As with all other kinds of outings and entertainments, I’ve been particularly keen on going into town for film festivals during this post-vaccination autumn. I watched four films at the genre festival Monsters of Film two months ago and 13 at the much bigger Stockholm International that ended this weekend: 17 movies in one festival season, revisiting my personal record.
Unless noted otherwise, all the movies are from this year and haven’t seen theatrical release yet. Six get my particular recommendation:
- Delicatessen (1991). Dark, grotesque, surreal comedy about post-apocalyptic survival cannibalism.
- Trollhunter (2010). Film school students start following what seems to be a bear poacher but find out that the man works for the Norwegian State Clandestine Troll Management Agency.
- Madres Paralelas / Parallel Mothers. Complicated motherhood, friendship and love interleave against the background of Spain’s civil war memories. With fairly realistic mass grave excavation!
- First Date. Teen buys crappy old car to go on a first date. But there is something hidden in it that some stupid and desperate people are ready to do anything to get. Violent slapstick chaos ensues. One refreshing aspect of this film is that it has several people of colour in main and supporting roles, but it is not about race relations.
- Flag Day. Growing up with, or more often without, a criminal mythomaniac dad who just can’t help himself.
- Belfast. The start of the Troubles as seen by a nine-year-old.
Eight were OK:
- Les Olympiades, Paris 13e. Young attractive Parisians have complicated love life. No plot. Lots of close-ups of fucking. (Cf. that I said two years ago about Tu mérites un amour/ You Deserve A Lover: “Young attractive Parisian has complicated love life. No plot. Lots of close-ups of kissing.)
- Saloum. African mercenaries, former child soldiers, eco-tourism and a very long monster fight.
- Ich bin dein Mensch / I’m your man. Single 40-something academic tries out a tailor-made robot boyfriend.
- Old Henry. Outlaw gang attacks farm to retrieve loot without stopping to consider that the short oldish farmer might have had a prior career. Quite a violent one, in fact.
- The Power of the Dog. Jealousy, sibling rivalry and repressed sexuality on a ranch in 1920s Montana.
- Libertad. The Costa del Sol, Spanish bourgeoisie with hired help from Colombia, mothers and daughters, adolescence and Alzheimer, men are secondary characters. Women, bring your moms and daughters to this movie.
- Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror. Long comprehensive documentary. I was impressed by the inclusion of clips from obscure 1970s UK children’s TV.
- The Wicker Man (1973). Policeman goes to remote Scottish island to seek a missing child, discovers neo-Pagan sex cult. Lots of gratuitous breasts and Golden Bough references. Grade: OK.
I only watched one of the movies that got awards at SIFF. That is, I left half an hour into it from boredom. None of the other ones that got prizes seemed at all attractive to me. I’m strictly at that festival for movies that are not in the jury’s taste. I left the following three. All suffer from slow pacing and weak dialogue:
- Feathers. Good surreal setup with poor Egyptian family whose dominant paterfamilias is accidentally turned into a chicken does not pay off due to slow pacing and depressing locales.
- Rien à foutre / Zero Fucks Given. Young pretty flight attendant leads pointless life.
- A Chiara. Teen bourgeois girls in Sicily, something about the mafia. Six years ago I was equally bored by the director’s Mediterranea.
Here are my capsule reviews from the 2020 Stockholm International Film Festival.