Monday, June 17, 2013
Hey you guys, World War Z comes out on Friday and even though I didn't love the book, I am excited for the movie!! So since I have some things I'd like to say about zombies I'm going to sort of make this an unofficial zombie week. I know a lot of people are over zombies, but to be honest I DON'T KNOW WHY. There are not multiple zombie TV shows and movies out right now. There are some books but nowhere near as many as there are for vampires. So I really don't understand the sentiment that there are too many zombies everywhere, I think it's mostly just people that don't like them to begin with saying that, okay?
I'd like to get the bad out of the way, so let's start with Warm Bodies. I didn't like the book and I also didn't like the movie.
I know it might seem crazy that I watched the movie anyway, but I thought it has potential to be kind of cute and funny like Zombieland. But...I guess what I realized is that there is a fundamental problem with the story for me which is that I don't like to think about zombies coming back from the dead or being saved or redeemed or humanized in any other way. That's just not the kind of zombie story I like and so that's why Warm Bodies was problematic for me and also part of why I greatly disliked the British show In the Flesh which I will be discussing later.
So, the basic premise behind Warm Bodies is that zombies are not actually really gone, they can still sort of think and stuff. But they do still eat people. And one day R (yes for Romeo) eats a brain and falls in love with a girl. And takes her back to zombie camp. And there's some funny and cute stuff there, but it all goes south when they take off because the actual REAL zombies want to eat Julie.
Sigh. Which...if you need actual real zombies vs. sort of but not quite actual zombies, I just...it doesn't work.
I guess the thing for me is that you can use zombies for all manner of social commentary or thematic purposes. And Warm Bodies uses them for the idea that love is the most powerful thing of all and if we could all just love each other and listen to each other and care then we'd come back to life and save ourselves. It was cheesy and saccharine in the book and equally so in the film.
So...it was a bust. I think I realized I'm never going to really like this kind of zombie story, I'd rather this kind of thing be a vampire story or something. Also, I think it's really irresponsible because when the zombie apocalypse happens no one will want to kill any zombies because WHAT IF THEY CAN BE SAVED? (there was some A+ dialogue though like zombies eat brains not broccoli!/sarcasm)
Tomorrow hopefully I will discuss why In the Flesh also did not work for me for similar failed thematic reasons.
What is your favorite zombie movie? Or do you hate zombies? Did you like this one? It seemed to do well in reviews.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
This piece by Linda Holmes at NPR about the lack of films about women is so true and so depressing. I mean have you noticed that even romantic comedies now are largely told from a male perspective? Also Man of Steel made so much money this weekend, I...like we are going to be stuck with superhero movies forever you guys. Which isn't all bad, summer films are fine for that, but how about some female ones? I'm still forever bitter about people raging over the Buffy reboot.
Holmes links to this analysis of the criticism of Sofia Coppola's latest movie which is also really depressing. Sigh.
So. Summer TV.
I like to have shows that I watch week to week, even during the summer, because I find that when I'm marathoning shows I have a "need to finish" and it sort of takes over my life in a tiny way. (the show doesn't even have to be particularly addictive, I'm not sure how to explain it other than it's like a to do list, lol) It's easier to just have one ep of a show I can watch while I'm eating or something you know? But summer TV is notoriously bad. With a few exceptions like Breaking Bad and while I like Breaking Bad, it's not a show I love on a deep level.
Anyway! All that to say I've been giving almost everything a whirl. Mostly ABC Family shows. Also, Switched at Birth came back and I quite liked the episode so.
ABC Family really does deserve credit for representation. Like, it's something they actively seek to do--it doesn't happen by accident. Switched at Birth didn't originally have one of the girls being deaf until the network suggested they make one of the girls special needs and can you even imagine the show without that now?
The Fosters, their new show about an interracial lesbian couple raising a mix of kids...biological/adopted/ and now foster kids is maybe one of the most successful shows I've seen in reflecting the way the world looks. I mean there isn't just token casting in this, the cast is truly diverse and not just the leads but all the way down to the supporting actors and extras. Seeing as it's set in Southern California, this is wonderful. Anyway, apart from that, the show itself is okay. It's not life changing, but it's nice enough, I guess? I was actually kind of bored during the first episode, but the second episode picked up a bit. It's a family drama so you have a mix of issues--the three parents thing for the biological son, the adopted teen daughter getting mixed up in some bad business in order to meet her biological mom, sibling issues. The show is missing some spark for me I guess, plus it has that unfortunate ABC Family feel, but even so I'll probably keep watching for a bit.
