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)

Movie review: Birth (2004)

A modern day “Rosemary’s Baby” directed by Stanley Kubrick? Well, almost. But without the horror.

This tense, wicked, mysteriously psychological drama is ultimately a deep dive into the psyche of a woman struggling with lost love, grief and madness. It’s wicked in that it at first glance is about a woman who opens her door to a boy who says he’s her dead husband reborn… What the hell?
But that’s just scratching the surface.

Even though the subject of this movie is absurd, the approach is 100% serious. They could have made this funny, but instead it’s eerie, and in the end it’s a heartbreaking experience.
The colours (brown, beige, gray) remind me of Lars von Triers “Riget”, making it almost like a fantasy. The dense atmosphere and the tone of the score only adds to the unreal.

Nicole Kidman delivers a stunning performance. Her fragile and desperately silent emotions are almost felt through the screen, especially in the famous opera scene, where the close-up of her face (with Wagner playing in the background) displays acting and camera work at its best. No cuts. An actor totally in character. It’s a magical moment in film history.

Birth” left me in a melancholic state of mind, yet still in amazement. I actually watched it two times in a row, and the second time I was even more fascinated, and it made me realize how well crafted this film really is. Even though it’s losing steam along the way, a rewatch made complete sense. I don’t want to understand it, I just want to experience it, because it moved me. I will watch it again.

Some say this is the most underrated masterpiece in film history. I have to think about that. Jonathan Glazer is without a doubt a master of mood, but this mood is certainly not for everyone.
For me, it was deeply fascinating.

Rated: 4 / 5

Movie review: Beasts of No Nation (2015)

War is hell, and even more so when it’s seen through the eyes of a child.

Beasts of No Nation” is powerful, majestic, dark and emotional. It’s easily one of the best movies I’ve seen lately, and definitely one of the best war films in a very long time. Cary Joji Fukunaga, probably most known for his work with ”True Detective”, is from now on one of my fave movie makers. He gets almost everything right, especially the really hard things, like making things seem authentic.

I’m always impressed when actors are so good you don’t realize they’re acting, and I usually hate child actors. These boys are amazing all the way through (hail Abraham “Agu” Attah!), and I’d really like to know how Fukunaga worked with them.

Along with some really good footage (the camera work is astounding at times) and a moving but depressing story (child soldiers in Africa), ”Beasts of No Nation” is quite a ride that should not be missed by anyone. It might be missing that little extra which makes you praise the Lord and shit, but in a world dominated by bad Hollywood films, this one is a true killer.

Rated: 4 / 5

Movie review: The Lobster (2015)

Having thoroughly enjoyed Yorgos Lanthimos’ ”Dogtooth”, one of the absolute highlights of 2009, my expectations were high. ”The Lobster” didn’t disappoint, but I wasn’t thrilled either.

This film obviously has a really odd feel to it, being some kind of dark dystopian comedy. It’s a little too much comedy for my taste, even though it’s a deep movie, essentially about loneliness and modern day relationship problems. I’d prefer a more serious take on these subjects, but maybe that’s because I’m not in the mood for joking about right now. It certainly has its dark moments as well, which makes it really interesting.

”The Lobster” is slow, bizarre and sometimes bordering on the surreal, and I will definitely watch it again, hopefully in a different state of mind. It’s absolutely worth it.

Btw, the voice-over (amongst other things) made me think of ”The Grand Budapest Hotel” and a deeply depressed/disturbed Wes Anderson. Good or bad? You decide.

Rated: 3,5 / 5

The best releases of 2013

The best releases are those that I’ve listened to for hours and hours and hours, and I still keep coming back. It just happened to be five tapes this time. It’s not a hipster thing, it’s a “great music”-thing.

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Tusen År Under Jord – Sorgsendömet Fobos (Hibiskofon)
This is the best stuff I’ve heard in years. When listening I think of really old black and white movies, surreal landscapes, dense forests in the north and inbreds worshipping elder gods in claustrophobic caves. This is sincere emotional melancholy, without asking for help or understanding. It just looms and breathes on its own. Twisted strings, weak organs and disturbing darkness lies ahead. Listen to this excerpt.
Dusa, another nice freak, was the first one to release a cassette on this promising small label. Make sure you check him out as well. It’s amazingly good stuff.

