Monthly recap: What have I been watching?

Didn't watch as much as March, still got to see a few films! Was a good month, in that I hardly saw any bad movies at all.

The Prince of Tides (1991)
Received 7 oscar nominations. Good watch, particularly if you like psychiatrist conversations between Barbra Streisand and Nick Nolte. Maybe a little too sentimental and cliché in an American movie kind of way. I don't like Nolte, but was a strong performance by him. The main complaint I've read is that Pat Conroy's book is MUCH better.
Rating 7.2

Anna Karenina (1997)
Russian authour Leo Tolstoy's classic comprising of over 900 pages really looks beautiful on screen in terms of sets and costume design, and the acting is good in this 1997 adaptation. The timeless human themes of following your passion without thinking about the consequences, and falling in love without getting to know the object of your desire will never wane in interest. The parts of the story that have dated are to do with relationships in 1880s not being compatible with norms of society.
The problem with the film is so much of what made the book a classic is left out due to time constraints, the story really demands and deserves a long-running mini-series that provides nuances. My favorite character is Levin (Alfred Molina), but his narration and journey of finding meaning is sketchy at best. I'm curious to see what direction Joe Wright decides to go with Anna Karenina (2012) starring Keira Knightley.
Rating 7.0

The Hunger Games (2012)
I haven't read the books, so can't compare. With the success of the first movie, I'm sure there will be a sequel! What is so disturbing is how strangely exhilarating it is to watch, albeit morally damaging to take part. Who could go on living a happy life having killed other contestants? So the creators of the Hunger Games are the real culprits, because the winners are murderers.

Hunger games director Gary Ross on Charlie Rose: “What it means to find your own inner ethical line, your own sense of self, your own personal ethics.

Charlie Rose: It’s one of those things that asks you, what would I do if I was there?

Director: “That’s exactly what it means.” (…) “I’m not going to participate in a system that violates my own sense of ethics, my own moral line, and once you know that, you can’t unring the bell, and that’s the experience she goes through. I think it’s the assertion of the individual, and finding out who you are as an individual”

The lack of violence in the movie adaptation I was okay with, and the survival in the forest was exciting enough. If I had to criticize, there were a couple of characters that annoyed me, particularly Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci), but I think that may have been intended. I wasn't the key audience, and I didn't think the story was particularly original. I agree with Eric's review: "I don’t know what’s more shocking — the fact that a movie about kids killing kids has been a monster box office smash, or that author Suzanne Collins claims to have never heard of the Japanese cult hit, Battle Royale"
Rating 6.8

Series 7: The Contenders (2001)
A satire similar to The Hunger Games, and arguably more suspenseful because there is no sequel. In the contenders adults are assigned in a reality tv-show to kill each other. Kill or be killed. Are we the audience hypothetically also at fault? Because as long as there are viewers, then the show continues. In that way its also critical of violence in movies today, because if everyone boycotted violent movies, they would have no market to sell to.
Rating 7.4

Titanic: The Final Word with James Cameron (2012) (documentary)
Maybe you can analyze an event too much? I don't believe the doc would interest anyone except hardcore Titanic nerds. Very detailed and technical about how the ship sank. They even admit at one point it's nitpicking. I'm not sure there was enough new information to warrant a new documentary, even though they gathered Titanic experts in the same room. I think the experts were enjoying themselves more than I was. For me, why it sank, is a lot more interesting than their focus: how Titanic step by step sank to the bottom of the ocean. Cameron argues the things that are inaccurate in the 1997 movie would only bother 8 people in the world.
Rating 6.5

Into the Abyss (2011) (documentary)
„(The Doctor) got to treat me first, and then kill me, huh, that’s kind of crazy to think about, right?“
Moving, tragic, and important look at the death penalty. Considering the doc is made by Werner Herzog, a European, you'd think it's simply another film opposed to the US death penalty. What's interesting is you see it from the point-of-view of all sides. The victims, how a woman has lost her entire family. And from the criminal's viewpoint, who are humanized, and defend their actions. And the executioner, who's job it is to kill people. With all this information, the audience are free to make up their mind if they are for or against the death sentence.
I found the killers to be extremely dubious, I am against the death penalty, but would recommend letting the culprits remain in jail.
Rating 7.5

