwork for, some of TPB are in jail with millions of Swedish crowns in debt. While the court that decided against them was extremely biased and made choices out of stupidity, this documentary doesn't really answer some glaring questions, e.g. how much money did TPB really make from ads on the site? I'd liked to have seen more of the reasoning from both TPB and the Swedish government. Very interesting, both from a generational standpoint and also from a censorship one. Of course, this film is downloadable through The Pirate Bay.