Sunday, 31 October 2010

The Horrible 00's

The Best Horror Films of the 2000s - The Thrilling 8th Circle of Our Ongoing Series From Hell

Drag Me To Hell (c) 2009 Universal Pictures, Ghost House Pictures, Buckaroo Entertainment

I might as well get it over with. I've postponed making some of my best-of the 2000s lists because they are hard. Some genres haven't really created enough memorable pieces of cinema in a whole decade (that I've seen anyway) for a top 10 list. These include action and musicals. I'm worried about the current state of these genres. Most of all, I've been worried about the development of horror. Most of the new horror movies seem to be tedious remakes, unintentionally silly straight-to-DVD stuff.

Actually I had a version of this list published in my other, finnish blog as early as July, 2009. This one is mostly the same list, but with a few changes here and there. As it turns out, there were plenty of horror movies that merit a spot on the top 10. It's just the American horror films that are in trouble, not, for instance, the European ones. Some of the films on this list were films that I hated at first, but came to change my mind.

There still seems to be a nice amount of interesting material to be seen in this genre. Who knows, maybe a year from now, I'll make a sequel. Perhaps this series could appear every Halloween and never stop like the fucking Saw series.

28 Days Later... (2002)

Director: Danny Boyle

The zombie genre gets real innovators very rarely. The first major one since Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Return of the Living Dead (1985) came from Great Britain and created a big pack of lackluster carbon-copies. The oft-copied imagery of the deserted streets of London and the fast-running zombies have popped up in movies since this to boredom. But in Boyle's innovative direction the soon-to-be-cliches work here as well as the virus does on slow people. However, the film wouldn't be anything if the main characters weren't likeable, so that one can care about how they will survive. The sequel has a few great scenes, but mostly it's disappointing.

The Descent (2005)

Director: Neil Marshall

This story about women getting trapped underground works as a horror story addressing such themes as claustrophobia, the fear of the unknown, and the breaking point of one's mind. The setting inside a cave wasn't overused before the film (althogh a number of similar films were released at the same time for some reason...). In the end there's maybe a bit too much shown from the monsters, but the shocking conclusion (of the European cut at least) is more than enough to fix this minr problem. One of the best of the best.

The Devil's Backbone (2001)

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Not all horror should be a total gorefest. Guillermo Del Toro always does better films when working in Spanish and this ghost story with a thick athmosphere one may be his best picture yet. Del Toro uses the Spanish civil war as a backdrop for horrible happenings that don't need to rely in ghosts and other supernatural phenomena. It's much more reasonable to fear people than it is to fear the unknown. The child actors in the film are utilized to create a tension as things are harder to accomplish when you're strong and to create certain innocence which is threatened by violence. The director balances all these ingredients just right.

Drag Me To Hell (2009)

Director: Sam Raimi

Groovy. After dabbling with Spider-Man stories for a while, the homecoming of the Evil Dead -era sam Raimi is more than welcome. The comeback is a fun ride, filled with black humour and suitably disgusting details. The dynamic camerawork isn't quite on par with ED but close enough. Kudos also for the film for making a bank employee suffer at the time when everyone would've sent al the bankers of the world to a fiery hell.

Grindhouse (2007)

Directors: Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino

Say what you will, the two seperate films of Grindhouse NEED to be seen together. Even though they are completely diffirent in style, athmosphere, seriousness and general awesomeness. Planet Terror features more playing around with the concept and parodying action movies with actually a handful of zombies thrown in. Death Proof is more talky and has a troubled narrative, but Tarantino's script isn't as bad as some people say, and it does contain one of the coolest car chases in history. In fact, both of them are quite close to being action films instead of horror, but I'll let that slip this once. The film's initial idea was perhaps my favorite one of the whole decade. I totally support the point wanting to go back to the cinemas of yesteryear and have some fun with that. How's that high-concept for ya?! The plan works beautifully, with fake trailers and old advertisement clips. This one is more about having fun, than being actually scary or deep, but part of the reasons we love cinema is because of this kind of creative funness, right?

