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Filmfestivalen 2015

Release the Draken!

I'm a bit concerned. For the last gazillion years, or at least twelve, I have been volunteering at Göteborg Filmfestival, working alongside the awesomest people at the best picture house in all the land, leaving me free to watch as many films as possible at my leisure. As such, I didn't need to plan so much ahead and buy tickets, I could just watch any film that happened to be the talk of the town at a whim. This year, however, I attend the movie extravaganza as a regular Joe, wielding tickets and all. It will feel different, but I just know, once I sink down in those comfy chairs, that the screen will, as it always does, take me away to far off places, to meet interesting, lovely, sordid, boring and hilarious people. And experience films I will, wielding tickets and all.


….The year’s

Shorts Posted on 2015-02-14 22:26:10

Best director:

Martti Helde

In the Crosswind

Baldvin Z

Vonarstræti (Life in a fishbowl)

Isao Takahata

Kaguyahime no monogatari

Sophie Hyde

52 Tuesdays

Jason Reitman

Men, women and children

Best lead:

Tilda Cobham-Hervey and Del Herbert-Jane

52 Tuesdays

Stellan Skarsgård

In order of disappearance

Julianne Moore

Still Alice

David Gulpilil

Charilie’s Country

Hera Hilmar

Vonarstræti (Life in a fishbowl)

Best supporting:

Þorsteinn Bachmann

Vonarstræti (Life in a fishbowl)

Alicia Vikander

Ex Machina

Erica Rivas

Relatos salvajes (Wild tales)

Jonathan Pryce

Listen up Philip

Judy Greer

Men, women and children

Best ensemble:

Vonarstræti (Life in a fishbowl)

Ex Machina

Men, women and children

Relatos salvajes (Wild tales)

Hide & Seek

Best film:

Vonarstræti (Life in a fishbowl)

Kaguyahime no monogatari

Relatos salvajes (Wild tales)

The Voices

52 Tuesdays

The winners will be presented further down.

As per tradition, or an old charter, or something, I thought it’s worth mentioning this year’s….


Kaguyahime no monogatari


Draken (thanks to the staff, the screen, the theatre, the sound system, the chairs….)


Ngoui truyen giong (The inseminator)



….best seat:

In the middle of the row by the second lamp, Draken

….should be caught at the cinema:

Inherent Vice



….damn that I didn’t get to see that one:

Tu dors Nicole


Erik Põllumaa, In the Crosswinds

….future promise:

Yuno Sakamoto

….I met Lassie

Nope. didn’t meet Lassie this year. Perhaps she fell down the bloody well?


The Program and A Feast of Crows by George RR Martin

….most GFF 1992-2004:

Relatos salvajes (Wild tales)

….most uneven

Still the water

….set/production design

Udo Kramer, The Voices


Deceit, distance, desperation

….vignette film:

Clips from various films in the program, with the Dragon logo cleverly hidden, or in plain sight


Cold & snowy, then cold and damp, then cold and snowy again.


Alex Ross Perry, Listen up Philip



….Bechdel spread

50% pass

….most frequent actor

Anna Kendrick


Bike, pimped for winter; walking boots


In order of disappearance

OK, so who won? Well:

Best director:

Martti Helde

In the Crosswind

Best lead:

Julianne Moore

Still Alice

Best supporting:

Erica Rivas

Relatos salvajes (Wild tales)

Best ensemble:

Men, women and children

Best film:

Kaguyahime no monogatari

And that’s all folks.

Film. Filmfilmfilm.

Vonarstræti (Life in a fishbowl)

Drama Posted on 2015-02-09 20:55:13

Relationsdrama by Baldvin Z, Iceland 2014

In three more and more intertwined stories, the struggles of three Reykjavik citizens just as the Icelandic economic collapse begins are depicted: An author, critically acclaimed but from a broken home and with alcohol problems, a young single mother, forced to make ends meet through prostitution and a former football star, making a career in banking after an injury ended his sports career.

Icelandic films are often gritty, melancholic and in various degrees of depressing. Life in a fishbowl is no different, but it manages the fine balance-act of melodrama: being sad and touching, without radiating hopelessness. The unlikely friendship between the down-and-out author and the naïve, yet seasoned mother is a heartwarming, as well as heart-shattering one. The lives depicted move the audience, drag them in, and one is left with the feeling of being a part of someone else’s life, just for a bit. That is in no small part thanks to Hera Hilmar’s amazing portrayal of the emotionally ambivalent Eik, and I expect great things from her in the future.
A film that, in a way, symbolizes the festival as a whole: aside from the many documentaries I saw, it has been very drama-laden, with few chuckles, and far between. ‘Life in a fishbowl’ ends the festival on a high note, albeit in a minor key.

