Being contracted to do translation work during November and December I’m free to set my own work schedule, and so I have set a new record for myself in the number of films I saw at the Stockholm Film Festival this year: twelve feature films and one shorts package. All are from 2019 and had their Swedish premières at the festival. None was bad or boring, and three get my special recommendation:
- Bull. Black rodeo, Oxycontin, rural Southern poverty, teenage anger, absent parents, a tentative replacement dad.
- Give Me Liberty. Young Russian American man drives for a disabled people’s bus service but keeps getting sidetracked by various other needy people. Noisy confusing warm-hearted multicultural story.
- Perdrix / The Bare Necessity. Absurdist rom com with militant nudists, bored policemen, maghrebois WW2 reenactors in the Vosges and a family that is just itching to get disrupted.
And nine features plus the shorts programme were all well worth watching:
- Alice et Le Maire / Alice and the Mayor. Bright young Lit PhD becomes staffer and adviser to troubled Social Democrat mayor of Lyon.
- The Art of Self-Defence. After getting violently mugged, a wimpy guy joins a cult-like karate dojo. Movie has severe tonal issues: not a very funny parody, not a scary horror story, not realistic enough by far to grip you. Lead actor good though.
- Bait. Old-school but not old Cornish fisherman watches the touristification of his village with disgust. Interesting lo-fi b/w cinematography and secondarily applied studio sound.
- Colour Out Of Space. A competent big-budget movie version of the story H.P. Lovecraft considered his best. A meteorite hits a farm, plants and animals mutate, everybody goes nuts, the area is eventually reduced to prismatic ashes.
- Esto no es Berlín / This Is Not Berlin. Teenage boys discover drugs, bisexuality and avant-garde art in 1986 Mexico City. Another nostalgic look back at somebody’s coming of age.
- La femme de mon frère / A Brother’s Love (2019). Neurotic political philosopher finishes her PhD and ends up jobless and sleeping on her brother’s couch in Quebec. He gets involved with the doctor who gives her an abortion and she starts falling apart.
- La Gomera / Whistlers. Romanian-Spanish police thriller about missing drug money. Incomprehensible motivations, gratuitous pornography, gratuitous lessons in the Canary Islanders’ whistling language on location, an oldish charmless male lead.
- Le Miracle du Saint Inconnu / The Unknown Saint. Moroccan robber comes out of jail only to find that a shrine has been built on the rural spot where he buried the loot. Beautiful imagery, quietly funny, pretty slow.
- Tu mérites un amour/ You Deserve A Lover. Young attractive Parisian has complicated love life. No plot. Lots of close-ups of kissing.