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Kongens nei (2016)
Everything for Norway
It's about the most dramatic days in Norway 20th century history. 8-11 April 1940, the time of the German attack. Norwegian military is unprepared. The king, the government and the parliament leave Oslo.
The Germans want to negotiate after occupying main Norwegian cities. They turn directly to the king, trying to make it his decision to avoid more bloodshed. That's his decision. And there is an answer.
Jesper Christensen is tremendous as king Haakon, making the moral dilemma more complicated than it's described in the script. Much is really filmed theatre here, but you tend to forget it, when Christensen is on the screen. Which he is very much.
No, everything hasn't been told
It was the era which changed the world. Beatles 1962-1970. Every record release was world news, at least in the West.
This is about Beatles touring period. Many clips and pictures which not every beatlemaniac has seen. Also interesting information. Have we heard about all the fan injuries during the US tours? Could be about 200 just from one concert and rock concert arena security was not developed at all. Beatles were the first to perform for such crowds.
And maybe we didn't know that they would have refused to play in Jacksonville, if the audience was segregated like it used to be?
This ends in 1966 when the concerts end. The main reason was that people didn't come for Beatles music, they came for The Beatles. Which didn't interest the band.
The Big Short (2015)
Short or shot?
Old radical tradition lives in Hollywood. But is this a radical film? Doesn't really matter, regardless of your other opinions, you should be interested in whether capitalism functions or not. It didn't in the years before the crash in 2008.
We meet moneymakers and wannabe moneymakers, who are not interested in investments to build things up; just to build their own wealth. That's the problem and they even invest in a future financial breakdown.
Most cynical of them all is Brad Pitt, who puts up a performance, just to show rotten the system is. The problem however is that we still don't understand what he's actually doing, although it is explained to us. Otherwise this would have meant a 9 rating.
Love & Mercy (2014)
Beach party on black sand
Brian Wilson is a genius and we're becoming more and more aware of it. The Beach Boys had its special sound. You hear from the first second, if it's a Beach Boy song, but it takes some listening to understand what Wilson really made from harmonies, tunes not supposed to go together, and counterpoint.
Two stories here. One from the peak with Pet Sounds and Good Vibrations. Another from Wilson's life in the 80, dominated or maybe imprisoned by his psychiatrist.
The first part is the better one. No female knights in sight. Just the marvelous mind, being captured by art.
Jag är Ingrid (2015)
Private life or work
Icon is becoming an almost useless word. Therefore, it's good Stig Björkman puts his focus on Ingrid Bergman as a human, and let's face it, how many of her pictures are interesting today, except Autumn Sonata by Ingmar Bergman? Casablanca is a Bogart movie.
Many amateur clips. Her children talks about her mostly being somewhere else. The only one who shows some bitterness between the lines is the son.
But anyway this Stig Björkman focus doesn't really have the potential to make us something more than shallow watchers. A rather entertaining story, but the entertainment isn't enough. You miss the analysis.
Woman in Gold (2015)
Art for art's sake?
You can of course ask yourself whether a woman in Los Angeles wanting her Gustaf Klimt painting back is interesting. Although it was stolen by the Nazis. This is however what this is about.
Of course it's not just about that. It's about retroactive acceptance of one's past, even if it's evil. Like in the case of Austria. In this movie anyway.
Helen Mirren never destroys anything, but one wonders a little why she takes part in something based on such a simple script. Including those Austrian museum officials, who are a little too square, really. Entertaining film, yes, but so completely doing the right movie the right way.
The Imitation Game (2014)
The story about Enigma has been told before. Also in the pictures. It doesn't stop it from being fascinating, but reality was probably more interesting than all film melodramas.
This is one of them. It's not just about breaking the German codes, it's also much about homosexuality during a time when it was sociably unacceptable.
But this film just tells. It doesn't give us any soul insights, which wasn't to be expected, since this is quite mainstream. England during wartime is shown in a rather competent way, but it stops there. And the exciting story about breaking Enigma is told once again.
Fehér isten (2014)
A dog's life
A dog of undetermined race is badly treated by a girl's father. The dog is kidnapped and treated even worse, since it will be trained into a battle dog. A dog which kills others. In the beginning just other dogs.
But there's a revolt and vigilante revenge comes. Can we really protect ourselves if animals organize and start war on the master race, the humans?
This a Spartacus drama casted by animals. If you want to, you can see it as a metaphor for the coming class rebellion, the revolution. Rather well done, but it would have been more interesting if it was more obvious being about politics. More "Death Wish" than "Potemkin".