High Tension (Haute Tension)

Director: Alexandre Aja (2004)

Alexander Aja went on to become a go-to guy for making unncessary remakes, although his ones are some of the better ones. Also I'm pretty sure that Piranha 3D will be on my top 10 of this year.

But he truly showed off his talents here with a suitably dark film cementing the ground layer of the French Extremist Horror wave. The tension runs high and the violence is rough as one woman tries to escape a superstrong, unseen assailant and also tries to save her friend from the creature. The incredibly moronic ending almost spoils the film and I'm glad the film has a better english name nowadays than the old one which referred just to this ending. But one can always stop watching the film 20 minutes before the end, for otherwise this is a great piece of work.

Let The Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in, 2008)

Director: Tomas Alfredsson

You might remember this from my list of the best vampire flicks a short while ago. If Roy Andersson directed a vampire movie, this would resemble the result. The swedish show the world yet again how to make a great and gripping genre movie that still maintains the national melancholy and filmmaking style. A 12-year-old bullied child befriends a girl bloodsucker at the dawn of his puberty. Without vampires, this could be just another episode of Eva & Adam. There's also a bit too much about the sub-plots that do go deeper in the film's mythology, but don't exactly serve the main story. But beneath the plot there is a subtex of the living hell that is living in a swedish suburbs. I also like that like Guillermo Del Toro's films, the supernatural can be seen as a defense mecahnism against the true evil of the world. But this makes the ending even more open for debate.

Martyrs (2008)

Director: Pascal Laugier

Initially I hated this film, but it deserves to be on this list sheerly because it creates a fucking agonising athmosphere that runs all the way through the film. I must have forgotten that horror films should be scary, hard to watch and distressing. This film makes even the most accustomed gorehounds squirm in their seats. It is intensly memorable, and questions why people watch violent films in the first place better than any Haneke film ever could. But unlike, say Inside, there is a reason for all the sickness in this, and it serves BOTH the story and the athmosphere.

The Orphanage (El Orfanato, 2007)

Director: Juan Antonio Bayona

Another piece of Spanish greatness. An example of how a good director and the correct mood can make a good movie out of even the most used-up ideas like a haunted house. The story about killed children and haunted houses maintains its core mystery to the end and manages to be emotionally crushing to boot. Not to mention audiovisually inventive.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Director: Edgar Wright

This is both a very funny comedy and a very good zombie horror film at the same time. Thus, it is clearly the best comedy-horror film of the recent years. Much like Evil Dead II, people keep forgetting that the film has also scary parts in it. The lovable comedic characters die in the film, and the viewer keeps worrying about them, and have sad moments when they die, so it is not a pure laugh fest. There's excitement here very few horror films manage to create. Even though the zombie part of the film is largely indebted George A. Romero's films, SOTD has more fresh ideas in its relatively short running time than Romero himself had in the whole decade. (I refuse to accept he has directed anything after Land of the Dead - an underrated but still underwhelming film).

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Vampires can be cool, too

The Monster Chronicles, Part One

Halloween is just around the corner, and I thought of starting a new tradition and blogging about certain horror movie sub-genres each year. And I'll begin with vampires, as they are a sort of corner stone of cinematic monsters.

At first I thought of doing a sort of top ten list of best vampire movies, but seeing as I've got enough to watch already to have a list of the Best Horror movies of the 2000s ready by sunday, I scrapped the idea. I can do a hasty list here but won't comment too much about it. It would look something like this:

10. Blade (Stephen Norrington, 1998)
9. Fearless Vampire Killers (Roman Polanski, 1967)
8. Lost Boys (Joel Schumacher, 1987)
7. Let The Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in, Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
6. Near Dark (Kathryn Bigelow, 1987)
5. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Jack Fletcher, Tai Kit Mak, 2000)
4. Thirst (Bakjwi, Park Chan-Wook, 2009)
3. Martin (George A. Romero, 1977)
2. Dracula: The Prince of Darkness (Terence Fisher, 1966)
1. Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des grauens (F.W. Murnau, 1922)

Actually, I usually don't like vampire films that much. Part of the problem is that the genre has started so early, at the age of silent films. Thus, there is so much re-imagining, parodies and post-modernism it has made the subgenre stale and uninteresting.