Bechdel test: Pass

5 daughters of 6

Charlie’s country

Drama Posted on 2015-02-09 20:52:12

Alienation by Rolf de Heer, Australia 2013

In Northern Territories special laws apply to the indigenous people regarding, amongst others, hunting, weapons and alcohol. Charlie is an old man, having grown up in the traditional ways. He has grown weary of living the forced lifestyle of the white man, and decides to go live off the nature. It’s not easy, though, for an old man with failing health.

The cooperation between director de Heer and actor David Gulpilil has resulted in many films depicting the situation for the aboriginals. They’re often worthwhile, always serious and Charlie’s country is no exception. It’s not overly sentimental, and Gulpilil’s acting is subtle and spot on. It’s lacking a bit in the plot department, and the portrayals of the white cops are kind of one-dimensional, but all in all worth a watch.

Bechdel test: fail

3 dances of 6

Still Alice

Drama Posted on 2015-02-09 20:50:19

Lackmemoir by Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland, USA 2014

Alice is a successful linguist and professor at Columbia. She’s happily married, with grown-up children and feel proud of her intellect. So, when she starts forgetting words and details, she fears the worst. Soon she has to struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, and the former academic has a hard time doing so.

Julianne Moore is perfect in the lead. She’s the main reason ‘Still Alice’ is gripping rather than sentimental. The scene where she records a video message to her future self is very poignant, and the little hints of slipping cognitive capacity are subtle and well executed. The supporting cast doesn’t quite match Moore’s stellar performance, and at times it gets a bit oscar-baity. That doesn’t stop the film from being worth watching, though.

Bechdel test: pass

4 froghurts of 6

Risttuules (In the crosswinds)

Drama Posted on 2015-02-09 20:48:18

Incarcerationinstallation by Martti Helde, Estonia 2014

During the Stalinist regime in the early 1940’s, tens of thousands of Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians were imprisoned and sent to work camps in Siberia in an ethnic cleansing. In the crosswinds tells the story of one Estonian women, with basis in letters she sent to her husband.

It’s incredibly beautiful cinematography. Black and white still life, perfectly capturing the despair. No lines are spoken, just a single voice-over reading the touching letters. It’s of course very glum, which makes it effective and powerful, though perhaps too slow and solemn. It’s really more of a piece of art, an installation if you will, than a film.

Bechdel test: fail

4 bottles of milk of 6

Poutine pour toujours? (Putin is back)

Documentary Posted on 2015-02-09 20:46:43

Despotentary by Jean Michel Carré, France 2014

Putin has been the de facto leader of Russia since 2000, first as president for the, according to the constitution, maximum of two terms, then as the prime minister, ruling the country through his puppet president Medvedev. By 2012, he dropped all pretenses and outright screwed the constitution, fashioning himself president again. With increasing despotism and totalitarian measures, the charismatically frightening megalomaniac continues to steer Russia back to the powerful empire it once was.

As documentaries go, this one is pretty straightforward; chronologically told, through narration and archive footage, with no innovative tricks at all. However, the tone is coloured by a sense of black humour, which functions well with the subject at hand. I mean, with a man like Putin, should one shiver in fear or laugh derisively? I prefer the latter, and wouldn’t mind if ‘Poutine pour toujours?’ had even more sarcasm and satire.

Bechdel test: fail

3 terms of 6

Kraftidioten (In order of disappearance)

Comedy Posted on 2015-02-09 20:44:33

Gangstercomedy by Hans Petter Moland, Norway 2014

In the icy north of Norway lives a law-abiding entrepreneur, taking care of plowing the roads. However, not too far from the picturesque little village lies a larger town, which happens to be the hub for cocaine smuggling. The gangsters running the business don’t take kindly to couriers and pushers stealing the blow, and even Ingvar, the plow-king’s son, who didn’t know that his one-time job was cocaine related gets offed. Upon finding out what has happened, the plow man sets out on a tour of revenge, involving both the Norwegian mafia and their Serbian rivals.

