Monday, July 23, 2012

BPG Summer Movie Awards 2012 Part Deux

Best Use of Norwegian Settting in a Film This Year or any Year (Although I saw Neither Blue Parrots or Mighty Fjords)

Headhunters (2011)

"Too ridiculously good looking." (Me, as well as Derek Zoolander)

I saw the movie last Tuesday, the hottest day of the year. The temperature reached 37 C (98.6 F) with a humidex (what the humidity makes it actually feel like) of 48 C (118 F). The movie theatres were packed with folks just needing a break from the pizza-oven atmosphere of the city streets. Headhunters was one of the showings that wasn't sold out.

Norway is right at the top of my list of countries I want to visit. Years ago I saw a not-terribly-good British mystery series set there, but there was something about it that captivated me. I think part of it has to do with the similarity of the scenery with northern Ontario. Anyhow, I don't think I've seen a Norwegian film before. But it was full of Norwegian scenery, which, along with Swedish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, is all too ridiculously good looking, and I'm not complaining.

The story is based on a book by Jo Nesbø (I have The Snowman by him on my bookshelf, as yet unread). It's a thriller and the movie, which has had mixed reviews, is certainly that. I enjoyed it tremendously, probably more so because it was Norwegian. I have a feeling that if it had been English-language, I would probably have taken more care to pick it apart. Such is the glamour of the exotic and unknown. Yes, Norway, to me you are exotic.

Aksel Hennie plays Roger Brown (where did that name come from?), a man with a self-confessed short-man complex. In an effort to keep his towering blond, beautiful wife in beautiful surroundings and jewellery (and therefore, he hopes, loyal to him), he works not only as the country's best headhunter, but also as a part-time art thief. Enter the chiseled and distractingly gorgeous Clas Greve, a model-handsome special-services soldier (or something like that), and Roger gets in over his head, literally. Oh, boy, literally, in the film's grossest scene.

I won't go on, I recommend it. It's a good summer yarn.


Best Song to Relieve General Droopiness: "Video Killed the Radio Star"

Take This Waltz (2011)

"Life has a gap in it... It just does. You don't go crazy trying to fill it." (Sarah Silverman as Geraldine)

Michelle Williams (always so excellent) plays Margot, a woman married to Lou (Seth Rogan) and infatuated with Daniel (Luke Kirby). I got the odd sensation that whatever the movie was telling me was at odds with what I was getting... sort of.

The relationship between Margot and her husband is infantile; they're like squabbling, affectionate siblings, down to the revolting game of telling each other what sort of damage they'd like to do to each other (skinning alive, that sort of thing). But when she meets the handsome and charming artist/rickshaw driver Daniel, she falls into the same sort of pattern... hurling insults at him, and unable to commit to her attraction to him physically: in one scene she bursts out laughing when he tries to seduce her verbally. She's emotionally backward, and I don't think there's a scene where her eyes don't well up with some sort of intense emotion. The woman needs help! So what happens instead?

She leaves her husband for the rickshaw driver (who nonetheless manages to afford a pretty nifty looking loft) and then begins a strange sequence of scenes, where the new couple indulges in sex, at last, and then sex with other people along for the ride. Wha~?! That seemed to come out of nowhere. Their relationship is all about sex and the thrill of the novelty of some forms of that. Ok. So... then she ends up kind of unhappy still because, you know, she's still the woman she is, and that is depressed, and sex with her new rickshaw driver won't solve that. There then follows a reprisal of a scene where she enjoys a fairground ride (on Toronto's Centre Island), set to "Video Killed the Radio Star", so that was a sweet moment of nostalgia.

Maybe that's the point of the story, that she's just never going to be happy, that maybe that's a foolish dream anyway, but, for adult-children, I definitely preferred Dark Horse.

In Take This Waltz, an excellent cast features Sarah Silverman as the sister-in-law; both she and Seth Rogan are surprising choices, and I liked that. Toronto stars as itself (yay!).


Film That Provided me with Sleep That I Actually Didn't Need at all

To Rome with Love (2012

"Honk... shoooo, honk.... shooo" (Me, except not, because I don't snore. Actually I really don't, but I do talk in my sleep sometimes, or make what has been described as "lamenting sounds" - how creepy!)

Well, you know that I was aching for this film to be wonderful: I love a lot of Woody Allen movies, and I love Rome (it's where half my family is from). I didn't like the trailer, and then I fell asleep four times during this movie. So... I can't say I saw the whole thing, but what I did see felt disjointed, deeply so.

Fabio Armiliato, the tenor, plays... a tenor. An all-star cast includes Penelope Cruz, Alec Baldwin, Judy Davis, among others. Woody Allen, in one of the ensemble roles, is actually my favourite part of the film, of the bits I saw.

Most Brilliant, Charming and Uplifting Screenplay, and Film That Stands Best Chance of the Summer of a Repeat Viewing

Safety not Guaranteed (2012)

"There's no sense in nonsense, especially when the heat's hot." (Aubrey Plaza as Darius)

I read a comment on where someone wrote after seeing this film, "The world just got a little brighter." I agree. This film, quirky and fresh and original, was a delight from start to finish. None of the casting was predictable, the screenplay was full of charm, insight, depth, and wit.

This is a generous film, in every sense. A somewhat shallow reporter from Seattle takes two young interns on a little road trip to investigate a classified ad, in which a man is seeking a partner to travel in time with. In his ad, he specifies that they have to bring their own weapons, and... safety is not guaranteed.

I'm still sifting this one through my mind, as it's one of those films that gives you a lot to think about, or you can just leave the theatre smiling and not think about it. Time, personal history and regret are at the core of the story. Isn't that what time travel is all about, anyway? I think more people yearn to go back, than forward.

I don't want to say anything more, because this is a film I hope a lot of people see. Let me know if you do, and what you think!

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