Movie Review: Lilja 4-ever (2002)

Hello there, friends. This is it. The final post.

Got ya there, didn’t I? But in all seriousness, this is the last Summer of the Swedes post I’m doing. I know I didn’t do many posts for this series of mine, but I didn’t intend for it to be an intense deep dive into my country’s filmography, just a bit of motivation to watch a few more films from it than usual. So my mad ramblings will go back to the usual versatility after this. So yeah. Here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Lilja 4-ever”.

16-year old Lilja (Oksana Akinsjina) doesn’t have a great life. Often neglected by her parents, scraping by in life, she finds herself dreaming of a better life somewhere far away from her home in Russia. This movie has a story that seldom lets up when it comes to its drama, it’s a profoundly depressing experience that absolutely haunted my soul for several hours after watching it. Even in some of the light moments where there’s joy on Lilja’s face, there is this underlying sadness to the situation, you know that even though there is this fleeting moment of joy, that is exactly what it is… fleeting. It’s a really well told story that I found utterly compelling, giving us a nuanced look at this young girl’s life… but man, it’s also incredibly sad.

The characters in this don’t really feel like characters, they feel grounded and very real. Oksana Akinsjina plays Lilja, the titular girl. She’s a very complex individual, showing off a ton of realistic nuance that is seldom seen in film And Akinsjina is fantastic in the role. Then we have Artiom Bogutjarskij as Volodya, a young boy who is one of Lilja’s only true friends. Devoted, a little sassy, and clearly crushing on her, he’s an interesting foil for the narrative that helps ground Lilja a bit more, giving her a bit of an anchor when things escalate around her. And Bogutjarskij is really good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Elina Benenson, Pavel Ponomarjov, Lilija Sjinkarjova, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Nathan Larson, and it was good. It’s not very showy, going for a more low-key subtle string-based thing to create drama and emotion, which I think works pretty well. There were also some licensed music for a few scenes. And while I wouldn’t listen to those tracks in my own time, I think they work well enough in their respective scenes, fitting the narrative being told in those moments.

“Lilja 4-ever” was written and directed by Lukas Moodysson, who I think did a fantastic job. His direction has a very fly on the wall kinda of approach, never feeling flashy (bar one weird zoom early on in the film), therefore immersing me even more in the drama. Combine this with the dirty neighborhood we spend so much time in, and you get a world that feels very lived in. It all comes together into one hell of an engrossing and real-feeling experience.

This film has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 84% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 82/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.8/10.

“Lilja 4-ever” is a really depressing drama that I highly recommend. It has a great story, good characters, fantastic performances, good music, and fantastic directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Lilja 4-ever” is a 9,57/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Lilja 4-ever” is now completed.

I highly recommend bringing a pet or a loved one. Not because it’s a good date movie, but because you might need someone to hug when your heart gets crushed.

Movie Review: The Road (2009)

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On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again…

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Road”.

The world has gone to shit. Everything has turned into a fucking wasteland. And in this horrible place we follow a man (Viggo Mortensen) and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) as they wander around, trying to survive as well as make it to the coast. And that’s it. No bigger conspiracy, no trying to figure out a way to fix the country, no zombies… just a man and his son trying to survive. That said, it’s still a very layered and interesting plot. Sure, the basic premise is very simple, but there’s still a lot of suspense and drama throughout the runtime that makes for an absolutely enthralling plot.

The characters in this movie are flawed, damaged, and really interesting. Viggo Mortensen is fantastic as the father, playing him as this stubborn and suspecting man that is very protective of his son. Kodi Smit-McPhee was great as the son, perfectly playing this vulnerable, curious, and kind of naïve little boy. We also get Charlize Theron in a bunch of flashbacks throughout the movie, and she is great in those scenes. Also, don’t be fooled by the big name actors whose names appear on the posters, they all appear in the movie very briefly. Sure, they all do a great job in the movie, but none of them are in it particularly long. That said, it was pretty cool seeing people like Robert Duvall, Garret Dillahunt, Guy Pearce, and Michael Kenneth Williams in here.

The score for the movie was composed by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis and fuck me, it is fantastic! There was never any doubt about to be honest, but it’s always fun to be right. It’s dramatic, haunting, emotional, tense, and just overall very well composed. It really fit this movie perfectly.

This movie was directed by John Hillcoat and I think that he did a great job with it. His directing is deliberately slow-paced and perfectly captures the feeling of the source material. That’s right, for those that didn’t already know… this is an adaptation of a book. It’s based on “The Road” (surprising, I know), which was written by American author Cormac McCarthy. And as someone that has read the book, I can safely say that the world I got in my head when reading the book got perfectly translated to the screen. The directing, cinematography, the feeling of unease… all of those things are present in this movie. I also want to mention that there is some slightly disturbing imagery in this movie… just so you know.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 75% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

“The Road” is not only a great adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel, but it’s also an overall terrific movie. It features a great plot, good characters, great performances, fantastic music, great directing, and great cinematography. Time for my final score. *Cough*. My final score for “The Road” is a 9,88/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
seal-of-approval

My review of “The Road” is now completed.

Yep, this movie is as depressing as the book… greeeaaat.