It starts as a regular drug and gangster film, albeit in a fairly uncommon setting. As it progresses, it moves more towards dark comedy territory, with gruesome deaths, gay gangsters and an over the top jerk for a mob boss. It would have helped going even further; as it stands, it’s somewhere halfway between mob film played straight and black parody, which makes the film watchable, but not great.

Bechdel test: fail

3 parasails of 6


Comedy Posted on 2015-02-07 14:00:36

Survivalfilm by Lukas Valenta Rinner, Argentina 2014

Twenty minutes into the future, the world, and especially Argentina, is in unrest. Bombings, earthquakes, extreme weather and general disarray are rising, and so Hernan decides to leave his job and belongings in Buenos Aires to go to a survival camp in the forest.

Very few words are spoken, and we never get to know the characters. The training sessions are quite amusing, but there is a certain lack of plot, and so, it’s a good thing that the film is a mere 75 minutes. It makes me want to go to some similar camp though, even if the world isn’t doomed.

Bechdel test: fail

2 t-shirts of 6

Ex Machina

Drama Posted on 2015-02-07 13:58:12

ScAI-fAI by Alex Garland, USA 2014

Caleb is a young programmer at the world’s largest search engine company. One day he wins a staff lottery and gets to visit his mysterious boss at his recluse estate way off in the wilderness. Once there, it turns out that he’s to perform a Turing test on the enigmatic entrepreneur’s latest creation: a fully functional AI.

As sci-fi goes, ‘Ex machina’ is somewhat bottle episodey, which can be a good thing. The main actors do tremendous jobs, in particular Oscar Isaac as the arrogant, yet likeable arsehole he’s prone to portray and Sweden’s own Alicia Vikander as the AI robot Ava. The interaction between tester and subject gets ever more tense, and something doesn’t feel right, neither for Caleb, nor the audience. I had expected a plot twist or two, and I had already patted myself on the back for figuring it out right from the beginning. But sometimes looks can be deceiving, and sometimes deceiving can be deceiving, as well.

Bechdel test: fail

4 bytes of 6


Drama Posted on 2015-02-07 13:55:57

Suicidemo by Jeppe Rønde, Denmark 2015

In the small Welsh town of Bridgend, a series of mysterious suicides has been occurring since a few years back. A former citizen, now a policeman, returns with his teenage daughter to investigate. Meanwhile, the daughter teams up with a gang of juvenile delinquents, and the suicides continue, but now it gets all too personal for both dad and daughter.

With skillful use of camera, lights (or lack thereof) and haunting music, with the overcast, gray autumn scenery furthering the bleakness, debut director Rønde tells the based-on-true-events tale with little to no humour. It’s all gray, dull, depressing and bleak. Unfortunately, the depictions of teenage angst is more akin to what adults think it’s like, rather than how teens actually behave. Some of the teens are played by themselves, with no acting experience, and it shows. Nevertheless, it’s a gripping tale, but the unrelatability of the characters makes it hard to invest fully. A nice first effort, though.

Bechdel test: Pass

3 skinny-dips of 6


Documentary Posted on 2015-02-06 20:23:55

Reactionrecreation by Anders Østergaard, Erzsébet Rácz, Denmark 2014

When the young accountant Miklós Németh unexpectedly gets elected prime minister of Hungary in 1988, few knew what consequences that would have for Hungary, the Eastern block and, indeed, the world. Through overdubbing, re-enactments and archive footage, the story of how the Iron Curtain fell is told.

The late 80’s and early 90’s was a period of turmoil and changes in Europe, and though I was young, I can relate. We (as in my generation and older) are all fairly knowledgable on the events in East Germany leading to the fall of the wall, and the Glasnost and Perestrojka initiative of Michail Gorbachev, but I, for one, was a bit fuzzy on the importance Hungary played, and especially their approach to the border to their long-last ally Austria. Through the innovative use of overdubbing archive footage, sometimes with voice actors, sometimes with the actual people portrayed, there’s a fresh take on documentary story-telling, and I like; the obviously bad lip-synch is noteble for about a minute, after which you don’t really give it a second thought. Probably, like all documentaries, it’s a bit lopsided, but it seems that it just might be the death of one man, an East German who tried using the Hungarian-Austrian border to flee the eastern block, who tilted the political leanings which led to the confusion that later allowed the Berlin wall to fall. Possibly.

