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Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) B+/A-
Nymphomaniac (2014) B-
Divergent (2014) C
Enemy (2014) B/B+

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Entries in Scandinavia (38)

Friday
Mar212014

Posterized: Lars von Trier

Denmark's most important and most self important troublemaker Lars von Trier is back with the two-part Nymphomaniac. Charlotte Gainsbourg stars as the title character and recounts her lifelong sexcapades. Is there really 5 hours of story to tell? Or is it just hard to edit yourself when you're doing something vignette style? And how do we count this in his filmography anyway... as one or two films?

Is it really one film delivered at two separate chunks or two separate films? Not that Von Trier's filmography is easy to parse in the usual way, making posterized a bit more challenging. [more...]

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jan262014

Sundance: Blind, a Playful Stunner From Norway

From the Sundance Film Festival here's Nathaniel on "Blind" which won the World Cinema screenwriting prize...

Excuse me while I leap forward 11 months and give Blind the  gold medal for "Best Opening Scene" of 2014. This highly original Norwegian film begins with a visualization exercize. Ingrid (Ellen Dorrit Petersen), a married blind woman, is detailing her recent loss of sight. She's trying to remember what things looked like and has been warned that with no new visual stimuli from the optic nerves, her memoires of sight will fade. She'd like to keep the images for as long as she possibly can. She visualizes a tree, her apartment, a park, a dog. It's a German Shepherd to be precise - a morbidly funny choice given their status as the original seeing eye dogs.

Once the dog is visualized in a park, the background vanishes leaving only the panting dog on a blank canvas, as if it's posing in a photographer's studio. Ingrid visualizations a shopping center she likes and just before this intriguing prologue ends we see the dog again, barking forcefully in a window. But we don't hear it. Ingrid and director Eskil Vogt have unexpectedly robbed us of one of our other senses to close out this playful series of images. [more...]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec162013

Linkomaniac

Pajiba Frozen/Star Wars poster mashup
Total Film
now that the Weinsteins have access to their Miramax back-catalogue expect sequels. Shakespeare in Love 2 is coming at you (no, this is not a satirical Onion style post)
Variety Disney is planning a Jesse Owens biopic centered around the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Rich subject though it will obviously be easy to slide into pandering "inspirational"
/Film
at press conference James Cameron compares his Avatar sequels to The Godfather trilogy. Oh Jimmy. I love you more than just about anyone but less talking (you're no good at it!) and more filmmaking (you're great at it!)
Cinema Blend
first teaser for Gregg Araki's White Bird in a Blizzard with Eva Green and Shailene Woodley
In Contention Kris Tapley's top ten list featuring Mud, All is Lost, The Place Beyond the Pines and more

small screen and miscellania
Towleroad first images from Ryan Murphy's adaptation of The Normal Heart
Slate
on the big problem with Masters of Sex. I absolutely agree with this but for me the show is great enough to overcome it... which is saying a lot since Bill Masters (Michael Sheen) is the lead
BuzzFeed 24 reasons why Cher is the Queen of Twitter 

Today's Best Movie Anything!
God bless Screen Daily for uncovering this gem...

In a week when American film critics organization have been tripping over each other to bestow awardage which, even when thoughtful can feel totally boring, a Danish Film Critics group have shown the world how it's done. They've mocked themselves up in character posters a la Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac to promote their awards (on February 1st) - note their outlet instead of character name on the posters. Nymphomaniac will be eligible for their prizes since it opens for Christmas in Denmark. This makes me want to read every single damn one of these critics weekly so a job well done!

Saturday
Nov232013

Live Action Short Finalists

One of the most confounding things about following the non-marquee categories at the Oscars is that not every category operates by the same rules. For example they released the super long eligibility list for Best Documentary Feature but not the super long eligibility lists for the live action shorts. To further complicate matters, this doesn't seem to be the same strategy each year.

Tim recently shared the finalist list for Best Animated Short nominations and now we have the ten Live Action hopefuls from which Academy members will nominate three to five. I personally hate it when categories have a fluctuating amount of nominees. Commit AMPAS! There's no excuse for it really in short films since there are thousands made each year and certainly at least 5 of them would have to be great.

10 FINALISTS FOR BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT

Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me) Esteban Crespo (Producciones Africanauan)
The always heartwarming topic of child soldiers. I honestly can't deal with these films and is it just my imagination or is there one on this topic every year in the shorts categories? It's just too overwhelmingly tragic for me.

Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything) Xavier Legrand (KG Productions)
a woman and her kids, who have pretended to go to school, are in a desperate rush. But to where and from what?

Dva (Two) Mickey Nedimovic (Filoufilm Dani Barsch)
A Serb and a Croat step on a landmine simultaneously as they attempt to kill each other and realize their lives are now intertwined. I don't know how you sustain that for nearly half an hour but maybe they can!

Helium Anders Walter (M & M Productions)
A sick boy in Denmark hears magical stories from a hospital janitor 

Kush Shubhashish Bhutiani, director (Red Carpet Moving Pictures) 
a teacher protects her sikh student from riots on a field trip 


Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?) Selma Vilhunen (Tuffi Films)
A comedy about a family who wakes up late on the morning of a wedding 

 

RECORD/PLAY from jesse atlas on Vimeo.

