These characters operate in a material society. They cannot win each other over with deeds and words, so they turn to materials. They buy, cook, and sell. Everything has a material value, even love.

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1. Turist, from Sweden (or as it will be more commonly known, Force Majeure)

A family takes a ski vacation, has a close call with an avalanche, and suffers the consequences for the rest of the trip. It’s an astoundingly funny family drama, reflecting predominantly on patriarchy and fatherhood and relationships. It’s really entertaining and smart, with wonderful performances and great special effects. In case you need more motivation, Tormund Giantsbane from Game of Thrones is in it and he is very good, with fantastic comedic timing and also he wears a hoodie, which is weird. This is Sweden’s submission for the 2015 Best Foreign Film Oscar, and if it plays on a big screen near you, I highly urge you to go see it.

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2. Je Suis a Toi, from Belgium (no trailer, sorry, bbs)

Je Suis a Toi is one of the films for which I’m tasked to write a formal review which will pop up on Photogénie at some point soon. An older gay baker buys a young Argentinean escort, who promptly falls in love with the female sales associate at the bakery. Love triangles are pretty passé at this point, but this is a good one. This is such a wonderful film about indulgences and sexuality and desires. It’s a bit genre-less, but ultimately a romance, but it plays on awkwardness and intersectionality in such an amazingly progressive way. It also takes place in a bakery most of the time, and it features a wonderful and diverse soundtrack with everything from operetta to electropunk.

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3. Leviathan, from Russia

Leviathan is a religious allegory—a modern take on the Story of Job set in present day Russia, practically Siberia. It’s long and immense, taking an intimate political story, and transplanting it into one of the world’s most unforgiving natural and social environments. It was thought-provoking and stunningly shot. It’s not the type of film I’m typically drawn to, but I felt so surprised and moved by it as a whole. This is Russia’s submission for Best Foreign Film.

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4. The Kindergarten Teacher, from Israel

This is one of the most disturbing films about art I’ve ever seen. A kindergarten teacher notices that one of her students is essentially some kind of poetic prodigy, pacing around at recess and reciting verse aloud. She makes it her goal in life to foster his talent, alienating the two of them from the rest of society. It’s an anti-Dead Poets Society. It’s the kind of teacher you don’t want alone with children. There’s no type of sexual abuse in it, but emotional, no doubt, and a blatant manipulation of childhood trust. Tough to watch, but also dazzling cinematography and musings on poetry, plagiarism, and educators.

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5. Une Nouvelle Amie, from France

This is a very campy and very melodramatic French film that may not be the best in quality but was one of the most entertaining films I saw from the competition selections. The death of a woman’s childhood best friend brings her closer to her friend’s widower than she can imagine. I want to say more, but this is a film with a ~twist~, and while I felt like knowing the twist would have made me more interested from the start, I don’t want to spoil anything. It plays out a bit like a soap opera, but it’s also very funny and heartbreaking in parts, with interesting commentary on sexuality and relationships. 

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6. Still The Water, from Japan

TEENS JUST WANNA FEEL FEELS. Two Japanese teenagers living on a small island village learn about death and love in what is maybe the worst/best summer of all time. I don’t know if it’s summer. It looked like summer. There’s a lot to say about the passage of time and it’s very long and poetic with very stylized romantic language, but it was one of the more visually stimulating films we saw. Its two teenage leads are very empathetic and strong performers.

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7. Reality, from France

A girl finds a mysterious videotape. A director promises to produce his best-received film yet. Another director screens a new feature film for a producer, and that film happens to be about the other director, as well as a girl with a videotape, as well as a—sound very confusing? It was very confusing. Sound like a movie that has Jon Heder in a rat suit? It was a movie with Jon Heder in a rat suit. Reality doesn’t necessarily make sense, but it almost doesn’t have to (emphasis on almost). Entertaining and funny and features Eric Wareheim in drag. I’ll take absurdist humor now and then, though I’m not sure if it’ll leave a very lasting impression.

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8. Violet, from Belgium

A group of young BMX riders mourn the loss of one of their own, led by the boy who was there for the death of his friend. It’s a simple story and a very simple film, essentially a series of very long uninterrupted shots portraying the complex nature of guilt for teenagers in particular. The whole thing felt like an audiovisual mural. I might not like dialogue-less films like this, but it was very moving to some others in the group.

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9. White God, from Hungary

This is an animal movie. This is a film about a girl’s mean dad (DADS SUCK became a fun thesis of a lot of these films in the bottom half of my list) who sets her dog free when it becomes a nuisance. From there, it follows the young girl as she roams the streets of town trying to find her dog, as well as the dog’s adventures (or misadventures, given most of them are wildly violent and involve fighting other dogs) with the city’s stray animals. Think Incredible Journey except a lot more maiming. This is Hungary’s official selection for Best Foreign Film.

