Two Winners

You, the Living (2007)

Writer/director Roy Andersson's You, The Living (2007) is the first film from the 66-year-old Norwegian filmmaker since his critically-acclaimed (and yet sadly, virtually-ignored) Songs From the Second Floor in 2001. I stumbled across it researching and assembling lists for the upcoming summer flyer and don't recall reading or hearing about it before that.

You, the Living picks up where Songs left off – it's another bizarrely-low-key, absurdist comedy with plenty to say about the modern human condition. The film is a collection of vignettes, mostly shot in medium length and framed like video portraits within drably-urban Scandinavian backdrops. Its droll, Tati-meets-Monty-Python sensibilities will turn many off, but buried in these grim little snapshots is a thread of insightful commentary about our modern existence that I often find missing in English-language cinema. You, the Living is the inverse of a film like Up in the Air. Where Reitman bangs us over the head with broad state-of-society strokes and George Clooney, Roy Andersson's story telling is supremely subtle and populated with dumpy regular folk. For me, it was 100 times more effective and a had much more to say with about a 10th as much dialogue.

Shutter Island (2009)

One of the prices we're beginning to pay for our Apple-sponsored existence these days manifests itself in the mixed reaction to Martin Scorsese's latest film. Shutter Island is a brilliant film, amongst the very best American films I've seen this year, but it fell flat at the box office and couldn't find an audience. I think it might be the film that marks Scorsese entrance into irrelevance as a working director. The typical film audience has changed in recent years, in ways that are becoming clearer each day, as a world of effortless instant-everything settles into place. Film and TV have not been spared the collapse of attention spans either and a film like Shutter Island doesn't work with today's audience, at least in part because it requires they indulge the filmmaker enough latitude to develop/frame DiCaprio's character before the reveal. I could be way off base here, but the art of storytelling is changing and I think the Scorsese/Eastwood School is falling out of favour.

That said, there's much to savour here for fans of traditional cinema.



the coelacanth said...

wonderful. i've meant to get to you, the living for awhile now, but i'll bump it up the queue. watching shutter isle tonight. very excited.

the coelacanth said...

i loved shutter. don't understand the overwhelmingly negative reviews. fantastic, eerie, moody, atmospheric, one of the last remaining survivors of a "classic" style of filmmaking, as you say. i want to rewatch it right away, too many other things to see right now though.

Dropkick said...

Can't wait to go through both of these.

Also must check out Songs from the second floor, have been meaning to for some time.

My only issue with Shutter Island was the preview left me no desire to watch the actual film. It gave you a play by play of everything that happens in the film in chronological order. The trailer was so revealing in fact that i guessed the film's last act reveal.

Trailers over the last ten years have really gotten out of hand and i think it has to do with what you're saying Scott. It's the general audiences short attention spans, you have to tell them exactly what a film is about point by point and then they decide if they want to sit down and watch the longer version of that.

Nick was saying the best preview is the teaser preview and he's right, but the days of teaser previews seem to be extinct. There really is nothing like a 70's film trailer. And even before that, the trailer for Citizen Kane for example gives you no idea of what's to come, mostly it's just Orson Welles telling you you're gonna like it.

Anyone know any really good classic film trailers? if so, post them up!

La Sporgenza said...

I've been trying to get around to comment on Kris's thoughts on trailers for a week now. Spot on! It's got to the point that I skip over every DVD trailer, something I realize is a little harder to do at the cinema (but I've got a solution for that too - arrive late or just don't bother going in the first place). You gotta wonder what the logic is here huh? Surely the studio's understand that telling the whole story in the trailer defeats interest in seeing the actual film? Maybe not.

Avoid them where and when you can is the rule and skip reviews until after you've seen a film too.

the coelacanth said...

i quite like this trailer and think it's pretty effective without giving the movie away. warning: give it a pass if you're prone to seizures.

Dropkick said...

finally watched this one tonight and even though the trailer DID ruin the ending, it was all about the story. Such a beautifully shot film and the pacing pitch perfect. I felt I was going insane the whole time.

Dropkick said...

oh any by THIS one i meant Shutter Island