Border (2018) Review

Border (2018) (Swedish: Gräns)

Directed by Ali Abbasi

Based on Border by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Starring: Eva Melander, Eero Milonoff, Jorgen Thorsson, Ann Petrén, Sten Ljunggren

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A customs officer who can smell fear develops an unusual attraction to a strange traveler while aiding a police investigation which will call into question her entire existence.

My Opinion:

Er. Um. What the fuck did I just watch?! Well. Huh. This was an interesting film…

First of all, this was personally recommended to me by an old high school acquaintance so I thought “What the hell, I’ll check it out” when a local cinema actually showed this one last week. THIS is why I don’t listen to “real life” people. I only trust my fellow movie blog nerds! To be fair, she was right in that this movie is kind of right up my alley. I love foreign films and I appreciate weird. I watch so many films that I get bored with the same old predictable storylines. I want to see a film I’ll remember. Something like Mandy! And, yeah – I suppose Border too. I’ll certainly always remember it, at least. Not gonna lie, though – it’ll mostly be the sex scene and that penis that I remember.

Eva Melander plays the customs officer who can smell fear and she was very good in this film. You could feel her loneliness and how she feels like an outsider. Her performance is the best thing about the movie overall and, without that performance and character, I don’t think this would have as high of a rating as it does (7.1 on IMDb). I do think people rate foreign films a bit too highly sometimes – not all foreign films are good. I did like the creepy animal attraction she had with the mysterious stranger and did enjoy the overall story. For once I can say that I truly had no idea what the hell was going on in a movie.

I’ll keep this short as I think this is one of those films where you’re better off not knowing too much about it beforehand. If you like weird and you like the unexpected and you like bizarre graphic sex and you like foreign films and you like indie films and you like Frozen, you might like this truly strange Swedish film. There’s even a mention of Ikea at one point. YES! I’d have been disappointed if they hadn’t mentioned Ikea. And, yes – I meant the Anna & Elsa Frozen when I said Frozen. This has small Frozen vibes but is most definitely NOT child-friendly. There’s also mention of disturbing things involving children (though thankfully not shown), so be aware of that beforehand. And if you do watch this based on my half-assed review and end up scarred for life, I take no responsibility. Watch at your own risk! You might love it or you might hate it but I promise that you won’t forget it. I’d like to give it a higher rating based mostly on Melander’s performance but don’t think the film itself is as good as it could’ve been.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Music Video Friday: Robyn – Konichiwa Bitches

Today’s video is Konichiwa Bitches by Robyn.

I won’t pretend to know much about Swedish singer Robyn (real name Robin Miriam Carlsson) but I loved her 2005 self-titled album.

The best song (and my favorite) was Robyn & Kleerup’s amazing With Every Heartbeat. I’ll never get sick of that one! Well, I haven’t gotten sick of any songs from this album – they’re all still knocking around on my iPod. My next two favorites are Cobrastyle & Konichiwa Bitches but Handle Me, Dancing On My Own & Be Mine are also fantastic pop songs.

I’ve chosen Konichiwa Bitches because I’ve always liked its attitude (plus it’s an awesome title for a song). The lyrics are a bit filthy so it’s not 100% “Safe For Work” but it’s all tongue-in-cheek & not extremely blatant like a song by Peaches or something. I remember seeing Robyn on Never Mind The Buzzcocks years ago talking about her cage fighter boyfriend & wishing I was as cool as she seems to be. I don’t know how famous she is in Sweden but this album was so damn good she should’ve made it bigger in other countries. Not sure which lyrics are my favorite from this song but I do like this bit where I think she’s singing about her boobs:

“Don’t even get me started on my bada-boom-booms. One left, one right – that’s how I organize ’em. You know I fill my cups no need to supersize ’em”.

Ha! I love this crazy song. Have a listen (and definitely check out her other songs at my above links as well if you don’t know her stuff). 🙂

We Are The Best!, Blue Ruin & A Long Way Down Movie Reviews

Three more quickie reviews today! I know I often do “meh” movies or the occasional movie that I HATED in this way so I decided to throw a good one in this time as well. Okay, of the other two, one is “meh” and one I HATED. 🙂

Here we go!

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We Are The Best! (2013)

Directed by Lukas Moodysson

Starring: Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, Liv LeMoyne

My Opinion:

I really enjoyed this Swedish film set in 1982 Stockholm in which three 13-year-old girls decide to start a punk band. In fact, I just watched the trailer again (which I’ve included at the end of this post) and it genuinely made me smile & realize just how much I liked the movie.