 

Record/Play Jesse Atlas (Collaboration Factory) - complete film embedded above
For what it's worth, Focus Features is planning to adapt this sci-fi tinged short about a mysterious walkman that can transport you to the recording into a feature length film.


Throat Song Miranda de Pencier (Northwood Productions)
This one is about an Inuit woman with an abusive husband and a circle of supportive friends she finds.
 

Tiger Boy - Official Trailer [HD] from goon films on Vimeo.

 

Tiger Boy Gabriele Mainetti (Goon Films)
a young boy won't take his favorite wrestler's mask off. 


The Voorman Problem Mark Gill (Honlodge Productions)
Martin Freeman stars as a man interviewing a prisoner (Tom Hollander) who claims to be God

WHICH DO YOU THINK HAVE THE BEST SHOT? 

UPDATED CHART
Best Shorts, Animated Feature, and Documentaries

Thursday
Sep122013

TIFF: Paranoid Mano-a-Mano Hallucinating With "Pioneer" and "Enemy"

TIFF is still raging but most journalists are now running on fumes, including me! And NYFF press screenings start next week. Give me strength! I know I know... you're waiting on writeups for Oscar hopefuls like The Railway Man, Gravity, and Twelve Years a Slave which is A LOT to get through still in the next few days but here are two films from Norway and Canada which I wanted to discuss. They both pit wounded unraveling men against themselves and each other for our viewing pleasure.

Wes Bentley vs. Aksel Hennie in "Pioneer"

PIONEER
Paranoia thrillers aren't really my cuppa as movie genres go but this not so distant history expose drama from Norway is just gripping. It deals in part with the American and Norwegian battle over oil drilling contracts and pipeline off Norway's massive jagged coast. Not So Spoiler Alert: Norway won making it one of the wealthiest nations in the world. But the political history is the setting rather than the focus, as we follow one diver Petter (Askel Hennie) who gets caught up in the unethical goings on which happen to have a body count. Not-So-Spoiler Alert 2: Big Oil is corrupt business no matter what flag it's flying under.

It helps quite a lot that Pioneer's opening sequence is just superb, with tensions and character detail already in media res as we meet an American diver (Wes Bentley) squaring off with the Norwegian brothers (Hennie & André Erikson) he's competing with for a trial diving mission. The men are being tested for the ability to withstand the unwithstandable oceanic pressure situations and scientists look on and experiment with the air they're breathing to see what keeps them functioning and alive. Soon they're hallucinating. When their first mission begins, the movie gets even more tense with some of the alien beauty of the James Cameron filmography elevating its underwater sequences. Once we've come up for air, shaken and much worse for the wear, the movie levels off into more familiar paranoia thriller tropes but it's so moodily lit, engagingly scored (by Air!), and slippery with the shady 'who can he possibly trust?' twists, that I didn't care and by then I was already well-hooked. The American actors (Stephen Lang, already totally typecast as the "this is a dangerous mission and I am secretly evil!" guy -- I've seen him do it like 3 times recently, and Wes Bentley) aren't half as subtle as the Norwegian stars which makes for some weird cartoon vs. human tonal shifting within scenes but it's good and very accessible filmmaking. It's still in the running towards becoming Norway's next top Oscar nominee. B+ 

P.S. Speaking of Oscar submissions, Mexican actress Stephanie Sigman, Miss Bala herself, plays one of the divers wives and speaks Norwegian in the film. Who knew?

Jake Gyllenhaal Versus Jake Gyllenhaal in "Enemy"

ENEMY
Take Jake Gyllenhaal's lonely OCD decoder in Zodiac and bring along his evocative cinematography and color palette. Split him in two with one version schlumpy and Adam Goldberg like (out of date reference?) and the other cockier like Gosling on a motorbike. Mix in Eyes Wide Shut's plinking/cagey 'sex party'. Plop it down to in Talent Agency and University settings as nondescript/sterile as the stockbroker firm in American Psycho and throw a curveball with inexplicable Video-Store detours from ye olden times. Stir it all together for a Franz Kafka stew. Add a little sprinkling of Isabella Rossellini, and a final glaze of blonde love interests (Melanie Laurent & Sarah Gadon) who are both confusingly disappointed; You're sleeping with Gyllenhall, ladies. Cheer the fuck up!

Do all that and you might get this eery, compelling, off putting, possibly slight but mercifully tight (90 minutes. Huzzah!) cinematic adaptation of Jose Saramago's "The Double". I kinda dug it but I have no idea if it's any good or what happened or where I am anymore and what aiiiiiiiieeeeeeee that last sound/shot. WTF 

Podcast a group discussion of TIFF 13: Oscar buzz, our favorite films, and more
Ambition & Self Sabotage on Gravity and Eleanor Rigby: Him & Her
Quickies Honeymoon, Young & Beautiful, Belle
Labor Day in a freeze-frame nutshell
Jessica Chastain at the Eleanor Rigby Premiere
August Osage County reactions Plus Best Picture Nonsense
Rush Ron Howard's crowd pleaser
The Past from Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi & Cannes Best Actress Berenice Bejo
Queer Double FeatureTom at the Farm and Stranger by the Lake
Boogie Nights Live Read with Jason Reitman and Friends
First 3 Screenings: Child's Pose, Unbeatable and Isabelle Huppert in Abuse of Weakness 
TIFF Arrival: Touchdown in Toronto. Two unsightly Oscars