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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.


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

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

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

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

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

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