Monthly Archives: May 2015

Force Majeure

Force Maeure film posterSynopsis

Tomas (Johannes Bah Kuhnke ) is on a skiing holiday with his wife Ebba and the two kids.  Avalanches are controlled through detonation and one seems to be heading towards them.  Tomas grabs his Iphone and runs away leaving Ebba to look after the kids.  The avalanche leaves only a harmless mist of snow which does not reach them.  He returns to his family.  He must deal with his cowardice.


This film is an unrelenting gaze at our failure to live up to the painfully flattering image we like to make of ourselves.  This is an affluent middle class family, the couple are good looking and enjoy all the status advantages, but this is undone in a moment of cowardice.  The middle class family starts to fall apart.  Ebba and the kids reproach Tomas who initially can’t be honest about running away.  He justifies himself by arguing that actions can be interpreted in different ways.  The evidence of the Iphone is irrefutable and his loss of face before his wife and friends is sadistically drawn out.  His friend Mats makes excuses for him “You were safe so you could dig them out?”.  The more he tries to excuse Tomas, the more embarrassing it becomes because all this painful justification convinces no-one.  Tomos then turns the event into a sort of family therapy session, absurdly claiming victimhood in order to win his wife’s sympathy.  He wants absolution and bizarrely seems to arrange a skiing accident which will flatter his male ego.  The desolation of the snowy landscape is good background for stripped down emotions, accentuating the transience of the affluent smugness that intrudes on it.  The wheezing machinery in the snow looks like a spidery cage opening on freezing death.  Grim.



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Wild Tales

Wild Tales film posterSynopsis

A collection of stories – Pasternak, Rats, Road to Hell, Dynamite, The Bill, Till Death Do Us Part – about revenge.  Set in Argentina.


These stories are like a mixture of The Twilight Zone, and Bunuel with The Three Stooges.  The first story is appallingly topical after the Alpine plane crash, so its release is unfortunate.  Another story concerns the casual murder of a loathsome man.  Another is like Spielberg’s Duel, only this time the protagonists are snarling face to face.  The next starts with the buying of a birthday cake and ends up as a black comedy aimed at obstructive bureaucracy working a scam.  Then there is a story about a road death and how the rich and powerful can avoid the consequences of their misdeeds.  Another is about hilarious grounds for divorce, even before the couple dishes out the wedding cake.  There is a very jaded look at contemporary Argentina when corruption and violence are fixtures in the lives of the rich and powerful.  The stories cleverly dangle the plot twist which never really comes.  Each tale simply ends in cold vengeance, sometimes just malicious and sometimes just nobody is likeable, everyone has good reasons for bad behaviour.  The opening pictures of the film show animals and what we get is a menagerie of injured vanity, cowardice, greed, self loathing, jealousy, class hatred, and shame. The bars of the cage don’t so much rattle as clang from indignation at the sorry state of failed humanity.  It’s like torture porn scripted by Shakespeare of Titus Andronicus with a lot of Jacobean darkness.


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While We’re Young

While We're Young film posterSynopsis

Noah Baumbach’s comedy about Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) in their 40s trying to relive their younger years. They are befriended by Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried).  Cornelia gets into hip hop and Josh collaborates with Jamie in a documentary. Cornelia is childless but wants a child.  Josh and Jamie discuss the nature of film.  The two couples want rejuvenation through peyote-induced therapy techniques.  There is confrontation between James and Josh at the end.


This is very Woody Allen (yuk).  Middle aged and middle class averagely insane narcissists worried about the direction of their lives.  I certainly didn’t sympathize with their plight, I just wish they’d grow up less embarrassingly.   It’s like all those productions in which the younger people are often more mature than the silly middle aged.  Cornelia gets involved with Mum-set types and wants a child (this is the usual Hollywood lecture, that having kids is the ultimate in life).  Josh and Cornelia want to get back to their lives before they used Google and Twitter.  They want to revive the romanticism of their first meeting.  Josh tells Cornelia it’s idiotic to text or phone each other first date wise when they’re (erm) living in the same room.  It’s Bob Ted Carol and Alice in reverse, not married couples experimenting with sexual drugs but getting back to basics.  Naturally Jamie and Darby listen to vinyl records, and to tapes, and use typewriters, and these are the things that Josh and Cornelia discarded.  Darby makes ice cream, how quirkily hip my dear!  Josh and Jamie agonise about documentary film and the nature of truth, which of course reflects the endless search for authenticity in their personal lives.  Jamie is not the seeker of truth he seems to be but can be coldly manipulative and career orientated, more than his idealistic pose would have Josh believe.  Josh has a problem with this but shouldn’t he look deeper into his art? There is guilt ridden theorising about it. The ayahuesca sessions are reminiscent of those obligatory visits to such places as the Esden Centre that middle aged hippies used to visit.  Irritating!!!!

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Posted by on May 26, 2015 in At the cinema, Film Reviews


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