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4/10
Are we following the villains?
30 April 2017
The plot of this movie is probably more interesting for those who are familiar with the original story. Basically there's three henchmen, and they're supposed to get a fan from a princess so that they can put out a magic fire that's in the way for them. As I am not familiar with the original story, I have to admit that I thought the three henchmen were supposed to be considered the bad guys (and I'm still not entirely convinced that the movie for some reasons takes the side of the villains).

It's interesting that the movie opens with a text saying that it's not a fantastical story, but a metaphorical one. Perhaps the metaphors are more obvious for the audience it was made for.

Today, it's the animation that makes this movie interesting. At times it's actually quite good, and with an interesting style. But mostly it's really bad. The rotoscoping is often quite fluid (and nice), but anything that could not be rotoscoped (like the animal faces, or exaggerated movements) is quite jarring. Perfectly understandable (this is one of the first animated features in the world, and the first one from China), and still interesting to watch. It lives up to it's reputation: Obviously influenced by American animation, but still very much Asian.
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7/10
Typical Stone & Parker satire - in a good way
30 April 2017
I love the fact that they made this a marionette film. It's beautifully executed, in that they both highlight how it's a craft that can be done well, but also highlighting it in its awkwardness. They respect the strings, but never go out of their way to hide them. This alone is a good reason to watch this movie.

That said, it's also a fun satire, done in the juvenile way that Trey Parker and Matt Stone has perfected. There's not layers upon layers to dig through of meaning, but there is a heart in the movie that's integrated into the crude jokes about sex and violence. By lowering our expectations, they manage to open us up to (something like) a moral reflection when we least expect it. They've done this for years on South Park, and it works just as well here. It's even true for their musical, The Book of Mormon.

It's also a delight how they're able to poke fun at pretty much everything, and how they're able to do in a technically interesting format. Even though I like South Park, I wish they would spend more time on projects like this.
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La La Land (I) (2016)
7/10
Right kind of nostalgia
30 April 2017
This movie has some fantastic shots in it, and it manages to bring some of the amazement you can get from watching an actual musical live. The songs are mostly not that memorable, but they're always welcome when they come. They're also spaced out in an interesting way, fitting with the emotional flow of the movie. The actors do a terrific job playing their parts.

Even though I can easily get caught in nostalgia, I am also quite wary of it. This movie delves in it, but luckily it does in a way that feels thought through, and in the end it seems like it comes to terms with the fact that the present ain't so bad either. You can try to recreate the past, or you can bring the positive aspects of the past with you as you head into the future. To me, the latter is the most appealing, and it's how I felt this movie handled it.

All of that said, the movie never excels. It's a nice musical with great acting, impressive shots and a nice setting - and it deserves praise for all of those things. The complete package works nicely, but it it's no great loss to miss out on this movie.
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Kon-Tiki (2012)
6/10
Dumbed down, sadly
30 April 2017
I wish they would have taken a different approach to this story it is based on. It's an unbelievable one, but I feel that by trying to make it more movie like, they've also made it even less believable. The movie does not need a duffer. I seems like they felt a need to have a character add some conflict to the adventure, but I would much rather that they focused on the actual conflict: the people versus the ocean and the weather. And even the ocean feels a bit too dangerous in the movie, as every time anyone gets even close to the water, it's full of sharks.

The above, together with some quite cheesy scenes in the first act of the movie, makes this brilliant story more dumb than it ought to be.

But it still really awakens my sense of adventure, just as a story about the Kon-Tiki voyage should.
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Steve Jobs (2015)
8/10
Captivating performance
30 April 2017
I was hooked almost as soon as the movie began, and I followed the flow of Sorkin's dialogue all the way till the end. The movie could have easily lasted for an hour more and follow Jobs through the rest of his career. But I'm sure it would be harder to keep it thematically together, at least the parts of the story that they chose to focus on.

