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Mission: Impossible II (2000)
Like Austin Powers, only not funny
If there is any cliche in action/spy movie history that this film didn't flog to death, I'm left unable to name it.
It started out pretty promising (the sequence of Ethan Hunt rockclimbing was amazing) but soon degenerated into a lot of empty noise without any coherent story. Well crafted action without any content for about two hours gets to be boring.
Sorry, but I'll take Austin Powers any day. At least there's a tounge firmly in the cheek there.
The Boxer (1997)
Realistic, depressing and yet full of hope
I really liked this film for several reasons. Firstly, it dares to tell the story of ordinary people caught up in a conflict that they don't want to be a part of, and having their best hopes crushed. The script isn't written to be a crowd-pleaser.
Secondly, the story and the style of narration is wonderfully subdued and lowkey, both fitting the story perfectly and allowing the viewer to really involve him/herself in the story and characters.
Finally, the performances of Day-Lewis and Watson are very good. Day-Lewis lends great credibility to his character. He is no Mel Gibson or Harrison Ford rising again with a firm jaw after each blow, but rather a believable portrait of a man believing and wanting to do his best, but time and time again having his hopes crushed.
But the real star performance of the film is by Watson. After "Breaking the Waves" I had written her off (sorry, but I tend to do that with people who have played in von Trier movies), but her performance in this film is simply outstanding. Her portrait of both pride, strength and vulnerability is amazing.
9 out of 10.
Fucking Åmål (1998)
One of the few critically acclaimed films that are actually great!
I tried to describe this film to a friend. A realistic movie about teenage girls in a small town in Sweden and their problems with alcohol, boredom, confused sexual identity and the problems of growing up. I almost had to wake him up after that.
Too bad, because he'll miss a great film.
The script and direction is scary apt at putting a finger on exactly how it was to be 16. I felt propelled 16 years back in time, and ouch, that hurt and made me laugh (not least at myself) at the same time. As my girlfriend said when we drove home after seeing the film: "I thought that I was the only one at 16 who wrote secret poems about feeling different from everyone else and how no one could understand me". Well, guess again.
The acting is great too, from the terrible well meaning parents to the posturing teenage boys trying to impress girls with their mobile phones. I was extremely impressed with the girl who plays Agnes - there is so much credibility in her acting.
Along with "Magnetisørens femte vinter" the best movie I've seen this year so far.
Magnetisøren's femte vinter (1999)
Not slow, but taking the time that the story needs
I really liked this film. Compared to much of what we see presented under the "drama" heading from Hollywood this film may at first seem a bit slow paced. But, on reflection, I think that this film is correctly paced and the other films may be too quick instead.
The slow pace of the film leaves the viewer time to enjoy great acting performances by Ole Lemmeke as the charismatic magnetiser and Rolf Lassgård as the troubled doctor torn between his rational beliefs and his all too human hopes for his blind daughter. The director allows both actors to use almost the entire film to build up the credibility of their character instead of blowing it all off in the first 10 minutes.
The main weak point in my opinion is Johanna Sällström as the daughter - she comes over almost transparent and I found it hard really to believe her. And something that irritated me: from the outset we knew that there would be a scene where we get to see her naked, and yes, we did. Why? The days when that would draw a crowd went away with the 50's. I have no problem with nudity in films - only when it seems a stupid knee-jerk ploy, and it did here.
But apart from that - great film, once you've got your mind adjusted to the right pace.