Films and TV of the month: October

 

 

 

 

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Mandy (2018) (Panos Cosmatos)
A wild, nightmarish, and visually dazzling horror revenge thriller set in 1983. Nicolas Cage delivers an intense, over the top performance that is a return to form. The weakness is you can sum up the plot in a few words and the second half is quite by-the-numbers. But very entertaining due to the stylized approach and extravagant use of sound and image. The storytelling is very visual and almost cartoonish. Johann Johannsson’s final score fits well with the retro 80s neon colors. The laughing scene is especially creepy and was scarier to me than the violence.
There appears to be social commentary on the misuse of religion and abusive men (the #MeToo connection is coincidental as the writer/director had been working on the script for about 6 years). Might be too crazy and extreme for some viewers but if you are in the mood for blood-splattered insanity it’s worth a look.
7-8/10

 

 

 

 

 

 


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The Stepford Wives (1975) (Bryan Forbes)

Thought-provoking and original. The social commentary about control is disturbing, and the last third is chilling. The mystery (which I won’t spoil here) takes its time and may test your patience as it’s about a sense of unease rather than jump scares. The build towards the reveal maybe was a bit too long and the movie could have been 20 minutes shorter.
7/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lykke Per (aka A Fortunate Man) (2018) (Bille August)

It was one of three films shortlisted to be the Danish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards. Among the most expensive films ever made in Denmark. Definitely a career high point for director Bille August, his filmography also counts the oscar winning Pelle the Conqueror (1987), which is not too dissimilar as both are based on Scandinavian literary classics set in the early 1900s.
I was emotionally captivated by the characters throughout despite an epic running time. Based on Nobel Prize winning author Henrik Pontoppidan’s Lykke-Per, a long book so I can understand why needed to be 2h 42 min. To be honest, I could happily have watched another 30 minutes. A story about ambition, family, and life choices. A lot of care has been put into recreating the past with costumes, sets, but the acting impresses just as much. For me, the first truly great film of 2018 so far and the upcoming extended made-for-TV mini series might be even better.
9/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gräns (aka Border) (2018) (Ali Abbasi)
Swedish entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2019 Academy Awards. Won the Un Certain Regard award at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.
I expected more from the story which is rather slight, but the makeup work is exceptional. Encourages us to think about outsiders and how they fit into society. There are some good ideas here but it’s lacking something to be a great film. The credits say it’s based on a short story and it definitely feels like a smallish narrative extended to feature length. A unique watch by making the audience both uncomfortable and curious at the same time, observing these troll-like characters in a realistic setting. The door is open for a sequel.
6/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash (1978) (Eric Idle, Gary Weis)

I’m a fan of Monty Python but for some reason I had never even heard of the Beatles mockumentary The Rutles. Eric Idle is co-writer and managed to secure a bigger budget by having it made in the US as a TV movie (instead of at the BBC). The funniest parts are Idle’s comments and scenes as a reporter, for example the opening monologue when he runs after the camera, the rats segment (7 minutes in), and when he talks about the burning of the albums at about the 37 min mark.
They managed to secure a bunch of celebrity interviews including Mick Jagger, Paul Simon, and George Harrison who play it straight faced and are all in on the joke. Even Harrison!
The tongue-in-cheek songs are done with great skill and have that unmistakable Beatles sound, even if the lyrics are not laugh out loud funny. The best might be Love Life (a parody of the Beatles’ own “All You Need Is Love”), With A Girl Like You (a parody of “If I Fell”) and Get Up and Go (a parody of “Get Back”). If you didn’t know otherwise you could take some of the music seriously. The worst is the Thousand Feet Of Film song for the horrible vocal. Although you could argue it’s intentionally cringeworthy! There’s also an accomplished animated sequence, created by the makers of the 1968 Yellow Submarine movie. Controversial to depict Yoko Ono as a Nazi and makes fun of the fab fours choice in women. A sequel exists called The Rutles 2: Can’t Buy Me Lunch (2002).
Favorite quotes: “Their first album was made in 20 minutes, their second took even longer” “who created a musical legend that will last a lunchtime”.
8/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Show Me Love (aka Fucking Åmal) (1998) (Lukas Moodysson)
A 90s coming of age classic. Moodyson has earned a reputation as a Swedish John Hughes and this story about teenage angst and love is believable, sweet, and well told. The two leads shine in particular, the lonely Agnes and the popular Elin.
As with Moodyson’s Tillsammans (2000) (reviewed below), the weakness is it fails to leave you with much conflict or food for thought. The ending is simplistic but in reality far from straightforward.
8/10