Walk The Line (2005)
Johnny Cash certainly had an up and down life. Good performances, I admire how the two leads learnt how to sing convincingly like Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) and June Carter (Reese Witherspoon). Both actors have never been better, and deservedly were rewarded with nominations and awards. Is a film to watch rather than write a lot about in my opinion. Makes me anxious to begin a blogathon of Johnny Cash music here on moviesandsongs365.
Rating 7.5

Lonely Are the Brave (1962)
Said to be Kirk Douglas' favorite amongst his films, and most overlooked. I have never been a huge Western fan, so I'm not the right person to judge. I enjoyed watching, and does seem to deserve more widespread popularity. Kirk Douglas has been quoted saying "This is what attracted me to the story - the difficulty of being an individual today." The police force are spending so much on so little is an ironic undertone. Story is set in 1960s America about a free-spirited cowboy stubbornly not wanting to conform to societies rules, and nostalgic for the Old West. Is he naive, is his individuality to be admired? The poster reads: Life can never cage a man like this! Or is his friend Paul the brave one for settling down, giving up his freedom, and raising a family? See it for Kirk Douglas' fine performance as the cowboy. Also, if you liked the movie Rambo First Blood (1982), check this out. A must-see for those who love a good western.
Rating 7.6

Tyrannosaur (2011)
The title is misleading, not about dinosaurs at all! Put me off, that every sentence was f-this, and f-that. Unlikeable characters and depressing to watch. I’d be interested to hear a defense of this film, anyone?
Did not finish

Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)
A black and white Hungarian film directed by Béla Tarr. My expectations were high considering the love for this film in the blogosphere.
Beautiful cinematography and music score, certainly. Technical achievements aside, I didn't find it quite as absorbing as I had hoped, and the many slow-building scenes made my mind wander to other things. It was very clear that Tarr isn't interested in traditional plot based storytelling. I admired the filmmaking, but I didn't connect emotionally. Perhaps the acclaim is because Bela Tarr's directing style is so unique and different, and the images are symbolic.
I think a case where I would rather discuss the film than watch it again. Anybody reading this like to make a defense of why Werckmeister Harmonies is a masterpiece? Limited appeal with such a slow pace. I have no idea what to rate it. I hated how slow it was, and loved how haunting it was, I feel bad going below my recommendation level of 7.4.
(spoiler) The message I could decipher was of a town blindly following a leader who is not who they think he is, but it all could be a dream or an unreliable narrator. Are they so desperate for a ruler that the townspeople would listen to a fool? Obviously the film is critical of Eastern European politics. The whale may have cursed the town is another thought I had. The ending was ambiguous, what has happened to our narrator in the hospital is unclear.
Rating 7.6

The Turin Horse (2011)
You need to be very patient and in the right frame of mind to sit through 2 hours 30 minutes of Bela Tarr. Though technically the film looks amazing and doesn't put a foot wrong, there really is no story to speak of, and the repetitive, drawn out atmospheric scenes with no dialogue may put off a lot of viewers. There is no denying if the film wins you over, then you get sucked into another world, in this case 1889. If you have any historical interest in that era the film may be of interest, unfortunately I found it to be a very depressing watch, nothing much happens at all, even if it was realistic of the time it depicted. The music was very sad too. Was like an inferior The White Ribbon (2009) with fewer characters and a lot less dialogue. To be admired more than enjoyed, I find this film overrated and boring.
Rating 6.0

Littlerock (2010)
An independent film with a tiny budget released on dvd/blu-ray April 2012. The story is Lost in translation-esque, as a Japanese brother and sister visit the US. I gave it a try based on a 10/10 rating at picknmix flix. The atmosphere reminded me of the Japanese novelist Murakami, particularly his book Norwegian Wood. In some ways it's the best Murakami movie Murakami never wrote. Littlerock had the obligatory indie film traits, pot-smoking, party-going dudes, and whatnot, this was a little clichéd I felt. However the characters held my attention, even if the filmmakers were obviously making them cute. I loved the final scene. The technical aspect of the girl's eyes as a camera was quite fun to me, and the cinematography was beautiful (see above image for proof). Definitely recommended.
Also, the soundtrack was enjoyable, in an indie movie kind of way, with lots of obscure band names: Buster Douglas, Amiina, FM Bats, Love Fingers, Kathleen Maressa, The Cave Singers, and Hello Fever.
Rating 7.8

