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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.

All is Bright-Movie Review 12/24/2015

Posted by Films to consider in American, Christmas film, Comedy, Dark Comedy, Movies, North Carolina Film Critics Association.
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All is Bright (American) 2013

Directed by Phil Morrison
Starring Paul Giamatti, Paul Rudd, Amy Landecker, and Sally Hawkins

NOMINATED, Tar Heel Award, North Carolina Film Critics Association

Dennis (Giamatti) is a thief. When he gets out of prison, he finds out that his wife Therese (Landecker) has told their young daughter that he died of cancer. Not only that, but his former partner is set to marry Therese. Still, the two men decide to go to New York City together to make some fast money selling Christmas trees.

This film is not a family film for the holidays; its ending is only slightly uplifting to keep with the spirit of the season. It’s moderately amusing, with darkish comedy mostly based on the situation Giamatti’s character finds himself in. Still, it might give you a few chuckles and get you out of any Hallmark rut you’ve gotten yourself into! And hey, it gave me a new award category.

P.S. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to post more films. Happy holidays to all and to all a good day!

107 min. Rated R.


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.

The Big Lebowski-Movie Review 04/20/2014

Posted by Films to consider in Action/Thriller, American, Berlin International Film Festival, Comedy, Dark Comedy, Empire Awards, European Film Awards, Joel Coen, Movies, Satellite Awards.
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The Big Lebowski (American) 1998

Written by Joel and Ethan Coen
Directed by Joel Coen
Starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, and Julianne Moore

Among other awards and (mostly) nominations:
NOMINATED, Golden Berlin Bear (Coen), Berlin International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Film (Coen), Empire Awards, UK
Nominated, Screen International Award (Coen), European Film Awards
NOMINATED, Best Actor-Comedy or Musical (Bridges); Best Supporting Actor (Goodman); Best Supporting Actress (Moore), Satellite Awards

The Dude (Bridges) likes his lifestyle on the casual side. For him, smoking pot and bowling with his friends describes a typical good day. But it turns out his real name, Jeffrey Lebowski, is the same as that of a very rich and powerful guy. Because of a mixup the Dude gets involved in a kooky kidnapping scheme, when all he wants is his rug back. It really ties the room together.

If you haven’t seen this movie–or haven’t seen it for a while–it’s definitely worth a look. The dialogue, while replete with foul language, is non-stop funny.

119 min. Rated R (Language, drug, sexuality, and violence)


Letters to Father Jacob-Movie Review 03/09/2014

Posted by Films to consider in Dark Comedy, Emotional Drama, Finnish language film, Jussi Awards, Klaus Härö, Mar del Plata Film Festival, Movies, Palm Springs International Film Festival.
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Letters to Father Jacob (Finnish) 2009
Postia pappi Jaakobille

Directed by Klaus Härö
Starring Kaarina Hazard, Heikki Nousiainen, Jukka Keinonen

Among other wins and nominations (mostly wins):
WINNER, Best Film; Best Actor (Nousiainen); Best Director (Härö); Best Music; NOMINATED, Best Actress (Hazard); Best Script; Best Cinematography, Jussi Awards
NOMINATED, Best Film, Mar del Plata Film Festival
WINNER, Bridging the Borders Award (Härö), Palm Springs International Film Festival

Leila (Hazard), a hard-nosed woman in prison for life, gets pardoned due to the intervention of someone she doesn’t know, provided she goes to work for Father Jacob (Nousiainen). He is a blind priest living out his last days in a remote area, where he answers the letters that request his prayers. Leila’s job is to read the letters aloud and write his responses to the sender. When the letters stop coming and the priest is thrown into a state of despair, Leila starts revealing her own life story in the guise of a letter-sender.

An emotional story with slightly dark bits of humor scattered throughout. Kaarina Hazard is perfect for the role of the tough Leila.

74 min. Not rated.

Amador-Movie Review 12/07/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Dark Comedy, Drama, Emotional Drama, Spanish Actors Union Awards, Spanish language film.
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Amador (Spanish) 2010
From Film Movement

Screenplay written by Fernando Léon De Aranoa
Directed by Fernando Léon De Aranoa
Starring Magaly Solier, Celso Bugallo, Fanny deCastro, and Pietro Sibille

NOMINATED, Best Supporting Actor (Bugallo); NOMINATED, Best Actress (Solier), Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Spain
NOMINATED, Award of the Spanish Actors Union, Film: Supporting Performance, Female (DeCastro), Spanish Actors Union

When Marcela (Solier), a young immigrant from Peru, discovers she is pregnant, she hides the fact from her boyfriend because she’s not sure about their future together. To make money for their plans to open a flower shop, she takes a job caring for Amador, an elderly invalid man. Her plans go awry when Amador dies.

This movie took me by surprise. Without revealing more about the plot, there was a backdrop of dark humor behind a story that generally has sad overtones. Director De Aranoa and actress Magaly Solier do an admirable job of holding the two elements in balance. I’m surprised that it didn’t receive more accolades, at least according to IMDB’s listings.