1001 Gram (2014)
A kilo history
Norwegian female scientist. Her man seems to have left her and she only meets him, or watches his car, sometimes when he returns to their house to collect things. Her father works at the same place, but has some alcohol problems. They are keepers of an item to be compared to The Holy Graal. The official Norwegian kilo prototype.
She has to go to Paris to have it checked, together with the rest of the world. She's a woman who hardly ever smiles, probably because she's not familiar with what a soul means. Or its weight.
This is supposed to be a comedy, but it's too slow and not enough funny. Not that a comedy has to be fast, but somehow this tempo seems a little about having difficulty to fill 1,5 hour.
Red Army (2014)
Holiday on Ice
There has never been such beauty in sport than ice hockey performed by the Soviet Union at its best. How was it possible? It's pretty obvious that it all was due to propaganda reasons. The Communist human was superior, according to Soviet leaders. Or at least they wanted to think so; but the almost only way to prove it was through the athletes.
The legendary Fetisov tells most of the story here. How the players were kept almost as slaves under the regime of KGB man Tichonov. And when finally the Soviet system broke down, Fetisov and his comrades were allowed to play in NHL. But had to give most of their money to the embassy.
A sometimes breathtaking documentary and the system succeeded in creating some of the best athletes ever. And yes, they impressed the West. But the price was high.
The Nazis destroyed Warzaw and had the same plans for Paris, when the Allies were approaching. So why didn't it happen? Was it because of this Swedish consul's night talks with the German commander or?
This is obviously filmed theater. This can function if it's film in its own right, but here it isn't. If it wasn't for the camera changing positions, it could as well be filmed from a stage.
But surely it's exciting anyway with passable acting and including a big moral dilemma. but telling that Paris was saved cannot be considered a spoiler. Night talks are not to seen as banalities. Not even in theater.
The novel problem
This is a famous book from the late 70s by Klas Östergren. It can still be read as living literature and is perhaps the big monument over life in Stockholm during that decade. Mysteries, people with a past, people with no future.
Östergren has written the script for this film, but that stands back for the visual. They have really tried to recreate the 70s, but we who were part of it, as almost always, find good details but not the mood and the spirit of the period.
The sad thing is that the novel anyway is almost more visual than the film which is reduced to a story among others. Which is a pity.
The half-hipster father will pass five days with his family. So called quality time, which expression means "Career is more important than kids".
They are in the Alps and an avalanche comes close to their restaurant. The father saves his iPod and ski-gloves and himself, but not his children. They all survive, but things are changed.
Director Ruben Östlund is brilliant in by actor body language telling us what people feel before they say it. His dialog is not foreseeable. The cuts are sometimes long, sometimes traditional, so he creates his own rhythm.
The story is interesting. The backlash into the old values; does they put too high demands? What's to be expected? What is instinct and what is just playing social games, which family lives also are. Are we fooled into believing something else? Yes, of course we are.
Begin Again (2013)
Not another Manhattan movie?
No, the danger is not over. There are more films from that area coming up, which for some reason often inspires comedy. Here we meet the producer who has drunk his business away and is fired from it. We also meet the English girl, who is not impressed by anything and certainly not her own song- writing.
Much of the rest is foreseeable, the contrasts of those two have been seen many times before, the conflicts too and the good humor. But Cinderella stories never seem to get out of fashion.
But we are waiting for a warm Detroit comedy. We'll have to wait, I guess.
Jeune et jolie (2013)
The 17-year-old Isabelle goes from virginity to prostitution very fast. It's hard to explain why, because this film doesn't give any clues. If you try to read the movie in the anglo-saxon way, you can't understand its language. Not the French, the pictures.
Being used to another kind of narrating, you could almost find this heartless. No reactions, no disgust, indifference, which also make you lose interest in some way.
The only kind of somewhat foreseeable actions come from the environment, but that fight is quite uneven and fades away. So what is there to say?
Sex Tape (2014)
Don't do this
Family life on routine. How about making a sex video? The problem is that such things can easily be spread on the net, if you're not careful. Which the husband here isn't.
So a desperate hunt starts for the iPads he has given away, including that not deleted film. Lots of dirty language, but also a perfect example of showing nudity without much being seen. Puritan.
Cameron Diaz is OK in comedies and maybe that should be her favorite sport. But the film is childish and not even very obscene. Sex tapes maybe should be a no no for Hollywood after all. The middle class can't handle them.
