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Okko's Inn is a sweet movie about grief, self-sacrifice, friendship and ghosts. My wife said early on the movie's target audience was "otaku," evident by the cute young girl protagonist. I also wondered whether this ostensibly children's movie's target audience wasn't foreign film critics. But my 7-year-old daughter was drawn in and captivated by the film, so I can say the movie genuinely appeals to children. Good kids' film, overall.
Fanny & Alexander is the only 3+-hour film which upon finishing I immediately said, "I want to see that again."
Part ghost story, part family drama, the film draws you in early and doesn't let go. Bergman's films are all so different from one another, it is hard to choose a best, but Fanny & Alexander is perhaps my favorite.
Tarkovsky manages to create a movie with an unsettling atmosphere that is not a horror film. You feel danger without seeing anything threatening. The characters are philosophical, but the dialogue never comes off as contrived. Stalker is an amazing and immersive film.
Crumb is a fascinating and disturbing documentary on the crazy talented and crazy creepy Crumb brothers.
It is hard to assign a star rating to a movie like Jeanne Dielman as there is no other movie to readily compare it to. The movie is 3 hours 20 minutes of the mundane minute tasks of one woman's life over a few days. Only at the 3-hour-10-minute mark does something finally happen in a sudden burst of violence.
The movie uses long, static shots where characters come into and out of the frame. There is no soundtrack other than when Jeanne listens to the radio with her son. There is little dialogue, probably less than 30 minutes in the entire film. The movie tested my patience in numerous parts, particularly the five minute or so shot of Jeanne's back while she washes dishes. This happens twice. I believe the intention of the filmmakers was to try your patience with boring tedium. You are supposed to feel what the character feels as a single mother chained to the kitchen in the 1970s so that you aren't surprised when she suddenly lashes out at the end.
Jeanne, one imagines, is living off her late-husband's life insurance, but she prostitutes herself on the side, with a different male customer visiting her apartment each afternoon. She has a spoiled, useless, entitled son who she waits on hand and foot. She treats him like the man of the house, perhaps because he reminds her of his father. He is so used to be treated like the man it is not surprising he has turned out so useless and with an evident case of Oedipus Complex. When he asks her for a little extra spending money for the day, without hesitation she pulls some money from the jar where she keeps the money she makes from hooking. The viewer might feel a tinge pain knowing how she made the money and how casually her son asks for it, but she doesn't seem to mind.
The movie masterfully builds up the intended mood and so subtly manipulates your emotions you don't even recognize it happening to you. Early on I felt like a voyeur. This might have been intended by showing her taking a bath. Everything Jeanne does has a careful routine, from how she polishes her son's shoes the first thing every morning, to how she prepares coffee, takes a bath, or cleans up after a john pays and leaves. About halfway through the movie, I started getting the sense there's something wrong with this woman. When another mother leaves a baby with her halfway through the movie, I felt uneasy, as if one shouldn't leave a child with her. Shortly after that, one of her customers leaves. We don't see what happened, but we can tell something has upset her. When she fails to replace the lid on the jar where she keeps her money, the first lapse in her perfect routine, we know something is very wrong. She continues to make little mistakes that hint at her suddenly unbalanced state of mind, such as missing a button on her coat. When she polishes her son's shoes the next morning, she has a barely perceptible look of resentment on her face.
I felt this was building up to something, which is why I didn't give up on the movie or give in to the temptation to fast forward. I predicted exactly what would happen at the end, even though it seemed so sudden. I think the triumph of the film is by subtly preparing the viewer for the violent ending through a long series of mundane details.
This will be a satisfying movie for film buffs, but I would hesitate to recommend it to general audiences, and it is probably not a movie one would want to watch again.