Thursday, July 24, 2008

KBT Presents: SHOW ME LOVE (aka Fucking Åmål)

Swedish director Lukas Moodysson's feature debut was lauded with many awards during its film festival run in 1998-1999. And rightfully so, he takes the small town teenage drama to interesting new places. First by making significant events (first kiss or losing virginity) mundane, and second by making smaller events (a spat between siblings or a casual conversation about mobile phones) positively cataclysmic. At one point a father tells his lonely and troubled daughter that all the high-school relationship politics aren't going to matter a lick in a few years time; her response: "I want to be happy NOW." Such is the out-of-proportion sensibility of many a young teenager.

The story defies any sort of cliché about teen melodrama (or rather the teen addiction to their own melodramas), yet some how manages to hit (or subvert) a lot of the familiar notes: Sexual discovery, running away from home, suicide, popularity, etc, while being a very effective love story on top of everything else. The secret of its success is making each of the characters (and for once, the parents too) complex and, well, real. Visually, the film has the look of extraordinary high grain (blown up from 16mm) which gives a free-floating surreal vibe to the proceedings, like memories or dreams. At a crisp 83 minutes Show Me Love (or its more misleading original Swedish title F**king Åmål - a refrain uttered by young Elin because she is sick of being stuck in the boring small town of Åmål, - a place where nothing happens) is a brilliant success.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


On one level, I feel a bit guilty about recommending the latest Will Smith independence day holiday film Hancock, simply because I'm not a fan of the Will Smith independence day genre (seriously, there are half a dozen of these at this point). But Hancock actually has a lot to chew on between the Special Effects Blockbuster framework, and the acting is very good, and it has a little something that qualifies the picture as a guilty pleasure.

So why not echo the sentiment, turn the brain off, crank the air-conditioning in the KBT headquarters and throw on another Peter Berg directed joyful puff of an action picture. This movie didn't make much of a splash back in 2003 when it was released; even if it was envisioned to be the hand-off of the large-pecs action genre from Schwarzenegger and company to The Rock (Who now is credited as Dwayne Johnson). The movie should be just another Indiana Jones knock-off jungle-romp, but there are many elements in the thing that endear the film to me. Rosario Dawson as the love interest and bleeding heart guerrilla fighter, Sean William Scott with his 'goof-ball' setting cranked to 11 (Or at least imitating Owen Wilson very, very well) and Christopher Walken doing what Walken does best these days - steal scenes in a small role. Furthermore that Berg and crew tried to graft a social message onto this should feel offensive, but they actually take it pretty far and somehow it never interferes with the movie or is pushed into the background. Strange, but it kinda, sorta works.

And Dwayne Johnson is a pretty endearing actor, massive screen wattage and curiously meterosexual mulit-racial posturing makes a scene where he goes from talking about gourmet cooking to pulverizing an entire bar of football players into pulp seem natural. Kudos to that.

Yes, folks, I like THE RUNDOWN a fair bit, and it is time to share.