Still Life (2013)
Movie addicts have an affection for boring England. But the same goes for the British bureaucrat. The last one for whom the word Duty isn't empty.
In this version he works for the council, fixing funerals for the lonely. Nobody will attend, except for this official and the priest. It's Eleanor Rigby for real.
The last case, because his boss doesn't think he's efficient enough, makes this official trying to get in contact with the daughter of a deceased. To have at least one from a family at the funeral. It doesn't go like he expected, but there's suddenly an opening. Also for boring England.
Tusen ganger god natt (2013)
War correspondents, what does their work lead to? Is it just conflict porn to the morning coffee or can what they do make us react? And act?
Juliette Binoche follows a suicide bomber in Kabul, from preparations to explosion. But is she somewhat responsible for what happens? She starts to think so. And she also has a family. Has she some responsibility for what's happening to them?
That's the weak part of this film. Not that the script is bad, but the family conflict is a little too expected, from its up to its down. The most important question remains. What international media means to the world.
Across half a continent
Based on a true story. In the 70s, this girl walked through Western Australia, alone, with the exception of four camels.
So you can call this a road movie, but there are no roads. It could have been the road through a soul, which road movies often are supposed to be. But it doesn't get that far. It's adventure, civilization spleen, West meets Aborigine culture.
But it stops there. It more becomes an "against all odds"-movie, although we know the outcome without having read the book this is based on. Well acted, sufficiently directed, but no road. And perhaps not enough soul either.
So long ago
Seems strange now, but once there was a revolutionary movement in USA. To the left, that is. Angela Davis was a black communist philosophy teacher at UCLA and very medial. Therefore or in spite of that she was accused of conspiracy. Four people were killed in connection to a trial. And the weapons were registered on her.
Davis tells herself what happened. She for a while risked capital punishment. It was maybe the beginning of the political backlash in USA, which still is going on.
Lots of clips in this documentary, showing a time which seems so extremely distanced from our present.
Una noche (2012)
Into different nights
This is Lucy Mulloy's exam work from New York University. She's already a complete film maker. It's shot in Havanna and it's amazing this picture could be made there, because it's very critical against the Cuban police state, so much depending on tourists, that officers beat up citizens in the alleys, if they get too close in the wrong way to foreigners.
A twin couple, boy and girl, who are very close. Another boy, Raoul, who the twin boy is in love with, but he doesn't dare to show it, because of the macho surroundings. There's panic for different reasons and the three kids plan to leave Cuba in the most dangerous way.
A strong movie, far from clichés.
Germany before Germany
Sometimes a movie has to take four hours. If you stay that long, you not only learn to know the characters, they get under your skin.
A Prussian village. Not boiling yet, because 1848 revolts are some years away, but there are signs. So far people just emigrate, to Brazil in this case, leaving centuries of traditions behind. A sign of something arriving. The minds aren't satisfied.
But the main story is about the village, as a small society and universe there the borders are too close. But the film is anyway focused on individuals. Trying to get shelter from the storm. Which goes on in their souls
A difficult task
Western parodies aren't easy, because they've seldom that funny. Not even Mel Brooks was an exception. It's too easy to ridicule the genre. Also serious westerns from the old days are laughing matter in themselves.
But this is a nice try. Pubertal sex jokes seems to be an important agenda in New Hollywood and here we have that again. We also have the bad guy in black hat an the good guy in a white one. The rest of the clichés are also here.
Funniest is maybe Liam Neeson, because he takes his character seriously. He has understood; that makes the character laughing matter.
Grace of Monaco (2014)
Sometimes a trailer is so bad, you feel obliged to watch the whole movie. This is such a case. To one's disappointment, the film is a little better than the trailer, but bad enough.
Nicole Kidman, why does she have to whisper all the time? Kudos for hair- dos and clothes, but it's not enough giving the illusion of 1961, just from watching that year's fashion magazines.
But one can't but be impressed by the education system in Monaco during that era. It's so good, that almost everybody speaks English instead of French. Great job. We would all have done well at the casinos. And keep our national independence.
Bored couple at 30+ with a one-year-old daughter, living the most exciting part of their life. That as a young family. Then, a psychopath student club moves in. And they are really bad neighbors.
A mistake is made by the young family and a retaliation circus begins. It could be "Cape Fear", if this wasn't comedy, including the most pubertal dialog and sex jokes.
A couple of times it's funny and most funny is perhaps that you wait for something rally terrible to happen. But this is comedy. And it's of a kind which doesn't reach eternity. Maybe some of the students do, in a not preferable place.