Collapse (2009) (documentary)
Interesting opinions by independent reporter Michael Ruppert, who is said to have predicted the financial crisis. I just would have preferred the filmmakers to be more critical of what he says. Was a bit one-sided. A speech more than a discussion. Ruppert says he doesn't deal in conspiracy theory, but in conspiracy fact. I agree when he talks about the transportation of food across the planet is a waste of money and energy. He is asked by the interviewer is it possible to create a reality based on picking news stories that support your world view? Michael Ruppert did seem a bit arrogant, answering he doesn't do debates anymore, because he is right.
Rating 6.9

La Strada (The Road) (1954)
My fifth Fellini film, having previously seen La Dolce Vita (1960), I Vitelloni (1953), Nights of Cabiria (1957), and 8½(1963).
La Strada was more straight-forward and simple. The characters were funny and loveable, and lots of things happen on the trip they go on. It didn't leave me with a lot of questions, but was quite enjoyable to pass the time. The warm-hearted nature of the script certainly wants me to rewatch at a later date, and I could see this one growing on me. I'm interested in getting myself the interview book Fellini on Fellini, would be fun to read about the thought-process behind the making of his films
Rating 7.8

Ruggles of Red Gap (1935)
Marmaduke Ruggles (the butler) is lost in a game of poker to an American from the small town of Red Gap, Washington. Obviously the characters are dated, the aspects of getting drunk, and a British butler being a fish out of water in the US are timeless.
Rating 7.5

The Day Of The Jackal (1973)
To me, far better than the mediocre remake from 1997 with Bruce Willis and Richard Gere.
Even after 6 or 7 lifetime viewings the 1973 spy thriller still keeps me on the edge of my seat, despite knowing how it all ends. Based on the bestseller novel by Frederick Forsyth, the story comprises of many short scenes. The Oscar-nominated fast-paced editing a modern filmmaker would be proud of today, cutting between the investigation and the assassin. The tension builds slowly and the story shifts between many different countries. A minor weakness is the script becomes a little heavy-handed at times, explaining what they are doing rather than just showing it. The lead performance by Edward Fox is quite mysterious and chilling as the ruthless assassin, nonetheless you find yourself rooting for him as we are along for the ride on his quest, and if you don't, then you root for them to catch him ( :
Rating 8.2

Lilies of the Field (1963)
Warm-hearted and simple story of a black man who arrives at a farm, where nuns ask him to help out, and they are very persuasive, and he is not good at saying no. The only problem I had was Homor Smith is able to go head to head with a nun and remember exact passages from the bible, which seemed contrived. They don't make them like this anymore. Has an innocence about it that is refreshing and makes a nice change when you need a break from the inescapable violence, profanity, and sexual undertones of today's world. Poitier won the 1963 Academy Award for Best Actor, the first time a black actor won an Oscar.
Rating 7.5

Rosetta (1999)
Won the prestigious Palme d'or at the Cannes Film Festival. Fine debut performance by actress Emilie Dequenne. The close-ups made me feel as if I was there. Subtitles were fast and furious, so tricky to keep up. If she was so poor, why did she catch fish in the river, and then throw them out again? I've read in "1001 movies you must see before you die" that the film had an impact on teenage salary laws in Belgium. The Rosetta plan was set in motion in November 1999. Good film, but I was mildly disappointed that it was give or take here or there the same story as The Kid With a Bike (2011). I don't think these two Dardenne films lend themselves well to being watched in a short space of time. If I had not seen that other Dardenne film, my rating would be 7.8
Rating 7.4

The Son (Le Fils) (2002)
The most gripping film I saw, for the first time, this month. Again, as above, directed by The Dardenne brothers. Initially, I didn't know what to think of the protagonist teacher at the wood shop, creep? weirdo? Nerd? As we learn more, we begin to discard such notions.
Rating 8.1

I'm going to add a new monthly feature at the end here...

My top 5 of April:

1.) The Day Of The Jackal (1973)
2.) The Son (Le Fils) (2002)
3.) The Road (La Strada) (1954)
4.) Littlerock (2010)
5.) Lonely Are the Brave (1962)

Since I saw so many good films this month, here's a bonus:
6.) Lilies of the Field (1963)
7.) Into the Abyss (2011) (documentary)
8.) Ruggles of Red Gap (1935)
9.) Walk The Line (2005)
10.) Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)
11.) Rosetta (1999)
12.) Series 7: The Contenders (2001)

Readers, any thoughts? Agree? Disagree? What was the best film you saw in April?