Then there's Twisted, the show about a kid who murdered a family member at a young age, comes back to town, and someone else ends up dead. This also kind of bored me, sigh. I think the biggest problem is that they want to keep us guessing about whether or not he did the most recent murder? And so they're withholding his point of view which makes it hard to care. Also, the two girls who were his best friends when they were kids were all traumatized about him coming back and then by the end of the episode that was like no big deal. So...again I'll probably give it a few more episodes and hope it picks up, but I'm not keeping my fingers crossed. Same unfortunate ABC Family effect here, too.
Switched at Birth, though, I quite liked. I think I like Switched at Birth best when it's about the family issues because let's face it, they are all messed up. But you can have deeply loving and complicated relationships and when SAB taps into that, it's great! So, I think Daphne growing closer to the Kennishes while Regina was in rehab makes sense both from a practical point of view as well as an emotional one. When she brought up the switch again and Regina was like, "what we're back to that"...well it's always going to come back to that. I'm glad it doesn't just get dropped and easily forgiven because it's the kind of thing that happens in relationships that affects everything that comes after. Daphne was right that the Kennishes were there for her...though there was their own selfish motivation involved. Regina isn't wrong to feel threatened by them and it has always made sense to me why she is. I think her protestations over the various parenting decisions (Daphne's credit card, Bay's job, even Nikki and the rehearsal dinner) are all her way of asserting her own opinion and almost...selfhood into a situation where she could easily be completely run over or forgotten. The Kennishes accepted Daphne into their lives with ease, it would be easy for her to feel extraneous. But I was super glad about the conversation she had with Bay at the end because I've always felt that was an imbalance in the show and that there was a distinct lack of Regina caring about Bay the way Kathryn cares about Daphne. So...I hope this is actually the beginning of a change and not just a one off that gets forgotten. So, anyway! I thought the show was interesting.
I also am watching The Killing, but I haven't watched last week's episode yet! Same with HGTV Design Star which has been renamed HGTV Star, lol.
Also, PSA, Bath and Body Works has their semi-annual sale going on right now which means it's a good time to stock up on country apple frangrances. ;)
Posted by Amy at 10:24 AM
Saturday, June 15, 2013
I love children's books! Part of the reason I love children's books is because they often boil down this huge life stuff we're still facing as adults into easy to understand terms and are very gentle about it. I don't mean that they dumb stuff down, I mean that they are age appropriate and loving and get to the essence of things. I feel like children's books are often written with so much love and I don't know, I just like them!
So it's no surprise that I loved The Dark by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Jon Klassen.
Laszlo is afraid of the dark, but the dark is everywhere. It's always lurking in places and while most of the time he can ignore it, he knows it's there. Then one night the nightlight goes out in his room and the dark comes to visit him.
Maybe the book over explains its point on one page, but the story beautifully illustrates that while there is darkness in life, we can use it to to better understand and find the light. And it's also a story about how Laszlo faces his fear and no longer has to be afraid. It's pretty great, to be honest!
Plus the language is very pretty and the illustrations nicely evoke that feeling of being in a big kinda creepy house.
So my verdict is that this book is a winner and also that I still love children's books even though I'm practically an old lady now.
Many thanks to Little, Brown for sending me a copy of this book.
Friday, June 14, 2013
*I read Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects last weekend so now I've read all of her books and I'm sort of desperate to find some really good writing on them? Like not as individual novels but her work as a whole. She's a contemporary author that I think has really carved out a niche that is her own and that there's a lot of super interesting stuff going on in her work that just demands to be written about. But I feel like it's actually kind of hard to find writing like that about books! Anyway, if you know of some let me know. Also, Lady Business should really consider a discussion on her books because I'd be super curious to know what they think.
