Sunday, December 30, 2012

Joachim Trier's young intellectuals

My favourite film at this year’s Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF) was Norwegian director Joachim Trier’s Oslo, August 31st. I had a chance last week to watch Trier’s first full length feature (2006) Reprise, which also starred Anders Danielsen Lie in the lead. The film is equally as good as Oslo, August 31st. Both films deal with the young, hip intellectual community in Oslo. Both deal with the lead characters’ existential yearnings. In Oslo, August 31st it’s Anders’s (character by same name) quest to reintegrate into society - or even into his revered literary subculture – after spending months in a drug rehab centre. In Reprise, it’s Lie’s Philip and Espen Klouman-Høiner’s Erik as best friends who also seek immortality (if only in the minds of a select critical few) with their first and subsequent novels. Trier’s films are marked by their frenetic pace and quick cuts, backward and forward movements in time, with an electronica soundtrack. I can’t think of any American films to compare them with. There are innumerable “slacker” films, which are almost universally about depressed characters going nowhere in movies that technically feel the same way. Trier’s films are not about slackers. If anything they’re about young intellectuals who have something to say, and their friends and lovers who will often throw it right back in their faces, with the speech mostly making points about their social milieu and the greater world around. The acting is brilliant, the writing is brilliant, and let’s hope Trier sticks around for a long, long time.

Wow, this movie Silver Linings Playbook is really the critics’ meow. The Detroit Film Critics Society chose the David O. Russell romantic comedy drama about two mentally disturbed people who fall in love, as its best film of 2012. And Kurt Loder waxed eloquently about same on last week’s Dennis Miller show. If you remember from my Dec. 3 post I walked out on this gruelling high pitched emotional storyline-on-speed which, who knows, the characters may have also been on. I guess it simply grated on my more gentle sensibilities. Robert De Niro also draws praise in a passable role as a working class dad in the Philly version of Archie Bunker’s Queens, sans  bigotry but how 'bout them Eagles?

But not to be missed is Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina starring Keira Knightley and Jude Law, which has to be one of the best costume dramas ever set to the screen. The settings and costumes are extraordinarily rich and detailed. The overall movie, seemingly shot on stage, doesn’t feel that way as props are constantly moved and refitted and seemingly blown apart by the story's reality. The choreography is amazing and the movie probably worth seeing for that alone. This movie is touching on masterpiece material.

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