REVIEW: Life Overtakes Me [2019]

We hadn’t told them. Directors John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson‘s documentary Life Overtakes Me is a call to action. Where many films revolving around ailments seek to provide answers, this one hopes for recognition and subsequent research necessary to find solutions. The reason is simple: nobody knows the underlying truths behind Resignation syndrome. All we know for certain is that it’s real, occurs at an extremely high rate in Sweden, and is growing internationally. The latter comes as no surprise considering our world has been growing more and more insular…

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TIFF18 REVIEW: Aniara [2018]

The utter nonsense of living. So much of our desire to exist is based in control. We have the ability to move our homes, restart careers, and work towards a future of our choosing. No matter how difficult things become, there’s always a hope for better or an avenue towards change. It’s only when we’re cornered without an exit that we start to let our fears rule us rather than the infinite possibilities in our grasp. We search for meaning and answers, struggling to reconcile that happiness may have always…

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REVIEW: En man som heter Ove [A Man Called Ove] [2015]

“Sometimes, however, honesty needs a little assistance” Despite being rated PG-13 due to a liberal use of the word “shit,” En man som heter Ove [A Man Called Ove] is still one of the most full-hearted family-friendly dramedies of the year. I’d even say it’s the live action version of Up you’ve waited for since 2009, one where Russell is replaced by a pregnant Persian mother of two for whom the titular by-the-books curmudgeon (played by Rolf Lassgård) can gradually share his wondrous yet oft-tragic past in lieu of a…

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TIFF15 REVIEW: Pojkarna [Girls Lost] [2016]

“Can’t you see it’s me?” Writer/director Alexandra-Therese Keining‘s adaptation of Jessica Schiefuer’s 2011 August Prize-winning (Sweden) young adult novel Pojkarna (translated as The Boys but changed to Girls Lost for international release) is deliciously dark and profoundly vital. It definitely lends itself to the genre with overt metaphors between three female classmates finding themselves budding into women as the flowers within one’s mother’s greenhouse follows suit, but it also possesses an edge that’s easily able to render cliché moot. The whole body swapping cinematic trope has been done to death…

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TIFF15 REVIEW: Under Rymdskeppet [Beneath the Spaceship] [2015]

“Don’t change a winning recipe” What’s the age cut-off for friendship? It’s an interesting notion to consider because at a certain point a noticeable difference becomes intrinsically pedophilic in the eyes of society. Where a neighbor can befriend someone young as a babysitter, alternate parental figure, etc., as soon as the child hits puberty the platonic nature of the relationship changes. From inside it’s the same because the years have merely gone by. From the outside, however, what would have once been ignored becomes scrutinized. And while the adult has…

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REVIEW: Turist [Force Majeure] [2014]

“You can’t run in snow boots?” Very rarely does an international name change occur for the better, but few titles are more perfect for their respective film than Force Majeure. The original Swedish moniker was Turist, a succinct and appropriate label considering the entire piece portrays a family’s five-day ski vacation in French Alps. Force Majeure, however, showcases the powerfully random event that changes the tone and dynamic of the characters involved as well as the story itself. The beauty of Ruben Östlund‘s creation is that this moment arising to…

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TIFF14 REVIEW: Knuffen [The Shove] [2014]

“I was sentenced to a shoving last night” With an opening credit sequence recalling a 70s vibe via Quentin Tarantino, My Sandström‘s surrealist take on the paranoia of uncertainty delivers humor rather than the pulpy drama you may expect from the grainy picture and thick yellow text. There is a lot of this sort of playing with expectation involved right down to Tobbe’s (Magnus Sundberg) giant of a man being crippled by the absurdist “sentence” given to him by an inspector (Annafrida Bengtsson) of unknown origins walking the streets with…

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REVIEW: Simon och ekarna [Simon & the Oaks] [2011]

“Children forget so fast” A tale about family, its many definitions, and its discovery through the prism of an unstable time, Marianne Fredriksson‘s international bestseller Simon och ekarna [Simon & the Oaks] has found its way to the big screen. Epic in scope and yet pared down to the tumultuous emotions of a young man growing up in Sweden during and after World War II, the film spans less than two decades but somehow appears to portray a lifetime. Simon Larsson started as a boy avidly reading within a giant…

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VIFF11 REVIEW: Till det som är vackert [Pure] [2010]

“Courage is life’s only measure” What’s worse than giving sex to a married man for money? Giving it for love. It’s a tough distinction to delineate for a reformed twenty-year old prostitute whose only role model growing up was a drug-addled, suicidal mother that more or less taught her the business. Hoping for redemption and a ‘cleaner’ life, Katarina (Alicia Vikander) has vowed to never go back and instead cherish her boyfriend Mattias (Martin Wallström)—the one decent male in Sweden who doesn’t yell whore at her on the streets. Unfortunately,…

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REVIEW: Luftslottet som sprängdes [The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest] [2009]

“You have been one of the most entertaining patients I’ve had in a long time” While The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was by far the most captivating and unique of the Millennium Trilogy’s installments, the final two—as a pair—officially and successfully close the story of Lisbeth Salander. We’ll never know exactly what author Stieg Larsson was setting out to do with this opus, nor if it was truly complete as a trio, but as films from director Daniel Alfredson, The Girl Who Played with Fire and Luftslottet som sprängdes…

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REVIEW: Flickan som lekte med elden [The Girl Who Played with Fire] [2009]

“You treat your friends like dirt. Its as simple as that.” Taking place more than a year after we’ve left Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) and journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Flickan som lekte med elden [The Girl Who Played with Fire] begins with two halves of a sprawling story soon to bring them back together. For the first two-thirds, I’d almost say one doesn’t have to watch the first installment of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy because this entry has its own case of…

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