D.Å.R.F.D.H.S. – S/T (Funeral Fog Records)
The strange name Dard Å Rajn Från Det Hebbershålska Samfundet reads like a tribute to my favourite Swedish author Nikanor Teratologen. I got a bit worried when I realised this, cuz most of the times tributes to the man are childish rubbish. Not this time. This tape is a true masterpiece.
I’ve been stuck with old Cold Meat Industry CD:s and Segerhuva/Abisko tapes for so long I kind of got bored with the whole thing. I haven’t kept track of this ”new” wave of brilliant dark electronic stuff that’s been flooding the market. I still don’t keep track, so I just listen to this tape over and over again. It’s that good.
I’d say the foundation of D.Å.R.F.D.H.S. is a mixture of dark dirty ambient, experimental dub/techno, industrial soundscapes and northern isolationism. Listen here and make up your own mind.
I just got a hold of their brand new release, Det Stora Oväsendet LP (Clan Destine Records), as well as an additional 12” featuring five remixes of the album tracks. First spin = awesome shit from the vaults of Kågedalen/Blåsut. Get it. Now.
Also, make sure you check out Varseblivning (Blodörn) by Isorinne, one of the members of D.Å.R.F.D.H.S. (the other member being Varg).

RiteSe menniskan, hatet, hånet
I wrote about Rite in 2011, being totally blown away by their very first songs. Since then they’ve kept me updated by regularly sending new stuff, and I’ve been blown away every time. This is black metal the way it’s supposed to be: genuinely original, spiritual darkness with religion as base. ”The feeling evoked by the art is everything”, as I wrote back then. This outstanding tape is no exception. This is divine black metal art. Listen.

Irkallian OracleGrave Ekstasis (Bolvärk)
Ritualistic death metal in the vein of the Australian cuckoo-clock freaks known as Portal, minus the technical exercises. This is doomlike, primal and grinding, and a bit more varied than Portal. Some stuff makes me think of Archgoat and Blasphemy, which is a very good thing. Apparently, this is a Swedish band, which makes my jaw drop even further down the spiral. This is Iconoclasm.

Kungens MänHissmusik (Ljudkassett!)
Shameless self-promotion. My band’s first release. Very happy with this one. And since April 2013 we’ve released one live album and five more concept albums (we’ll do one album a month for a whole year)… It’s that easy when you do 100% improvised stuff recorded straight to a wav-file in the rehearsal room.
If you think psychedelic, lenghty trips with a lo-fi vibe sounds interesting, check us out on Spotify, Bandcamp, iTunes and YouTube. It’s all for free.
Thanks.

——-

Other releases that I found interesting (marked in red = a must!).
Probably missed out on tons of good stuff, as usual.

Altaar – S/T
Arckanum – Fenris kindir
Autopsy – The Headless Ritual
Barn Owl – V
Beastiality – Ancient Bell Chimes
Anders Björler – Antikythera
Black Sabbath – 13
Black Trip – Goin’ Under
Bremen – S/T
Coffins – The Fleshland
Dead Soul – In The Darkness
Diskonto – Diskontinued
Earthless – From The Ages
Enforcer – Death By Fire
Föllakzoid – II
Ghost – Infestissumam
Ghostface Killa – Twelve Reasons To Die
Girls Names – The New Life
Gnod – Chaudelande
Ill Bill – The Grimy Awards
Inquisition – Obscure Verses For The Multiverse
In Solitude – Sister
Jacob Kirkegaard – Conversion
Klotet – Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Uppsala
Kongh – Sole Creation
Low – The Invisible Way
Machetazo – Ruin
Miljoner Döda – Ingen väg ut, bara ner (I’m not sure if this is a 2013 release, and I don’t really care. You should check them out.)
Mogwai – Les Revenants
Monachus – Below
Mordbrand – Unmake
my bloody valentine – mvb
Anna Norberg – Darkness/Dance With Death
Obliteration – Black Death Horizon

Ocean Chief – Sten
The Oscillation – From Tomorrow
Oscillotron – Eclipse
Parasit – Välj din egen bödel
Pest – The Crowning Horror
Pentagram (Chile) – The Malefice
Portal – Vexovoid
Psychic Ills – One Track Mind
Pyramido – Saga
Quasimoto – Yessir Whatever
Serpent Omega – S/T
Terra Tenebrosa – The Purging
Tormented – Death Awaits
Tribulation – The Formulas of Death
Usurpress/Bent Sea – Split 10″
Varg – Misantropen
Verminous – The Unholy Communion
Voivod – Target Earth
Watain – The Wild Hunt
White Hills – So You Are… So You’ll Be
Chelsea Wolfe – Pain Is Beauty
Yuri Gagarin – S/T
Ättestupa – Musik för tomma rum

//The end

by Mattias Indy Pettersson