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10. Jauja, from Argentina but predominantly in Danish

Viggo Mortensen stars as a Danish military officer whose daughter goes missing while he is on duty in Argentina (HASHTAG DADS SUCK). He wanders through the desert to find her. It’s like a Western, but a lot less people get shot and the whole thing looks like it was filmed through an Instagram filter. This is only as high as it is on the list because it has Viggo Mortensen doing what he does best: trolling through gorgeous landscapes on a horse while being dirty and sad. 

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11. Gente de Bien, from Colombia

A wealthy woman “adopts” her carpenter and his son, in hopes of making their lives easier by paying for them and providing better food and shelter during the Christmas season. Money can’t fix all problems, and being forced into an entirely new social class puts strain on the relationship between the two (HASHTAG DADS SUCK). This film was well-made and good, but doesn’t really add anything new to the whole “money can’t make us happy” argument.

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12. Waste Land, from Belgium

I’ve already lampooned this film on the internet enough in the past few days, essentially for being a MEAN COP W/ A HEART OF GOLD drama starring a Belgian actor named JEREMIE RENIER (I mean, seriously). A mean cop with a heart of gold explores a case that involves some kind of scary voodoo magic from Congo, all the while trying to appease his recently pregnant wife who just doesn’t get it (HASHTAG WIVES SUCK) and deal with his Alzheimer’s-ridden father who used to be abusive (HASHTAG DADS SUCK). The hero commits a sexual assault and faces no punishment for it beyond his own personal torment because, ugh, being a cop is hard. I give this points for the spooky edge it has in parts; I take away points for being like so many other films in its genre.

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13. Black Coal, Thin Ice, from China

Here we go again: a mean cop with a heart of gold explores one very disturbing case over five years. It was a wildly confusing film with twists and turns that didn’t make sense other than characters blatantly lying about some things. Here we go again: the hero commits a sexual assault and faces no punishment for it beyond his own personal torment because, ugh, being a cop is hard. This got points for being visually stimulating (with a lot of cool neon lights as well as winter landscapes); this lost points for being 45 minutes too long.

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14. Stratos, from Greece

Stratos is a hitman who’s been in the business for too long and now everything sucks (HASHTAG EVERYTHING SUCKS). There’s a mob family he doesn’t want to work for, there are some neighbors of his that he maintains a steady friendship with, there’s the brother of a criminal he “owes” who starts demanding money. Stratos has a lot on his plate and the dude is stressed out. There are a lot of crime movie tropes in this film which is almost two and a half hours long, and none of them felt new. The only points this film gets is that its mean-spirited with a heart of gold protagonist doesn’t sexually assault anyone. Congrats, I suppose. I’m sick of the antihero cop genre. I’m sick of the hitman genre. I have no interest in seeing another movie about a hitman unless the hitman is multiracial and/or a lesbian and/or literally anything beyond a sad dude. Call me then, but otherwise whatever. I like that noir is making a pretty significant comeback as a genre, but I’d like to see it feature someone beyond righteous but misguided men. 

therumpus:

I have been saying this for years.

Hi I wrote this and now it’s on the Film Fest Gent website. There are more reviews to come, very likely posted onto Photogénie, but I wanted to send this one along. We have one more competition film to see, and then I plan on spending tomorrow afternoon ranking the films in competition this year. I don’t think an actual verdict will be made until Tuesday or Wednesday of next week by an “official” jury but I’m a person with the internet, so I can publish my opinions whenever I want.

Reviews by other critics here: Leviathan, Jauja, Waste Land. More to follow, of course, of course.

Hi from Belgium! I have only been here a day and a half and I have already eaten more pastries than I’ve seen films and I’ve seen three films, so you do the math.

What are you always forgetting to pack?

Movies I watched: The Skeleton Twins (2014)

This felt like one of those films where the performances can save a script that is a little all over the place. I’m pretty surprised this has earned as many screenplay nods as it has. The dialogue is fantastic—no doubt—but the structure of the story is weak and somewhat contrived. The ending came together in three minutes, and that’s always frustrating no matter how good the acting is.

But let’s talk about the acting instead, because that’s why you should see this film. Hader and Wiig have always had such powerful chemistry together as actors and each is so deeply tragic and funny in their own right in this film. Both have potential to become really important dramatic actors. I will always maybe maintain that Bridesmaids is more of a drama than a comedy. Luke Wilson is also really, really great. Luke Wilson has always been the better Wilson brother. We know this, right? Despite issues with plot and pacing, this movie understands characters and people in an intensely profound way. I left the theater and really wanted to call my brother, which I think says a lot.

  • hot feather duster from Beauty & the Beast
  • myself as a Financial Responsible Adult
  • ??????????????????????????????????