Songs for your iPod

(Received mixed or average reviews, nevertheless I liked about half the songs on the album)

September - The Shins

September by The Shins


The Rifle's Spiral - The Shins

The Rifles Spiral by The Shins


No Way Down – The Shins


It's Only Life - The Shins


Gift Horse's Mouth - Ulrich Schnauss & Mark Peters

(A couple of my favorite tracks from Underrated Silence, Ulrich Schnauss' 2012 album. Gift Horse's Mouth is in my top 25 songs of the year so far)

Ulrich Schnauss & Mark Peters - Gift Horse's Mouth by deathandtaxmag


Long Distance Call - Ulrich Schnauss & Mark Peters

Ulrich Schnauss & Mark Peters - Underrated Silence - Long Distance Call (Bureau B) by pdis_inpartmaint

Listeners, any thoughts on the albums?

The Ten Best Actors of All Time [Relay Race]

Nostra over at My Filmviews came up with this ongoing blogathon, which is a really cool idea I must say!

I had the good fortune of being selected by Eric from The Warning Sign to take part in the “Ten Best Actors of All Time” Relay Race. For those who have missed it so far, here is Nostra’s description of the series:

"So what’s the idea behind the relay? I’ve created a list of what I think are the best actors. At the end of the post I, just like in a real relay race, hand over the baton to another blogger who will write his own post. This blogger will have to remove one actor (that is an obligation) and add his own choice and describe why he/she did this. At the end the blogger chooses another blogger to do the same. The idea is to make this a long race, so that enough bloggers get a chance to remove and add an actor. We will end up with a list (not ranked in order) which represents a common agreement of the best actors.
It will also mean that those who follow this relay race will get to know new blogs as well!"

As a reference point, here is the order of the race so far (starting from the beginning):
My Filmviews -> The Focused Filmographer -> Front Room Cinema -> I Love That Film -> FlixChatter -> All Eyes On Screen -> Time Well Spent -> The Warning Sign -> moviesandsongs365 ->

Robert De Niro

Daniel Day Lewis

Charlie Chaplin

Gary Oldman

Marlon Brando

Christian Bale

Gregory Peck

Leonardo DiCaprio

Paul Newman

My Addition: Anthony Hopkins

I feel the top 10 lacks foreign-language flavour, I just can't think of a great actor right now that would fit. Anthony Hopkins has been called the best actor of his generation, I think he deserves to be on the list (sorry to disagree with thefocusedfilmographer!).
To me, he has a nondescript face that can transform itself into many different characters. Hopkins was perfectly cast as charming and psychotic Hannibal Lecter, and even though he was only in The Silence of the Lambs (1991) for about 20 minutes, his oscar-winning break-through performance is what made the movie memorable. Lecter has been labelled by the AFI as the number one movie villain of all time.
That being said, Anthony Hopkins has generally avoided being type-cast, having also played a wide range of dramatic and challenging roles in such films as: The Elephant Man (1980), Dracula (1992), Shadowlands (1993), The Remains of The Day (1993), Nixon (1995), Surviving Picasso (1996), Amistad (1997), and one of my personal favorites The World's Fastest Indian (2005). His recent films have been patchy and a bit mediocre, but his performance in for example The Rite (2011) is acknowledged on rottentomatoes as the best thing about the film.
I'm looking forward to seeeing him bring Alfred Hitchcock to life in the biopic Hitchcock (2013). In interviews, Hopkins comes across as a hard-working, shy, and humble person. The only role I thought was wrong for him was Bad Company (2002), in his defense that was more to do with miscasting.

Who I removed: Robert Duvall
Granted, he puts in good performances, but I honestly find him to be a little overrated as an actor. He has starred in many classic films, but I don't rate Duvall among the best actors of all time. He often plays the same kind of jokey, down-to-earth, all-American, middle aged, likeable father-figure with a twinkle in his eye, from such films as Apocalypse Now, Days of Thunder, or Gone In Sixty Seconds. I haven't seen his oscar-nominated role in The Apostle (1997), which might convince me not to boot him off, what I can see from clips is that it's one of those over-the-top performances crying out for oscar attention (or maybe I'm being cynical today).
Then there's an acclaimed and popular mini-series I'v been meaning to watch called Lonesome Dove (1989), with a perfect 100% rating on rottentomatoes, and that features the other role he often portrays well, namely the aging cowboy.
Of course I mustn't forget to highlight his breakthrough as an actor in The Godfather part 1 and part 2, to be honest I didn't really see what all the fuss was about, the majority of the scenes, Duvall's low key character sat in a chair with a stoic look on his face.
Who knows, maybe Robert Duvall has done the best he could with the material he has been given over the years? Knowing how things go, he'll probably win lots of acting awards and lifetime achievement accolades the next few years to prove me wrong! If forced to remove an actor, Duvall is my choice. I see him as a very good actor, just not one of the absolute greats. A great actor is very subjective, so this is just my two cents ( :