In today's flood of vampire-related entertainment, vampires are more often seen as human beings with allegorial problems, mainly their unrelenting bloodlust. This bloodlust can represent anything, but more usually it is some kind of metaphor for aggressive sexuality, that is supposed to be kept smothered. This culminates in the fucking Twilight Saga, which as made the once noble, but horrifying creatures of the night into personality-free emo-boys that glitter in the sunlight. Zombies may be even more over-exposed in pop culture, but at least they still kill people.

Vampires have always been deeply sexual beings, which makes it a shame that they don't use their full potential as lethal love-makers any more. Twilight is nowhere near an original story, as most of this kind of vampire fiction tends to focus on a love story between a human and a vampire. This has been more or less emphasized according to the times. For instance, in Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula (1992) the otherwise pretty straight adaptation of Bram Stoker's book differs the most from the source material when it's giving emphasis to Dracula's relationship with his victim Mina Harker. The relationship is shown to be some kind of undying love that lasts over multiple lifetimes.

I vaant to loove youu foreeveer. Bleh!

The problem with this sexually tensional love story is that the vampire becomes too romanic a character. Bela Lugosi's Dracula may have an unequalled romantic charm, but that doesn't change the fact that the film Dracula (1931) is an almost comically theatrical one. A vampire should not be cuddly but in addition to sexual, also otherworldly, cold and a merciless creature. In my opinion, no one else has quite got the idea as good as Christopher Lee, the perfect cinematic Dracula.

He may charm you, but could also very easily destroy you.

As you can see from the list, I have actually liked some re-imaginings of vampires that are deeply tied to the point where they were made. I like the late-90's leathercoat version of Blade precisely because it seems ludicrously old-fashioned today. Some motherfuckers always try to ice-skate up the hill. Maybe today's vampire hits such as 30 Days of Night (which for a change actually had a mystery surrounding the vampires) will seem equally silly in the coming decades.

Kathryn Bigelow's cult classic Near Dark (1987) should be a measuring stone for today's vampire films. For Bigelow knew exactly what works in the genre. There is a certain allure to the vampiric lifestyle, but as the creatures are bloodthirsty monsters, who will kill just for kicks, it is also a very frightening prospect. That creates a better tension for the sexual relations than having eternal abstinence.

Nevertheless, the film is so very 80's by today's standards. Bill Paxton's vampire punk is still cool, though, and worked as a clear model for one of comic book's best vampires, Garth Ennis' and Steve Dillon's Preacher's Cassidy.

But the best vampire performance ever will never seem out-dated. F.W: Murnau's silent classic Nosferatu is a truly poetic, beatiful film that all its successors can only hope to achieve. Max Schreck as Count Orlock might look silly in stills taken out of context from the film. But in the film itself, the vampire is weirdly creepy and otherworldly down to even its movements. It seems so strange to talk wheteher this creature is in any way sexual, but one must acknowledge that it has a certain fascination around it. Enough so that the heroine is willing to keep the vampire with her until the dawn breaks.

Monday, 18 October 2010

The Western 00's

The Best Westerns of the 2000s - The Magnificent 7th Part of our ongoing series.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (C)2007 Warner Bros.

Western is one of the most important genres in cinema, yet it was mostly sadly neglected in the Naughties. There were only a few film which clearly fit the genre bill, so I had to bend the limits a bit. I had to go through trouble to present you a top 10 list. Some of these films aren't even great, merely OK. But in addition to that, there are a couple of masterpieces that rank good among the whole decade.

