Movie review: One More Time with Feeling (2016)

For me, the thing with this documentary was the trauma. The unfathomable pain, grief and suffering that a family is subjected to when their son suddenly dies at age 15. And I feel weird for saying this, but I was expecting more darkness.

Sure, there were several moments when I was clinging to my seat (the performance of “Girl In Amber” and when Susie talks about Arthur’s painting, for example), the soulcrushing grief almost ripping through the screen, but I didn’t cry. Maybe because I saw this in a theater surrounded by a bunch of other people, maybe because there were other things bothering me, like the use of the distracting 3D effect, for instance.

The musical performances both sound and look amazing, but the best parts for me are when Cave talks. And when Susie talks. The naked truth.
“What happens when an event occurs that is so catastrophic that you just change? You change from the known person to an unknown person, so that when you look at yourself in the mirror, you recognize the person that you were, but the person inside the skin is a different person.”

I wanted more of that. Instead, I felt the movie focused too much on the recording process (which I know was its sole purpose from the beginning, but still…). Cave himself says that maybe everything he’s talking about in this film is complete bullshit. I don’t care, because his bullshit sounds good to me. When he speaks, he speaks the pain. He sings the blood.

The album “Skeleton Tree” is in itself absolutely stunning. It’s like Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds teamed up with Godspeed You Black Emperor, Antony And The Johnsons and Wovenhand. Just perfect darkness. I wish this documentary had had the same impact on me. It sure was heartbreaking, but — and again, I feel weird for saying this — not heartbreaking enough.

Rated: 3.5 / 5

Movie review: Girlhood (2014)

Beautiful like diamonds in the sky.

Friendship, hardship, love and liberation seen through the eyes of teenage girls in the rough suburbs of France, where wrong sometimes need to be right. So real and powerful.

I need to quote this review by Letterboxd member Maëva in full:

”Well I’m a black girl, I’m French and I’m from a poor neighborhood, and I never felt as happy to be this girl as when I was watching this film. Seeing people that look like my friends, like me, on the big screen, as heroines… Seeing friendship, love and most importantly youth through the faces of black girls… That’s something I’ll never forget. Grand, heartfelt, beautiful, Bande de Filles is maybe not the movie of your year but it’s definitely mine’s.”

Rated: 4,5 / 5

Movie review: Ghostbusters (2016)

First and foremost: It was better than I expected. It’s not totally worthless. But…

Ghostbusters 2016 can easily be dismissed as a “lazy, uninspired rehash of pre-existing iconography”, as I read elsewhere, which is true when it comes to all Hollywood remakes/reboots, but it cannot be dismissed just because there are female leads (as I’ve read countless of times); that’s just plain stupid.

For me, this is fairly easy: There are different kinds of comedy, and comparing the reboot with the original, anyone should be able to spot the difference.

I watched the original Ghostbusters (1984) the other day and I enjoyed it like I did when I was 9 years old. Nostalgia, but even more than that: It’s my kind of comedy. The subtle humor courtesy of Egon Spengler and Peter Venkman is hitherto unsurpassed in my book. It still holds up.

32 years later, Ghostbusters is the total opposite of subtlety. It’s like that annoying, loud, attention seeking idiot in highschool trying way too hard to be quirky, making funny faces and stupid voices 24/7. STFU, please.
The humor is at surface level at best. I mean, fart jokes? Really? Or to be more precise: Queef jokes. I think “cringeworthy” is the word here. And “face palm”. And that’s just the beginning. (And I’m not even going to start with gender politics here. Or cheap product placement. Or the awful business people at Sony (stop making movies, you twats). I could write an essay, but that’s already been done.)

With that said, the ensemble cast probably made the best of a very weak script. Paul Feig fucked it up.

As for the comedy: I laughed three times (the hot dog logo, the Jaws joke and the man shrieking…), which makes it obvious. This wasn’t made for me.

Rated: 1,5 /5

Movie review: Flugparken (2014)

A decent, slow psychological drama about a sociopath about to break. The photo and editing is top notch, presenting a subtle study of a young Swedish man who in his own mind thinks he does good.

Flugparken” has been compared to “Taxi Driver”, “Falling Down” and even “American Psycho”, but even though this is more than your average Swedish movie, it’s still average.

Well worth watching for the great photo, though. And the acting is not that bad either.

Rated: 2,5 / 5

Movie review: Victoria (2015)

Wow, what an amazing achievement! One take, no cuts. 140 minutes of realtime movie magic. And in contrast to the extremely overrated ”Birdman”, this one isn’t fake, and it also has content.

