Monday, June 27, 2011

Moved to Wordpress

Long time since posting here. That is because I moved over to Wordpress.

Here's the link:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Scandinavian Film Fest 2011: Review 'The Bothersome Man (Den Brysomme Mannen)'

Let me first start off by saying that this is my own personal Scandinavian film fest, not any official fest, mostly because it takes place in my bedroom in Michigan. I decided that, between trying to find something to watch on TV and what was already in my Netflix queue and having zero luck, I would turn to Scandinavia, a place I want to visit but can't afford. I'm also learning Swedish for personal growth and for fun so I figured that a virtual trip to the Nordic lands via cinema was a good, cheap vacation.

I've already written about 'Troubled Water (DeUsynlige)', a wonderful drama from Norway on a previous day and have since watched about three more movies. The film I am going to write about this evening I watched two nights ago called 'The Bothersome Man (Den Brysomme Mannen)' and hails from Norway as well. Released in 2006, this film is a very Kafka-esque, surreal "nightmare" of a film, and what I mean by that comes in later, that is partly black comedy and part social commentary and stars Trond Fausa Aurvaag and Petronella Barker. I have mixed feelings about this movie, I can't decide whether I liked it or not.

The movie opens with a man, named Andreas, standing on a subway platform staring into the camera. He looks to the side and sees a couple sucking face, quite literally sucking face. It's one of the most awkward and weird things to witness in the first few minutes of a film and it all makes sense later in the film. The man then "jumps" into the path of the passing train. The next shot he is in a bus being driven out to the middle of nowhere where a man greets him at an abandoned gas station and takes him to "the city" to be introduced to his new life. He is given an apartment, a job and everyone is seemingly very nice and pleasant. The creepy-factor from everyone is really tipping the meter through the whole film. As he goes about his mundane, boring job and home life of eating tasteless food and drinking alcohol that never makes a person drunk he encounters a man in the bathroom of a local bar who starts going on about how he can never get drunk and how he can't taste anything before Andreas sees him leave the bar and follows him to a building where a basement light comes on and music plays. He can't get this man out of his head, as he too has noticed that booze doesn't make you drunk, food has no taste, nothing has a smell and conversations are quite bland, but he never sees the man again.

During this time he meets a woman at a work dinner, begins to date her, they have boring, feeling-less sex several times while he moves in with her and begins renovations at their new home. He's in love, or so he seems until he meets another woman that he works with and tests out whether his current relationship will fall apart when he starts hanging around a new woman that he eventually falls in love with. At this point the plot treads into 'spoiler' territory so I'll stop writing down the whole story, but I will say that the opening shots in the subway train tunnel come in to being soon enough.

The movie has a wonderful, weird, creepy atmosphere that is played out very well with very dark rooms and muted colors in most places but the subway tunnel and you genuinely get the feeling of a feeling-less boring society that seems to just be peachy and perfect on the surface; a place where everyone just goes along with what they are given and learns to like it, but also a place that some people find weird and not satisfying. Andreas is one of those people.

I wish that I could say that I liked, or disliked, this movie one way or another, but I just don't know. I liked that acting, I liked the music, I liked the pace and atmosphere. What I didn't like was the ultimate ending and the fact that if you are going to go weird Kafka-esque on the audience, you go balls to the walls crazy-weird. Go David Lynch Mulholland Drive/Lost Highway-I've seen this movie 12 billion times and don't know what's going on-crazy. This movie dipped its toe in surreal weirdness and then realized it was a tad too chilly and yanked it right out, but not before throwing the creepy atmosphere towel into the deep end, and that, along with the acting, may be its one saving grace.

Overall, I definitely think it's worth a watch because of the creepiness it does have and because of the acting and well-shot scenes and I'd be interested to hear some other feedback as to how it was received in your eyes and brains.

I will throw out a warning that if you watch on Netflix streaming, the aspect ratio is not correct. It is far too letterboxed and the whole movie seems weirdly stretched. It isn't just part of the film, it really is messed up on Netflix.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

'Troubled Water' Review

Before I begin, make sure if you search for this movie, you look for Troubled Water (deUSYNLIGE) and NOT Troubled Waters. Troubled Waters is about an FBI agent that is hired to track down some missing child and then has to unravel the mystery of what really happened to the little girl...or something. I gathered all that from the five line synopsis and knew that was not a movie I was interested in.

Now on to the interesting movie. Troubled Water (for once a faithful translation of a foreign movie title) is about a young man named Thomas, convicted of killing a four year old boy, who gets out of prison and gets a job working at a church as the organ player. While working at the church he meets Anna, one of the priests at the church and starts a relationship with her. The problem is that she has a child who looks much like the boy he was accused of killing so he feels a lot of apprehension about being around him. At the same time he is trying to continue with his life, the mother of the child he allegedly murdered sees him in the church playing the organ during a field trip with her class. She then proceeds to follow him around and in essence stalk him. According to her husband, all they want is for him to admit that he killed the boy and to say what happened to the child, but Thomas sticks to his original story that it was an accident and he had nothing to do with the death.

