Movie Review: Adult Behavior (1999)

Hi there friends. Recently on twitter I announced that I would do a little series called “Summer of the Swedes”, in which I would take a good chunk of my summer to cover more movies from my home country of Sweden on here. I’m not the most well versed in my own country’s output, so I think this little series of mine could be a good way to experience more of it. So let’s get into the first review in this series!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Adult Behavior” (Original title: Vuxna Människor).

Frank (Felix Herngren) works for a respected law firm and lives an alright life with his wife (Karin Bjurström). However, he is also very bored with his life, often drifting off into sexually charged fantasies about most women that he sees. This soon leads into Frank cheating on his wife with a young art student (Källa Bie). However, Frank isn’t the only one in a precarious spot, as those around him also have complications of their own to navigate. “Adult Behavior” has an interesting setup, and even has some interesting things to say about its situations and characters at times. But as a whole, the plot does disappoint slightly. At first it really seems like it will explore its themes and characters in-depth, but never quite goes as far as they probably could. They also have a trouble with tone, sometimes it’s more on the lighthearted side of things, and sometimes it’s quite serious, but there’s no natural transition between the two to justify the sudden switches. This isn’t saying that there aren’t things to appreciate in the storytelling, just that it could’ve used a few more tweaks. But as for what we got, it’s okay.

The characters in this are flawed, somewhat layered, and pretty entertaining. Felix Herngren plays Frank, our main character. He’s a somewhat immature, very horny man. I think he’s probably the most interesting one in the cast since we get to see right into his mind as he drifts off at several points throughout. And Herngren is really good in the role. The rest of the cast, consisting of people like Karin Bjurström, Källa Bie, Mikael Persbrandt, Cecilia Ljung, and more, all portray pretty interesting character, and all give good performances.

The music for the movie was composed by Matti Bye, and it was alright. It’s a little different than other film scores I’ve heard, going for a mildly psychedelic pop-rock vibe that adds a weird and unique edge to the movie. The movie also uses the song “Happy Together” by The Turtles, and I think the usage of it is pretty clever.

“Adult Behavior” was written by Fredrik Lindström, with direction by Lindström and Felix Herngren. And I think they generally did a good job with that stuff. They have really good control of camera and blocking, giving us some visually interesting scenes. There’s also some fun editing going on here, mainly in the scenes switching between the real world and Frank’s filthy thoughts. And since the movie’s a comedy, how is the humor in this? It’s alright. There’s some really funny jokes, but there’s also a bunch that don’t really land, because there’s little to no punchline in them. Really, on that fron it’s kind of a mixed bag.

On Rotten Tomatoes it exists, but has no rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,1/10.

“Adult Behavior” is a mixed bag of a movie. It has an underdeveloped (but overall okay) plot, good characters, great performances, pretty good music, good directing/editing, and mixed comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Adult Behavior” is a 6,25/10. So while heavily flawed, it can still be worth a rental.

My review of “Adult Behavior” is now completed.

Look forward to more Swedish flicks being discussed this summer.

Movie Review: Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)

Between this and “Sexy Beast”, I seem to be finding myself reviewing a bunch of movies with at-first-glance strange titles that implies something… not very family-friendly (avert thine eyes and minds, nuns and children). But I promise, there’s an actual movie here.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Sex, Lies, and Videotape”.

Ann (Andie MacDowell) and John (Peter Gallagher) live a quiet and seemingly decent life. However, due to Ann’s disinterest in sex, John has resorted to cheating on Ann with her sister (Laura San Giacomo), which has become an unfortunate status quo. But one day when John’s old friend Graham (James Spader) shows up in town, things start to change. “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” deals with sexuality (well, duh), both active and repressed, and how that affects the relationships between the characters. And I must say, I thought it was very well handled here. It’s a slowly burning, mature, and nuanced take on those themes that mesmerizes from start to end thanks to the strong writing (and a few other elements, which we’ll get to later, but I digress).