Victoria, a lonely Spanish girl having spent 16 years, seven hours a day, practicing the piano, seeks adventure in the nighttime Berlin underground. Desperately naive, she decides to hang out with four shady guys and things escalate quickly. The ”Pusher” trilogy comes to mind.

Sure, it’s unrealistic at times (the story needs to move forward), but it’s still authentic. Most of the dialogue is improvised, and the camera work is fantastic.
Also, ”Victoria” makes me wanna return to the Mitte district in Berlin.

Rated: 3,5 / 5

Movie review: The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)

”She was a young girl driven astray by the lustful lure of the flesh.”

San Francisco in the 1970’s. Sex, drugs, music and comics. What’s not to love? But if you’re 15 years old?

Marielle Heller makes this an awesome film about a teenage girl having an affair with her mother’s boyfriend. Bel Powley is great as Minnie and Alexander Skarsgård is about as sleazy as his name Monroe suggests.

What strikes me is that even the adults are acting like teenagers. Maybe that’s why the weird relationship between a 15 year old girl and a 35 year old man almost seems acceptable? I don’t know, but I know I loved “The Diary of a Teenage Girl”.

All in all, a very human and honest coming of age drama, filled to the brim with great acting, true stories and cool cartoons (it’s based on a semi-autobiographical graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner).

If you like ”Juno” and ”Ghost World”, this is definitely for you.

Rated: 4 / 5

Movie review: The Danish Girl (2015)

Great story, nicely done and Alicia Vikander shines.

But this is obviously unrespectfully made for an audience not at all familiar with transgender. It’s like people not into heavy metal trying to act heavy metal-ish. It’s untrue and ignorant, flat and simplistic. Does Tom Hooper even know what transgender means? It just comes out as pseudo-progressive at best, and shallow Hollywood melodramatic fake at worst. Too bad, because the actual story is truly captivating.

If 1920’s scenography is what you fancy, then “The Danish Girl” is a beautiful looking movie.
But transgender is not about looks.

PS. ”Laurence Anyways” by Xavier Dolan. Identity.

Rated: 2 / 5

Movie review: Call Me Lucky (2015)

Emotional, gruesome but important documentary about Boston comic Barry Crimmins.
It starts off like it usually does, with friends and colleagues praising this genius, but halfway through it takes a very dark turn.

Ultimately, “Call Me Lucky” is about Barry being subject to sexual abuse at a very young age, and his ongoing fight against child molesters, the Catholic church and the American government.

Knowing what he’s gone through, it’s incredible to see what a good man he is today. Because like he says: ”Had I been raped a few more times I might have become the rapist”. And like his sister says: ”Half the reason why Barry’s so funny is a gesture of healing”. Depressing, but very powerful.

I have a new role model. I wanna be like Barry Crimmins.

Rated: 3,5 / 5

Movie review: Anomalisa (2015)

Wow. I really liked “Anomalisa”. Such a simple story, yet so complex. You’ll notice there’s something slightly surreal about it right away. Why do the female characters have a male voice? Actually, there are only three different voices in the whole movie, but we still meet a lot of characters. Hmm…
And talking about voices: It’s so nice to hear real conversations in a movie. This is how people actually talk, and yet it’s slightly bizarre, cuz it’s puppets talking.

I definitely like the idea with stop motion and puppets, not just because it’s done brilliantly, but also because it adds to the surreal atmosphere in a deeply social realist film. Some of the scenes in this animated movie capture reality better than any other movie featuring human actors. Crazy.

Highly recommended if you’re into social realism with a twist.

Rated: 4 / 5

Movie review: Atomic – Living in Dread and Promise (2015)

Wow, I didn’t expect such a powerful and emotional experience!

I watched Mogwai play live to this movie at Ex Theater Roppongi in Tokyo, and ”Atomic” — being a chronological history of nuclear disaster — obviously begins with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The emotional experience came out of watching and hearing some of the Japanese people in the audience cry when being shown archive footage of burnt bodies, babies screaming in agony, nature being destroyed and millions of people’s lives shattered due to American atomic bombs. And in the end, there was Fukushima.
Also, with President Obama visiting Hiroshima only two days ago, I guess this was even more emotional to many.

The movie in itself is nothing spectacular. Archive footage, that’s pretty much it. What makes it special is the great soundtrack. I can’t think of any better band to score this than Mogwai, the undisputed kings of shoegazer doom. And listening to it live, in a theater with awesome sound and at maximum volume, was nothing but extremely powerful. The ending noise crescendo with the pounding drums and droning guitars was like Merzbow on LSD.

Rated: 3 / 5 (the movie) 3,5 / 5 (the album) 4,5 / 5 (the concert)

by Mattias Indy Pettersson