I've never been all that interested in Jobs, but I was completely captivated by Fassbender's performance here. But to me, he did not feel much like Steve Jobs, but rather a (brilliant) character that uses the narrative of the historical person "Jobs" as means to unfold himself. In a way, it was odd to see this movie made about people who are mostly alive (or recently deceased) because it feels more like characters in a play than it does any sort of biopic. (But as I'm writing this, I'm wondering if this is something I truly felt, or only expected to feel due to the reputation of the movie and Sorkin's writing.) But even though I found the movie enjoyable from beginning to end, there's not many big moments in it that'll stick with me. I can imagine it being very rewatchable, but not all that memorable.
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8/10
A road movie with little traveling
30 April 2017
Much like most other movies by the Coen's, this seemed very different to everything else they have done. Before seeing it, I expected it to be a sincere attempt at portraying a Dylan-like figure, with a heavy focus on the music itself, and also with a whole lot of nostalgia. This is kind of true, but these are not the aspects of the film that'll stay with you (even though the music was really good!).

There's not really much of a plot in this movie, but it's so well crafted that you hardly notice. Llewyn has a goal, but it's obvious from the start that this movie is not about reaching that goal, but rather about his every day struggle, and the life as a folk musician in an almost mythical period of music history. Llewyin is an interesting character, flawed but easy to like. His struggle feels real, and plays into an overarching theme of how your fate can be out of your hands, but also how perseverance can lead to something good.

The movie is similar to road movies in that it features a lot of different characters that Llewyn meets and interacts with. Some of these are very much Coen-esque, and I'm always amazed by how Coen manages to establish such layered side characters, despite them only appearing on screen briefly. Bot casting and writing must be stellar to be able to do this, and they seem to do it all the time.

It ends in a way that makes the movie more than just a mood piece, and opens up for some interesting discussions. Once again, they've managed to make a brilliant film.
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5/10
Not as suspenseful anymore
30 April 2017
Watching this movie today, it's one that's more interesting than it is entertaining. In addition to being an early piece of cinema (and one that uses editing to some extent), this is also the earliest surviving movie with Mary Pickford, and maybe natural place to start if you want to explore her career. She plays the damsel in distress, and, well, you can't fault her performance as it leaves little doubt that that's what she is.

I'm sure this was a thrilling watch back in the day, and I hope there are some written accounts of how the audience reacted to it. It's obvious that the suspense is there, but only temporary accounts can tell if it worked as intended.
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4/10
Not even TV-quality
30 April 2017
I do not understand how someone can justify giving this movie a theatrical release. It is more like a couple of episodes from a Saturday morning cartoon than it is a movie.

It starts with a hardly related subplot that serves little purpose but to weaken Batgirl as a character and show us that Batman is Batman. It is almost like those movie releases on VHS where they obviously just put some episodes from a show together to form a movie.

Once the story with the joker begins, the movie gets a bit better, at least partly due to Hamill's performance. There are some interesting moments, but even this part of the film feels like a low budget replacement. And the visual style does not fit the story at all. It's like they read the source material and decided to make a 90s animated show about it, only less pretty.
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Buddy (2003)
7/10
Funny, but with better characters than plot
4 April 2017
This is a fun and charming movie. The premise of its movie was very of its time, and perhaps even a bit ahead of it. It's about a young man who films much of what happens between him and his friends (the people he shares a flat with), almost like a vlog, and it ends up in the hands of some talkshow produces, who asks to use it as a segment in their show. And this was years before Youtube and smartphones.

The best thing about this movie is the characters, as it's a joy to follow them in their adventures. And, perhaps except the main character, they all have a certain depth to them. But then there's the love story to be told, and this part of the movie is perhaps the least interesting. The dramatic dialogue and the situations that arises as a part of the love story, often feels forced and in the way of the fun part of the film: the fun life of the main characters. The "other two guys" (not involved in the love story) have more interesting side plots, that could have easily been the main conflicts of the movie instead of the love triangle it mostly focuses on.

This, and the fact that the movie is perhaps a bit longer than it should have been, does not stop it from being a good movie, though.
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Frank (II) (2014)
7/10
Fun, and not as weird as it could have been
4 April 2017
I wasn't sure what I was going into seeing this movie, but I was delighted at what it ended up being. Mostly.

It's a pretty straight forward exploration of creativity, fame, and to some extent mental health. It's not so much about what good music is, but rather how talent evolves, and perhaps how it's more than something inherent in one person. I especially loved their take on the idea of making popular music, and Frank's attitude towards it.