Also watch the short film, How It Ended, starring Debra Winger.

112 min. Not rated.


Ariel-Movie Review 04/28/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Dark Comedy, Finnish language film, Light Drama, Moscow International Film Festival, Movies, National Society of Film Critics Awards, Romance, Swedish language film.
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ARIEL (Finnish) 1988
Written and directed by Aki Kaurismaki
Starring Turo Pajala and Susanna Haavisto

WINNER, Bronze St. George-Best Actor (Pajala); FIPRESCI Prize (Kaurismaki); NOMINATED Golden St. George (Kaurismaki), Moscow International Film Festival
WINNER, NFSC Award-Best Foreign Language Film, National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA

After the mine he was working in closes down and his father commits suicide, Taisto (Pajala) gets thrown in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. He escapes and leaves town, hoping to find a new life in a big southern city. Almost immediately he meets Irmeli (Haavisto); they strike up a very low-key romance, but soon Taisto gets caught up in trouble.

Dry and quirky humor. Not a big award winner, this short (only 73 min.) film definitely has the 80s look about it. It’s the second part of Kaurismäki’s Proletariat Trilogy, which also includes Shadows in Paradise and The Match Factory Girl.

73 min.



The Human Resources Manager-Movie Review 10/28/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Awards of the Israeli Film Academy, Dark Comedy, Emotional Drama.
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The Human Resources Manager (Israeli) 2010

From Film Movement
Directed by Eran Riklis
Starring Mark Ivanir, Noah Silver, Rosian Kambus, and Gila Almagor

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Director (Riklis), Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Sound, Best Supporting Actress (Kambus), NOMINATED, Best Actor (Ivanir), Awards of the Israeli Film Academy

A surprisingly touching story about an unnamed man who is Human Resources Manager at a large bakery company in Jerusalem. After a female employee from Romania is killed in a suicide bombing, the man must make some PR gestures that end up getting him much more involved than he wants to be.

Director Riklis is known for 2004’s The Syrian Bride (which I’d also recommend). Although this story might not be of quite the same caliber, it is laced with wry humor and emotional moments that make it worthwhile. Star Mark Ivanir might seem familiar; he has appeared in a long list of films and TV series.

103 min. Not rated. Suitable for teens.


Nora’s Will-Movie Review 09/16/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Argentinian Film Critics Association Awards, Ariel Awards, Biarritz International Festival of Latin Cinema, Dark Comedy, Light Drama, Mariana Chenillo, Mexican/Spanish language film, Miami Film Festival, Moscow International Film Festival, Movies.
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Nora’s Will (Mexican/Spanish) 2008
Cinco dias sin Nora

Directed by Mariana Chenillo
Starring Fernando Luján, Ari Brickman, Silvia Mariscal, and Angelina Peláez

Among other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Silver Condor-Best Foreign Film, Spanish language, Argentinian Film Critics Association Awards
WINNER, Golden Ariel (Chenillo); Silver Ariel-Best Actor (Luján); Best Screenplay; Best Supporting Actress (Peláez), Ariel Awards, Mexico
WINNER, AFCAE Award-Best Film (Chenillo), Biarritz International Festival of Latin Cinema
WINNER, Audience Award, Miami Film Festival
WINNER, Silver St. George-Best Director; NOMINATED, Golden St. George (Chenillo), Moscow International Film Festival

An entertaining family drama/comedy with slightly dark elements, as the story is set around the suicide and subsequent burial of Nora (Mariscal), ex-wife of the irreverent Jose (Luján).

Nora has controlled her Jewish family’s life for many years, through her ongoing mental illness and several failed suicide attempts. Now, her successful attempt leaves behind a religious dilemma surrounding her burial that her ex-husband and family must resolve.

92 min. Not rated.


Adam’s Apples-Movie Review *** 09/09/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival, Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film, Danish language film, Dark Comedy, European Film Awards, Movies, Warsaw International Film Festival.

Adam’s Apples (Danish) 2005 ***

From Film Movement

Directed by Anders Thomas Jensen
Starring Paprika Steen, Nikolaj Kaas, Mads Mikkelsen, Ulrich Thomsen, and Nicolas Bro

Among other wins and nominations:
WINNER, Silver Scream Award (Jensen), Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival
WINNER, Golden Raven; Grand Prize of European Fantasy Film in Silver; Pegasus Audience Award (all Jensen), Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film
NOMINATED, Audience Award-Best Film (Jensen); European Film Award-Best Screenwriter (Jensen), European Film Awards
WINNER, Audience Award (Jensen), Warsaw International Film Festival

Adam (Thomsen), a tough and violence-prone ex-convict, must spend part of his parole time working at a rectory in a remote country area. Its priest, Ivan (Mikkelsen), looks at the world and all those he comes in contact with in a biblically-based way that is so positive it has become irrational. The townspeople just accept that Ivan is insane and let him be, but Adam is determined to convince Ivan that everything he believes about the world is false.

A dark comedy with a very unusual collection of characters thrown together in an odd setting.

Highly recommended.

94 min. Not rated. Suitable for older teens and adults (violence).