Oh you Russians and your way too cute children!
I didn’t watch many movies this week,
Mammoth (2009, Lukas Moodysson, Denmark/Germany/Sweden) **1/2
I wanted to like Mammoth more than I did, and with all the players involved I should have liked it more than I did. But, Mammoth is missing a key ingredient in the type of drama it wants to be, resonance. The characters are presented as such aloof ideas of a person, as opposed to actualized people, that their moments of strife or happiness don’t carry the resonant impact that they should. Gael García Bernal and Michelle Williams do solid work, but they are limited by a script that wants to much to be like Babel and Auf Der Anderen Seite as opposed to its own entity. In the end Mammoth is a series of interesting ideas that aren’t explored in adequate fashion, and fine actors being held back by a script that wants to emulate instead of creating.
Kolja (Kolya, 1996, Jan Sverák, Czech Republic/France/United Kingdom) ***1/2
There’s something inherently organic about Kolja. The performances come from a very natural place, and the comedy has a very naturalistic touch. The social commentary is subtly interwoven. So much so that I was impressed with how the news on the radio was placed in the film as nothing but background noise until the end when it became evident that the film was aiming for a freedom from oppression message the entire time. But, in Kolja the social commentary is secondary to a simple tale of a man and a child bonding and forming a relationship that feels very real. That’s what I most appreciated about Kolja, how an honestly portrayed relationship resulted in genuine comedy and earned sentiment.
Smash Cut (Unrated, 2009, Lee Demarbe, Canada) *
If ever there was a film that allowed me to appreciate the directorial talents of Steven Soderbergh it’s Smash Cut. I say this because of Sasha Grey and how horrendously bad her performance is in Smash Cut. I realize Smash Cut is a B movie and that every actor is terrible in this film. But, I don’t buy for a second that Miss Grey was wooden and devoid of personality to match the terribleness of the film. Nope, she is that bad of an actress, and that means that all the praise I gave her for The Girlfriend Experience should go to Mr. Soderbergh. Look, I get what Smash Cut is going for, but it’s not a decent B movie. It’s an over produced and too stylized attempt at a B movie. The key to a great B movie is that everyone involved is usually trying to either make a great film or oblivious to the fact they are making a terrible film. It appeared to me that everyone involved in Smash Cut knew they were making a terrible film. Not only that but they would have been just as terrible in any other film. That’s what you get when you cast terrible actors, have a terrible script, are hampered by philistine direction, and lose sight of the fun that comes with being a B movie.
It’s no contest at all this week as only one movie turned out to be more than a novel viewing experience. Kolja takes home movie of the week honors. Until next week, watch more movies!