Mittwoch, 30. November 2011

A month of movies: November.

This is the month where being angry at Duncan Jones (who debuted with the excellent "Moon" just two years ago) for his sorry excuse of a science-fiction movie "Source Code" (trailer, if you must) is by far outweighed by the appearance of another exciting new director: Paddy Considine. His "Tyrannosaur" (trailer) is among the best films I have seen this year. That, however, is not even my personal favourite of the month, as I finally had the chance to see the Greek production "Kynodontas" (trailer), runner-up in last year's Best Foreign Oscar race. It's unsettling, to say the very least, in every single minute of its span. I urge you to not miss out. Further recommendations: "The Guard" (trailer), an Irish comedy by the brother of the head behind (and featuring the same lead as) everyone's darling "In Bruges"; and "Putty Hill" (trailer), an intelligent and low-key pseudo-documentary. It's been a good four and a half weeks, kids.

The short -
Go and see: Kynodontas (Dogtooth) (DVD), Tyrannosaur.
Well worth watching: The Guard.
Also deserving a chance: Le Nom De Gens (The Names Of Love) (DVD), Putty Hill, Hævnen (In A Better World) (DVD).
Average: Hors-La-Loi (Outside The Law) (DVD).
If you're into CGI disguised as sci-fi: Source Code (DVD).
Forget about: Red (DVD).

The long -
The rules: Only movies seen at cinemas during the month referred to in the post title and recent DVD releases (which will be noted as such) are eligible. This excludes films seen on video or television. Also excluded are movies from festivals, which may or may not get treated in separate posts. Premieres and previews, however, are fine. The reviews are listed in alphabetical order. Finally, ratings are given on IMDB's 1-10 scale. These rules, likely to be broken at the discretion of yours truly, solely exist because no rules are fun, and we cannot have that here, now can we?

Hævnen (In A Better World) (DVD release). The film tackles the question of the appropriate reaction to violence: withdrawn acceptance or retribution ("Hævnen", the film's original title, aptly translates into "Revenge"). The answer it seems to present is that violence will be met in kind, creating a spiral increasing in intensity - which is what you'd expect. The conclusion to that, however, is the somewhat unsettling suggestion that it will culminate in one explosion of force that will act as a moment of cleansing, creating "a better world" and absolving everyone of their misdeeds. I'm not quite sure yet what to make of that. On a technical note, the positive impression left by the crisp photography and the strong visuals in general is balanced out by the contrived characters (made hard to fit the theme) and the awfully cliché use of ethno music in the scenes set in Sudan. 7/10

Hors-La-Loi (Outside The Law) (DVD release). This film tells the very interesting story of the FLN's fight within France, but unfortunately does so with too much pathos and in a manner as straight-forward as possible. It makes for a good account of history, but not necessarily for a good movie, as no surprises and the lack of tension result in a lack of drama. 6/10

Kynodontas (Dogtooth) (DVD release). A radical (to get away from the "shocking" and "provocative" used in many reviews) account of the power attained through conditioning, e.g. education (made more pervasive by the inclusion of language as a source of power). Especially noteworthy are the brilliant performances by actors playing the three captives: When the few small parts of self retained, or especially in the case of "Bruce", produced by the three captives occasionally flash through, their characters attain some sense of humanity for the first time and the movie in turn another quality of haunting. The visual style is very reminiscent of Haneke's, which is yet another reason to check it out. 10/10

Le Nom De Gens (The Names Of Love) (DVD release). The beginning, a quirky yet beautiful introduction of the main characters' backgrounds, sets the tone for this romantic comedy that playfully questions everyone's background. It's not deep, but it's right. 7/10

Putty Hill. The movie's theme is the absence of close relations between people, as witnessed in the reactions to the death of a young member of the community, and the fact that everyone had only little to say about him. People aren't necessarily indifferent or numb, but perhaps ground down by experience to a point of acceptance of whatever is going on around, or going past them, as long as it doesn't hit them head-on. I appreciated how the characters, coming from a lower-class background, were portrayed very sympathetically and with respect. The idea behind this film is definitely interesting beyond the fact that it's yet another mockumentary. 7/10

Red (DVD release). Stupid. 3/10

Source Code (DVD release). Groundhog day (getting the girl equals saving the world) meets J.J. Abrams (many mysteries left unexplained and simple developments not making any sense). There is so much wrong with this movie (the horrible, horrible, horrible supporting performances by Jeffrey Wright and Michael Arden do deserve extra mention) that the awful ending should not come as complete surprise. It's a classic case of "please, don't do that - that would be so cheap, just don't... aww, he's gone and done it". Way to disappoint after a brilliant first film, Duncan Jones. But hey, there's crisp CGI and some explosions. 5/10

The Guard. Finally a comedy movie that doesn't rely on flat laughs, but instead on jokes aimed at film clichés. Great dialogues, especially by the drug runners philosophizing about the dirty nature of their business and derived from that, the scum they have to do business with. A brilliantly laconic Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle, stoutly accepting his supporting role both within the movie and as an actor, move the film forward. 8/10

Tyrannosaur. A sad old man, angry at the world and with himself, constantly lashing out against others, meets a woman who would be right to act as he does, but instead is in an endless spiral of receiving blows, deluding herself and forgiving. We witness two brilliant lead performances (as well as a downright intimidating supporting one) that make every aspect of the characters entirely convincing. Coupled with a setting so bleak that everyone's depression and being fed-up with their miserable lives is easily graspable and an excellent soundtrack, we have a winner on our hands. And win it should, in next year's award races. 9/10

Previous months of movies: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October.

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