A very cool up-and-coming lil band named Lucius played a pop-up show at work last night. Not only did they sound absolutely incredible doing an acoustic set to about 35 people in an ice cream shop, but they’re also nice and adorable and really really cute. I’ve been listening to them non-stop on Spotify since, and I highly recommend you do the same.

THIS FILM!

(via annetdonahue)

In June, I had a week (it was eight days, but who’s counting) called my Hell Week and everything terrible that could happen to me barring the death of a close relative happened. I got dumped. I had really bad job luck. I got the flu. I had the flu and also got a two and a half day migraine that landed me in urgent care. I spent a period of time where I basically cried on the train every single day. Then I moved back in with my parents for a week and lay on our family room floor. I kept saying, “what’s going to happen to me?” and playing with the puppy. I went back to my apartment and I scooped ice cream for the rest of the summer. I produced a sketch show. I did some standup. I (unsuccessfully) tried to meet new people. I dyed parts of my hair blonde. I learned how to ride a bike in the city. I didn’t go to the beach as much as I like telling people I did. I saw One Direction in concert. I stopped drinking alcohol. 
It’s the Jewish high holy days. Did you know this? Rosh Hashanah was last week, and Yom Kippur is tomorrow night. Having New Year’s in the fall always made so much more sense to me. Going from September into October is such a distinctive seasonal change. Going from December to January just sucks (although I will appreciate any and all New Year’s related holidays, so I’ll put up with it nonetheless). I’ve had an eventful high holy days this year—very much in the spirit of my Hell Week but the exact opposite. I found out I was accepted into a Young Critics Workshop through Film Fest Gent. That’s a vague sentence. Here’s a more specific one: I’m leaving in a week and a half to go to fking Belgium for two weeks to watch movies and write reviews of them. Then I got new glasses. Then I dyed my hair back all brown and dark and ~autumn-y~ and will sort of inhabit an old Fran that I previously called Dark Fran but I think this summer’s Fran was Dark Fran. I dyed my hair brown and then sweat through all of my clothes helping a friend move to a new apartment. I lay on a bed for a few seconds and this is the only picture of my brown hair (minus the gif, of course, at the beginning of this post). Anyway. And this morning—this morning!—I accepted a full time position in my field. We can talk about the job more later. I’m going to be a Creative Editor. I keep looking at those words and thinking, “yes! I am both of those things!” I’m gonna be a thing. I was always a thing but now I’m going to worry a little less about money and be able to do stuff with words and the internet. I am full time internet. The job is the accumulation of so many relationships and workplaces. I almost cannot even but trust that I can even. This job is happening because my boss from two internships ago sent me a link on a whim, and then my boss from three internships ago knew a person who knew a person. We all know people. 
I’m not quitting my ice cream job. Do you know how much free ice cream I eat these days? What’s most amazing about slowly telling people about this new job is that everyone wants to know if I’ll quit scooping ice cream. Jobs don’t define you. No, no, no, they certainly don’t, but they also do, a little bit, which is why we all get so sensitive. Part of me will always be inherently butter fat and cream and sugar. Part of me will be salty caramel. I’ll scoop two nights a week. There is nothing wrong with a little money here and there, especially if you like the people and eat ice cream. Nothing is certain, so you might as well take what you can get.
I’m going to up until two in the morning tonight writing a sketch for a show that’s going to happen while I’m in Belgium. I’ll write for your show, I said, but I’m going to be in Belgium when it happens. That’s fine, they said. I can’t complain about it. You start saying yes. You start applying for things. You call your mom and say, “I think I’m gonna try to go to Belgium,” and the response essentially becomes, “You have nothing to lose.” You reach out to people you know and you hope they have something good to say about you. “We’re proud of you every day, dumbass,” my mom told me on the phone yesterday, before I even knew about the job, before I even felt good. She just said it because I told her I had spent the day lifting furniture and drinking a milkshake. Pieces fall into place.

In June, I had a week (it was eight days, but who’s counting) called my Hell Week and everything terrible that could happen to me barring the death of a close relative happened. I got dumped. I had really bad job luck. I got the flu. I had the flu and also got a two and a half day migraine that landed me in urgent care. I spent a period of time where I basically cried on the train every single day. Then I moved back in with my parents for a week and lay on our family room floor. I kept saying, “what’s going to happen to me?” and playing with the puppy. I went back to my apartment and I scooped ice cream for the rest of the summer. I produced a sketch show. I did some standup. I (unsuccessfully) tried to meet new people. I dyed parts of my hair blonde. I learned how to ride a bike in the city. I didn’t go to the beach as much as I like telling people I did. I saw One Direction in concert. I stopped drinking alcohol. 

