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The Playlist

Interview: Ralph Fiennes On 'The Invisible Woman,' Working With Wes Anderson & Awards Season Pitfalls

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • January 30, 2014 4:36 PM
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  • 1 Comment
The Invisible Woman Ralph Fiennes
In town to accept an honorary Dragon Award from the Göteborg International Film Festival (which seriously has the coolest mascot, I mean, Lions, and Leopards and Bears, oh my, but Dragons), actor, director and Dark Lord Ralph Fiennes also presented his latest directorial offering “The Invisible Woman.” And strangely, I found much the same thing happening that occurred with his debut “Coriolanus,” in that I’d been excited for it in advance, then heard mixed reports which dampened my enthusiasm somewhat, only to like it a great deal when I finally did see it.

Göteborg Review: Cambodian Foreign-Language Oscar Nominee And Cannes Winner 'The Missing Picture'

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • January 28, 2014 7:01 PM
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  • 1 Comment
The Missing Picture
Part documentary, part autobiographical art experiment and part defiant act of memorialization, it’s easy to see why Cambodian film “The Missing Picture,” which screens at the Göteborg International Film Festival this week, now occupies an Oscar nomination slot for Best Foreign Language Film (as we’d tipped it might). The combination of its novel, hand-crafted approach with a story that on the wide-angle level awakens the sleeping horror of an unforgivably underreported genocide, and on the personal level reads as a rending, piercing cri de coeur, is undeniably powerful and provocative, and brought the film the top prize from the Un Certain Regard sidebar in Cannes.

Göteborg Review: Alejandro Jodorowsky 'The Dance Of Reality' Is An Inventive, Surreal Meta-Memoir

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • January 28, 2014 6:09 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The Dance Of Reality
We’ll confess to just the tiniest amount of trepidation as we hovered on the threshold of the theater screening Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “The Dance of Reality” at the Göteborg International Film Festival. It had been 23 years since Jodorowsky last released a film, the compromised, and subsequently disowned Peter O’Toole-starrer “The Rainbow Thief,” and about 23 hours since we’d fallen for Jodo all over again during our viewing of the joyously entertaining “Jodorowsky’s Dune” (review here). What to expect from this ringmaster of the bizarre, now in his mid-eighties? How might the intervening decades of knockbacks and disappointments have rusted or warped the skills of an already pretty warped filmmaker? We needn’t have worried.

Göteborg Review: 'Starred Up' Is An Instant Classic Of The Prison Movie Genre

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • January 28, 2014 12:02 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Starred Up
What a glorious, freezing, snowy Swedish Monday at the Göteborg International Film Festival it was, because, for a non-Sundance attendee like me, it yielded the first truly great film of 2014. “Starred Up” (which, OK fine, actually premiered at Telluride last year) is an instant classic of the prison movie genre, that makes a bona fide breakthrough star of its lead Jack O’Connell (best known for British TV series “Skins”), while propelling director David Mackenzie’s previously solid career (which included highlights “Hallam Foe” and “Young Adam”) straight to Boss level in one fell swoop.

Göteborg Review: 'The Strange Little Cat' A Lovely, Baffling, Totally Subjective Experience

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • January 27, 2014 6:06 PM
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  • 1 Comment
The Strange Little Cat
If ever there were a case of a film being a reflecting pool of the viewer's understanding, rather than a monolithic piece of work that we can either get wrong or right in terms of its author's intentions, "The Strange Little Cat," which plays this week during the Göteborg International Film Festival, is it. This we know, having idly followed the film's progress from its under-the-radar premiere in Berlin last year, through its Cannes bow in the equivalent of an off-off-Broadway sidebar, ultimately to a couple of end-of-year lists (especially those dedicated to films without a distribution deal). Over those months, quiet, impressive notices have collected around the film's reputation; the warmth of the praise only equalled by the complete, almost comical, disparity of the interpretation. Critics unanimously admire it, but have wildly different ideas of what "it" is.

