Archive for June 8th, 2010

Guess the pic

From Samuel. The winner can e-mail me at movieman0283@gmail.com with a screen cap (please do not title the file with the movie’s name, as I may want to participate).

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by Joel

#67 in Best of the 21st Century?, a series counting down the most acclaimed films of the previous decade. This review contains spoilers.

In his four-star review of A Serious Man, Roger Ebert writes, “I’m sure you’ve heard the old joke where Job asks the Lord why everything in his life is going wrong. Remember what the Lord replies? If you don’t remember the joke, ask anyone. I can’t prove it but I’m absolutely certain more than half of everyone on Earth has heard some version of that joke.” Well, no, I don’t remember what the Lord replies, because I don’t think I’ve ever heard some version of that joke (is that the joke?). However, Ebert’s withholding the punchline is very much in the spirit of the film he’s reviewing. This is a film that begins with a ghost (is it a ghost?) getting stabbed and ends with a tornado bearing down on a Hebrew school  while the tinny sound of Jefferson Airplane reverberates from a transistor radio. In between, a woman kicks her husband out of the house and then makes him pay for her suddenly dead lover’s funeral; a boy tokes up before his Bar Mitzvah and receives a Grace Slick-inspired blessing from his 90-year-old rabbi; a relative with cysts is charged with gambling and arrested for soliciting sodomy; an escape across the Canadian border is brought to a bloody halt by anti-Semitic hunters (don’t worry, it’s all a dream!); and a Jewish dentist discovers a hidden Hebrew script on the inside teeth of a gentile. Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) is trapped in the center of this eventually literal cyclone, and throughout the film he wears a dumbly neurotic, perpetually perplexed expression. He doesn’t understand what’s going, yet at times he seems to behave just as irrationally as the incidents befalling him, particularly with all the crap he takes from his shrewish wife. Everyone in the movie seems to be acting according to the dictates of some hidden humor – in both senses of the word; gee, I wish someone would let me in on the joke. (more…)

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Taking the dog for a walk Swedish style

Taking the dog for a walk Swedish style

by Allan Fish

(Sweden 2007 96m) DVD2

Aka. Du levande

I saw nineteen bombers fly overhead

p  Pernilla Sandström  d/w  Roy Andersson  ph  Gustav Danielsson  ed  Anna Märta Waern  m  Benny Andersson

Jessika Lundberg (Anna), Elisabeth Helander (Mia), Björn Englund (Tuba player), Leif Larsson (carpenter), Olle Olson (consultant), Birgitta Persson (Tuba player’s wife),

Has there ever been a more joyful film with a title that comes, as the first caption tells us, from Goethe?  That, and the country of origin, might lead one to expect a neo-Bergmanesque dip into the waters of Nordic angst and despair.  What I will concede is that it is, formally and aesthetically speaking, bleak.  It’s very bleak.  The unnamed city seems to be made entirely of grey, characterless concrete, its citizens sick to death with their own depression.  Yet it is also darkly hilarious, and one of the few genuinely ingenious films to enter the world of not the surreal, but the absurd. 

            Andersson’s film records in minute detail the existence of numerous loosely connected characters, who may frequent the same run down bar, even walk the same streets, but who in essence remain defiantly alone.  There’s various members of a band, including a tuba player whose wife despairs of him, a psychiatrist who’s given up his bedside manner in favour of just prescribing pills, a miserable middle aged woman, who we find is a recovering alcoholic, who’s going out with a SS insignia-laded leather-jacketed man who’s actual a soft dog lover, and a primary school teacher and her carpet seller husband who fall into depression after an argument.  Oh, and a teenage girl with surgically attached purple thigh-length boots (she even wears them under her wedding dress) who just adores the ground a self-absorbed, vacant rock guitarist walks on.  (more…)

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