Foxtrot (2017)

This review comes courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics, from whom I received a screener. I was not paid or compensated for this review in any way. 

Foxtrot_poster
Poster

By looking at the poster for Foxtrot, you might draw a few conclusions on the subject, such as life in the midst of war. You would be correct in doing so, but of course the film is much, much more complex than that and honestly I would be at a loss how best to suggest the film’s complexity be expressed in its press material.

In the simplest terms, the movie is an Israeli war drama about the effects of a young soldier’s death on his family. That alone would have held my interest, as war and its cost, when deftly handled, is fascinating enough. However, Foxtrot was not content to showcase such a straightforward premise and instead dives deep into family dynamics and personal demons.

It was warmly received at Venice and the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won awards, but for some reason did not receive an Oscar nomination. Politics may come into play, as it depicts the Israeli Defense Force committing a problematic crime against Arabic people, and so the film was denounced by Israel’s Minister of Culture. There are much, much smarter people out there who can speak to the complexities of this subject, and I will willingly admit to ignorance on many of these issues.

Foxtrot, named for both the dance and the Nato phonetic alphabet, is not a light movie but it was a brilliant depiction of loss and raw emotions.

As always, spoilers below the cut.

Continue reading “Foxtrot (2017)”

Busy Times – Check Back Next Week!

I got busy this week working on a lot of fiction writing and such, so no post today, unfortunately.

Check back next week for a review of Under the Shadow, a horror film featuring a mother and daughter trying to survive both a vengeful ghost and daily life in 1980s Tehran!

Under the Shadow Poster

See you next week!

Filmgoing Fails: Force Majeure

What happened was I basically failed to notice the option on Instant Watch that allows you to activate the subtitles. That’s on me.

ANYWAY – I recognize that I basically watched the movie wrong. I get that. But I didn’t finish it, a rare thing for me. And ti was for the following reasons:

I found the family to be insufferably uninteresting
I found their family crisis difficult to care about, since they were experiencing it in the midst of magnificent natural beauty, AND European luxury. I have never seen real snow, but feel confident that the resort they were staying at did not accept coupons or have the kind of breakfast bar where no one cares if you put loose cereal in a ziploc to take with you

Avalanche!
Avalanche!

Here is what happened with Force Majeure, a Swedish film that won a whole boatload of awards.

JEN: *reads an article about great Oscar movies that everyone should see* “Ah, I now know this movie exists. If I wander across it directly, I shall see it. The description is not grabbing me though.”

(a month goes by)

*The film plays at the local art house*

JEN: “Oh look! I know what that movie is!” *end of thought*

(another month goes by)

JEN: *bored at work and mini-stalking Kristofer Hivju’s beard, finds out he is in the movie* “Ah. Perhaps I shall see it now. I like him in Game of Thrones.”

(a few days go by)

JEN: “Oh gosh! Force Majeure is on Instant Watch!” *presses play* “Huh. There are no subtitles and I do not understand the Swedish words they are speaking. Perhaps that’s just how the movie was released and it’s such a universal story about human drama and the disintegration of family after a traumatic event that the language doesn’t matter. I shall watch it.”

(halfway through the movie)

JEN: “This was a terrible idea.”

What happened was I basically failed to notice the option on Instant Watch that allows you to activate the subtitles. That’s on me.

ANYWAY – I recognize that I basically watched the movie wrong. I get that. But I didn’t finish it, a rare thing for me. And it was for the following reasons:

  • I found the family to be insufferably uninteresting
  • I found their family crisis difficult to care about, since they were experiencing it in the midst of magnificent natural beauty, AND European luxury. I have never seen real snow, but feel confident that the resort they were staying at did not accept coupons or have the kind of breakfast bar where no one cares if you put loose cereal in a ziploc to take with you

Perhaps some people enjoyed the movie for those reasons – seeing a privileged family brought low by revealing the cracks within their facade. I don’t really have much truck with schadenfreude, so perhaps that’s the problem.

Also, I live in Orlando, Florida, a popular family vacation destination. I have seen my share of meltdowns, of families who have reached the breaking point and are torn asunder by nature. Think this Swedish family’s plight in the face of a controlled avalanche was something? You need to see Scandinavians in one of the lines at the Magic Kingdom, when they realize the wait sign is serious when it says ‘3 HOURS+’ and the temperature is merrily boiling into the 90s. I have seen sunburns in shades of purplish-red that would make even the cruelest torturers in history wince and shake their heads.

I have seen children epically lose their shit for a variety of reasons, many of them valid (Mom and Dad didn’t spring for the 30+spf and are paying the price, they didn’t bring extra bottles of water, they are burning through their energy reserves because feeding a family of four at a theme park can get into the triple digits for one meal, they vastly underestimated the cost of everything). I saw a family sneak their child on the Tower of Terror and that kid did NOT have a good time- he was crying and shaking by the end. And when you’re trapped on a ride with a kid (or adult!) having a freakout, it doesn’t matter if you’ll never see them again after the three-minute ride is over – those three minutes will last approximately 8 Bronze Ages. My heart went out to him, as it does for every tourist who doesn’t acknowledge our UV index. The tourist bureau even tries to warn them! I wish I could afford to buy sunblock and just hand it out to people!

HOWEVER – as I have said, I could only guess at the dialogue of Force Majeure and what it was conveying; probably a lot more nuance and depth than I was prepared to accord to the characters. You’d be surprised how many cognates you understand when you’re grasping at straws!

I managed to make it to Kristofer Hivju but even that couldn’t keep me interested. Even so, I’m glad the film and his role on Game of Thrones is getting him noticed in the international film community, and he continues to do well. I mean look at this picture of him:

This is the best picture of anyone, ever
Just a handsome man about town, walking his beard

He just looks like he’s having a wonderful time, wherever he is. The scarf! The boots! The expression of ‘Oh, who’s that over there? My bad, I don’t know that person, but they are probably a friend I haven’t met yet!’ *a small crowd of followers accrues behind him, singing jolly Norwegian folk songs*

I’m going to make it my business tomorrow to try and have a least as much fun as he appears to be having.

Well, three-quarters.

At least half!

I might give the movie another go – we’ll just have to see!