I am passing the Relay Race challenge on to Alex Withrow at And So It Begins. His job is to remove one actor, replace him with another one, and pick out another blogger who will repeat these steps. Looking forward to seeing the changes and the reasoning behind it!

from Chris, moviesandsongs365

My Movie Year: 1999

My movie year is a blog meme hosted by Andy, at Fandango Groovers Movie Blog. As a participant, I am supposed to present to you my personal favorite year of movies, and share my top 5 films from that year.

I can't think of a stronger year of cinema than 1999. 13 years ago now, I was 18-19 year-old, and could hardly believe my luck! Was also at a stage in my life when I began to open my eyes to film not just as entertainment, but as an art form as well.
Many of the top directors put out quality films. In several cases, they released in my estimation the best film of their career: David Fincher, Wachowski Brothers, Paul Thomas Anderson, Spike Jonze, Tom Tykwer, Sam Mendes, Majid Majidi)

1999 will undoubtedly also be remembered for the much-hyped Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. Granted, the film has a devoted fan base, especially amongst kids, but the majority who love the holy trilogy (1977-1983) were disappointed with the direction Episode 1 took.

Here are my picks. Honestly, I would have been happier to do a top 20 instead!

1.) Fight Club (my review)

2.) Magnolia

3.) The Matrix

4.) Ghost Dog

5.) Girl, Interrupted

Best of the rest:
Being John Malkovich, The Color of Paradise, Run Lola Run, Eyes Wide Shut, Election, Following, The Straight Story, The Talented Mr Ripley, American Beauty, Arlington Road, Anywhere But Here, The Sixth Sense, The Blair Witch Project, Sweet and Lowdown, Three Kings, The Green Mile, Bringing Out the Dead, The Ninth Gate, The Hurricane, In China They Eat Dogs, Snow Falling on Cedars, Forces of Nature. (Unseen: Rosetta, Topsy-Turvy, All About My Mother, The Iron Giant, Dogma, Spring Forward, My Voyage To Italy )

I also considered other years, which were great, just arguably didn't have the same depth as 1999 going beyond the top 5:

1980 (The Shining, The Elephant Man, Ordinary People, Empire Strikes Back, Flash Gordon)

and 1982: (Blade Runner, ET, Sophie's Choice, The Wall, Poltergeist)

Is a great idea for a blogathon, though got me thinking that if someone had seen 100+ acclaimed films from each and every year, then would they all be good cinematic years ? ( :

Readers, any thoughts on the above? What is your movie year?

Songs for your iPod

A mix of 2012 songs by female artists, enjoy!

Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas) - Regina Spektor

(The album hits stores May 29th. I'm also interested in listening to her older stuff, as I'm a newcomer to her music)

Don't Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas) by reginaspektor


Under-appreciated 2012 album. A throwback to 70s and 80s Blondie. Knapp has also been compared to Stevie Nicks, and Julee Cruise(especially on the track "Nothing to Lose")

Glasses High (live) - Sophia Knapp

Close To Me - Sophia Knapp

Sophia Knapp, "Close To Me" by The FADER


Reason With Me – Sinead O’Connor

(The saddest track of this mix)

Sinead O'Connor - Reason With Me by PurplePR


Forgetting All My Troubles - Katie Melua

(I'm an admirer of her early work, which is why this song appeals to me)


Born To Die - Lana Del Ray

(The much-hyped singles Video Games, Blue Jeans and Born To Die most music fans have heard by now, but that doesn't prevent me from still enjoying them! Of the lesser-known tracks, Million Dollar Man and Summertime Sadness are worth a listen)

Listeners, any thoughts on this week's music?

Film review: We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011)

Warning, the review contains major spoilers!

Thought-provoking and disturbing, about a mother who doesn’t bond with her son easily. Excellent performances by Tilda Swinton (Eva), and Ezra Miller (Kevin). Tilda Swinton is very good at playing a vulnerable character, maybe that's why she was picked to play the mother.

