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Terribly Happy-Movie Review 11/19/2016

Posted by Films to consider in Action/Thriller, Bodil Awards, Chicago International Film Festival, Danish language film, Dark Comedy, Movies, Psychological Suspense, Robert Festival.
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TERRIBLY HAPPY (Danish) 2008

Directed by Henrik Ruben Genz

Starring Jacob Cedergren, Lene Maria Christensen, and Kim Bodnia

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Film; Best Actor (Cedergren); Best Actress (Christensen); Best Supporting Actor (Bodnia); Best Cinematography; Special Award; NOMINATED, Best Supporting Actor (Lars Brygmann), Bodil Awards
WINNER, Silver Hugo-Direction, Chicago International Film Festival
WINNER, BEST in 10 categories, including Film, Actor, Actress, Director, Screenplay; NOMINATED in 4 other categories, Robert Festival

After he has a nervous breakdown, Robert (Cedergren), a police officer in Copenhagen, is sent to a small, tight-knit town located near an infamous bog, where things and people sometimes just disappear. Robert doesn’t try to fit in at first, but he is gradually sucked in (sorry for pun-didn’t try) by the weirdness of the townspeople.

If you like offbeat tales from the northern climes, you will likely enjoy this one.

99 min. Unrated; not suitable for younger audiences, IMO.

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The 100-Year-Old Man . . . Movie Review *** 10/30/2015

Posted by Films to consider in Adventure, Based on a novel, Chicago International Film Festival, Comedy, Dark Comedy, European Film Awards, Movies, Swedish language film.
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The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (Swedish) 2013
Based on the novel by Jonas Jonasson

Directed by Felix Herngren
Starring Robert Gustafsson, Iwar Wiklander, and David Wiberg

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Audience Choice Award (Herngren), Chicago International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Audience Award (Herngren), European Film Awards

Allan Karlsson (Gustafsson) doesn’t want to celebrate his 100th birthday at the nursing home, so he opens the window of his room and climbs out. Off he goes on an adventure that will eventually include disposing of a dead body.

The quirky tale of Allan’s latest adventure is interspersed with flashbacks from what has been a most unusual life. We see events of decades of history unfold through a series of coincidences that brought him into contact with major players; unwittingly he influenced the course of history.

The 100 Year old man is not your usual generic look at aging. If you like dark humor, this movie should tickle your funny bone.

Highly recommended. ***

114 min. Rated R.

For more info:
The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared

The Robber-Movie Review 09/13/2015

Posted by Films to consider in Action/Thriller, Austrian Film Awards, Based on true events, Bavarian Film Awards, Berlin International Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Crime, German Film Critics Award, German language film, Movies, Suspense.
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The Robber (German/Austrian) 2010
Based on true events

Directed by Benjamin Heisenberg
Starring Andreas Lust and Franziska Weisz

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Director (Heisenberg); Best Actor (Lust); NOMINATED, Best Screenplay; Best Feature Film; and other wins and nominations, Austrian Film Awards.
WINNER, Best Direction-Young Film (Heisenberg), Bavarian Film Awards
NOMINATED, Golden Berlin Bear (Heisenberg), Berlin International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Gold Hugo-Best Feature; Best Feature (both Heisenberg), Chicago International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Actor (Lust), German Film Critics Association Awards

In Austria, Johann Kastenberger (Lust) serves time in prison for bank robbery, where he diligently pursues physical training. After he is released in 1984, he begins to win marathons but pursues a double life as a serial bank robber. Kastenberger doesn’t seem motivated by simple greed–but by a desire to win, perhaps?

The film is based on a real events in the life story of Kastenberger, who was finally stopped in the late 80s after eluding the police for several years. The film has very little dialogue, but plenty of action and chase scenes as it portrays the string of brazen robberies and incredibly successful getaways. It leaves much of the psychological interpretation behind events to the viewer.

97 min. Unrated.

For more info:
The Robber

The Tree- DVD Review 02/15/2014

Posted by Films to consider in Bratislava International Film Festival, César Awards, Chicago International Film Festival, Drama, Emotional Drama, Fantasy, Julie Bertuccelli, Movies.
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THE TREE (Australian/French/English) 2010

Directed by Julie Bertuccelli
Starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Morgana Davies, and Marton Csokas

Among several other nominations:
WINNER, Best Actress (Gainsbourg), Bratislava International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Gold Hugo, Best New Director (Bertucelli), Chicago International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Actress (Gainsbourg); Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Music for a Film, César Awards, France

When her husband dies suddenly, Dawn (Gainsbourg) and her four children try to cope with their loss by defending/transforming the enormous fig tree that is threatening to overtake their house and their lives. Eight-year-old daughter Simone (Davies) convinces her mother that her father speaks to her through the tree.

