Archive for January 9th, 2018


© 2018 by James Clark

      Seeing Ruben Ostlund’s film, Force Majeure (2014), where a husband and father runs away from his family when faced with an avalanche about to hit (which in fact doesn’t), we were clearly in the hands of an artist who had much to say about the indispensability of courage. His recent film, The Square (2017), finds him elaborating upon the earlier film’s domestic crisis coming to bear when being safely on the sidelines (like Ostlund’s Sweden in being “neutral” in face of a violent Germany amidst World War II) sows a deadly nightmare.

Let me inject some local color perhaps necessary when the locale is a backwater clouded in a distant and precious past. (Force Majeure, on the other hand, takes place in the well-known cosmopolitan French Alpine playground.) For the purpose of being on the same (target) page as Ostlund, we must know that the Swedish populace has for centuries been rigidly homogeneous as to race and culture, and overseen by the Evangelical Lutheran Church and its ardent and benevolent social priorities as to the vulnerable and incompetent. In the years immediately after World War II, the owner/ manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team (and a military zealot), namely, Conn Smythe, molded the team’s culture as opposed to appeasement, a priority one of his more virulent successors, Harold Ballard, honed into hatred of Swedish players, assumed to be cowards. One of my school chums, Don Baizley, was to go on to work as a lawyer/ hockey agent, with a special mission to introduce Swedish skills to the National Hockey League. I think. on the basis of The Square, there is little doubt that Ostlund follows Smythe and Ballard’s, not Baizley’s point of view. However, this film’s imbroglio is far more a search into difficult skills few have ever mustered, than simply kicking ass. (more…)

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