I like how they used the "creative isolation" aspect of many (real) musicians story in a fictional setting. I can't remember having seen that being done before.

All that said, the movie doesn't seem to have much ambition to be more than a fun movie about silly characters. There are touching moments and an arch to many of the characters, but other than some (kind of heavy handed) comments on talent and fame, it's mostly "just" a fun ride. I'm not saying that that's bad, but I'm sure there's material enough in the story to take it even further. Especially in developing the relationships between the characters, and the motivations (which at times weren't that believable).
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Dirty Harry (1971)
7/10
Clint's performance ensures that Harry never grows old
2 April 2017
I don't think you could have made this movie today. It would not have been taken seriously. One of the reasons is an obvious one, many of the plot points and elements in this film has since become clichés, and can't be used without acknowledging that it's a tired old trope. But also the sincerity in the portrayal of the cynical character is something that today's audience seldom see in new movies. Or perhaps I am just watching the wrong movies? Either way, I consider this as a positive quality for the film. There's no winks to the audience.

But the film does feel dated in certain aspects. I think it's harder to like the Harry character today than it was back then, as the values he stands for are not really the one we aspire to today. But seen as a movie set in the era it was made, it still works. And had Harry not been Dirty Harry, the movie probably wouldn't have worked at all. The plot itself is interesting enough, but it's Clint Eastwood's performance that makes this movie last.

And Clint Eastwood kills it. This movie was definitely made in his prime.
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6/10
A good looking monster movie
29 March 2017
There's not much more to this than "a good looking monster movie". More specifically it's a movie about people stuck in an unexplored habitat where they face pre-historic monsters. It's not really a remake of King Kong, because it leaves out most (if not all) iconic moments from the previous versions, and it also tells a story completely of its own.

The highlight of the movie is, beyond a doubt, the visuals. There are some glorious shots in this movie, and perhaps the best ones being those that are obviously influenced by previous media set in the Vietnam war era. The creature design is also really neat. King Kong is massive, and he's also definitely not an ape as we know them. They've taken more inspiration from the old doll (from the first movie), than the more natural looking Kong from Jackson's remake. And it works really well! There's other creatures as well, some of them quite neat and interesting. Some of them I would have loved to see more of, but the "skullcrawlers" (which are highlights as an important enemy) are disappointing design wise. They look like a generic baddie in a monster film.

The plot itself is OK, but there's nothing really special or interesting about it. There are some great performances, but also some talent that is completely wasted in roles with hardly any airtime.
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8/10
Naive?
28 March 2017
Is beauty good or bad, or something beyond the both of them? The movie does seem to argue that beauty is something that exist, but also that it does not have to be something positive. If "beauty is everything", and there is nothing else - which is stated in the film - then everything we see in it must be seen as some sort of comment on beauty. My main gripe with this movie is just that: whatever the movie says about beauty, it does not feel all that profound or fresh. The symbolism used is at times very on the nose and obvious. Almost naive, as if someone who has never had anything to do with the LA beauty scene decides to make a critical story set in it. (That last sentence was not really meant as negative assumption towards Refn, because I do like the movie he has made.) It is a compelling movie to watch, because it is both beautiful and disgusting. Mostly clean, but at times utterly vulgar. I also enjoyed the movie's several turns into the "odd". It all made me really enjoy the movie, but it was also despite itself, as the story itself and the thematic exploration seemed to me to be almost banal. But somehow it works.
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Løvekvinnen (2016)
6/10
Keeps itself within known terrain
22 March 2017
I saw this movie with an audience, and quite a few had a visible (and intended )emotional reaction to it. Obviously it's able to touch people on an emotional level. In that regard, the movie is quite successful.

Before I saw this movie, I was annoyed by how much of the story was spoiled by trailers. But after watching it, you realize that the story itself is not the important part of this movie. It's establishing relationships between Eva (the girl) and the people in her life. This is also where the movie gains its emotional strength. This part of the movie is probably also the best one, as the feelings the characters have for each other is easily felt as you watch the movie.

But I was there was more. The plot is mostly predictable, and even its most dramatic moments is quickly dropped shortly after happening. The movie goes as a swift pace past anything actually happening, but spends a lot of time on the moments where there's not much going on at all. Where young Eva is exploring the limits of her household, and trying to get a glimpse of the world outside of it. There's enough happening in this movie to warrant its two hour runtime, but the time could have been spent a lot better.