3:10 To Yuma (2007)
Director: James Mangold

I like James Mangold as a director, yet he seems to go further into the basic Hollywood style with each film. There's not too many signs here of a personal style - anyone could've directed this and made it almost as good (unless it's someone like Michael Bay, who merely thinks he has a personal style).

Nevertheless, this remake is by no means a bad film, and I would hope Hollywood would make more of these westerns in a traditional style. This is, of course a remake of an old film, now starring Russell Crowe as a crook and Christian Bale as the farmer designated to bring him in front of the law. Of couse, his will for justice will be tested by threats to his family and his own life. Crowe isn't as bad a guy as I'd like him to be but that's usually the case when casting big movie stars as villains. An entertaining popcorn western.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
Director: Andrew Dominik

A poetic character study about the curses of fame, fear and betrayal. These themes are fitting to read all sorts of things about the world today, too. The lust for glory in the 1880s that is more important than friendship, and the respect for one's whole life isn't that different from today, after all. The film takes time to tell the story but doesn't stretch anything in vain. Shots of nature and scenes of silence tell important tales constantly. Three hours fly by when pondering the multidimensional subtexts. One might complain about the anticlimatic ending, but I feel it's crucial to show how shitty the end can be for these wannabe-celebrities. I'd like to say they don't do them like this anymore, but apparrently they do.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Director: Ang Lee

My hatred for the movie Crash originally made me like this movie before I'd even seen it. It actually wasn't as good as I expected, yet it's still better than anything directed by Paul Haggis by miles. It's cool that modern Hollywood can finally produce such a crushing love story between members of the same sex, even though it took an asian director to nail the subject matter. It's a film about pining and unfulfilled love, just like all great romance films are. Like in Jesse James, the landscape also tells a big part of the story.

Dogville (2003)
Director: Lars von Trier

It's easy to forget that this is essentially a western, as all the things we usually recognize a western from have been stripped away. But this is a film that takes place in a small country town in the American midwest in the early 20th century. And the film is about America's two-faced bloodlust. Had there been more sets than just a chalklined floor it should be obvious to everyone.

In the beginning it seems the film would be quite like theatre without sets, and like a novel with it's structure divided in chapters. In fact it's a superb film that relies on many storytelling methods unique to films. The camera work among the chalk-lined floors is nothing short of breath-taking. Trier, if anyone, knows how to strip films down to their core essence. The film emphasizes its great performances, and even Nicole Kidman seems loveable and naive. Which is of course a fatal mistake.

No Country For Old Men (2007)
Directors: Joel & Ethan Coen

This is another multilayered portrayal of the decay of America. But even though the themes are familiar, the Coen brothers create a highly original piece of work. This isn't a straight western, as it takes place today, but the role of the landscape of the praries and fields of Texas are in such a big role here, it has to be seen as a postmodern western. There are no heroes in this work, just bad men and REALLY bad men. OK, Tommy Lee Jones is kind of good, but he's a really inept character, incapable to stop the carnage or to help stop the American degradation. No hero by all means. The film has a really cynical look about the irrationality of life. As they tend to do, the Coens also lace this pitch-black story full of equally black humour. And thus it was both the best comeback film in my memory, and one of the best Best Picture winners of the decade.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
Directors: Joel & Ethan Coen

The Coens again, the best American western filmmakers living today. This one, however is right at the other end of the spectrum from NCFOM. The first part of their Idiot-trilogy starring George Clooney, is also the best and funniest of the three. The moronically grandiose idea of translating Homer's Odyssey into a tale of men on the lam in the prohibition-era midwest is so stupid it works like a charm.
Great music, memorable scenes, great casting, great and funny dialogue. What's not to love?
Damn, we're at a tight spot.

Open Range (2003)
Director: Kevin Costner

Kevin Costner made a film about how modern scumbags threaten to extinct the proper cowboys, herding cattle in the open praries. Today, it's almost too old-fashioned for it's own good, but at least offers a great shootout, which has been mostly absent from other westerns on this list.

