Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Some movie reviews

Some hopefully rather short ones, of movies that I've seen and been meaning to blog about. I am slow.

Majid Majidi: Avaze gonjeshk-ha
English title: The Song of Sparrows
IMDb listing here.
Iranian movie by a director of more than 25 years' experience. A story both moving and funny about a man who tries to do the best for his family, especially his almost deaf daughter. When she loses her hearing aid while playing and he loses his job on the local ostrich farm, he has to get creative to support his wife and children. Nothing offers in the village, so he tries getting some cab fares on his motorbike in Tehran. At first things are pretty good, but then, well ... let's just say that there's something about the lure of the big city that's hard for even the most upright man to resist. Not to mention the dumps of the big city ...
Very charming and sweet, sad too, but a lot of funny moments. Great performances and an interesting setting.

Bryan Bertino: The Strangers
IMDb listing here.
American horror movie by a debuting director. I wanted to see it because I liked the poster so much. :-) The plot: a young couple have travelled out into the boondocks for a friend's wedding and are staying at his parents' holiday house nearby. After the party some weird strangers show up asking a pretty odd question. At first they don't think anything of it. But then the strangers come back. And they won't go away. What the hell do they want??
A creepy movie with lots of OMG moments. A pretty good story, good performances, a convincing setting.

Rasmus A Sivertsen: Kurt blir grusom
English title: Kurt Turns Evil
IMDb listing here.
Wheee!! Norwegian computer animated craziness, and it's Kurt!! Wheee!!! :-D This adaptation of Erlend Loe's celebrated children's book is even crazier than the novel, and that's kinda saying something. Kurt is a forklift operator, married to an architect and father of three. He's a pretty nice guy ... at least until an obnoxious rich guy moves in next door and immediately makes nice with both wifey and kiddies. Kurt tries his best, but there isn't much he can do to compete. Not until he accidentally comes into a hell of a lot of money. And I do mean a hell of a lot. Now he's rich too, so now he ought to become just as popular as that other guy! Right? Right?!! Maybe things aren't quite that simple. A fact which the old Kurt would have accepted and learned to live with, but this is a new Kurt - a rich Kurt - an evil Kurt ... !! :-D
I totally dug this movie. The animation's great, it works really well with the characters and story. I love Kurt's hair and mustache and the way they express his mood. :-) The voices are great, fantastic. Not for serious people who think that films should be art, but otherwise very entertaining for children of all ages who like fun movies. ;-)

Sandberg/Rønning: Max Manus
English title: Max Manus. Man of War
IMDb listing here.
Best Norwegian movie ever made. Fantastic, stellar, a masterpiece. I loved it ... I was on the edge of my seat a lot of the time, even though I knew pretty much the entire story beforehand. Fantastic performances, a brilliant screenplay (and what a tragedy that the screenwriter and mastermind behind this movie has died now, so young) and a deeply gripping story ... all the more so for being true. There are so many wonderful scenes in this movie - so much drama! :-D - and so many great performances (did I say that already?) ... an extremely convincing recreation of wartime Oslo ... amazing sets and costumes. The one thing about this movie that I didn't quite like, or get, or whatever, was one bit of casting that was really weird. The movie doesn't have a star-studded cast - of course there is one major star, Aksel Hennie in the title role, but it goes without saying that they needed at least one big name to carry this thing. The second biggest name is Nicolai Cleve Broch. :-) Except ... at one point a young man is arrested for sabotage and his mother goes to the Gestapo to beg Siegfried Fehmer to release her son. Just an ordinary middle-aged woman, a nondescript person of no particular distinction, featured briefly in this one scene. And she is played by Kjersti Holmen. I mean ... what? All I can think of is that she must have wanted so desperately to be in this movie that she would just do anything ... and this was what they had. But it's still totally weird. I mean, it's Kjersti Holmen. o_O
Other than that, though, a total masterpiece. A must-see. I loved it. And I loved seeing it - the version we saw had subtitles in Norwegian, so that oldtimers would be able to follow the dialogue, and we saw whole families who were there to see it. Like a teenage boy who had his parents with him and was pushing an ancient man, his grandfather probably, in a wheelchair ... the old guy must have so many memories from the war, and there they were, the whole family, to share that, in a way. Imagine the conversation they could have afterwards ... :-)
And come August, I predict the following from Haugesund: This year's Amanda for the best performance by an actor in a feature presentation goes to ... Aksel Hennie for Max Manus. ;-)

Niels Arden Oplev: Män som hatar kvinnor
English title: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
IMDb listing here.
Another fantastic movie. I had pretty high expectations ... or one might say insanely high expectations ... of this one, and they were all met, totally. I disagree with the criticism that was brought against this movie, about the storyline and the character focus and all that. IMO the director has understood the series, not just the novel, and has done his job based on that. I think it totally worked and I can't wait to see the other two movies. The cast of this one is absolutely stellar, Noomi Rapace especially does an amazing job as the unlikely Lisbeth Salander. I just loved the way she played this very memorable character ... she got it just right. Michael Nyqvist of course is a joy to watch. A tight and intriguing plot that pulls the audience in, lots of twists and turns, the effects are great and the settings very convincing. Nothing but the best. I'm so going to be seeing this again. :-)

Zack Snyder: Watchmen
IMDb listing here.
American SFX extravaganza with lots of impressive stunts and a naked blue man. What's not to like? The story: there used to be superheroes, but now there aren't many left, because most of them have retired. But then things start happening and they need to come out of retirement to take care of the mess. That's pretty much it.
Bearing in mind that I have not read the graphic novel that this is based on, I thought the movie version was pretty good. Too long, but entertaining most of the time. The story was ... relatively interesting, but at times seemed almost extraneous to the whole thing. The director seemed to be quite enamored of the whole effects and crazy stunts thing. It was fun to watch then and there, mostly (although as I said it was overlong) but I wouldn't have seen it twice, I don't think. Mostly for fans of the genre. Of whom I kinda am one, yeah, I guess. But not enough to have ever actually read the book ... ;-)


Paz said...

Aksel Hennie, Nicolai Cleve Broch, "I mean, it's Kjersti Holmen"
These are famous in Scandinavia or just Norway.
I want to see that film BTW just teasing.

Leisha Camden said...

Aksel Hennie is a big star now, Nicolai Cleve Broch sort of on the way to being an A-lister. Kjersti Holmen is ... one of the biggest names in the country when it comes to actors, everyone knows her, she's top of the line. :-) Here's a little anecdote for you:

It's common here in Oslo and the surrounding area for school classes to go see plays in theaters in downtown Oslo. The most prestigious theater in the country is the National Theater in Oslo. One of the high schools in Bærum, where I come from, had sent one of their graduating classes to see a production of an Ibsen play. (For those in the know, I'm pretty sure the school in question was Eikeli ... may have been Dønski, I don't remember 100%, but I'm pretty sure it was Eikeli. Quel surprise. >:-) This would have been about 25 boys and girls in their late teens. They weren't entirely well-behaved, and the next day the principal of their school got a phone call from some administrative staff person at the National Theater. They told her that in the future, classes from her school would no longer be welcome as audience members at the National Theater. She was shocked and asked why they had made this decision. The answer?

'Because Kjersti Holmen has requested it.'

True story. She's major. :-D

Leisha Camden said...

I forgot to say that you should totally see the movie, it's fantastic. :-)