The brilliance of this movie is that it is a simple character study about the lives of two people connected through a common event and how they attempt to live their lives, or not live their lives depending on how you look at it. The structure is also very uncommon and honestly, quite refreshing. The first section is about both characters and the even that took place. Then the film moves for the next 45 minutes to an hour is about Thomas and his experiences. The final portion covers what happened with the mother of the dead child culminating with a confrontation and an ending that is different than what American audiences are used to.

The film is brilliantly shot with gorgeous shallow depth of field and wonderful rack-focus shots. The lighting and coloring are lovely and the acting is top-notch. Pål Sverre Valheim Hagan is wonderful as Jan Thomas and really shows this vulnerable, hurt, scared, afraid nature of the character. The soundtrack really plays well with the whole feel of the movie and the theme of forgiveness and closure is felt through the whole movie right until the very end.

There is just something about these Scandinavian movies that really grabs my attention and this one is no different. I would have to say this movie was one of my favorites of all time. There are so many little nuances that I missed the first time through and after watching a couple scenes online again I can see things I missed. I highly recommend the movie to anyone looking for a wonderful character film that pulls at your heartstrings without being obvious and Oprah-Book-of-the-Week-like.

Here are a couple of scenes and the trailer. I can't promise there won't be spoilers, so beware.

Trailer (no English)

Trailer (English)

This wonderful extended International trailer has a split screen of the film and does include be warned: SPOILERS! Although if you don't understand Norwegian you won't know what's being said exactly.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

'Abduction' trailer

If you are in the need to see the little rat-faced boy from Twilight play a plethora of characters from Steven Segal to Jason Statham to just about any and all action movie character from any and all movies, you are in luck! Here he is playing a kid who is normal and ordinary who finds out after hitting it off with pretty high school girl #1, that he seems to be a missing person. But why? Oh look! Someone just showed up at his door and attacks his "parents" who tell him to RUN! He, of course, runs and off he goes. Also, the chicky is with him. They run and run and run. He kicks and punches and kicks and runs and fights and kisses the girl.

The only reason I would ever watch this movie is because Michael Nyqvist is in it and he plays a bad guy. The only reason.

'Cowboys and Aliens' trailer

The first time I heard Jon Favreau was making a movie with this title I immediately thought, "What?" The reason being that this sounds like a stupid idea. Cowboys and aliens? Yet, watching this trailer makes me wonder if I was wrong. I'm thinking yes.

However, they have used the familiar high-color contrast combination of orange and blue to flavor their film; a combo that is used far too much for really no reason what-so-ever other than human beings find those two colors to be pleasing when used in contrast.

What's the movie about, you ask? Well, Daniel Craig plays a man who has been dropped into 1873 Arizona with no clue about who he is, where he's from and why he's there. He has some kind of weird weapon on his wrist and he is taken into custody in this little back-water town when all of a sudden some aliens appear in ships and attack and then start to abduct the other people in the town. What do they do with them? Where do they take them? Why are they taking them? Why are they blue and the people orange? All questions to be answered when the movie comes out.

'Immortals' Trailer

Tarsem Singh. Seriously, one of my favorite directors. Eiko Ishioka. My favorite costume designer.

Now that is out of the way, let me state that I don't fancy these '300'-type movies. While interesting visually, and possibly story-wise, they tend to just be too much flash. Now, with my man Tarsem directing I can know for sure that if it is just flash it will be beautiful flash. Like, the flash will be so blindingly awesome that your eyes will cry with joy.

Also, since I am obsessed with masks, I love the mask that one guy is wearing.

'Transformers: Dark of the Moon' trailer

I'll start out by stating the obvious: Things go boom, transformers go transform, cameras go pan, people are orange and everything else is blue. Now, that being said, whoever does the final cuts for the trailers knows how to cut a trailer that is fun to watch...and most likely shows all the best parts from the movie.

This trailer doesn't really tell any story, but hey, what do you want? There was no story in the second one and barely a story in the first one, so there being no story in this movie really doesn't matter. I mean, what the hell do people go to see Michael Bay movies for anyway? To see orange people run from blue things that go boom! From what I deduce from the other trailers I've seen along with this one, is that at some point in the 60's during the moon landing (or before) some (or all) the transformers buried themselves (or crashed) on the moon. Now Optimus Prime is pissed because Marge Gunderson and the rest of the peoples on planet Earth didn't share everything they knew about his species with him. Then a bunch of transformers pop out of the moon and, as best I can tell, transport to Earth, possibly to the Washington Monument or something? Then they go all around destroying shit and probably chasing Sam Witwicky and his new piece of ass. That would be Rosie Huntington-something, a Victoria's Secret model with big boobs and big lips. Presumably they hope she will keep her face shut and not mouth off to the hand that feeds her. Let's hope that she either has a small number of lines or can actually act. She's a model, so let's not hold our breath.

Here's the trailer: