RSS

Monthly Archives: May 2012

Monthly Report: May 2012

Compared to the previous two months, May was a bit disappointing in terms of both quality and quantity. The quality is unfortunate, but it’s due to knowingly dumb choices on my part. As for quantity, I was on my way to another movie-filled month until a certain video game called Diablo 3 derailed everything. No need to worry, though. I’ll be back in the swing of things sooner or later, with a planned Saturday viewing of Prometheus likely to get my film-watching back on track.

For now, enjoy this overview of the films I saw in May.

The Incredible Hulk (Louis Leterrier, 2008)
I wish I had gotten to see this one before seeing The Avengers, because it’s hard to be all that impressed with the action here after seeing what Hulk does in that other movie. To be fair though, The Incredible Hulk puts in a good effort action-wise, as the stakes are carefully ramped up throughout the film. The climactic battle is satisfying. More problematic is the story, however. Bruce Banner is an interesting character, arguably moreso than the other Avengers, and Edward Norton is quite okay in the part. Unfortunately, Norton’s Banner disappears when CGI Hulk jumps into the fray, and the disconnect is there. The lack of strong supporting characters also hurts the narrative aspects of the film. Still, this remains a decent movie. The tale of an unwilling and tortured soul of a superhero is compelling, and the action is solid. The Incredible Hulk ranks somewhere in the middle when comparing the pre-Avengers films.
3/5

Frantic (Roman Polanski, 1988)
Well-crafted thriller in which Harrison Ford – at the top of his acting game – tries to find his wife (Betty Buckley), who has gone missing on their vacation in Paris. The first half or so is particularly good. The Pace is methodical, everything is uncertain and tense, and there’s a realistic tone to everything. Unfortunately, the film eventually boils down to something we’re more familiar with from regular Hollywood thrillers, and the atmosphere weakens a bit – something not helped by a few unnecessarily humorous touches. Still, Ford himself performs admirably from start to finish, and the end result is a positive one even if it doesn’t quite measure up to the Polanski thrillers of earlier days.
3/5

The Straight Story (David Lynch, 1999)
There were scenes and moments in this road movie that I found quite beautiful, but they can’t make up for the dullness that surrounds them. The mood of the film never quite seized me, despite a stunningly wonderful performance by Richard Farnsworth. I could see myself growing to like this movie with time, but for now, it’ll have to settle for lower marks.
2/5

Puncture (Adam & Mark Kassen, 2011)
The problem with basing a story on real events is that you need to stick somewhat close to reality. Puncture features an interesting tale of lawyers trying to work against a health care conspiracy, one I found myself quite engrossed in. However, the lead character (a very good Chris Evans) is a junkie, and this aspect eats up too much of the screentime for my liking. It feels like an unwelcome distraction. Still, you couldn’t really make the movie without touching upon it, I suppose. This one could have been even better than it was had it chosen a different way to tackle parts of its subject matter. Enjoyable nonetheless.
3/5

You Don’t Know Jack (Barry Levinson, 2010)
Al Pacino shows that he’s still capable of great performances in this biopic on Dr. Kevorkian and his struggle to legalize euthanasia. Unfortunately, the rest of the film can’t match him. As important as the issue is, it doesn’t make for a very interesting story. Pacing is also an issue as there are slow stretches where the plot doesn’t go anywhere.
2/5

American Pie Presents: The Book of Love (John Putch, 2009)
There’s a scene in this movie where an old ugly hooker is performing oral sex on a guy and uses her dentures to nibble his nipples. That actually made me snicker for a split-second. It’s the comedic highlight of this movie, the rest of which is absolute horse manure. No, wait, that’s not fair. Horse manure at least has useful fertilizing properties. This movie is worthless.
1/5

Hesher (Spencer Susser, 2010)
To begin talking about Hesher the movie, one must mention Hesher the character (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). He has the kind of larger-than-life presence that commands attention. He’s a heavy metal Joker, only he’s in a family/grief drama with a slew of black comedy, rather than in a superhero movie. He operates on Hesher logic, something distinctively different from real logic. The movie is infected by his “agent of chaos” ways, and it makes for a really fun ride for the first half or so. It’s one of those movies where you have no idea where it’s going to go, which is a rare quality to have. That it eventually becomes apparent that not even the movie knows where it’s going is a shame, and Hesher the character becomes more of an ill-fitting obstruction than anything. When it’s all said and done, this film offers quite a few laughs and has some good acting on display, but it is also uneven and awkward. A for effort, but not for the end result.
3/5

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (Mark Herman, 2008)
Holocaust drama from the eyes of a German child (Hugo‘s Asa Butterfield) who befriends a jewish boy (Jack Scanlon) stuck in a camp. The film does a pretty good job of filtering the unknown horrors of the situation through the main character’s innocence, and there’s little faulting the performances – I was particularly impressed by Vera Farmiga who plays the worrying mother of the protagonist. I’m a bit torn on the ending, though. It’s sad – like most holocaust films tend to be – but it also felt vaguely manipulative. I’m not entirely sure whether this was due to my own expectations of where the film was going or not. Nonetheless, I wasn’t entirely enamored by the way the story ultimately went. A fine film, but not a great one.
3/5

Beginners (Mike Mills, 2010)
Here’s a case where the selectiveness of the awards season can lead to conveying the wrong ideas about a film. Christopher Plummer got all the attention for his supporting performance as the old gay father, which had me thinking that this would be the sole stand-out quality of the film. Oh, how wrong I was. This is a wonderfully bittersweet movie from top to bottom. Oliver’s (Ewan McGregor) problems with love and commitment are juxtaposed with the situation his dad was going through, showing us the guards and masks we subconsciously put up in order to avoid hurting ourselves and others. This one tugs at the heartstrings in all the right ways, and the result is a great movie.
5/5

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (Uwe Boll, 2007)
I’m torn on what score to give this video game adaptation. I watched it and its sequel back to back, and this first one is certainly the better one. That’s not saying much though, because this is still a bad film. Are there enjoyable parts of it? Sure. While most of the actors sleepwalk through the movie, there are at least some that realize what kind of movie they’re in and decide to ham it up quite a bit – Matthew Lillard in particular. And there is at least some modicum of effort evident in making the film look good design-wise. I’m tempted to give it a score of 2, but… no. The Lord of the Rings-wannabe script is ridiculous, and Uwe Boll has no idea how to shoot action scenes. This gets a 1 and likes it. Only recommended for Jason Statham completionists. Like me. And even I regret seeing it. Uwe Boll has done it again.
1/5

In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds (Uwe Boll, 2011)
And again. Because if there was one thing missing from the first one, it was a fish-out-of-water angle to the story where a guy gets transported from our world to medieval fantasy. And Dolph Lundgren in the lead instead of Statham. And tracing the plot of The Matrix rather than Lord of the Rings. This movie is an utter failure, even when compared to the already bad first film. In that one, there was at least budget (60 million dollars!) to get some name actors onboard and to stage big battle scenes. This one, by comparison, feels like some dozen guys running around the woods in shoddy LARP costumes. An even bigger problem is the fact that nothing really happens for most of the film. It’s not just a bad movie, but also a boring one. Stay the fuck away from this one.
1/5

Total # of new films seen: 11
Average score: 2.5 / 5
Best film of the month: Beginners
Worst film of the month: In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds

 
14 Comments

Posted by on 31 May, 2012 in Monthly Report

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Happy birthday, blog!

One year ago today, A Swede Talks Movies was started. For posts like this, it seems customary to say that time flies and all that, but to be honest, it does feel like pretty much a full year since this Swede began talking movies on here. A very pleasant year.

This has been my most long-living blog ever. Before A Swede Talks Movies, I had a couple of other Swedish film blogs. They tended to last half a year or so before I lost interest and stopped updating. I did a poor job of promoting them, which led to a lack feedback and communication – even if page views for at least one of them were about on par with this one due to random Google hits and a search-friendly blog name.

I didn’t have any specific goals when I started A Swede Talks Movies. I wanted a place to do the 50 Day Movie Challenge I had discovered, and I figured I’d use it for other blogathons or list-makings I came across. After those first 50 days of daily updates, I settled into my current groove and pace. I started comparing books to film, made a poll where you’d vote on films for me to rewatch, compiled yearly top 10 lists, and wrote anything else I felt like writing, when I felt like it.

Switching to the English language is the best thing I’ve ever done blogging-wise. It has allowed me to “meet” and discuss film with people from all over the world: Sweden, United Kingdom, America, New Zealand, and many other places. It has also given me the opportunity to offer a different perspective on certain things – such as the things that bugged me in Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I’m hoping to explore similar topics in the future. Talking about Swedish things is something I can do that most other bloggers can’t from the same perspective.

Connecting with people has been the main motivation for this blog’s existance. I can not stress enough how very grateful I am for each and every comment I receive on something I’ve written. I love talking movies, but talking with yourself gets old. One of my previous blogs ran for 40+ weeks with weekly updates and only received a total of 9 comments in its lifetime, even though the daily page views would hover at around 150. In retrospect, I’m surprised I kept that one going for as long as I did.

So thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you to everyone who has ever read, liked, shared, and/or commented on any of my blog post. You’re what makes blogging fun and rewarding for me. I won’t start naming names because I know I’ll just forget someone and feel like an ass, but know that I appreciate all of you.

That said, special thanks have to go out to Travis McClain, a tremendous human being and all-around great guy, who has served both as a source of inspiration for blog posts and as a helping hand when I’ve needed to tidy up my writing. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out his blog Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité. He writes about movies, comics, music, his personal life and lots of other stuff, all very candidly. And it’s all good stuff.

As for the future of A Swede Talks Movies, I certainly don’t have any plans of stopping anytime soon. I’ll keep on blogging. Probably at my established pace, hopefully with ever-improving writing and new cool ideas. This Swede will keep talking movies. I hope you’ll keep being here for me to talk to.

In closing, here are some of my favorite posts I’ve written during this blog’s first year. A brief looking-back before moving forward, if you will.

Three is One: Women going crazy
This was intended as the start of a recurring feature where I’d compare three movies that have something in common. I still haven’t gotten around to doing a second installment, but this first one – featuring Repulsion, Images, and Black Swan – worked out quite nicely.

Rewatch Review – Bitch Slap
Travis made me watch this trashy film for a second time, and I certainly found myself appreciating it more. This is one of the more hit-generating posts of the blog’s first year. I suspect this is because of the T&A-laden pictures my fantastic writing.

The remake conundrum: Open Your Eyes and Vanilla Sky
By far the most popular post I’ve ever written in terms of page views, which is somewhat surprising. The whole thing with Open Your Eyes and Vanilla Sky still bugs me to this day, and this was something I had to write.

How I ended up loving movies
This one was a long time in the making, and I am very pleased with the way it turned out. I always struggle with adding a personal perspective to things I write, but this one has it in spades I think.

Why I remain zen about the Oscars nominations
I don’t think this post managed to change anyone’s mind or dampen any ire, but it was still something I felt I needed to say. People complain way too much during awards season.

When Worlds Collide: Why The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is strange to this Swede
As mentioned earlier, this is a case where my nationality allows me to see things that others may not.

An introduction to the Flickchart world of ranking films
I love Flickchart and was more than happy to try to spread the word on the site. I know I got a few people hooked at least, so mission accomplished. I also occasionally contribute to Flickchart: The Blog, which has been a rewarding experience.

Again: Thank you all for your continued support! Here’s to another fun year!

 
22 Comments

Posted by on 30 May, 2012 in Misc.

 

50 MORE Things I Love About Films

Well over a year ago, I wrote a post called 100 Things I Love About Films on my old blog, which I later reposted here at A Swede Talks Movies. This is the sequel, adding 50 more things to the original 100. I’ve tried to avoid repeating movies and actors I mentioned in that first post, though a few have slipped through anyhow.

Credit for the original concept goes to Beau Kaelin. Thanks also to gentleman and scholar Travis McClain for bringing the idea to my attention. The original description:

Rather than posting your 100 favorite films (which has been done and overdone), you simply post your favorite things about movies.  I dig the concept, because instead of obsessing over whether the films you put on a list are “objectively good enough” to put on said list, you simply jot down 100 moments/lines/visuals that have made a lasting impression on you or sneak their way into running gags between you and your friends. Just read below and you’ll get the idea.

Why only 50 this time instead of 100? Because… quality over quantity? Yes. Let’s go with that.

1. Emily Watson in Breaking the Waves, the fear and agony on her face raw enough to make me gasp in sympathy.

2. The wonderfully trashy dialogue in Bitch Slap. I love the fact that someone actually put the words “Lube my boob, skank twat” to paper.

3. Natalie Portman‘s joy-stricken face when she phones her mother from the bathroom stall in Black Swan.

4. Michelle Williams‘ dorky dance in Blue Valentine.

5. When actors produce their own films, showing a real desire to have the movies made.

6. The brief cameo by Jason Statham reprising his role from The Transporter at the beginning of Collateral. Crossover stuff of that nature should happen more often.

7. The 20th Century Fox fanfare.

8. Robin Williams capping off his love declaration in The Fisher King with the words “But I still don’t drink coffee”.

9. The shot of the sugar lump in Three Colors: Blue.

10. Watching Casablanca for the first time and finally getting some context for all the well-quoted lines of dialogue. “Round up the usual suspects” put a big smile on my face.

11. Penelope Cruz performing A Call From the Vatican in Nine. I don’t mean to sound crass, but… hubba hubba.

12. The chase sequence through the construction site in the 2006 Casino Royale.

13. The Remains of the Day lunch box in Waiting for Guffman.

14. The whole sequence with the trunk in The Ice Harvest. Great mix of tension and humor.

15. Kat Dennings trying to pronounce Mjölnir in Thor. “What’s Myeh-myeh” indeed.

16. Danny DeVito trying to look scary to John Travolta in Get Shorty.

17. Sven Nykvist‘s gorgeous cinematography in Persona. I’ve never seen black & white look better.

18. Mark Ruffalo‘s “Why the fuck did I just say that?” grimace after stating that he loves lesbians in The Kids Are All Right.

19. Speaking of Ruffalo: The Hulk in The Avengers. Every awesome second of him.

20. When a movie just leaves me completely baffled about whether I like it or not, or whether it even matters. It’s annoying too in a way, but I love how it questions the very idea of why I watch films and what I take away from them. Funny Games would be a recent example of this kind of movie for me.

21. The ending of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Teriffic execution of a sequel hook.

22. Those performances that become so utterly convincing that my brain eventually has to break me out of the trance by going “Uh, Emil, you do know that this is an actor playing a character, right? It’s not a real person.” And then I go “Shut the fuck up, brain.” A recent example: Richard Farnsworth in The Straight Story.

23. Seeing an actor I’ve never heard of before in a film and immediately wanting to find out what else they have been in since they’re so good.

24. The climax of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, a sequence that tops anything else in either of Guy Ritchie‘s Sherlock films.

25. Tippi Hedren waiting outside the schoolhouse in The Birds. Cue me gasping for breath and muttering “Oh shit…”

26. Kirsten Dunst looking stunning in the wedding dress in Melancholia.

27. Hugo reminding me that 3D can indeed be used to great effect. Thank you, Martin Scorsese.

28. Tom Cruise scaling the Burj Khalifa in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Absolutely jaw-dropping.

29. The scene in 50/50 where Joseph Gordon-Levitt goes in for surgery and suddenly realizes that he might never wake up again.

30. Michelle Duncan‘s adorable Scottish accent in Driving Lessons.

31. This exchange in The Fugitive: “I didn’t kill my wife!” “I don’t care!”

32. The opening of Grave of the Fireflies. It’s good on the first watch, but it’s heart-breaking on a rewatch.

33. The lone penguin wandering off towards the mountains and certain death in Werner Herzog‘s Encounters at the End of the World.

34. The dream-like atmosphere of Robert Altman‘s Images. The kind of stuff that makes you realize how inaccurately the term “dream-like” tends to get thrown around.

35. Ellen Page in Juno. And Jennifer Garner. And Jason Bateman. And Allison Janney. And J.K. Simmons. And everyone else.

36. ))<>(( from Me and You and Everyone We Know.

“What business is it of yours where I’m from… friendo?”