 

 

 

 

 

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Together (2000) (Lukas Moodysson)
A good soundtrack with some Swedish music (Turid, Ted Gärdestad ) I didn’t know.  Also ABBA. Strong acting, and feels authentic in terms of a 1970s commune. The story is most involving when focusing on the drunk (Michael Nyqvist) and his family. The way it all wraps up is a bit too tidy though.
7/10

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think? As always, comments are welcome

20 thoughts on “Films and TV of the month: October

  1. “if you are in the mood for blood-splattered insanity it’s worth a look.” LOL
    I do want to watch Mandy. Just gotta find the perfect time for it. Saturday with a load of beer I think. We all like Nick in intense over the top mode 🙂

    I got well into Lukas Moodysson some years back. I love the way the original title of is nothing compared with the English title lol.. Can’t believe it’s 20 years old now! Crazy. I remembered I really like this and also “Together”. Then there was “Lilya 4 Ever” which was superb. I tried “Hole In My Heart” but that was so dark and depressing that my mind has wiped it. Because of that I never watched “Container”

    I’ve heard of “The Rutles” but I’ve never seen it. Big Monty Python fan also. Thanks for reminding me I need to track it down. Sounds like a good laugh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Wolfman: Nic Cage in intense over the top mode is fun to watch! I think he started doing that in Vampire’s Kiss and Wild at Heart which is long ago.

      The English title Show Me Love was actually picked because it’s the same as the Robyn song on the soundtrack. But the Swedish title is more rebellious as when we are young we tend to give the finger to our home town. I remember Lilya 4 Ever was powerful, darker than Moodysson’s earlier work

      The Rutles is definitely worth tracking down. You can find it on YouTube. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA7bYjCbfX4 ) It’s sort of like Spinal Tap, with Monty Python humor 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. @Wolfman: You’re welcome, I’ll keep an eye out for your thoughts on The Rutles.

        Lynch is possibly my favorite filmmaker. He directed so many great, rewatchable films

        Like

  2. I haven’t seen anything by Lukas Moodysson yet I really want to. I’m glad you liked The Rutles. That cameo from George Harrison was so incredible as he was very close friends with Eric Idle. Mandy is a film I keep hearing about and I want to see it as I heard how insane it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @ninvoid99: Moodysson’s very good at getting the best out of children/young adults in his films. Even Together (2000) which is about grown-ups but the kids are so important to the story. We Are The Best (2013) is another example of what Moodysson does well.

      George Harrison obviously can laugh at his own legacy by taking part. And of course Harrison financed Life of Brian (1979) so he has a sense of humor

      I hope you like Mandy which has wonderful production design.

      Like

  3. Hello Chris! I don´t recall seeing that movie Fucking Amal, somehow it reminded me of the amazing La Vie rêvée des anges by Erick Zonca. I´ll watch it. And I´m intrigued by Border too. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @ Hi Analia. I liked the friendship we see in Dreamlife of Angels (1998), even though the blond is making stupid decisions. An impactful film and Erick Zonca is underappreciated.

      I hope you are able to watch Show Me Love/Fucking Åmål
      Border is unique and got positive reviews. Let me know what you think of these films

      Like

  4. I really need to check out the original Stepford Wives film one of these days. I only saw Nicoe Kidman version and this one was actually pretty good, there were some good ideas and great actors there

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    1. @Sati: The Stepford Wives from the 70s has a quite unhurried pace but once gets to the nitty-gritty it’s hard to look away! Haven’t seen the Nicole Kidman version yet which I heard is funnier whereas the original is maybe more serious.

      Like

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