stensson

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Reviews

Återträffen
(2013)

Reunion hell
It's a not so uncommon movie subject, this one about reunions which become life-changing drama. But Anna Odel's version is shakening. She meets her old class after 20 years and gives a speech. It's about hierarchies, power, games and one of the greatest sadist joys: Falsely making somebody believe you're in love with her.

The first half of the film tells about the party, which is a humiliating disaster for Anna. In the second part, she confronts some persons from the class. What's the greatest bully victory? Making someone feel she wasn't bullied at all.

It's not a perfect film, but one you will remember if you have any experience at all of hierarchies in school and other places.

Captain Phillips
(2013)

Modern pirates
There are certain action tricks which live on forever, if they are performed with good handicraft. You find many of them here. Of course you also know who the good and the bad guys are, but you're not that certain anyway. Why are there pirates from Somalia, attacking Western ships? Can it have anything to do with Westerners stealing the fish they used to live on?

But one trick is here repeated once too much. That one with the sacrificer. Tom Hanks is good, sometimes it's even quite exciting, but you of course know how it will turn out. An old trick is an old trick.

But OK. Entertaining.

Don Jon
(2013)

Seducing on- and off-line
This guy is a Don Juan or a Don Jon. New girl every week, new sex every week, new computer porn-watching every day. It's single-minded.

But one week, he comes close to what he thinks are real emotions. But computer porn never ends, it beats these emotions and the girl leaves him because of his mischiefs. So he's back at starting point, until IRL finally arrives.

Could be an interesting script with interesting questions, but it's done a little too easy. IRL has a somewhat uncomplicated part, which isn't helped by great acting (again) from Julianne Moore, USA:s best actress.

The Butler
(2013)

Serving the highest
We follow the butler almost from start. His father is murdered and his mother raped by a Southern racist. For compensation, he gets education to become a house servant. It's a promotion

The career goes on and after a couple of decades the main character goes on from a white house to The White House. He serves from Eisenhower to Reagan. It's the time of the Civil Rights moment. Will it change his conditions?

Sad thing, it's a quite simple story on ordinary TV but not HBO level. One problem is the US presidents, who are more or less badly acted. It's a little about cheating on a period of big historic importance.

Hotell
(2013)

Group therapy on the edge
This woman gives birth too early and her child is born with brain damages. He must remain in hospital, but his mother can hardly watch him. And impossibly touch him.

So she goes into a deep depression, after a while trying to solve it with group therapy. She's wealthy, she invites the group and herself to a hotel and there, things start moving. The bullied girl, the woman who loathes her body, the man who was abused by his mother.

It's a strong drama. Calling it being lighted up by some humor almost on the slapstick level, is a false expression. But it's interesting with movies, where you hardly can tell whether it's a comedy or the opposite.

Gravity
(2013)

Outer or inner space?
Pieces of a space ship, space litter, hit this American station. The astronauts are in danger, because in cosmos, you're very lonely. How to survive? That question has been put many times in film history.

It's in 3D, but you can't say the film makers take much advantage of that. Maybe it doesn't matter, because the drama is more about what happens inside Sandra Bullock. She meets different space cultures, Russian and Chinese, and there are collisions.

It seems to be quite easy making space emptiness the base of dramatic events. Perhaps a little too easy. Anyway, the universe moves on, with us or without us.

Monica Z
(2013)

Chronology?
Let's first make clear that Edda Magnason is fantastic as Monica Zetterlund, an icon in Swedish jazz music and entertainment. Not at least when she sings. It's almost scary.

But the script about her life outside stage is a melodrama on at best average level. The chronology is strange, 15 years pass and her daughter doesn't get older and nothing new is put to the common movie myth about the self-burning artist and her soul.

We're quite in love with the early 60s now. Both we who were where and the rest of us. Which doesn't mean we're so interested in this way of romanticizing it in this way, even the destructiveness it kept

The Spirit of '45
(2013)

Another society?
Why did Churchill lose the elections of 1945. Were people simply ungrateful? According to Ken Loach, there were two main reasons. People remembered the misery after WW1 and they had realized that if the state was able to organize the war victory, it should also be able to win victory in peace.

So it came during Clement Attlee; nationalization of health care, of electricity, of the railways, of the coal mines. And at the same time Britain changed into a welfare state.

It's a very effective documentary, but two questions remain unanswered. How was it all financed and why did Churchill come back in 1951? Anyway, it's refreshing to watch how politics once was in charge.

Frances Ha
(2012)

Life in black and white
The annoying thing with young rebels is that they always turn up to be like their parents anyway. How interesting is that?