The movie starts with two friends who have very different personalities but share a love of punk music so are therefore not exactly “popular” at school because of their strange taste in music & their short hair. Bobo is shy & insecure while Klara is mouthy & confident. The girls one day decide to start a punk band after being picked on by some boys. Unfortunately, they’ve had no musical training. After seeing a Christian girl named Hedvig perform in a talent show at their school, the girls ask her to join their band.

What I really liked about this movie is that these girls seemed real. You never forget they’re only 13 and, even though I’m far, far, FAR away from that age now, I think every female alive remembers that age well as it’s a very tough time in life and all you want is to fit in. Klara, who has a better home life than Bobo, is pretty secure in herself but Bobo always worries that she’s not pretty enough and that boys will never like her. When they befriend Hedvig, who is very shy and has had a strict Christian upbringing that goes against Klara’s beliefs, they form such an odd trio with very different personalities that somehow end up working perfectly together. They literally bring out the Best(!) in each other.

We Are The Best! is a coming-of-age film but without all the melodrama that sometimes comes from movies in that genre, which can feel contrived at times. It just tells a believable, straightforward story of three very likeable misfits who love punk music. Or love, at least, the punk lifestyle as, other than Hedvig, they don’t have any musical talent. But, hey – that IS punk and, by the end, these girls prove that they’re more punk than the boys who originally made fun of them. It’s a great final scene & the whole movie was just fun. I also found it very interesting hearing a lot of punk music in Swedish (which sounded no different as, let’s face it, all punk sounds the same). And the song the girls write, Hate The Sport, is hilarious. That’s SO what a 13-year-old girl would write about! They write this while annoyed at having to run laps in gym class & the song talks about people dying all over the world while some people obsess over silly sports (I like the lyrics “The world is a morgue, but you’re watching Björn Borg.” lol!).

Seriously, this is a delightful film & I can’t remember the last time I liked all the main characters in a movie so much. It’s still a bit “indie” and the story may feel like it’s not going anywhere as it’s just that style of film but I love that – it makes it feel real. Oh! And the 1982 thing felt so genuine that you kind of forget that it was made in 2013. I don’t have a bad thing to say about this movie – it’s just great to watch a simple film that leaves you with a smile on your face.

My Rating: 8/10

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Blue Ruin (2013)

Directed by Jeremy Saulnier

Starring: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Eve Plumb

My Opinion:

I saw a lot of reviews for this movie pop up on WordPress in the last year or so. I could tell it probably wasn’t my type of thing but, when I saw it appear on Netflix, I hit ‘Play’ against my better judgment. I should’ve gone with my gut instinct – I HATED this movie.

I do like a good revenge film (like Kill Bill!). A good revenge film. For a revenge film to work, you need a sympathetic character. This is very important & Blue Ruin doesn’t manage this. Okay, I guess you do feel kind of sorry for the main character & see why he’d want revenge but his character is so poorly developed! We learn very little about him other than the past tragedy that occurred to make him want to seek revenge. You never warm to his character, which makes it hard to care what the outcome of the movie will be. And what a load of scumbags he goes up against! I just didn’t find that realistic – no one is that horrible, are they??

I struggled to make it through this one. I watched it in three sittings as I kept getting so bored that I turned it off. It’s soooo slow! I do have quite a bit of patience when it comes to movies but, god, it felt like this one would never end. It was also far too violent for me, which is something I’m not a big fan of (unless it’s Kill Bill, I guess! lol). Umm… I don’t know. I just didn’t care. By the end, when there’s a little “twist” of sorts, I was like “So what? NOW we finally get a bit of a story to this thing? Five minutes before it ends??”. I didn’t care. Just like I don’t care enough to discuss this movie any further. Boring. Pointless. I hated it. But Jan Brady was in it so that’s kind of cool, I guess. Not as cool as if it had been Peter Brady, though!

You’re welcome for that in-depth review. 😉

My Rating: 3/10

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A Long Way Down (2014)

Directed by Pascal Chaumeil

Based on A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots, Aaron Paul

My Opinion:

MEH! Sometimes I really wish they could make better British movies. They just make far too much of this sort of bland drama over here (sorry, British people. I do love 28 Days Later…!). This suffers from the same sort of problems that Starter For 10 had – I think it just tries too hard to be a some sort of “quirky” indie based-on-a-book drama.

First of all, I’m a fan of Nick Hornby’s books. I wouldn’t call him my favorite author (that’s Stephen King) but I’ve enjoyed all his books that I’ve read & High Fidelity was great. I did read A Long Way Down & it was okay but not one of his best so it was unlikely to be a really great movie. It was a long time ago that I read it so I can’t really compare it to the movie but it seemed a fairly faithful adaptation from what I remember.