The Proposition (2005)
Director: John Hillcoat

I like my westerns bloody and gritty, because I believe that’s how America came to be. Now, this one is violent like Peckinpah squared and gritty like Leone quadrupled. And it's not about America at all but depicts the old times down under. Australia has apparently been made with as much blood to paint the Ayers Rock. There are no good characters on this one either, just evil and eviler. And heads exploding, piles of corpses, lynchings and a drunk bounty hunter played by John Hurt. Great music by Nick Cave and scenery shots, too. It's an experience that you won’t easily forget.

There Will Be Blood (2007)
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

An important movie for the whole 21st century. Whereas Citizen Kane spent all his life trying to be loved, Daniel Plainview pushes away everything that could bring him happiness, including his son (twice), would-be friends, and religion. All that's left is his driven greed, that made him work indominably in the beginning, even though he broke his legs. But he doesn't get a reward from this hard work, just fortunes and insanity. It's still not as if everyone else in here is virtuous. Daniel sees both good and bad people just as something he can take advantage from or potential threats.

The movie is somewhat of a metaphor in itself. It is not the first western to suggest that America is built on greed and blood, but one of the most effective ones at that in recent years. The film is gorgeously shot. One can spot the same locations that were seen in No Country for Old Men, including the tree under which the mexican drug dealer died.

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)
Director: Tommy Lee Jones

Yet another film about an old cowboy that realizes that his time is up. Director/star Tommy Lee Jones touched a lot on the thematics of the Coen brother's film two years before he himself starred in it. Here, Lee Jones tries to fulfill a promise to a friend and get him buried in Mexico. He has to step on law and resort to, among other crimes, kidnapping, to accomplish this extremely hard act of ultimate friendship.

Again, this is a film that is set in the modern day, but uses the themes, settings and landscapes found on all good westerns. A beatifully shot and edited film, and by all means a good direction from TLJ. He appears to be one of the actors that just gets how a good film should flow and be made. It is also a fitting paragraph to let Tommy Lee slowly ride onto the sunset on a mule to quit this list here.

Monday, 11 October 2010

HIFF: More Love & Anarchy - The Report 2010

Wow, I'm so much behind my schedule with this blog, it's scary to even start. But I figure I owe you a report on how the Festival went and what I thought about some of the key movies. I probably saw more from the programme of this year's festival than I will ever again. Most of the films were good, too, with very few bad ones.

The Opening Film:
Gainsbourg (Vie Héroïque)

Like the director Joann Sfar, I also am fascinated by Serge Gainsbourg. The dude was a real cultural institution, yet also an anarchistic tour-de-force constantly flipping the bird to the government. Kind of like my hero Jörn Donner in Finland, but with more musician skills.

Anyway, the film isn't a traditional straight-forward biography flick. The familiar highs and lows do appear, but the movie advances mostly in a spiral-like pattern. Gainsbourg's life was fueled by his muses and constantly finding a new one shifted his life's gear multiple times. I also like Sfar's idea to mix fantasy sequences which remind of his own cartoons. Unfortunatelly, these start to repeat themselves toward the end. The spiral-structure thus works as a weak point as well. But as the music is top-notch and the main character suitably enigmatic (the film doesn't concern itself in solving the mystery surrounding Gainsbourg), this is a suitable epic to begin a festival with.

Love & Anarchy Gala Film:
The Killer Inside Me

Michael Winterbottom's latest film is a hard one to put a finger around. I was expecting a gritty film exposing the twin moralistic life in a mid-american small town. I got that to an extent - the film's violence truly is hard to take.

Unfortunately, Winterbottom wants to make a modern noir in the vein of the Coen brothers. This means to him the use of ironic 50's country ballads and Over-The-Top black humour. This creates a bizarre athmosphere to the film where one can't quite know whether it should be taken seriously or not. The end sequence in particular feels like a slap to the face for everyone that raised an actual concern in the film as a story - not merely a meta-level noir satire. It's sad to say that this doesn't work entirely - the first half of the film was very good. It's best to stick to the real deal and keep waiting for True Grit.

