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The Playlist

Review: 'Easy Money: Hard To Kill' Starring Joel Kinnaman Is A Worthy If Not Hugely Inventive Sequel

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 13, 2014 6:06 PM
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Easy Money: Hard To Kill
We, like a large portion of the rest of the world, really enjoyed the first “Snabba Cash”—retitled in English to the less-memorable “Easy Money”—director Daniel Espinosa’s pulsating Swedish crime film that launched both him and soon-to-be “Robocop” Joel Kinnaman onto our radars. We complimented that film on its “tenacious, shark-like energy” and were cautiously optimistic when its international success warranted a sequel. “Easy Money: Hard To Kill” sees Kinnaman and many members of the original cast return, but this time with Babak Najafi in the director’s chair instead of Espinosa. The result is a film that does honor to its predecessor by expanding the narrative universe a small degree, but never quite managing to pull a “Godfather II” on it. Still, it’s a sequel that, over a tighter running time, kicks against the law of diminishing returns, and only succumbs to it after a fight.

Göteborg Review: Joanna Hogg’s ‘Exhibition’ Intrigues But Ultimately Alienates

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 6, 2014 7:06 PM
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It’s one of movieland’s minor mysteries that “Exhibition,” the third feature from British director Joanna Hogg, is the first to have been snapped up immediately for U.S. distribution: it is by some distance her least accessible movie, and features the smallest, cameo-level role from Tom Hiddleston, the bona-fide star whom Hogg is credited with discovering. And we can’t help but think it’s a shame, as her previous two films “Unrelated” and “Archipelago” are brilliantly chilly, incisive surgeries performed on the living patient that is the middle class British family, that are in themselves extremely uncompromising in terms of focus and ambivalence. But in “Exhibition” she narrows that focus so drastically that it feels like we’re at maximum zoom, looking more intently at the space between things, than the things themselves. It’s a very brave and unapologetically cerebral approach to have taken, but it often feels like there’s just too little there, too few life rings thrown to the average, non-art-student viewer, to keep us engaged.

Interview: Director Joanna Hogg On 'Exhibition,' Tom Hiddleston And The Challenges Of Staying “Indie”

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 5, 2014 7:07 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Since her debut with 2007’s “Unrelated,” which is also regarded as the breakout for a certain Tom Hiddleston, British director Joanna Hogg has been quietly making a name for herself as a filmmaker of very distinctive and original style. Her third feature, “Exhibition,” which played at the Göteborg International Film Festival last week, sees her break somewhat with the previous two, both of which dealt more overtly with an analysis of the British middle-class family, to tell instead the story of a married, childless artist couple, H and D, who decide to move from their beloved, modernist home of 18 years. We had the pleasure of meeting Hogg in Göteborg, and having her talk us through “Exhibition” (which will be released stateside in March), and her creative outlook and process in general.

Interview: Director David Mackenzie On The Cast And The Process Behind 'Starred Up' Plus Upcoming Projects

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 4, 2014 4:28 PM
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David Mackenzie, Starred Up
One of the highlights of the Göteborg International Film Festival, and indeed one of the highlights of our year so far, was catching up with David Mackenzie’s “Starred Up," which, if you missed our review first time out, you can read all about here. The unflinching but brutally human prison drama is based on a script by first-timer Jonathan Asser, a writer and poet by whose experiences inspired the film and the character of Oliver, the posh but dedicated volunteer inmate counselor.

Terry Gilliam: My Life In 8 Movies

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 4, 2014 3:27 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Kicking off what may be a semi-regular series, the wonderful Terry Gilliam proved totally game for the challenge when we found we had a few minutes to spare at the end of our interview at the Göteborg International Film Festival (you can find the rest of it here). Essentially, the idea is that while we're interested in our favorite filmmakers’ films, we’re also interested in what they’re interested in, and we hope you might be too.

Interview: Writer & Director Steven Knight On 'Locke,' Tom Hardy & Future Projects Including 'Eastern Promises 2'

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 3, 2014 3:25 PM
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  • 2 Comments
 Steven Knight On "Locke," Tom Hardy,
One of the chief pleasures of the Göteborg International Film Festival, aside from the charming Swedishness of it all (particularly fond of the helper whose novel take on the “switch off your f*cking phone” message was to implore us not to forget to turn our phones “back on, the second you leave”), is the quality time we get to spend with our interview subjects. One of or most enjoyable meetings this time out was with screenwriter Steven Knight, whose fascinating sophomore directorial outing “Locke,” (our review from Venice is here) played the festival. Here are the fruits of our wide-ranging conversation with the “Eastern Promises,” “Dirty Pretty Things” and “Peaky Blinders” writer (who also—random trivia—devised and originally pitched “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”), including his thoughts on writing for TV vs. film, his crowded upcoming slate and lots about “Locke” ...so we should probably give a little background.

Interview: Terry Gilliam On Rewriting 'Don Quixote,' His Role In 'Jupiter Ascending' & Lacking Diplomacy

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 3, 2014 2:49 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Terry Gilliam, Zero Theorem
Terry Gilliam is fast becoming one of our favorite interviewees, so in general we take every opportunity we can to talk to him. Just after its Venice premiere, we had a long chat about his new film and at-least-partial return to form, “The Zero Theorem,” and then early last month we talked again in Marrakech. Which meant that during our time with him at the Göteborg International Film Festival this week, we found ourselves in the unusually luxurious position of having time to talk about other things, cabbages and kings.

Göteborg Review: Star-Studded 'Trespassing Bergman' An Irreverent, Warmhearted Doc About Ingmar Bergman's Legacy

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 2, 2014 9:35 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Trespassing Bergman Ridley Scott
As much as we’re diehard devotees to the work of Ingmar Bergman, occasionally the sombre reverence in which he’s held can make the prospect of participating in the critical narrative that surrounds his astonishing filmography feel about as much fun as, well, playing chess with Death. But “Trespassing Bergman,” the documentary from Jane Magnusson and Hynek Pallas that showed at the Göteborg International Film Festival last week, is anything but stuffy: while its initial premise (inviting a select group of filmmakers to visit Bergman’s house on the remote Swedish island of Fårö) might seem couched in that quasi-mystical reverence that shrouds Bergman’s posthumous reputation, the film quickly manages to blow those cobwebs away and instead turns into a fleet-footed, fascinating, and occasionally very funny look at the director’s influence.

Göteborg Review: Venice Winner ‘Class Enemy’ A Lean, Absorbing Parable Of Authoritarianism & Rebellion

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • January 31, 2014 5:25 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Class Enemy
While we could wish it had a less punny title, “Class Enemy,” the debut feature film from Slovenian shorts filmmaker Rok Bicek is in almost every other way exemplary. Unashamedly cerebral, the film’s cool intelligence shows most in its control and formal rigor that encourage the audience—whose sympathies are expertly maneuvered to lie first on one side, then on the other, and then possibly nowhere at all—to read the story on levels above and beyond what is shown on screen. So while the film itself is extremely contained, almost to the point of claustrophobia, its scope feels large, epic almost, as we are provoked to think about what it means if we substitute the characters for what they might perhaps represent. And while it occasionally flirts with a kind of psychodramatic horror, Haneke-style, mostly it’s a master class in narrative restraint, that still somehow grips your attention like a progressively tightening vice. But perhaps its greatest achievement is in how the film’s own detached moral ambivalence is preserved right to the end, meaning the judgements are left to us. It is not a blackhearted film; its heart, if it has one, is made of cold steel.

Göteborg Review: Iceland’s ‘Of Horses And Men’ An Appealing, Droll Comedy Of Human-Equine Manners

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • January 30, 2014 6:39 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Of Horses And Men
While we’re leery of the kind of cultural stereotyping that might lead us to infer that Iceland’s greatest natural resource is quirk, hand drilled by Bjork and Jonsi from the country’s plentiful quirkmines, it’s a reputation that their submission for the Foreign Language Film Oscar doesn’t contradict… and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Of Horses and Men,” written and directed by actor-turned-director Benedikt Erlingsson is a gently off-kilter ensemble movie set in an isolated Icelandic community that, even by the standards of this faraway island, feels removed in geography, and almost in period too; while it’s set in contemporary times, the environment feels untouched or simply uninterested by the trappings of modern life, or the context of Iceland’s current economic troubles.

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