Bechdel test: Fail

5 advisors of 6

Futatsume no mado (Still the water)

Drama Posted on 2015-02-06 20:19:38

Teenangstdrama by Naomi Kawase, Japan 2014

On a remote island in the Japanese archipelago, a teenage boy finds a dead body flushed ashore after a heavy storm. The tragedy leads him to deal with his angst regarding his parents’ separation, but also helps him connect with a girl from school, who suffers from sadness due to her mother’s terminal illness.

Beautiful and sad, ‘Still the water’ tells a tale of growing up, but rather unevenly so. It varies between engaging moments and tedious, between clever storytelling and unnecessary. With the potential to be a great film, ‘Still the water’ misses the mark somewhat.

Bechdel test: Fail

3 tattoos of 6

Ngoui truyen giong (The inseminator)

Drama Posted on 2015-02-06 20:17:33

Seedstory by Kim Quy Bui, Vietnam 2014

In an isolated forest in the Vietnamese countryside lives a man with his unwed daughter and mentally different son. Obsessed with keeping his bloodline, he tries to get his son to be able to plant his seed in a wife provided for him. Such is not easy to purchase, but in his own household he finds the solution.

Excellent cinematography.

Bechdel test: fail

1 red doll of 6

Relatos salvajes (Wild tales)

Comedy Posted on 2015-01-31 01:53:07

Stories-not-quite-woven-together-anthology by Damián Szifron, Argentina 2014

In a series of thematically, though not narratively, connected stories, we get to follow different people giving retribution to perceived slights, often in exaggerated manners. A plane where the passengers share a common acquaintance, a man whose life shatters, triggered by a parking violation and a bride discovering something on her wedding feast are some of the stories told in this Argentinean Oscar contribution.

With black humour and a grey and gray morality, Damián Szifron delivers a smorgasbord of funny, sad, dark and hilariously over-the-top cinematic dishes. The mood is set straight away with the plane story, as a cynical and mundane take on LOST, and is followed by a breather about a mob boss’ comeuppance. With hints of The Duel, Falling down and the Wolf sequence in Pulp Fiction, other stories are presented with the common theme of someone being, at least in their own opinion, wronged and so gives an often disproportionate retribution. Losing control might be the unifying factor, and never clearer so than in the final installment, in which a terrific Érica Rivas gives a performance of a lifetime as a bride who, upon discovering her groom’s cheating on the night of their wedding, turns the woman scorned ante up to eleven. There are some Almodovary vibes, which isn’t surprising, seeing as he’s one of the producers.

Bechdel test: Fail

5 cakes of 6

Merchants of doubt

Documentary Posted on 2015-01-31 01:51:11

Sceptimentary by Robert Kenner, USA 2014

Sceptics have always existed, which is necessary to question what is being held up as truth in all sorts of fields. However, deniers have also always existed, and their mission is not to question, as much as vehemently stick to their preconceived versions of truth, often in spite of overwhelming evidence. As politics and money enter the equation, making people denying inconvenient truths is sometimes needed, and spreading misinformation and doubt is an effective tool, having been utilized in the tobacco industry and transgressed into the climate change denial we see today.

Starting off by setting the mood with a wee bit on a card magician informs us that slight of hand is important in card tricks*, but misdirection and making people focus on the wrong things are more important for the outcome. The same tactics are being used by tobacco lobbyists and advocates for climate change denial; the difference being that the magician and the audience are honest about the fact that it’s all deceit. After some of the most visually pleasing opening credits, the lies and half-truths being used by those denying proper science are exposed in an interesting and unforgiving manner.

I suspect that I enjoyed this film a teeny weeny bit more because it confirms my already held beliefs. This is of course ironic, in an Alanis Morissettean way, seeing that much of the misinformation regarding climate change comes from conservative American media, such as Fox news, who use the very same tactics to cater to their demographic. Nevertheless, ‘Merchants of doubt’ is a thought-provoking and entertaining documentary, and a wake-up call at that.

*) Illusions, Michael….

Bechdel test: Fail

5 cards of 6

Listen Up Philip

Comedy Posted on 2015-01-29 22:44:32

Authorisation by Alex Ross Perry, USA 2014

Philip is a 30-something novelist, about to publish his follow-up to his reasonably successful debut. Though the fact that he’s a published author has helped him get a decent apartment in New York and a loving girlfriend, his insecurity prompts him to alienate anyone around him, whether or not they supported him or no. He finds a mentor in the equally bitter former best-seller writer, struggling to make his comeback, but that doesn’t really help either of their personalities, nor their writing or management skills.

