Viewing recap December

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) (J.J. Abrams)
Familiar yet satisfying
Full review
Rating 8/10

Trainwreck (2015) (Judd Apatow)
I'm pretty much on board with the critical consensus. Lots of jokes, which helps lift an average story into something with entertainment value. It's typically raunchy, which Apatow movies tends to be, but not excessively so.
Rating 7/10

Noah (2014) (Darren Aronofsky)
I avoided Noah when it came to cinemas and I only saw it to complete the director's filmography. The story often makes no sense. The animals walk onto the ark, then suddenly make zero noise once they are aboard, and survive for days despite no food and water given to them. Perhaps God made miraculous provisions for the daily care of these animals?
The CGI stone giants make the story unintentionally funny. Probably the worst film I saw the entire year, which tarnishes the biblical source material. An embarrassing film on Aronofsky's resumé.
Rating 3/10

Victoria (2015) (Sebastian Schipper)
German thriller/drama. Captivating and suspenseful story of a young woman in Berlin, who during an evening befriends a group of shady guys in the street. She just wants to hang out with them, and probably their company makes her feel less alone. We gradually get to know her and the people she meets. She doesn’t really understand what their dubious activities involve and neither does the audience. She is quite naïve and trusting, looking for new experience, but there’s a sense of bad things might happen.
Shot in a continuous long take ala Enter the Void (2009) or Birdman (2014).  The lead actress is cute and looks like Michelle Williams’ younger sister.
Curious to see what the director and actress do next. Ought to be on the shortlist for Best Foreign Language Film. Instead Germany submitted the Oscar-friendly Auschwitz drama Labyrinth of Lies (2015).
Rating 8/10

Macbeth (2015) (Justin Kurzel)
More on this in my upcoming post on the film and play.
Rating 6.5/10

Sweet Nothing (1990) (Tony Smith)
Made for TV.  I lived in the UK as a child and remember watching the first half hour in 1990. Witnessing a young man in the opening minutes abandoned by his parents was unsettling for my 9-year-old eyes. I was young so had to go to bed and never finished the film. I’ve been looking for it ever since and only recently discovered it thanks to Mark's letterboxd list on homelessness
I admit the first 20 minutes are still powerful, although Sweet Nothing loses its nightmarish mood when he meets the homeless community. Aside from the opening 20 minutes, the other memorable parts are when the two shout "shut up" at passing cars in London, and also when the homeless guy gets drunk in the bar and is taken home by a women with money. That man-woman relationship turns out to be bizarre and frankly implausible. Apparently there’s pleasure for her in humiliating him by asking him to wear women’s clothes and locking him in the boot of her car! She is the puppeteer, yet he goes along with it for shelter and food. 
There’s a guy seeking employment but a bit of a drunkard/druggy. He does not have money for shelter. He is sabotaging his own future, and like we learned from another movie about homelessness, it’s tough getting back on track: “You can't get an address without an address, you can't get a job without a job.”
Maybe the title is the clue to understanding the message, that you should find happiness in whatever situation you are in. Wealth doesn’t necessarily equal happiness, and poverty doesn’t always equal misery. In some scenes the criticism of the 80s Thatcher government is a little too on the nose, with an elderly woman even berating Thatcher verbally when she hands the homeless guy money. The jail scene conveys a similar message with the guard letting him go with the indifferent words “Come on , clear off, you’re not worth the paperwork. Piss off before I change my mind.” And also the ending reveals a lack of empathy towards the well-being of the homeless.
On the flip side, you could argue the filmmakers are saying some of these homeless people are fairly content and don’t want interference. I guess it depends, some want support from the government, others mind their own buisness and find a way no matter what the circumstances are.
Rating 7/10

Mr. Mom (1983) (written by John Hughes)
I’m sure husbands who have been in a similar situation of losing their job and becoming a home parent can identify. I could not. Michael Keaton is good in a dramatic/comedic performance as the dad, and there’s a few scattered moments you remember such as him cleaning up the house and going shopping. Both those scenes are quite over-the-top and unintentionally feel like dream sequences. Bizarrely, later on, there is an actual dream sequence, when his wife threatens him with a gun. A bit more down to earth is the pull of the soap opera for someone who has nothing to do.
A film that doesn’t seem to know whether it wants to be a drama or a comedy. I see it as a precursor to Home Alone, also written by John Hughes, with a main character who is dealing with a new situation in their own home.
The way it all fits neatly together feels like an extended TV-episode rather than a movie. Even the music sounds like a TV-show. I just read Roger Ebert’s review and apparently he also got that TV vibe.
The situations are exaggerated for the sake of entertainment, and the story is a bit by-the-numbers, but thematically you may relate to what the parent's are challenged by.
Rating 5/10


The Ten Commandments (1956) (Cecil B. DeMille)
Blind spot review
Rating 8.5/10

From Here To Eternity (1953) (Fred Zinnemann)
An all star cast and 8 oscar wins. How could it not be great? Well you need a good screenplay and this movie did not have a strong enough story to captivate me the whole way. The characters spend the majority of the film going to bars and not doing very much. Does have the iconic scene (from the poster) with them kissing on the beach, and there are some decent twists towards the end.
While I was watching, I felt like it wasn't about anything, but in hindsight does give a depiction of life at a military base. An indictment of the US army, both newbie slackers and those with higher rank.
Rating 7/10