 

37. The tense scene in No Country for Old Men where Javier Bardem makes the gas station attendant call a coin flip.

38. Seeing a scene that for some reason doesn’t work for me, only to much later have a revelation on what it meant. Guaranteed to make me love the part next time I watch the film.

39. Everything about Catherine Keener in Being John Malkovich, but particularly her dismissive reactions to everything John Cusack says and does in the early goings.

40. Uggie playing dead in The Artist.

41. The meet-cute between Ewan McGregor and Melanie Laurent at the costume party in Beginners.

42. This poster for 127 Hours.

43. The entire showdown between Uma Thurman and David Carradine in Kill Bill: Vol. 2. Had me at the edge of my seat when I first watched it.

44. The very recognizable video game scene in Swingers.

45. Brad Pitt‘s ridiculous accent when speaking Italian in Inglourious Basterds.

46. The suffocating atmosphere of Seven.

47. The big fight on the rope bridge in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

48. George Clooney‘s fine-tuned and low-key performance in The American.

49. Robert Downey Jr. sucking at math in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

50. Shea Whigham‘s brief part in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, repeatedly uttering “Whoa!” in the funniest fashion.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on 22 May, 2012 in Lists

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My Top 10 Favorite Movies of 1996

As usual, this goes by release year as listed on IMDB.

Honorable mentions: The Rock, Sling Blade

10 – FOXFIRE (Annette Haywood-Carter)

“Live dangerously. Walk me to class.”

A cool and thoughtful movie about the friendship that develops between a group of teenage girls, with drifter Legs (a pre-breakthrough Angelina Jolie) acting as the catalyst. Truth be told, I don’t remember much details about this film, but I do recall being quite taken by the earnest performances and the very 90s-y feel of the movie. Sadly, not many people seem to have seen this one. Do check it out if you have the chance.

9 – KINGPIN (Peter & Bobby Farrelly)

“It’s round, has three holes, and you put your fingers into it.”

I haven’t seen this one since the early 2000s, but this one got frequent play on my VCR back in the day. The humor is of the typical Farrelly brand; if that’s not your thing, this bowling comedy won’t change your mind. For those of us who like this stuff, Kingpin offers plenty of laughs. Having two great actors like Woody Harrelson and Bill Murray in the central parts certainly doesn’t hurt either, with Murray in particular stealing the show in the film’s climactic bowling game.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
24 Comments

Posted by on 9 May, 2012 in Lists, Top 10 of a year

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blogs I Enjoy: And So It Begins and Flickers

It’s time for another edition of Blogs I Enjoy, a feature in which I spotlight a couple of great movie blogs I follow.

And So It Begins is the home of Alex Withrow, a movie-lover who has a real knack for writing. His blog is full of fun and informative content, with plenty of features I enjoy reading. I recently spent some time going through his series called the Directors, in which he’ll go through a director’s entire filmography and offer thoughts on each outing; through this, I found plenty of stuff to add to my rental queue. After all, even highly acclaimed directors like Martin Scorsese have films that aren’t talked about very often. Another feature on And So It Begins that I enjoy is In Character, which singles out the best performances from selected character actors – yet another useful way to discover new movies. Alex also writes reviews, lists, and other cool stuff you expect to find at a film blog.

Flickers recently moved from Blogger to WordPress, and picked up its own domain in the transfer. A new beginning of sorts for blogger Dave, and thus it seems appropriate that he’d get some new readers as well. Like me, Dave keeps a more leisurely pace when it comes to updates compared to most movie bloggers. That’s perfectly fine; real life does get in the way of pastimes every now and then, and it only means that a new post on Flickers feels like a pleasant surprise, or a rare treat. Dave’s taste in films is eerily similar to my own, moreso than any other blogger I’ve encountered, to the point where just an appearance on one of his Best of the Year lists is enough for me to immediately add a film to my rental queue on high priority. He also recently started a promising new series called Junior Film School, where he’ll be introducing his kids to the world of cinema. The first entry on Ghostbusters was a lot of fun, and I’m already looking forward to the next installment. Oh, and he’s a teriffic writer too! One of those people I’m really glad I’ve discovered.

For more wonderful film blogs, check out the Blogroll in the sidebar to the right. They’re all worthy of your attention.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on 3 May, 2012 in Blogs I Enjoy, Links