November 2, 2010

Scandinavian Film Festival - Day 5 - Involuntary & Mammoth

Day five of the Festival and this are the reviews I wrote hope you enjoy them....

Director: Ruben Östlund
Cast: Villmar Björkman, Linnea Cart-Lamy, Leif Edlund
Writers: Erik Hemmendorff (screenplay), Ruben Östlund (screenplay)
Production: Sweden, 2008
Release Date: 28 November 2008 (Sweden)
Runtime: 98 Minutes
Original Name: De ofrivilliga
IMDB Link: Involuntary
Trailer: Involuntary

Spring is almost finished in Sweden and the minor indiscretions and misbehaviors are around the corner. Leffe is a young man who likes to show off for his friends and plays heavy pranks when he is drunk. At the same time, a grade-school teacher will face with social retaliation from the other teachers because she accused one of his colleges for hitting a student. Then there are two young teenage girls who like to pose for sexy photos and to drink heavily at parties. An old man who suffers an accident during his wife birthday party.   Finally, we have a famous movie star that during a trip will accidentally make the trip even longer for the rest of the passengers. As the movie progresses all the characters will suffer little and big changes.

This multi-narrative film is great at showing and exposing group behavior. The movie aim is to critic modern society and the way we relate one to another. Some of the topics from the movie are; how society labels people, and how people must adapt to social conventions so they can belong to a certain group. The fear of social retaliation (of being the Scapegoat). The challenge of having to educate troublesome students with no agressive methodologies. Young teenagers being overexposed to alcohol drinking. The movie was shot in a very particular way; there is no movement of the camera (no panning) and don’t have cuts within scenes. This is because the director (Ruben Östlund) used to make skiing films and cuts would mean that something fail during the recording of a scene. Involuntay becomes a sassy and shocking movie that exposes the wrongs in society, a slap in the face to wake us up and to smell reality.

Director: Lukas Moodysson
Cast: Gael García Bernal, Michelle Williams, Marife Necesito
Writers: Lukas Moodysson (Screenplay)
Production: Sweden, Denmark, Germany, 2009
Release Date: 23 January 2009 (Sweden)
Runtime: 125 Minutes
Original Name: Mammoth
IMDB Link: Mammoth
Trailer: Mammoth

Leo and Ellen are a very successful New York couple who have an eight-year-old daughter named Jackie. They also have a Philippine nanny named Gloria who takes care of Jackie while her parents are at work.

Leo is the creator of a gaming site that is booming across the web, one day he has to leave his family to travel to Thailand to sign a multimillionaire contract. As his college is making the last arrangements to the contract, he decides to spend some days away from Bangkok. At the same time, Ellen, an emergency surgeon, will become very moved and eventually very much attached to a boy who has been stabbed by his own mother. Over the years, Jackie has formed a very close relationship with Gloria due to his parent’s lack of presence at the house. Soon she took interest in learning Filipino and spent most of her time with Gloria, which drives Ellen jealous since Jackie didn’t spent time with her.

On the background, there is the story of Gloria a Philippine woman who came to the US to earn money for her two kids who live in the Philippines with her mother. In Thailand, Leo starts a very short and shallow relationship with Cookie, a local prostitute, who is also away from her baby girl.

I love multi-narrative movies such as Crash, Babel or Cold Lunch however, with this movie, in particular, I had many problems to believe or even connect with characters. I think the movie is too ambitious, it opens too many parallel stories that may see interesting background but as soon as the movie goes deep it them, the plot dissolves. In addition I have two mayors complains. The first one is that the story of Leo takes too long to develop, as he goes to Thailand he start to feel bored because he has to wait for this friend to negotiate the contract. We see a few scenes where Leo calls his wife and tells her that he is bored and that he doesn’t know what to do and she replays that she can’t sleep; now this goes on a few minutes. I don’t think this engrosses the plot of the movie; it is just repetitive stuff to fill the minutes. My second complain was the way Ellen becomes attached to the dying boy. The movie doesn’t build up a true connection between the characters. Also I find it difficult to believe that a trained emergency surgeon could become so attached to a patient, now I’m not saying it’s impossible but I didn’t feel any emotions when Ellen cries for the little boy. Now let´s go to the good things of the movie. It does a good job in showing some of the problems in today’s globalized world, especially in the incommunication between people; we may use cell phones, internet, Skype to talk and see someone that is far away, but at the same time, we sometimes feel the loneliest person in the planet.

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