The last part of the movie is almost like fast forward, most likely only so that they could get to the ending scene in a way that carried some emotional impact. Perhaps more of the movie could be spent on these parts of her life, instead of her childhood? In the end, it's a movie that follows the beats you expect it to. On a technical level it (mostly) impresses, especially the make up. The dialects are all over the place, taking a bit of the realism away, but the acting is mostly of high quality.
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La Dolce Vita (1960)
8/10
A journey
21 March 2017
Sadly my viewing of this ended up being divided over three different watching sessions, neither of them intentional. This is a long movie, and at times you can feel it, but it never stops paying of. It's structure, being divided into "days"/events, lends for it being easy to watch and follow. Some of the parts are more memorable than others (my favorite was the prophet), but they're all beautifully shot, and they all seem to follow some similar thematic lines.

You follow the lifestyle of the rich and famous, and obviously it's not all good. But at the same time, it's not all bad, either. It's the life that these people live, and many of them want. But what their lives actually look like, depends on who is looking. And the lifestyle the live is not separate to the fact that they are being observed. At least these were the thoughts I got on my first watch through, though they might be influenced by the way the society has developed since this movie came out.
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90 minutter (2012)
7/10
Three good stories, but some leaps required for the endings
19 March 2017
This movie is comprised of three different stories, that only connect with each other on a thematic level. The stories are all very contains (both in place and time), and there's not many characters in each of them. All of this works quite well for the film's attempt at exploring something from different angles: violence in the home. Most of the 3 stories is spent on establishing the relationships, and it works kind of for all of them. But when the movie ends, I was still in a position where I could not quite make sense of the climaxes to each story. While we've been partially explained the motivations between how the stories end, there's still a leap from what we see to what happens in some of them. That leap can be filled with a general "mental disorder", but I don't think the director aimed for it to be that simple.

That is my one and only objection with the film, as I really enjoyed the rest of it. The stories were very distinct, the characters unique, and the individual conflicts engaging. The movie has gotten some attention for its violence, which is both brutal and realistic (especially in how it's shot). I'm not sure how the actors made it seem so real, and I hope that they weren't genuinely attacking each other for the shots. Either way it worked really well.
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6/10
A visual experience
11 March 2017
The most interesting aspect of this movie is the (slightly) non-linear way the story is told. It's mostly chronological, but the way it skips around within the moments it is portraying makes the whole movie feel dreamlike. Whenever music kicks in, it feels more like you are watching a music video, or the trailer for a movie. This fluid way of presenting the story works quite well.

It's also interesting how they chose the "spring break" setting, combined with the music video like editing. It makes the film look like something completely different than what it is, and I like that it breaks with expectations.

Besides that, I don't have much positive to say about the movie. It seems like it's mostly made to be a visual experience, because both story are characters are not prioritized. The characters are hard to believe in, and the story itself matches the music video comparisons made before. Contrasting the naive and innocent, with the thrill seeking and outright horrible, is not enough to make it interesting on a story level. Putting two contrasts together is easy, but it's harder to make a tension between them that serves some other purpose than being unfamiliar or unexpected.

If you can easily lose yourself into visuals, mood and sound, I'm sure this can be quite a film to experience. If you don't like that too much, then this movie has little new to offer other than some technical finesses.
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Eraserhead (1977)
7/10
Manages to make the surreal coherent
9 March 2017
It's easy to make something surreal. You often see it in student films. Things are out of place, people behave weirdly, and there's lots of visual non-sequitors. But when using elements that's hard for the audience to understand, you have to be a master to make the audience follow along willingly. This is what Lynch somehow manages to do really well.

This movie has a plot, and it's not all that hard to follow. The plot is weird, and is set in a stylistic, kafka-esque nightmare reality. It's at times visually interesting, but the plot itself is quite simple (yet tragic). But the weirdness doesn't end there, because several times the movie leaves the plot behind to show (even) more abstract sequences. Somehow Lynch manages to go quite far into surreal, abstract elements, without pushing the audience away. As I watch this movie, I don't feel like I'm supposed to be able to follow all of it, but rather take in feelings and moods. While, at the same time, you can feel that there's more to it, that's there's plenty of potential for analysis.