Danish cinema:

Soldaten og Jenny (1947) (Johan Jacobsen)
The opening 20-25 minutes are gripping when they are in the bar. The rest of the film has several sweet moments and provides social commentary on the frustrations of the working class. The visit to the parents of Jenny is a highlight which is a scene I could easily rewatch for the humor.
I cared about the love story, and it's well-acted, just not particularly memorable. The story is dated now, but has merit as a time capsule of post-WW2 life in Denmark.
Rating 6.5/10

Julefrokosten (1976) (Finn Henriksen)
Very quotable, although the humor is quite cheesy. If you look beyond the tv-series Matador, Julefrokosten is the quintessential Danish Christmas movie, which features a group of co-workers at a Christmas party.
Denmark is known for its lunches(julefrokoster) in the lead up to Christmas, where you eat and drink for hours and (hopefully) have a good time. Sometimes the guests may go too far which the film is an example of.
Rating 7.5/10

Pelle the Conqueror (aka Pelle Erobreren) (1987) (Bille August)
Rewatch. A time capsule depicting poverty in the 1850s. Dreams of a better life, and being treated like rubbish because you are a stranger. There are scenes that are unforgettable, for instance when the husband is punished.
Rating 8/10

Just Another Love Story (aka Kærlighed på film) (2007) (Ole Bornedal)
A Danish neo noir thriller. The story is quite convoluted with parallel narratives, so at first it’s tough to figure out what’s happening, although it does get easier to follow. I didn’t believe that none of the women’s family had met her boyfriend Sebastian, and that the main character Jonas could just stroll in and pretend to be Julia’s boyfriend. That aspect was too convenient and downright selfish of him. How could I care about their blossoming friendship when he is deceiving not only Julia and her side of the family, but his own family as well? There’s basically nobody to root for.
A person’s life changing when someone is injured I feel has been done before in Danish cinema, and was handled in a more emotionally involving manner in Susanne Bier’s dogme film Open Hearts (2002), and in a more shocking way in Breaking the Waves (1996).
Despite the issues I had, the last act by the cabin was the most entertaining, because I didn’t know what would happen next. The story is just about adequate, but it doesn’t linger in my mind for long.
Favorite quote: "Maybe the moment was false, but the feeling was genuine”
Rating 6/10

Silent Heart (aka Stille Hjerte) (2014) (Bille August)
Small, but well-acted, believable ensemble drama. Three generations of a family coming together over a weekend, and the problems they deal with. Food for thought about what to do when facing assisted suicide. A return to form for the hit-or-miss director.
Rating 8/10

Books finished: 

Carrie by Stephen King (1974)
Full review
Rating 8/10


  1. Julefrokosten is hilarious and I think it holds up pretty well today. Considering what I have seen at Christmas lunches it is not even too far out.
    I think you liked Soldaten og Jenny a bit better than I but I also have limited tolerance for Poul Reichhardt.
    On the other hand I liked From Here to Eternity better than you did. There is a lot going on in those bars. The problem of course is if you think it is a war movie, because it is not. It is simply about people trying to figure out who they are. A true actors movie.

    1. @TSorensen: Julefrokosten - A film that could put you in the mood for Christmas or Christmas lunches. Amusing to see people behave foolishly, it's exaggerated, yet I agree there is some truth there.
      From Here to Eternity - The story felt empty when I watched it, but good point that it's about "people trying to figure out who they are". In hindsight, I should have read between the lines.

  2. Busy month, and not all winners I see. I'm super healous about Macbeth though. Haven't had a chance at that one yet!

  3. @assholeswatchingmovies: Noah was certainly NOT a winner :) Macbeth is not bad and the stylized visuals impressive. Fassbender talked about in interview “Macbeth suffered from PTSD”, and that seemed to be the new angle, although it was not very obvious in the actual film.

  4. Among the newer films I liked Star Wars and Trainwreck quite a bit. I didn't like Noah, but I didn't dislike it as much as you, either. I had the same problems with it until I stopped thinking of it as a bible story and instead just treated it as any other big budget fantasy movie. Then things like magic potions that put animals to sleep for months, forests growing in seconds, and big stone beings were easier to accept. It's actually the character of Noah - who I hated - that is my biggest problem with the movie.

    1. @Chip Lary: Star Wars Force Awakens was among my most anticipated, and thankfully was a lot of fun. Glad you enjoyed it too!
      The Noah character does indeed do questionable things. There really was nothing I liked about the film. I’m still wondering how a great director like Aronofsky delivered something as ridiculous as that.

  5. "Familiar yet satisfying" is the perfect way to describe The Force Awakens, which I'd also give 8/10. Haha, I've seen Noah two or three times, and I think it's one of 2014's most underrated films. It barely missed my top 10, and I nominate it for Best Director, Score, and Sound. :/

    1. @Josh: I’m glad you enjoyed Noah, sadly it was unintentionally funny to me. I hope Aronofsky stays away from blockbusters in future.


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