Frances is the last one of them in her age group. We follow her, trying to struggle it. The struggle is partly successful, but she pays her price. Not that it's no return, because Frances will certainly in five years have kids too.

Greta Gerwig is great as expected. The first-take-feeling makes it look authentic, but the question why rebels can't stand the pressure in the long run isn't answered. It's not just a question of age. Are our societies really that strong? Yes, maybe.

Blue Jasmine
(2013)

Quite another trip
Woody Allen is back in the States and that seems to be an improvement. He also surprises us. Not knowing the director's name, you would hardly guess it's Allen.

Jasmine returns to her trash sister. She returns from Park Avenue, from wealth, from a husband killing himself in prison, from life. She starts lying immediately, but the only ones who believe her is her former kind of people and herself. Until neither they or herself do so.

Cate Blanchett is superb as the ruin of a Park Avenue Lady. Suddenly Woody Allen seems to take more interest in people than in clever lines. Give us more of that.

Traviata et nous
(2012)

Intimate Verdi
Opera is turning itself off from monumental performances and into the same acting demands on singers, as we have for talking stages. Nathalie Dessai is an example of it. We here follow her rehearsing La Traviata. Face expressions and moves are almost as important as song qualities.

The rehearsals nearly become a drama within the drama, although there are no high voices or choleric attitudes. Which makes this picture more touching than many of the performances you've seen in the opera houses.

Another school, another Verdi view, another way of bringing music and acting together. Are the volume strong voices out? We'll know a couple of generations from now.

Promised Land
(2012)

On the contrary
The radical Hollywood tradition doesn't completely belong to the past. They still make movies about the little man or woman and s/he may even confront Big Business from time to time.

Like here. Matt Damon is sent by his company to Kentucky to buy cheap land from the farmers. It functions sometimes, goes on rather well, if it wasn't for this old teacher. But problems arrive, real problems, when the environment champion turns up. A duel starts. It ends in a very surprising way, since things aren't what they seem to be. Or used to be in somewhat radical Hollywood.

OK story and more than OK acting from Damon's helper Frances McDormand. But it won't change much. We know who's winning.

A torinói ló
(2011)

What happened to the horse?
The story is well-known. Nietzsche hugged this mistreated horse in the street and went insane. But that's often told. Nobody has taken interest in the other part.

The farmer gets home. He lives with his daughter. They are waiting for destruction and become more and more aware of it. They even try to leave, because the horse is sick, but they can't. Their destiny is harsher than that of Nietzsche. For them it's a question of days.

Very little talking and maybe a little too much is left to the viewer, although 2,5 hours move fast. And you certainly can¨t take your eyes off the screen.

Stories We Tell
(2012)

Untold
Is it a documentary or not? When the film is over, you're not certain. Not so much because of the unbelievable story as because of the Super 8 clips. Are they authentic or not?

Well, you become rather certain finally, but it's after a quite silent merry-go-round ride, there everything is turned upside down when you didn't expect it. It's the daughter trying to reconstruct the relation between her mother and father. It's made in a very touching way and many family members and friends of the couple take part.

Saying more would perhaps mean spoiling it all. But probably you haven't seen anything like this.

Les saveurs du Palais
(2012)

The highest at the highest's
Being the president's chef at the Elysée Palace is of course an honour which compares to nothing else. No woman has been worthy of the title before. Not until now.

No surprise she gets difficulties from male colleagues. No matter she retaliates by the most complicated receipts, although the president says he longs for simple food from his childhood. It's almost parodic and makes you long for something from the fridge.

A rather common against-all-odds flick. You know what will happen and it happens. And you will think twice before you enter a good French restaurant again. You're not worthy

Känn ingen sorg
(2013)

Gothenburg goes emotional
Directors Mårlind/Stein are back from Hollywood and makes a very Swedish movie. You must be from here to appreciate it or dislike it. Otherwise you may be a little indifferent.

This guy has stage-fright. Since childhood, he has thought he will die if somebody's watching him performing. That's of course an obstacle for his career.

Well, if you are from Sweden, you'll get a little touched and you find that Gothenburg has never been so beautiful. A saga city. Even the port is beautiful, which has nothing to do with reality and the same goes for the many dream sequences and bittersweet love stories.

Los amantes pasajeros
(2013)

Again
Even in his darkest movies, Almodóvar has put in some elements of trashy burlesque. Here, it's nothing but that. It's a straight-forward comedy about a plane with difficulties. It may crash, but the big crash is maybe about the crew and the passengers.