I was also surprised by the sci-fi elements of this story. Watching it, it really makes sense that Lynch was offered "Elephant man" and "Dune" (and even "Star Wars ep 6").
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5/10
A "feel good" movie that doesn't make me feel very good
9 March 2017
There's great potential for comedy when different cultures are put together, and a house for refugees is also a very relevant setting for a modern day comedy. The actors in this movie all deliver solid performances, and act convincingly as the characters they are portraying. I also quite like a lot (everything?) seems like it's filmed on location. There's a great potential here for both comedy, and a heartwarming story.

Somehow the movie fails to deliver on both. At times it is surprisingly cynical, and some of the characters go back and forwards between believable and caricature. I did appreciate some of the dark humour, but it would have worked better with more believable characters. The woman working for the local government feels like she taken from a Ben Stiller comedy, while some of the refugees could have been characters in a drama. Not because of the quality of anyone's acting, but because the characters themselves feels like they're made for completely different movies.

The ending plays like it's supposed to make you feel good and think that people are alright - but the message it actually conveys feels more misanthropic than it does heartwarming.
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Logan (2017)
8/10
Consequences
7 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
It's about time for the X-men franchise. They were early pioneers in the modern day superhero movies, but they didn't evolve, and were outshined by the MCU-productions that elevated the genre to a new level. Light hearted superhero action films are now a dime a dozen, and no one does it better than Marvel studios.

Nolan brought Batman in the opposite direction, in stead of light hearted, he made films that took themselves seriously. Later DC movies continued this trend, with Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. The X-men franchise reacted to this (and the Marvel movies) by going in a completely different direction: Deadpool, a movie that doesn't take anything seriously. Its success could easily a unraveled the entire franchise into "edgy" Deadpool-like movies, but instead they opted to make a movie that not only takes superheroes seriously, but takes itself seriously. With Logan, there's an X-men movie that does not shy away from the bleak, and exploring the actual consequences of the themes they've already been rambling about for several movies.

Logan is a dark and bleak movie. There are fun scenes and a healthy dose of black comedy, but it's mostly a movie that beats up both the characters you've gotten to know, and the ones you've just been introduced to. And it shows how everything in the fictionally world they're in have consequences. It's not just another movie that you watch, and at the end nothing much has changed. It's a result of a divided world, the extreme suppression of mutants, and so on. Obviously what happens in the film will also have consequences for the characters involved in it, and while this is hinted at, I think they could have gone further in exploring how the extreme violence would/could affect the young characters in the film.

The soundtrack is good, the visuals are sometimes really good, and the acting is fantastic. Both Stewart and Jackman blows it out of the park.
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Paterson (2016)
7/10
Intellectual's daydream
2 March 2017
There's something about movies like this that makes me slightly uncomfortable. The movie is about a young, fit and talented man who lives a humble lifestyle in a working class environment, and who gets along great with the people in his local community. He seems to enjoy his job on some level, and uses it to fuel his passion for observation through poetry. He always carries around a notebook where he writes down the poems he thinks of as the goes about his day. His girlfriend is gorgeous, slightly naive and super loyal. She is visually talented, and loves to bake. They even got a funny dog. He is a regular at a local bar with interesting chess-playing regulars that seem to always provide him with a story, or something to take back home with him. One day, there's an event in the bar that makes the poet a hero.

This is not a peer into someone's imagination, this is someone's fantasy. The day dreams you have as you go to sleep. It feels almost a bit too intimate.

At the same time, who doesn't want a life like this? The movie is like escapism for intellectuals. The modern day high cultured man does not dream of exploring the jungles of Africa or shooting aliens with electric rifles, but to be the everyday hero with the beautiful dedicated girl and the funny dog.

That said, I did like this movie. I love the structure of it, showing the same moments every day. I love how it makes poetry accessible for everyone, something down-to-earth. The beautiful society it shows is beautiful, even though I have a hard time believing in it. The movie does something interesting in the way it hints at conflict, and... well, I won't spoil what happens. But I think it's a nice touch. There's also some imagery that goes through the entire film, without really being explored. I didn't mind this.
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8/10
This is a funny comedy, that stays away from low hanging fruit
28 February 2017
This movie never elevates beyond comedy (and slight satire), but it's really good at what it is. It's a funny movie. It's just a well crafted comedy.