 

My Favorite Scenes: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – Hoist the Colors

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening and good night to you people of the world! I am here to share with you another one of my favorite scenes from a movie. And what is it this time? Well this time it is the opening scene from “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”. First I will give my quick thoughts on the movie; It is entertaining, it is worth watching if you enjoyed the first two. Now to the scene itself. It is dark, haunting and just great. Probably the best scene in the entire movie (if you ask me). You have the British people hanging people who have taken part in piracy. Not only is the cinematography great, but the mood is jsut dark and depressing, which I like. But the scene truly becomes geat and even powerful when that little kid who is about to get hung starts singing the song “Hoist the Colors”. It really helps set the mood perfectly. And then when all the people joins in it just gets amazing… and then ends in a mass hanging. I simply love this scene and think it is worth sharing because of it’s sheer impact on me.
Enjoy!

Movie Review: Joe (2013)

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For a few years now, movies that have featured Nicolas Cage have been…less than stellar. But you don’t need me to tell you that! Not with movies like “The Wicker Man” and “Stolen”. But the reason I was able to watch them was because of this great guy. He just makes them a hell of a lot more amusing and entertaining. He is also a weird fucking guy. Did you know he ate a live cockroach in a scene in “Vampire’s Kiss”? Seriously, Cage! Ew! But back to the actual topic…a movie featuring Mister Cage in a movie that have gotten people saying he is back in the saddle again. Well, let’s see if this reviewer rides along or just want to kill himself with laughter.

Joes and…Jos…”Joe”.

The movie follows 15-year old guy Gary (Tye Sheridan) who is looking to get something out of life…mainly a job so he can make money for his family. So he goes to ex-con Joe (Nicolas Cage) who does forest work. And what that forest work is, that is pretty interesting. They poison old weak trees and cut them down to get place for new healthy trees to be planted there. So Joe hires this kid he has never seen before. And they bond, kind of like father & son. But what gets in the way of that sometimes is Gary’s father Wade (Gary Poulter, R.I.P). There is also this rapey douchebag known as Willie-Russell (Ronnie Gene Blevins) who wants to kind of,,,rape Gary’s mother and sister. And he gets his ass kicked early on in the movie by Gary and Joe…at different points. Another vital point to mention about this movie is how Joe got a lot of built in rage, and when that rage gets released…shit gets real. And throughout the movie a lot of dark and disturbing shit happens. So based on the sort of basic story of the movie, it got a lot of similarities to “Mud”. Not only in the story, but also the irony how the story combined with Tye Sheridan playing the main kid in both movies make them similar. I guess you could say that this is a more dark and disturbing version of “Mud”. The difference however (except for the obvious one of Cage-McConaughey) is that “Mud” got a little more of a focused story. I mean, this movie feels like it’s everywhere it feels like. “Mud” had more of a progressive story…and you noticed that. But in “Joe”…not so much. But overall…pretty good…maybe a little disturbing.

The characters are dark and honestly a bit depressing. The only one I don’t wanna punch in the face is honestly Joe since he is a sincere, kind and just cool guy. I also don’t wanna punch Gary. Why? Because he does everything he do for his family to help out, but his abusive/alcoholic dad is in teh damn way all the time. But the characters like I said…dark, a little depressing…and what I did not mention, layered. They have many layers of their personalities and that is what makes them more complex and watchable than expected. Godo job actors and writer!

The music is like the movie…Dark and Disturbing. And that is what makes it so good. It is a mix of this sort of…southern state style…but also the bone-chilling style that you heard in “Requiem For a Dream”. So in general…the music is really good.

I usually say “something fun about this” in this section…but this time it is not fun. It’s just depressing. The guy who plays the alcoholic father, Gary Poulter played fantastically. And while that sounds all fine and dandy, it’s not. In the movie he plays this alcoholic with a piece of crap home. In real life, he is an alcoholic homeless man. That’s right, director David Gordon Green pulled a homeless man of the streets to play a character that was a more dark version of himself…and he did great. The sad thing is that a few months after they were done filming the movie, he was found dead on the side of the road, in a shallow body of water. Depressed yet? Good. Now to mention something more amusing…Nicolas Cage legitimately picks up a poisonous snake in the movie.  Not kidding, watch the thumbnail for this review. Fun fact: Nicolas Cage likes dangerous snakes, they are apparently his friends…I told you he’s fucking weird. Also, this movie looks stunning…not kidding.

Reception for “Joe” was generally good. Rotten Tomatoes currently holds the highest overall score for this with an 83% rating and certified it “Fresh”. Metacritic gave this movie a 73/100 rating (at the time of this review). And since Roger Ebert had passed away about five months before the release of this movie, he has no review for it. But some other dude on his site has a review for it.
imdb.com currently holds the rating of 7,2/10.

So now I have given my opinions on different aspects of “Joe” and I’m ready to give it a score. I am giving this movie the score of 8,94/10. This movie is worth a buy whenever the hell it comes out. It also contains the best best performance I have ever seen from Nicolas Cage. Reason the score is under 9/10 or even 10/10 is because of how dark and disturbing it is at times.

“Joe” is now reviewed.

Rest in peace Gary Poulter…you did a great job in this movie.