The purser, pilot, stewards are all gay or bi-sexual. All sex-crazy and of course they are also into disco and the stories of a brothel madam who is also a dominatrix. We're supposed to giggle and maybe we do that from time to time, but mostly this is tiresome.

Seems like Almodóvar has reached the end of a path. We would gladly see turn his back on some darlings.

The Bling Ring
(2013)

The bling thing
They are not poor, not materially. But certainly poor being trapped in this plague of our time, the celebrity cult.

So they start breaking into famous people's houses stealing. They find things they've seen in magazines. They are girls with the exception of a male mascot, very well acted by Israel Broussard. He's not allowed to touch them, which is shown the hard way in a key scene. He's not part of the item identity.

Sofia Coppola is always interesting, but her criticism of a sick present era never goes too far. It's not dangerous. The thief gang lacks morals, more than the trap the are fetched in.

Song for Marion
(2012)

Dying it through
That ugly part of England which we've all learned to love. Marion has cancer, but attending this old-age choir keeps her up. Her husband hates it, as he hates everything except his wife. He comforts himself by smoking.

But the choir will also keep him up. Sad thing, there are so many of the common feel-good-clichées here. Dealing with cancer this way is making it far too easy. The good people are good in the way you start to expect after a couple of minutes.

Doesn't help there's lot of good acting and an ugly part of England you've learned to love.

The Great Gatsby
(2013)

Greatest Gatsby ever?
Didn't have great expectations, but became surprised. Suddenly I think I understand what Fitzgerald's novel is about.

What Gatsby does is having a hope so extreme, that he even thinks he can not only stop time, but bring it back. That's reality to him. The green light far away but so near is the symbol, but God watches it all through the eyes of a dirty poster.

Not that Di Caprio is good, but he is the engine of the Plaza Hotel scene, which puts everything on the edge. Existentialism shines through all the flapper luxury. And the green light is still there, even after the party is over.

En gång om året
(2012)

Once every 30 years
This couple has a pact. They only meet for love-making once every year. Not totally without conflicts, but anyway without giving up the pact. Until it after 30 years, which also means 30 days, becomes serious.

Good acting, hardly any yelling, and only two persons on the screen. Mostly their feelings are explainable, understandable, even for those who are outside all kinds of pacts.

You can of course say that this is a little too grown-up, which makes it not concerning you. But passion in a low voice sometimes do anyway. Even if only takes place once a year. Or once every 30 years. More to come?

Jagten
(2012)

Gossip kills
Vinterberg has made many disturbing movies in the good sense. This is no exception. The 42-year-old male assistant at a daycare center is falsely accused by a child for sexual abuse. Since children don't lie about such thing, he's doomed. But he's innocent.

A Via Dolorosa starts for Mads Mikkelsen in this little Danish village. There's no smoke without fire and it doesn't matter if the prosecution turns the whole thing down.

It's not that gossip necessarily kills you physically, but it kills your soul. Great drama by Vinterberg, including the interesting subject of friendship between men. What is it worth?

Renoir
(2012)

Supermodel?
The relation between the painter and his model has seldom been questioned. Not much talk about man power. Quite few smiles about it. If it had been otherwise with female artists painting naked men, we don't know much about. It's not much of that sort in art history.

We here meet the aging Renoir and one of his last models, Andrée. It becomes complicated when Renor's son appears. What's strongest? Art or sensual love?

It could have been an interesting dilemma, if this had been more of a film and less of just pictures. The story is lost because of that. Neither questions nor answers.

No Burqas Behind Bars
(2012)

Future outside prison?
Afghanistan. One woman is in prison for six years because of murder. Another is there for 15 years, because she ran away from home. That's reality, but it also seems to be more freedom behind bars than in front of them. The women don't risk to get killed.

A very strong documentary. We meet many kinds of previous lives and different characters. Some women are in prison together with their children. Another is close to her boyfriend who also is a moral convict, but on the other side of the wall. The female guardians sometimes are attacked, but mostly its about sisterhood in a very special society.

Touching, very human, much closeness. To be strongly recommended.

Silver Linings Playbook
(2012)

Bipolarity
You're always glad, when you find a intelligent comedy, after having watched too many idiotic, semi-idiotic and quarter-idiotic ones. But is it really a comedy? Many things go around under the surface of the heroes.

You've heard and seen much from Tracy/Hepburn, but Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are better. They can both explode any second and you can't say when they are happy or miserable, which makes them like something arriving from a thing called life.

The only thing which maybe degrades this a little are the almost slapstick scenes we have here with Robert De Niro. There's no need for it in this heavy drama.

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