While the characters are all caricatured, they're still rooted in some sort of reality. They're dumb, but they're not Zoolander-dumb, they're not like characters from a kids movie. The conflict is actually quite believable, and it's never taken too far. The same goes for the reconciliation. It's easy to believe in. The most silly part of the movie is probably the songs, but they mostly work within the universe that's established.

What I like the most, though, is how this movie tries to deliver solid jokes that stands on their own legs. It doesn't succumb to non-sequitors, sudden nostalgic references or slapstic. All of these forms of comedy has their use and place, but they're often overused, and a method of getting cheap laughs. This movie stays clear of those, making it all the better.

The fun had by the people making this movie is also obvious, and you can't help but share the joy of it all. The cameos are fun, and well done.
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5/10
This should have been better
28 February 2017
Looking past the accident, I can't really understand why this is not a good movie. Four brilliant directors, all given the opportunity to make Twilight Zone episodes with a movie-like budget. A number of great actors involved. How come the result is lackluster and lacking of charm? The old Twilight Zone TV-series obviously owes part of it's charm to the era it was made in, but it's also full of stories, some quite silly, that all take themselves seriously. There's twists at the end of the episodes that you some times can see from miles away, but that at other times makes you admit that it was clever. There's tons of bad episodes, but the package itself is still brilliant.

Then there's this movie. The first story lacks a proper ending (something that's due to the accident), making the rest of it feel pointless. The second story is visually beautiful, but feels both predictable and rushed. I would have thought that this sort of project would bring out the best in Spielberg, but he chooses a story that's only OK, and doesn't manage to portray in a way that transcends the silly story that it is. The third film is one of the more famous TZ-episodes, and the updates done to the story mostly works. I loved this due to the special effects that were used, but the acting and the story left some to be desired. The last one, also a famous one, is probably the best of the four. Had all four of them been this interesting on a story level, the movie would have been a lot better.

I would love for them to have another go at this. Especially Spielberg and Miller has proved many times what they are capable of, and I'm sure TZ (and those sort of stories) still mean a lot to them. Oh well.
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Nine Lives (1957)
7/10
An interesting take on the Norwegian resistance during WWII
25 February 2017
This was not the war movie I expected. I figured that since it was about a famous member of the resistance movement, it would be about the sabotage they did, but that's only a small part in the movie's opening. Most of the film is not about the sabotage, but his escape. The enemy is obviously the Nazis, but just as much the fear of Norwegians giving him in, and most of all nature and the elements themselves. This makes for a much more interesting movie than I had anticipated.

That said, this is still an old movie, made in a small country which back then were not famous for their movies. The acting hasn't aged well, and there's some annoying editing that's obviously meant to cover up some difficult sequences. That said, there's also some really nice shots, and they actually went to the trouble of getting actors speaking the right dialects (or, mostly at least!).

This never felt like a very exciting film, but more like a slow, brooding reflection over what people went through during the second world war, and also just how dedicated people can be in helping each other.

It's a no brainer if your aim is to see a Norwegian classic, and it's not a bad choice if you want to see a different ww2-movie.
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Pyromaniac (2016)
7/10
A portrait of a troubled young man
23 February 2017
This is a slow moving film, more interested in the character and his position within the small village, than it is in the actual fires themselves. Don't expect a lot of dramatic sequences.

The character that this movie follows is quite interesting. Understanding a pyromaniac is difficult, and I'm sure every case is different. The way this story is presented, you can understand (on some level) what motivates him to do what he does. Some of the best sequences in the film are of him interacting with other locals, where you can feel the tension in him. There's also a few tragic moments, where you can see how he is struggling to find his place in the small village.

For some reason, the director chooses to downplay the possible tension inherit in this movie. I think I like what he is doing, but I can also imagine someone else making a movie that is just as interesting as a character portrait, but doesn't feel as slow.

As a Norwegian, I also have to comment on the weird mix of dialects this movie got going on. It kind of breaks the realism of this being a village from the south of Norway. Oh well.
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