Jason Schwarztman plays the same role he always does, and is genuinely jerkassy towards all and sundry, including himself. It’s hard to sympathize, and thus easy to cheer for his girlfriend as she steadily acknowledges that she’s becoming his ex. Jonathan Pryce as the aging mentor is stellar. The film itself suffers from being very uneven; sometimes it’s just too much, or too boring, yet other times one gets completely invested in the happenings. The actual lines are remarkably well written, hovering just below the verge of sesquipedalian loquaciousness, but what else is there to expect when many of the characters are authors, and quite pretentious, at that?

Bechdel test: Fail

3 Laphroaig of 6

Kaguyahime no monogatari (The tale of princess Kaguya)

Adventure Posted on 2015-01-29 22:41:27

Fairymation by Isao Takahata, Japan 2013

From Studio Ghibli (Spirited away, My neighbour Totoro et al) comes the aquarelle animation adaptation of a Japanese folk-tale from the 900’s, in which a simple old bamboo cutter one day finds a tiny princess in a bamboo shoot, a princess that all of a sudden turns into a baby girl. She grows quickly, and the bamboo cutter and his wife do their best to give the girl all she could wish for, as the princess from the heavens that she truly is. But suitors and riches and the lifestyle of a proper lady is not what she wants, and she starts longing for wherever she can call home.

As beauty goes, this one raises the bar. Every cell is a piece of art, carefully hand painted in water colour. The story is gripping, joyous, tear inducing and dramaturgically perfect. A feminist story with origins from feudal Japan that somehow doesn’t feel out of place. To add to this film’s credit, the acting (both the voice acting and the animated facial expressions and body language) is spot on. What’s missing is hard to tell, but to mark it a masterpiece, that little extra something is lacking. That doesn’t stop ‘The tale of princess Kaguya’ from being an awesome and stunningly beautiful film.

Bechdel test: Pass

5 treasures of 6

Hide and seek

Comedy Posted on 2015-01-28 23:57:13

Collectivism by Joanna Coates, UK 2014

In a secluded house in the countryside four 20-somethings have decided to shred the norm and societal pressure and live a life of no-nonsense art, friendship and pansexual relations. Their lifestyle gets a bit of a dink upon the arrival of a fifth person, one of the two girl’s ex.

Marketed as a sort of spiritual successor of Moodysson’s ‘Together’, ‘Hide and seek’ promises more than it delivers. It’s very feel-good and some of the scenes are highly entertaining, funny, dramatic or just plain cosy. Sometimes it drags you in and makes you wish you could be there, to see what it’s really like. However, there is a certain lack of conflict that would have spiced things up and made for a more entertaining story. Sunshine and lollipops can only take a film’s enjoyment value so far.

Bechdel test: Pass

3 speed dates if 6

Geo-jin-mal (The Liar)

Drama Posted on 2015-01-28 23:55:13

Fakedrama by Dong-myung Kim, South Korea, 2014

Ayoung lives a rather miserable life, with an alcoholic sister, an estranged mother and a dead-end job. Yet she puts up a facade of being successful, checking out luxury apartments, lying about her rich boyfriend and generally being deceitful, mostly towards herself. The ever-downwards spiral is bound to catch up with her, though.

I get that the main character feels the need to lie; being successful is important, especially in this day and age, and especially in urban environments. She never ever benefits, however, and thus she never really comes crashing down. Instead it’s a bit of a slow descent, so slow that it’s almost a status quo, and as such, the story never really grips.

Bechdel test: Pass

2 fridges of 6

Startsladden (The jump cable)

Shorts Posted on 2015-01-28 23:53:21

Celluloidrelay, by misc, Sweden 2014-15

A collection of shortfilms, eligible for the short film award ‘Startsladden’ (roughly translated The jump cable) in a feature length package. As usual, some films are better than others.

Audition by Lovisa Sirén: 3 couches of 6
Värn (Reduit) by John Skoog: 0 slabs of 6
Jag vill nå dig (I want to reach you) by Victor Lindgren: 3 dances of 6
Mommy by Milad Alami: 4 toddlers of 6
Pojkarna (Boys) by Isabella Carbonell: 2 juvenile delinquents of 6
Punkt 9: val av andre vice talman (Second Deputy Speaker) by Maximilien Van Aertryck: 3 blanks of 6
Stoerre Vaerie (Norra Storfjället/Northern Great Mountain) by Amanda Kernell: 2 reindeer of 6
Cupcake by Jane Magnusson: 1 conjugal bed of 6

Bechdel test: 2 pass, 6 fail

On average: 2,25 sockets of 6

Zero motivation

Comedy Posted on 2015-01-26 23:36:08

Milicomedy by Talya Levie, Israel 2014

At a military base in the Israeli desert, a group of women goes through the motions in their everyday boring office tasks, and we get to follow three of them; one whose beloved is stationed there, one who feels it’s all pointless and one whose dream of being transferred to Tel Aviv is constantly thwarted, until she decides to up the ante.