Part fantasy and part emotional family drama, for me this story was surprisingly moving. Charlotte Gainsbourg sometimes shows up in unusual roles that allow a true acting talent to shine through. I thought this was one of them. And that is one impressive tree. Filmed in Queensland, Australia, with beautiful cinematography of the surrounding area.

100 min. Not rated. Not suitable for children.
For more info:
The Tree

La Moustache-DVD Review 10/02/2013

Posted by dmbinder in Cannes Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Chlotrudis Awards, Dark Drama, Emotional Drama, French language film, Psychological Suspense.
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LA MOUSTACHE (French) 2005

Directed by Emmanuel Carrère
Starring Vincent Lindon and Emmanuelle Devos

WINNER, Label Europa Cinemas (Carrère), Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, FIPRESCI Prize (Carrère), Chicago International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Actor (Lindon); Best Adapted Screenplay (Carrère), Chlotrudis Awards
WINNER, Citizen Kane Award for Best Directorial Revelation (Carrère), NOMINATED, Best Film,
Sitges – Catalonian International Film Festival

When Marc (Lindon) decides to change his image by shaving the mustache he has had for years, no one–including his wife Agnès (Devos) or his friends and coworkers–notices. Soon, he begins to doubt whether he actually had the mustache; eventually, he is forced to question his own sanity.

A psychological suspense story that keeps you guessing about what is real and what might be a brush with madness.

Vincent Lindon has a great face for showing the internal confusion his character experiences. Both he and Emmanuelle Devos are popular French actors.

87 mins. Not rated.

For more info:
La Moustache

A Time for Drunken Horses – DVD Review *** 07/21/2013

Posted by dmbinder in Cannes Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Drama, Independent Spirit Awards, Kurdish language film, Movies, National Board of Review.
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A TIME FOR DRUNKEN HORSES (Iranian) 2000 ***
Zamani barayé masti asbha

Written and directed by Bahman Ghobadi
Starring Ayoub Ahmadi, Rojin Younessi, Amaneh Ekhtiar-dini, and Madi Ekhtiar-dini

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, FIPRESCI Prize, WINNER, Golden Camera, both Ghobadi, Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, Silver Hugo-Special Jury Prize, Chicago International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Film, Independent Spirit Awards
WINNER, Freedom of Expression Award; WINNER, NBR Award-Top Foreign Films, National Board of Review, USA

In a Kurdish family living at the border between Iran and Iraq, 12-year-old Ayoub becomes the head of the household of four siblings when his father dies. His brother Madi is severely handicapped and needs immediate medical attention. Rojin, the older daughter, is forced into an arranged marriage in order to get the money for his surgery, but Ayoub chooses to enter the dangerous world of smuggling across the border.

It’s difficult to explain the story behind A Time for Drunken Horses without making it seem like something you might not want to watch. The film is commonly called heartbreaking (and it is), as viewers are given an intimate glimpse of life in this harshly beautiful area of the world. The children, who are not professional actors, will draw you immediately into their world of struggles and strengths.

I’ve also seen (and recommend) the very different 2009 film by director Bahman Ghobadi, called No One Knows About Persian Cats, about a band trying to leave Iran. I’ll post it sometime soon.

*** Highly recommended.

80 min. Not rated. Difficult subject matter.

For more info:
Time For Drunken Horses

Distant-DVD Review 05/25/2013

Posted by dmbinder in Ankara International Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Drama, Emotional Drama, Istanbul International Film Festival, Movies, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkish language film.
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Distant (Turkish) 2002
Uzak

Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Starring Muzaffer Özdemir, Emin Toprak, and Zuhal Gencer

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Cinematography; Best Director; Best Editing; Best Film-National Competition (all Ceylan); WINNER, Best Supporting Actress (Gencer), Ankara International Film Festival
WINNER, France Culture Award, Foreign Cineaste of the Year and also Grand Prize of the Jury (Ceylan); WINNER, Best Actor (Özdemir and Toprak); NOMINATED, Palme d’Or (Ceylan), Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, Silver Hugo-Special Jury Prize (Ceylan), Chicago International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Turkish Director of the Year; Best Turkish Film of the Year; FIPRESCI Prize Turkish Competition (all Ceylan), Istanbul International Film Festival

Yusuf (Toprak) travels to the big city of Istanbul to look for work after the factory he worked in closes down. He stays with his distant relative, semi-successful photographer Mahmut (Özdemir), who is still recovering from his divorce from Nazan (Gencer). The visitor was not expected, and he does nothing to make himself more welcome.

A moody, poetical film portraying the separateness and loneliness of the lives of the two men. There are a few light moments, mostly having to do with Mahmut’s friends and Yusuf’s awkward attempts to meet a woman. I found the movie a little low key and slow-moving, although the cinematography was outstanding. I liked director Ceylan’s 2006 Climates (Iklimler) more. Distant was highly acclaimed (see above).

105 min. Not rated. Adult themes.