Everything happens within Eva's tormented mind. We all take it for granted that our children will be wonderful and we'll love them completely. Her son Kevin is different. Does a son become "bad" because his mother doesn't love him? Or does she not love him because he's "bad" ? From Eva’s point-of-view, Kevin is hideous and malicious. As Cinematic Corner writes in her review: "There is a very prominent use of symbolic colors - Eva is constantly surrounded by red, symbolizing her guilt, which is always there with her."

The book has been hailed an anti-mother manifesto, about a mother not whole-heartedly wanting her child. Eva having little or no desire or talent for motherhood. This is more evident in the book, which is written in confessional letter form to Eva’s husband, as she searches for some kind of explanation. There can be few parents who have not felt that way, if only for a minute, about not wanting their child. Is Kevin intrinsically malevolent, as Eva believes, or has her flawed mothering itself created a monster? Is Kevin the victim of nature or nurture? Everyone bring their own experiences to the table who witness the story unfold.
Eva’s husband Franklin sees nothing wrong with Kevin and will not be enlightened. This could just have easily have been called: He Wouldn't Talk About Kevin. Or is Franklin's decision not to look deeper into Kevin's problems simply how Eva perceives her husband?

As they pointed out on Ryan McNeil’s Matineecast, there is nothing literary about the film, even though it’s an adaptation of the novel by Lionel Shriver. A lot of scenes are instead visually striking and inventive. Seeing things through her eyes rather than hearing a conversation. Show not tell. Possibly Eva has a postpartum depression, and maybe this affects her duties as a mother. Another good observation from the podcast is that Eva is constantly taunted in the community where she lives, they are angry with her for what Kevin has done, and you could ask yourself, why doesn’t she move? Probably it’s because she wants to be close to Kevin, and not turn her back on him. Her struggle at home has now been taken outside.

I couldn’t help comparing the story with the film Boy A (2007), which had similar themes, based on a real life story about guilt, and how the world reacted to the boy’s apparent evilness. Plus going back to the question of why did he do it? What is so comparable is that both films show hardly any blood, it’s the emotions of the violence that are so striking.

In Tilda Swinton’s own words from 2012 Charlie Rose interview:

"About what it's like to be that mother, and what it’s like to be inside a mother’s mind (…) It’s really a nightmare, about having a baby, and not really wanting to have that baby. Not having a link with a baby that we can expect to be natural. A real war between the boy and his mother, and a nightmare of having to live with that for the rest of her life. (…) All the parents who see it think, I thought he was bad my kid (…) and the people who don’t have kids may want to leave it for a few more years."

Charlie Rose: Is she guilty?

Tilda Swinton: "As far as she is concerned, she is guilty. I think the thing that’s really scary about her scenario is, she is not sitting opposite a child thinking, I don’t understand that child, that’s really an exotic foreign being. All his violence, all his badness, is hers, and comes out of her, they look very alike"

Charlie Rose: Is she responsible for his violence?

Tilda Swinton: "We are not even tempted to come up with an answer, there is no answer. But what we are showing you is her memory, her fantasy, her nightmare, and who knows if any of it is true”

Charlie Rose: How informed were you of already being a mother?

Tilda Swinton: "Well honestly I think I would have wanted to make the film anyway, if I wasn’t a mother.”

Charlie Rose: And could have made it just as well is the question?

Tilda Swinton: “One thing of being a mother cleared up for me, is that I am in the very fortunate position of having children that I was ready for.”

Charlie Rose: This movie, is also about evil, isn’t it?

Tilda Swinton: “Well I don’t know, it’s certainly about a conversation about evil. It’s about lack of empathy, there are interesting and important psychiatrists who know much more about this than I do, who talk about the need not to talk about evil, the lack of something instead of the positive presence of something. Personally I don’t think talking about evil is useful at all, it’s always a way of pushing it away from us, that’s evil.” (…) Demonizing someone because they don’t believe what you believe, or because they come from another country is not useful”

Tilda Swinton: “A kind of atmosphere of discomfort, someone (Eva) on a knife-edge of not quite knowing what they feel about their circumstances. (…) It’s uncomfortable for the audience, but I think worth it”

Tilda Swinton interview with Roger Ebert:

"A woman who has no one to share her feelings with, except the audience. If we are going to be empathetic towards the mother character, we are going to have to stretch ourselves. The mother could be described as quite dismantled, prematurely aged, exhausted, persecuted, alienated, and a solitary woman (…) She is not really present. Her present carries around all these fantasies. Her dialogue is with her past, it’s not with anybody present in reality. Her dialogue is with herself. There are no answers for the audience, and no answers for her, so it’s this endless loop really.”