As military films go, this one has more in common with old-style slapstick comedies than the likes of Full Metal Jacket. The focus on women is refreshing, and there are some funny moments. Unfortunately, they’re too far apart for a full length feature, and it’s all fairly expendable, though entertaining enough for the duration.

Bechdel test: Pass

3 shredded papers of 6


Documentary Posted on 2015-01-26 23:33:51

Basic-rights-explanation by Diana Whitten, The Netherlands 2014

In 2001, a Dutch doctor volunteering for Greenpeace discovered the horrific figures of women endangering their lives due to illegal abortions worldwide. As a solution, she decides to offer legal abortions on her organization’s ship, on international water, 12 nautical miles offshore from countries where abortion still is illegal. Their efforts are constantly hindered by uncooperative governments and picketers, and as such, they expand their mission to include information, campaigns and education.

Rebecca Gomperts, the founder of is a strong, dedicated woman, and her on screen personality is equally strong. The subject of the documentary is, at least to this viewer, one of the more poignant example of how religion causes unnecessary pain and suffering in a question which has one very clear answer, an answer that much of the world have failed to grasp. And as such it’s easy to side with the director and her subjects, making for a gripping and highly interesting film. It shows that hands-on efforts and, to an even higher degree, information and education really can make a difference for the hundreds of thousands who are shunned by society or suffering pain or death due to illegal abortions every year.

Bechdel test: Pass

5 ports of 6

The Voices

Comedy Posted on 2015-01-25 21:04:55

Delusionthrillercomedy by Marjane Satrapi, USA 2014

Jerry works at a bathroom equipment factory in a small town. However, his traumatic childhood has led him to be emotionally unstable, and when he meets Fiona, the pretty girl from accounting, he tries to deal with his loneliness, with macabre results.

Marjane Satrapi tackles a serious psychological problem with a delightfully morbid humour, desensitizing horrible situations with vivid colouring and tacky music. As such, on the rare occasions the pro-/antagonist, and thereby the viewer, snaps back to reality, the shock values increase. Small details, like having the disembodied voice of a Briton speaking in English stock phrases (God save the queen, pip pip, evenin’ gov’nor….) and a social awkwardness matching Jerry’s hidden insanity add quality.

Bechdel test: Pass

5 forklifts of 6

52 Tuesdays

Drama Posted on 2015-01-25 20:57:58

Correctiondrama by Sophie Hyde, Australia, 2013

Billie’s mum is a man born in a woman’s body, and eventually he realizes that, and decides to have corrections. During such turbulent times, it’d decided that Billie goes to live with her dad, only seeing her mum every Tuesday for the next year. At the same time, Billie goes through changes of her own, as one is wont to do in one’s late teens.

Both Tilda Cobham-Hervey as Billie and Del Herbert-Jane as Jane/James are brilliant in their leading roles. The transitions parallelled between child and parent are intrigueing and gripping without being melodramatic or judgy. The oft used trope of having an observer doing talking heads sessions as a framing device for the flashbacks seems cliché at first, but it’s not exactly what it seems. Heartwarming, dramatic, realistic, humourous and very well executed.

Bechdel test: Pass

5 haircuts of 6

Zagreb Cappucino

Drama Posted on 2015-01-25 20:52:36

Midagesolution by Vanja Svilicic, Croatia 2014

Petra is recently divorced, and lives in a fancy apartment in Zagreb, which she keeps meticulously clean. When her old friend Kika comes for a longer stay, she begins living life, for all its ups and down.

It’s all pretty straight forward: Petra’s ennui becomes lessened through the exploits of her more extrovert friend, yet boozing, drinking cappuccinos and having one night stands can only take you so far towards happiness. It’s the friendship between the two 40+ women, and the fact that Kika isn’t as joyous as it seems that give the film some semblance of substance.