For more info:
Distant

Le Havre-DVD Review *** 01/19/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Cannes Film Festival, César Awards, Chicago International Film Festival, Comedy, David di Donatello Awards, French language film, Light Drama, Munich Film Festival, National Board of Review.
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Le Havre (French) 2011 ***

From the Criterion Collection

Directed by Aki Kaurismäki
Starring Andre Wilms, Blondin Miguel, Kati Outinen, and Jean-Pierre Darroussin

Among many other wins and nominations:
WINNER, FIPRESCI Prize; Prize of the Ecumenical Jury – Special Mention; NOMINATED, Palme d’Or (all Kaurismäki), Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, Gold Hugo-Best International Feature (Kaurismäki), Chicago International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Director; Best Film; Best Production Design, César Awards, France
NOMINATED, Best European Film, David di Donatello Awards
WINNER, Arri-Zeiss-Award (Kaurismäki), Munich Film Festival
WINNER, Top Five Foreign Films Award, National Board of Review

In the harbor city of LeHavre, Marcel Marx (Wilms) is an older man who shines shoes for a living. When his wife Arletty (Outinen), who is seriously ill, goes to the hospital for treatment, Marcel accidentally meets Idrissa (Miguel), a boy who has immigrated illegally with his family. Idrissa managed to run away when authorities caught up with them, but he is actively being sought. With the help of friends and neighbors, Marcel harbors the boy in his home.

Winner of, or nominated for, many awards (see above), Le Havre’s story is touching and quietly funny at times. Prolific Finnish director Kaurismäki has boldly taken on a film in French, which is not a language he speaks or even understands fluently. Likewise, Kati Outinen, who plays Marcel’s ailing wife, is also Finnish and speaks French somewhat haltingly. Kaurismäki has chosen his French actors wisely, as you would never know they were receiving their direction either non-verbally or through a translator.

Highly recommended.

93 min. Not rated. Suitable for teens+ because of subject matter.

For more info:
Le Havre

Tokyo Sonata-DVD Review 01/01/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Asian Film Awards, Cannes Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Drama, Emotional Drama, Japanese language film, Kinema Junpo Awards, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Movies.
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Tokyo Sonata (Japanese) 2008

Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Starring Teruyuki Kagawa, Kyoko Koizumi, Yu Koyanagi, and Kai Inowaki

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Film; Best Screenwriter, Asian Film Awards
WINNER, Un Certain Regard Jury Prize (Kurosawa), Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, Silver Hugo, Grand Jury Prize (Kurosawa), Chicago International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Actress (Koizumi); Best New Actor (Inowaki), Kinema Junpo Awards

Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa is usually known for horror films (which I don’t usually watch), but here he provides his version of modern life in Tokyo. The four members of the Sasaki family deal with problems separately. The father Ryuhei (Kagawa) loses his job but chooses to conceal his loss of honor from his wife and sons when he can’t find suitable employment. Megumi (Koizumi), the wife and mother, appears to be happy performing her domestic duties but feels close to suicide. Older son Takashi (Koyanagi) wants to escape his troubled past by joining the American army. Younger son Kenji (Inowaki) secretly uses his lunch money to take piano lessons against the wishes of his parents.

As we watch the family structure slowly begin to disintegrate, all is not totally bleak, however, and moments of humor do appear. And Kai Inowaki is perfectly suited for the role of the younger son: his piano playing is superb.

120 min. Rated PG-13.

For more info:
Tokyo Sonata

La France-DVD Review 04/23/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Chicago International Film Festival, Emotional Drama, France, French language film, Mexico City International Contemporary Film Festival, Musical, Prix Jean Vigo Award, Romance, World War II.
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La France (French) 2007

Directed by Serge Bozon
Starring Pascal Greggory and Sylvie Testud

WINNER, Feature Film-Serge Bozon, Prix Jean Vigo Award,France
WINNER, Festival Award, Best Director-Fiction (Bozon), Mexico City International Contemporary Film Festival
NOMINATED, Gold Hugo-Best Feature (Bozon), Chicago International Film Festival

This is a very unusual “artsy” film about a band of deserting soldiers led by Le Lieutenant (Greggory). Roaming the French countryside during World War I as they try to reach freedom, they are soon joined by Camille (Testud), a young woman who has disguised herself as a seventeen year old boy so she can search for her missing husband. He is off at war and has sent her a mysterious letter ending their relationship.

What is most unusual is that every once in a while the soldiers take out instruments and break into song, songs that in themselves are unusual because they are more pop tunes than tunes from the World War I era.

Yes, that’s what they do.

At first, I wasn’t taken with this film but it grew on me and I liked it. The performances of both Pascal Greggory and Sylvie Testud as their relationship changes are what kept my interest.

But, caveat spector!

102 min. Unrated. Some nudity and violence.

For more info:
La France