Tilda Swinton: “She is constantly diverted from the attention her baby needs, and that can be seen as a crime of enormous scale (…) The boy grows up to be a misanthropic, alienated, vicious individual. She recognizes his alienation and toughness as hers, and that’s a worse kind of claustrophobia than a child that she simply couldn’t connect with. (…) One of the things the film addresses is this thing that all parents know, that is that none of us know what we’re doing."

Tilda Swinton: (major spoiler) "There is a very important line in the book, which we shot at one point, and we didn’t put in the final edit, when she asks him in the prison, why didn’t you kill me too? And he says, when you’re putting on a show, you don’t shoot the audience. He wants her attention, and he does get it”

Tilda Swinton on the title:
"The title of the film kind of says it all, we need to talk, we don’t necessarily need to come up with any answers, but we just need to talk about what this film’s about."

Lionel Shriver, the author of the novel, was asked about the taboo questions in interview on

Did you interview or talk to mothers who have actually regretted having children?

Lionel Shriver: “I only talked to a couple of people who actually admitted it"

They actually said, I wish I never had children?

Lionel Shriver: “No one ever puts it in terms of wishing the presence of their child away. But perhaps they are still attached to the version of their future — one in which they never had kids — that they never got to experience. By and large, there’s a big taboo against saying that, even when couched in very careful terms. (…) You would have to find someone who had such a dreadful experience of parenthood that they severed the relationship with their child, that it was in a state of total collapse.”

Because that’s the only way a mother would admit that?

Lionel Shriver: “That’s the only way anybody’s going to go on the Web about it. Otherwise it’s too hurtful.”

(Major spoiler) Which came first, the idea to write about a school shooting or the desire to write about your anxieties? Because I’m wondering why you made it so extreme — a mother’s worst nightmare.

Lionel Shriver: "It was a confluence of forces. It had to do with the fact that I was getting older. I was running out of time to have any kids, so I really had to start getting practical instead of theoretical about it. At the same time, this was when all of these shootings were taking place — 1998 and 1999 especially. There was a real hot and heavy period, and I had a strong reaction to them."

Do you actually believe that there are people born — I don’t want to say “evil” — let’s say, bad.

Lionel Shriver: "Well, if you look at history you can tell that something goes wrong with people. I guess the debate is at what point. I would conceive of evil more as an absence of something rather than a presence. People are born with greater and lesser capacities for all kinds of things — great art, intellectual achievement, and also things like empathy, interest, compassion. So, yes, I think it is possible that some people are born not very interested in things and don’t really take on board the reality of other people or their feelings. (…) But I admire parents able to keep giving some kind of sustenance in spite of everything. That is something that our culture expects. And I think that’s one of the burdens of parenthood: Oh my god, my kid can do anything — including not just doing things to other people, but doing things to you - and I’m expected to stay in there with them. (…) But, yes, Eva is partly at fault. And she’s supposed to recognize that. She did help to create a monster."

BBC podcast:

Lionel Shriver: “I don’t like calling Kevin evil, I think that’s another obscuring term. I don’t know what anyone is saying when they say someone is evil, aside from, I don’t understand them, they are different from me. It’s almost a refusal to get in their heads, rather than really understanding them from the inside. (…) You can’t really pin that much on him (before he is 15), it's Eva’s storytelling as much as anything that makes many of the things that the boy does seem nefarious (…) If you took that to a psychiatrist, the psychiatrist would probably have the mother in before the kid.”

Lionel Shriver: "Celia is to Eva too easy a child, she is too lovable, she’s soft, she’s needy, she’s incredibly sweet, she doesn’t make any demands on her parents, she’s obedient, she’s a sap, I have a soft spot for her, but Eva likes the challenge of Kevin. Ultimately, I think she recognizes herself more in Kevin. Kevin is difficult, he is very bright, he’s brittle, he’s hard to get at, judgmental, he thinks he’s better than everyone else, and so does she.”

Lionel Shriver: (Major spoiler)“I wanted to remove the gun control argument, for several reasons. I did not want this novel to be on why Americans need better gun control, I was interested in more existential issues. I also thought that Kevin himself would be more interested in the existential issues. He was specifically motivated to make his act of violence as perfectly meaningless as possible, it is an act of pure nihilism. He especially wanted to deny his mother any easy aphoristic interpretation of the event. So Kevin himself, like the author, removed the gun control argument from the equation."