Bechdel test: pass

3 cups of 6


Drama Posted on 2015-01-25 01:19:41

Suicidrama by Daniel Barnz, USA 2014

Claire is in serious physical pain after a car accident, and in even deeper mental pain due to the loss of her son and the consequent failure of her marriage. When one of the women in her support group commits suicide, her life may just take a turn for the even worse.

Eventually, rom-com leading ladies seem to take on more serious roles, often as somewhat broken women. After Meg and Sandra it’s now Jennifer Aniston’s turn. Although she plays the part impressively low-key, and the drama keeps getting still more dramatic in a gripping way, the film suffers from repeated clichés and predictability. Not everything is by strict formula, though. Some details work well, and the fact that the introduction of a handsome younger man doesn’t lead to hugs and puppies is refreshing. A bit too drawn-out for my taste, but the acting, especially from Aniston and Felicity Huffman adds a notch.

Bechdel test: Pass

3 pools of 6

Men, women and children

Drama Posted on 2015-01-25 01:13:33

Connectivitydrama by Jason Reitman, USA 2014

In today’s constantly connected society, the youth seem incapable of human interaction, preferring online chats and texting. The implications of putting all sorts of details on the internet raises red flags for some parents, alienation for others and a sense of becoming blasé for yet others.

With gorgeous footage of the Voyager traversing through our solar system and narration provided by the incomparable Emma Thompson, the film sets the mood as a pretentious, yet tounge-in-cheeky black comedy, and so it remains for the first third, before turning more into drama. The classic high school stock characters are present: the bitchy cheerleader, the arsehole jock, the sensitive guy who no longer wants to be a jock, the alternative girl…. But it’s all about their lack of communication and their parent’s lack of understanding. Scariest would be Jennifer Garner’s big brothery overprotective mum, logging and blocking all her daughter’s internet and mobile communication. However, Judy Greer as the failed actress desperately using her attention seeking daughter to make up for her lost dreams is as sad, but on the other side of the spectrum. A visually pleasing film that would be more enjoyable had they kept the dark comedy throughout.

Bechdel test: Pass

4 avatars of 6

Steak (R)evolution

Documentary Posted on 2015-01-24 02:56:30

Meatumentary by Franck Ribière, France 2014

The way by which we eat beef has changed throughout history, and the 20:th century saw a shift towards leaner, and thereby less flavoury meat, where quality has needed to budge in favour of quantity. Perhaps the pendulum is beginning to swing back, and Franck Ribière travels the globe in search of the world’s best steak.

Whether the shaky camera and the crappy and sometimes unsynced sound are deliberate to give that ‘documentary’ feeling or just a result of budget priorities I leave unsaid. However, soon enough one is pulled into the world of enthusiastic breeders and butchers worldwide, who strive towards a future in which cattle care not only produces tasty meat, but also one in which the environment and small businesses thrive. Personally, as I just returned home from Argentina, I hold the belief that the free-range, grassfed cows of the Pampas (many hundred green miles) give the tastiest meat evah, but Ribière’s journey shows that dedication and craftsmanship can conjure excellent meat in, for instance, Japan, Sweden and Scotland. Some of the people we get to meet are more colourful than others, yet it’s interesting the whole time. I now feel that I want to, and should, raise the bar on the quality of beef I indulge in from now on, and perchance learn a thing or two about cutting and marbling. But first and foremost I got a big craving for a nice steak, and so had my Google Maps out as soon as the credits had rolled, in search of a nearby steak house. Do not watch this film on an empty stomach!

Bechdel test: Fail

4 tummies of 6


Adventure Posted on 2015-01-24 02:47:50

Teenadventure by Yuno Sakamoto, Japan 2014

In a mid-size town in Japan something peculiar is going on: the youth start acting all grown-up and responsible-like, in no way how kids ought to behave. Akane and her friends decide to investigate what’s happening, and their quest takes them to the dreamscape of their comatose friend, in order to defeat the manifestation of the contagion.

The barely 15 year old Yuno Sakamoto holds the director’s megaphone, and she’s aided by other teens in the creative department. As such, the interpretation of the youngsters’ situation gets bbelievable yet somewhat amateurish. Parts Inception mix with parts B-grade karate film á la 80’s, and any logic keeps well hidden in the background. Which, I suppose, is reasonable, seeing that the story in great deals takes place in the world of dreams. A film primarily for the younger crowd.

Bechdel test: Pass

3 mascots of 6