The Surprise Film:
Rare Exports

The reveal of Love & Anarchy's Surprise Film was a pleasant gift for finnish fans of genre cinema and a lump of coal for the non-finnish speaking ones. Nevertheless, the first finnish screening of the first feature film by Jalmari Helander was greeted by an enthusiastic full theatre of friends and film-lovers. And boy, the response the film got certainly was the most ecstatic I've ever seen in my short life.

I'll have to promote this film too - it's one of the best genre films ever made in this country. In fact, it's not a film just for us finns. It's a film fans of cult movies and genre cinema everywhere can and should enjoy. Basically, this is a children's horror film (like the Goonies etc.) about a mythological, evil Santa Claus. The film's ridiculous premise is played mostly straight, but with just enough one-liners and comedy to keep things interesting. This is not a small feat. Helander proves himself to be a capable director to deliver both this, as well as great cinematography, good performances from his actors and a good number of memorable scenes and quotes. To see this film should be on the Christmas wish list of all good boys & girls.

The Closing Film:
Mr. Nobody

The Festival closed at a grandiose note with the ponderous sci-fi from the Dutch director Jaco van Dormael. I didn't in fact see the film at the closing ceremony, but later on when it premiered in the finnish theatres.

Mr. Nobody is a quite good tale, that is still less than the sum of its parts. The central idea of examining the routes in life every choice we make opens, is a good one. However, the film is too long and a little up its own ass with cleverness. We wouldn't need Kaufman- and Lynch-like surrealism from others while these two are still at large. Plus, I still don't like Jared Leto, even though I must admit, he does pull a pretty good role in this one. The film is OK, but not essential.


I saw most of the candidates for the competition for a distribution deal in Finland. In the end the winner was the japanese Summer Wars, but with the more worthy Winter's Bone also getting an additional distribution.


This satire of New York's art circles is carefully made - most of the OTT art seen in the film could pass as modern art in a museum. But for me, the actual jokes in the film didn't work that well. It's a cute film all in all, just didn't tickle my ribs. Plenty of other people seemed to enjoy it more.

All That I Love

This Polish film about a young punk rocker is based on it's director Jacek Borcuch's own memories of the days of summer in the 70's. It's kickass that the punk rockers oppose the communist regime, even though by western standards the punk may be a bit tame. There is also a nice love story of kids from different social structures.


The new film from Bong Joon-Ho was my favorite to win the price, but as some screenings had to be cancelled because of subtitle problems, it didn't have that big a chance. Shame, as no-one can mix family drama, comedy and suspense quite like Bong. This time he has chosen to do a murder mystery, from the point of view of the mother of the main suspect. The focus of the film is maintained throughout the film and the cold cinematography of a Korean small town is as bleak as the film's outlook.

Summer Wars

This took the prize, which no doubt was orchestrated by teenaged anime freaks. I liked the director Mamoru Hosoda's previous film The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, but this just aggravated me. One should respect other cultures when watching foreign movies but this glorification of japanese families just feels wrong. The film embraces a culture where everyone who isn't constantly getting approval of their life choices from the family is immediately shunned upon. Sounds more like the mafia than an ideal community to me. It doesn't help that most of the characters are super annoying too. I wasn't even that interested about the virtual reality the film offers, but the end of the world scenario near the end a least brings some excitement to this dud.

Winter's Bone

I'm happy to see this film got recognition. It's almost like a modern companion piece to the upcoming True Grit, as this one also is about a teenaged girl taking matters into her own hands when her father isn't there anymore. She must find her father to pay off a debt that threatens to take their home. The journey goes to the dark corners of midwest america, to drug labs and to the mercy of gang members. If Mother was bleak, this is absolutely nihilistic.