The movie is about four people who meet on a London rooftop on New Year’s Eve. They’ve each come there planning to take their lives but, after meeting and forming an unusual sort of friendship, they make a pact to at least wait until Valentine’s Day to decide if they still wish to, well, kill themselves. Sounds morbid by my description. I suppose it is but instead of ending up some interesting sort of dark comedy, it’s a rather bland drama with only two likeable characters out of the four.

Toni Collette’s character is the most sympathetic by far. To avoid spoilers, I won’t go into their reasons for each wanting to commit suicide but Collette’s Maureen is the one you’ll feel for the most and she makes the other three appear shallow by comparison. Brosnan’s character is kind of the main one in the book from what I remember and, while he’s not totally unlikeable, his problem is the one that most people really won’t be able to sympathize with. I did like Aaron Paul’s character, who is the most withdrawn and seems genuinely sad. Imogen Poots, however… First of all, how much do you think she got made fun of for having the name Imogen Poots?? That name is hilarious. As for her character, she’s very hard to like. She’s rude to the others and comes across as completely selfish. She’s one of these “pretty, young, damaged girls” (okay – I’ll admit I’m probably just jealous as I’ve always wanted to be one of those). Granted, when you find out her true reason for being on that roof, you do start to care more about her but her treatment of the others, especially Aaron Paul, does get annoying at times. I think she’s a decent actress, though, with stunning eyes. I thought she was very good in 28 Weeks Later (which is a much better British movie than this one).

This movie isn’t bad, it’s just a bit “What’s the point?”. For a fairly controversial set-up, it goes a little too predictable-mainstream-Hollywood at the end. But, from what I remember of the book, that also didn’t delve too deeply into the dark subject matter. It’s worth a Sunday afternoon watch if it sounds like something you’d like, though.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Trailer for We Are The Best! – Check it out if you’re interested. I’m hoping I’ve talked some people into watching this film. 🙂

The Seventh Seal (1957) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Chris of Terry Malloy’s Pigeon Coop. Thanks for the review, Chris! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about The Seventh Seal (Swedish: Det sjunde inseglet), IMDB rank 117 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

Plot: A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague.

A 1957 Swedish film about the ubiquity of death and the struggle of life sounds a bit like something you’d watch in film school or that hipsters would discuss over their kale lattes. It probably is both of those things, actually, but The Seventh Seal really is an interesting piece of cinema that’s worth a couple of hours of your time.

However, that does depend on what you want out of your films. If you want something light and fluffy to switch off to after a hard day at work then The Seventh Seal probably isn’t your best option in all honesty. But if you want something that’s going to make you consider deep metaphysical questions about life, death, religion and such then this could well float your boat.

There’s an incredible amount going on in The Seventh Seal, and it’s one of those films that you can take as much or as little away from it as you like. If you want to just see a knight travelling to his castle and meeting people along the way then you can do that, but if you want to see a man questioning the purpose of life in the face of death (or whatever else you want to read into it) then you can do that too.

For me, it’s a much richer film if you read into it a little. Granted, you could drive yourself crazy trying to work out absolutely everything, but just thinking a little deeper into its meanings is hugely rewarding. Some people like to do that with their films, some don’t. But this film gives back what you put into it.

Some of the film’s themes are abstract and hidden, whilst others are in reasonably plain sight. For me, the main theme of the film is a man questioning the existence of God, something which is quite openly discussed throughout the film. How can God exist when people are at war with each other and the Black Death is sweeping the country killing people? These are questions as old as the idea of God itself and questions that are still talked about today. For that reason it’s a film that although may look a little dated, still feels like it has resonance today.

Then there are plenty of other themes that run throughout such as the importance of family and friendship during hard times, ensuring you do good in life and lots of other deep shit. It really is a film you could analyse for years and still get news things from it each time.

The imagery in the film is some of the most iconic in cinema, and no doubt many of you will be familiar with the image of Max Von Sydow’s Antonius Block playing a game of chess with Death. The image of the danse macabre as Death leads away his victims is also incredibly iconic and powerful and helps turn the films into something much more deep and meaningful in its messages and metaphors.

The Seventh Seal simply isn’t a film that will appeal to everyone. It can be very slow moving at times, covers some pretty heavy themes and is just downright surreal and odd in parts. Definitely the kind of film my girlfriend would comment something along the lines of ‘what the fuck are you watching?!’ Don’t watch it if you’re looking for something to unwind and switch off to.

But I quite enjoyed it. I enjoyed thinking a little more into it and some of the cinematography is fantastic, so even if you don’t want to get all philosophical about it, there’s still plenty to enjoy. It’s probably not one I’d watch again in all honesty, but a good one to tick off the watch-list.