It’s the Jewish high holy days. Did you know this? Rosh Hashanah was last week, and Yom Kippur is tomorrow night. Having New Year’s in the fall always made so much more sense to me. Going from September into October is such a distinctive seasonal change. Going from December to January just sucks (although I will appreciate any and all New Year’s related holidays, so I’ll put up with it nonetheless). I’ve had an eventful high holy days this year—very much in the spirit of my Hell Week but the exact opposite. I found out I was accepted into a Young Critics Workshop through Film Fest Gent. That’s a vague sentence. Here’s a more specific one: I’m leaving in a week and a half to go to fking Belgium for two weeks to watch movies and write reviews of them. Then I got new glasses. Then I dyed my hair back all brown and dark and ~autumn-y~ and will sort of inhabit an old Fran that I previously called Dark Fran but I think this summer’s Fran was Dark Fran. I dyed my hair brown and then sweat through all of my clothes helping a friend move to a new apartment. I lay on a bed for a few seconds and this is the only picture of my brown hair (minus the gif, of course, at the beginning of this post). Anyway. And this morning—this morning!—I accepted a full time position in my field. We can talk about the job more later. I’m going to be a Creative Editor. I keep looking at those words and thinking, “yes! I am both of those things!” I’m gonna be a thing. I was always a thing but now I’m going to worry a little less about money and be able to do stuff with words and the internet. I am full time internet. The job is the accumulation of so many relationships and workplaces. I almost cannot even but trust that I can even. This job is happening because my boss from two internships ago sent me a link on a whim, and then my boss from three internships ago knew a person who knew a person. We all know people. 

I’m not quitting my ice cream job. Do you know how much free ice cream I eat these days? What’s most amazing about slowly telling people about this new job is that everyone wants to know if I’ll quit scooping ice cream. Jobs don’t define you. No, no, no, they certainly don’t, but they also do, a little bit, which is why we all get so sensitive. Part of me will always be inherently butter fat and cream and sugar. Part of me will be salty caramel. I’ll scoop two nights a week. There is nothing wrong with a little money here and there, especially if you like the people and eat ice cream. Nothing is certain, so you might as well take what you can get.

I’m going to up until two in the morning tonight writing a sketch for a show that’s going to happen while I’m in Belgium. I’ll write for your show, I said, but I’m going to be in Belgium when it happens. That’s fine, they said. I can’t complain about it. You start saying yes. You start applying for things. You call your mom and say, “I think I’m gonna try to go to Belgium,” and the response essentially becomes, “You have nothing to lose.” You reach out to people you know and you hope they have something good to say about you. “We’re proud of you every day, dumbass,” my mom told me on the phone yesterday, before I even knew about the job, before I even felt good. She just said it because I told her I had spent the day lifting furniture and drinking a milkshake. Pieces fall into place.

Asker wryan Asks:
"I am attracted to more 20 year old comedians than I know what to do with!" FRAN do you know how BAD that is for you.
itsfrantastic itsfrantastic Said:

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Have you ever played the "How Much Money Would You Go Down on a Guy For?" game? Well, for those of you who don’t know what the game is…

I am attracted to more 20 year old comedians than I know what to do with!

I ragged on that Potato Salad kickstarter like none other on social media because I thought it was the world’s dumbest shit. I still can’t believe those guys got something like $80,000 for potato salad. Stupid! The internet is so stupid. I’m still ragging on it, I guess. I built a whole stand-up set about kickstarter. It’s silly, but so is giving away all your money all the time. I basically ragged on it publicly until I found out I knew one of the dudes. He’s a sort-of friend, mostly former colleague, but he’s a good dude and a funny dude, and then I felt a little bad that a gchat joke made him my public enemy number one.

Anyway, those guys raised ten billion dollars just to make potato salad and no one ever heard anything about it ever again. Do you know what they’re doing with the money? They’re having a huge food festival in Columbus, Ohio. I love this. I actually really love it. There’s going to be food and music and cooking competitions and the money is all going to charity and Local Matters (which is a great organization). This is good. This is important. This is a dumb thing that the whole internet gave their money to and now something legitimately great is going to happen with it and I wanted to tell you guys because this all feels important and good.

On stand-up:

"Whatever it is that you’re dealing with, having an art that forces you to talk about it… We’ve conditioned ourselves to speak truly."

"It’s a lifesaver."

I wish I could have listened to this two-hour episode in lieu of potentially all of the sex education I received in high school. Which is not to say that there’s anything useful about basic human anatomy or anything like that, but man, you want a frank and icky and hilarious conversation about sex and sexuality from a queer woman and a straight man? It’s amazing. And it’s so funny and so gross and so great.

Are you following Cameron Esposito’s career? Are you reading her outstanding AV Club column? Go do that. Your weekend can wait.