So what did I make of the movie? Sticks in my mind, and was tough to look away. You don't want to look, but you can't seem to stop. The build-up was very well done, luckily I didn’t read anything about story beforehand. Although I think the pay-off and overall darkness means "We Need To Talk About Kevin" is not a film I’d rewatch a lot.

Eva is on to Kevin, but can never quite get to the bottom of such malice. (Major spoiler) At the end, maybe Eva goes back to the jail to see him, because she’s alone, and because hating doesn’t usually make you happy. Kevin ruined her life, and she doesn’t have to forgive him. To me it’s better to hold your head up high, and face your problems, than hide from them. If Kevin still hates her in jail, then at least Eva tried.

You get what you give in life. For me it was not Eva’s fault in the movie, she tried to make it work, even if she didn't want the child. Her kindness towards Kevin could be perceived as superficial, which would be a reason to blame herself for how he turned out.
Perhaps Eva's best was not good enough and her son should have been put in an institution? I'm glad I'm not in Eva's shoes, her task was extremely difficult to cope with.

Perhaps, as Cinematic Corner wrote in her review, Eva chose to stay "because she felt in some way responsible. It is an impossible situation - to determine what the parent is responsible for, especially when it comes to disturbed, manipulative children. (...) Also there is quite a lot which is only hinted at and not shown, which forces us to imagine the awful things Kevin did."

Film critic Roger Ebert emphasized in his review the house being an indicator of the family dynamic: "how can four people occupy a home for over a decade and not accumulate anything? The shelves and tabletops are as barren as those in a display home. What kind of a kitchen has empty counters? These people live there, but they've never moved in."

We Need To Talk About Kevin poses interesting questions, is evil passed on through generations? Can children get away with anything, and still be loved? We have all been kids, and can relate. The film does not provide easy answers, partly due to the unreliable narrator, and touches on issues that many of us prefer not to think about.

Easily made my top 10 films of 2011, a scandal the film did not receive any Oscar nominations. We Need To Talk About Kevin might be the scariest film in modern times that isn't from the classic horror or shock-horror genre.

A film that lends itself to reviewing and discussion. For me, was heartbreaking to watch, impossible to forget. I recommend the film. Almost certain to increase the book sales of the novel, which I'm intending to seek out.

My rating is 8.2/10

Readers, was my review useful? Any thoughts on We Need To Talk About Kevin? Have you read the book? Seen the film?

Tilda Swinton video interview with Roger Ebert

Tilda Swinton interview, Charlie Rose 2012

BBC podcast, author answers questions, We Need To Talk About Kevin

Author Interview, We Need To Talk About Kevin

Matineecast, podcast

Film review, Roger Ebert

Film review, Cinematic Corner



A rotten bond: Lionel Shriver has written a disturbing novel about a mother-son relationship / Benedicte Page / The Bookseller 5151 (Oct. 22, 2004): p25

Malice aforethought / Deborah Ross / Spectator. 317.9556 (Oct. 22, 2011): p58

Songs for your iPod

A mix of dream pop from 2012 for your listening pleasure!

Myth - Beach House

(Makes me excited about the upcoming album, out May 15th)

Myth by Beach House by Mistletone


Trust Fall (Down We Go Jensen Sportag Remix) - Madi Diaz

(Amazing remix from January I just discovered this week)

Madi Diaz - Trust Fall (Down We Go Remix by Jensen Sportag) by Jensen Sportag


Jasmine - Jai Paul (Demo)

(An artist to look out for in the future, love this demo)

Jai Paul - jasmine (demo) by Jai Paul

And I like this cover too:

BTSTU (Jai Paul Cover) - Niia


Space - Magic Wands

(Another upcoming LP, release date April 24th)

MAGIC WANDS - Space by Bright Antenna


Our Sorrows - Julia Holter

(She has the voice of an angel. Below is a highlight for me on her release Ekstasis (2012)

and check out this beautiful cover of To Look At You by INXS, which is not even on the album:



Fire & Soul - The Cranberries

(The track is not typical Cranberries, and is not really a reflection of the new album, but it's my favorite from their latest Roses (2012)


Neptune - Lemonade

Lemonade - Neptune by crackintheroad


Loner - Burial

(dreamy and dark electronic tune for the disco or a party)

Listeners, any thoughts on this week's music?


Related Posts with Thumbnails