The characters in this are flawed, unique, and overall quite fascinating. Andie MacDowell plays Ann, a sexually repressed, slightly neurotic woman. She is a pretty layered character unlike any I’ve followed before, and MacDowell was great in the role. Peter Gallagher is really good as the charismatic, yet slimy John. Laura San Giacomo was great as Ann’s sister, Cynthia. And then we have James Spader as the somewhat mysterious Graham. I won’t go too deep on him, because I think some of his quirks and such are better left experienced rather than told. But I can say that he’s quite fascinating, and Spader is great in the role.

The score for the movie was composed by Cliff Martinez, and it was great. Generally it wasn’t very melodic, going for a more atmospheric, droning sound. But it worked fantastically within the movie, adding another layer of emotion to proceedings, making for a much more engrossing experience.

“Sex, Lies, and Videotape” was the feature film debut of American filmmaker Steven Soderbergh. He both wrote and directed the movie, and I think he did a phenomenal job. And I’m not just saying this in comparison to other debuts, but also as a comparison to filmmakers with more experience. The amount of clever camerawork and directing techniques here is insane, and all of them serve the storytelling beautifully. The dude showed skill beyond his years with this.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 86/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,2/10. The movie was nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best original screenplay.

“Sex, Lies, and Videotape” is an excellent little drama that wonderfully explores the lives of our characters. It has a great plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” is a 9,87/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” is now completed.

How in the hell is this a debut? Did Soderbergh sell his soul to the devil or something?

Movie Review: Hope Springs (2012)

Marriage. A bond between a man and a woman. Or a man and a man. Or a woman and a woman. The point I’m trying to make is that it’s a bond, connecting to people (sometimes out of love, sometimes because of horrible shit) in a more powerful way. But even the happiest of marriages can show cracks, especially after a really long time. Let’s explore that.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Hope Springs”.

Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) have been married for a long time. And while they have a nice and easy daily routine, Kay feels like their marriage has gotten a bit stale. So she books tickets for them to go to intensive couples therapy to see if she can’t fix their situation a bit. Stories about sexless marriages isn’t anything new, and the plot here doesn’t do anything new or totally unpredictable. Overall I’d call it… fine. It’s breezy and enjoyable enough, with only a few moments of melodrama that sometimes work and sometimes don’t. It’s a harmless enough plot that I’d call fine.

The characters in this aren’t the deepest, but I also don’t hate them. They’re fine. Meryl Streep plays Kay, the one of the two who gets the plot started, the one that feels like something’s off about the marriage. She loves her husband, but she wants things to be less… dry. She easily gets emotional, and it’s a bit hit or miss for me throughout. But I can safely say that Meryl Streep is great. Tommy Lee Jones plays Arnold, the Tommy Lee Jones-ian grouch who seems to be perfectly fine with the dry and sexless marriage that he’s part of. And it’s interesting to see him get some decent character development here. And Jones is really good in the role. Then we have Steve Carell as Doctor Feld, the therapist that Kay and Arnold see during their little vacation. You can tell that he’s actually interested in what’s going on, and he seems like he genuinely likes helping people. He mainly serves as a plot device to get the Kay’s and Arnold’s plot moving forward, but he’s also an enjoyable presence. And Carell is really good in the role.

The score for the movie was composed by Theodore Shapiro and it was fine… I think. I almost never really noticed it. I could at times kind of hear it, but those tracks felt more like fodder rather than any actual mood-setter. Then there’s also a bunch of licensed tracks used throughout and I have mixed feelings. While the songs themselves were pretty good, the way they were used was a bit… sledgehammer-y. Like they used songs “appropriate to the situation”, meaning lyrics exactly explaining what was going on with the characters, things we could’ve picked up on without the “YOU HEAR THIS SHIT, WE SO CLEVER!” use of music. So the music in this movie overall is… fine.

This movie was directed by David Frankel, and he did a pretty good job. Like I said about the plot, it’s quite fun and breezy, and there’s no shot that lingers too long. And the camerawork in general is fine. There are also some jokes here that are fine. I never laughed out loud, but there were a bunch of chuckles throughout.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 75% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,3/10.

While “Hope Springs” is far from a great movie, it’s still an enjoyable enough little romcom. It has an okay plot, okay characters, really good performances, okay music, good directing, and okay comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Hope Springs” is a 6,23/10. While very flawed, it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “Hope Springs” is now completed.

Seen better, seen worse.