Festival Favorites:

Some films pulled in full theatres and stirred interesting conversation. Here's a selection of these.

Life During Wartime

The latest from Todd Solondz walks along paths already crossed. I haven't even seen Happiness, but this still feels like an epilogue. As I've understood, this one's predecessor handled quite sick subject matters. This one, however, is almost sickeningly sweet. The satirical looks on the effect on suburban life such matters as homosexuality, the reveal of a father's paedophilia and the confusing foreign policies of the Bush administration bring only few laughs and insights.

Blank City

This documentary about the New Age art movement in New York packs steam as it goes along. The beginning is not that interesting, but once the chronology gets to a point where the artists are ready to experiment, and the film shares some of these experiments, it is a fascinating piece.

The Secret of Kells

The Irish animation earns all the acclaim it has recieved. The animation doesn't resemble too much of anything I've seen before. It's highly stylized and the historical roots of both the film's artwork and its story keep things interesting. But still the screenplay has a share of flat scenes and some characters who aren't fleshed out properly. It's still a good yarn.

Life and Death of a Porno Gang

Pretentious shit that made even me nauseous.

L.A. Zombie

Some more pretentious shit, but this is more fun. In fact, I'm not sure whether Bruce LaBruce's latest should be seen as a Korine-like "fuck you" to his arthouse audiences. He mixes gay pornography with arthouse filmmaking in his films. Yet, in this one, he does both of these sloppily. The story concerns a hunky gay zombie who fucks the dead back to life. These acts are clearly staged, as the zombie's black semen-spurting member doesn't even look real. Nor is the art side of this particularly insightful - more the most obvious symbolism and camera angles and pretentious music. I think La Bruce is laughing somewhere.


The Danish war documentary suffers a little from being published only now and not two years ago. Now that we've had actually good fictional films pondering about the point of the war against terrorism, the film seems old. But it's not the film's fault itself. rather, the work of Janus Metz of getting both insightful quotes about the war and high-tension fight scenes captured while being at the frontline, is nothing short of magnificent. And even the delay hasn't wiped off all the controversialism - after all the futile war is still raging. For no reason.

Personal favorites:

In addition to the preseen films I had in the previous article, I saw some great films during the festival, which deserve a mention as well.


Love & Anarchy has a knack of introducing me to my new heroes. The latest one is the japanese comedian Hisashi Matsumoto. I've talked the love I have for Big Man Japan in this blog before. However, this is something else. Symbol is an even bigger WTF-trip that goes its way to parallel a film a grandiose as 2001: A Space Odyssey. You woudn't believe it from the start, when it just seems to be two opposing stories: one of a mexican luchador preparing for a match and one of a japanese man trapped in a white room without an exit. It gets much more surreal soon after this. The film requires both a broad mind for surrealism and an enjoyment of fart humour. Just my cup of tea, then.

The Illusionist

I used to hate Jacques Tati. I still wouldn't watch his films as I think he's about as funny as cholera and about as poignant today. But it takes a genius like animator Sylvain Chomet to shatter these perspectives. In his lates film, Chomet has taken an old, unfilmed script by Tati and created it into a beautiful and mournful animation about the passing of times. It does feature some of Tati's weaknesses such as some lame "jokes", but in an animated world the laconic and little-gestured slapstic actually works better. Even if a joke falls flat, one can admire the beautiful backgrounds or the smooth animation. I also didn't see any Tati films which have an ending as sad as this. Maybe he got better with age.

The White Stripes Under The Great White Northern Lights

Of course I love the White Stripes and would love to see them play. The closest I got was to view this documentary which goes its way pretty far to explain what makes White Stripes the band it is. Improvisation and inventiveness are the key words as Jack and Meg tour Canada and do concerts in bizarre places, such as a bowling alley, an old folk's home and a small ship near the pier. There is also interview pieces and concert footage. In the latter I would hope the songs could be played all the way through, but at least this way the running time isn't too overwhelming.


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