Goteborg Review: 'Jodorowsky's Dune' A Wildly Entertaining Look At The Most Ambitious Film Never Made

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • January 27, 2014 5:00 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Jodorowsky's Dune
"How the hell did this not happen?" is the question that trembled in our brain after we watched Frank Pavich's riotous yet loving and meticulous documentary about one of cinema's greatest what-if stories: the white whale that is Alejandro Jodorowsky's version of Frank Herbert's sine qua non sci-fi classic "Dune." It's pretty much the converse of the question we were asking on the way in to our Goteborg Film Festival screening: "Who in hell ever thought this movie had a chance?" After all, the gonzo director behind such uncategorizable psychedelic mindfucks as "El Topo" and "The Holy Mountain" tackling a canonical, beloved bestseller that is not only immensely story-driven but a sprawling, intricate narrative epic at that, seems at best a perilous fit. But this was the '70s and they did things differently back then. And based on the evidence of the interview snippets of Jodorowsky himself...well, let's just say this irrepressibly, infectiously impish character could sell sand to Saharans, ice to Eskimos and braggadocio to bloggers.

Göteborg Interview: Director Volker Schlöndorff On ‘Calm At Sea,’ His Greatest Cinematic Failure & 'The Master'

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 9, 2013 12:55 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Presenting his new film “Calm at Sea” (reviewed here) in the Bio Roy Theater during the Göteborg International Film Festival last week, director Volker Schlöndorff said, in mock-pique, “It’s so great to be in this wonderful theatre, named after Sweden’s great filmmaker Roy Andersson. I‘m still waiting for my hometown to put up a theater in my name.” And perhaps given the level of esteem in which he is held, especially in his home country, the idea of one day catching a 2.30 showing at The Volker is not so farfetched. But of course Schlondorff’s career has hardly been plain sailing, with his towering achievement, the oddly compelling, uncanny adaptation of Günter Grass' “The Tin Drum” rather overshadowing the films that came before and after, especially having been crowned with an Oscar and the Palme d’Or.

Göteborg Interview: Tobias Lindholm On 'A Hijacking,' 'The Hunt,' The Psychology Of European Cinema & More

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 9, 2013 12:07 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Director of the hotly buzzed “A Hijacking” (our glowing review here) that has been doing the festival rounds since Venice last year, Tobias Lindholm is, in his own words, about to “close up the circus and start working on the next thing.” But with his two breakthrough film projects “The Hunt,” which he co-wrote with director Thomas Vinterberg, and “A Hijacking” still awaiting U.S. releases (the latter is slated for second-quarter 2013 bow through Magnolia Pictures), it is tempting to cast him as being only "on the cusp" of major international success.

Göteborg Interview: 'Something In The Air' Director Olivier Assayas On Rebellion, Memory & Godard Vs. Truffaut

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 6, 2013 4:05 PM
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  • 1 Comment
With “Something in the Air,” French director Olivier Assayas (“Carlos,” “Summer Hours,” “Irma Vep,” “Cold Water”) turned in his most autobiographical work to date. A coming-of-age tale set against a backdrop of radical student politics, sex and drugs in 1970s France, we reviewed the film out of Venice  and then caught up with the director at NYFF to talk about it. All of which meant when we recently got to meet him again, at the Göteborg International Film Festival, we could afford the luxury of letting the conversation range off-topic from the revolutionary politics of the film’s era to the idea of storytelling in film as an act of rebellion, to the problems in film criticism (Assayas himself wrote for Cahiers du Cinema) and even briefly to the Beatles vs the Stones.

Göteborg Review: Volker Schlöndorff’s ‘Calm At Sea’ Is A Wrenching WWII Tale Told In Capable But Old-Fashioned Style

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 5, 2013 6:02 PM
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  • 0 Comments
A story that is apparently very famous all over France -- that of Guy Moquet, a 17 year-old boy executed by the Nazis as part of a reprisal for the assassination of one of their officers -- forms the heart of veteran German director Volker Schlondorff’s latest film, which screened at the Göteborg International Film Festival last week. Titled “Calm at Sea” and based on primary source documents from the period (the letters, diaries and reports left by the participants, the writing of which often forms part of the onscreen action), the film is a solid piece of historical reconstruction, that despite never quite reaching any heights of inspiration, nonetheless builds to a surprisingly moving finale.

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