*I watched Rosemary's Baby for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I liked it. It's really kind of well done from the perspective of building tension and this sense that there's a conspiracy against Rosemary but she can't get away from it! The ending was so creepy and perfect. I watched it because I saw someone (can't remember who) associated with Hannibal say that what was going on with Will was sort of borrowed from the idea in Rosemary's Baby that the doctors are conspiring against you. Also, it made me sad about how 666 Park Avenue flopped because the idea of an old apartment building with lots of mystery in NYC is still really appealing as a show to me! Worst husband EVER alert in this movie. (seriously he helps Satan rape his wife and impregnate her, and then when she expresses concern over what's happening, he makes her feel delusional and like she's wrong and yells at her and stuff.)
*I'm planning to watch Under the Dome and I'm super excited for it! It looks just like my kind of show. I didn't join in the readalong, but hopefully some of those people are also going to watch and blog about it???
*Which leads me to reminding you that The Bridge starts July 10th. I will be reminding you every week.
*I thought Before Midnight was never coming near me, but it is! Now I want to make time to see it this weekend.
*Jodie wrote 6,000 words on the first four episodes of Hannibal. Jodie is my hero. Also, I had somehow missed that they said Will Graham is "on the spectrum" (I win most attentive viewer awards obvs) so now I also want to read some good writing about various police detectives portrayed as on the spectrum. Will, Saga Noren, etc. I'm sure there are others.
*I feel like there are a lot of summer movies I want to see. I kind of want to see Man of Steel, I definitely want to see World War Z, I still sort of want to see Now You See Me, etc. That movie by the District 9 guy...what are you guys looking forward to? What do you want to see in the theater?
Happy Weekend, everyone!
Posted by Amy at 10:46 AM
Thursday, June 13, 2013
So...I haven't read all of the books on this list, but I wanted to put together a suggestion list anyway. My inbox has been slammed with recs for all sorts of things for Father's Day. Why not books? (yes it has been slammed with book recs, too)
Of course not all fathers are readers and that's fine, but audio books are always an option as are coffee table books etc. Anyway, I present to you a few ideas in case you are running low on them. Oh also, feel free to add you own suggestions!
Ha ha you knew this was going to be on here right? Okay but hear me out. First of all, when I told my dad I was going to read this book this year, he decided to read it, too. (on audio) And he beat me! He's already finished! Also, this is a classic the word war is in the title, and it's huge. So lotsss of reading material. Excellent pick, imo. This is a pick for any father, except maybe the kind that is very vocal about not liking to read!
This can be filed under books I haven't read, but is a pick for fathers who love mystery. Also, it's set in Denmark and that should be enough. Seriously, though, Nordic Noir is all the rage and there's no reason not to get your father into another Scandinavian mystery series, particularly if he enjoyed The Millenium Trilogy.
This is for the memoir loving father. Here's the synopsis: In this New York Times bestselling memoir, Damien Echols details the two decades he spent on death row for a crime he was falsely convicted for. In 1993, Damien and two friends, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr.—who have come to be known as the West Memphis Three—were arrested for the murders of three eight-year-old boys in Arkansas. The trial, marked by false testimony and tampered evidence, found the teenager guilty. Baldwin and Misskelley were sentenced to life, while Damien, the perceived “ringleader” was sentenced to death. Over the years, the WM3 gained national recognition as a symbol of wrongful conviction and imprisonment through documentaries, countless supporters and notable celebrities. In August 2011, the three men were released. Life After Death is Damien’s full story—describing, in full detail, the horrors of prison and the patience, spirituality and perseverance that kept him alive.
So some men really like reading about prison life, etc. Plus there's justice! And just a really intriguing story there.
Hahaha, you knew this was coming right? I mean in light of recent national events it seems like the perfect time for such a book. I actually still haven't read this, but I really need to! Hopefully this year. I read something on Tumblr about how sales for this book are up. Seriously, though, it might give your father a chuckle if nothing else. Synopsis: Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell's chilling prophecy about the future. And while the year 1984 has come and gone, Orwell's narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions. A legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time. hahaha, sorry.
If 1984 isn't to your dad's liking, or he's already read it, there's always our contemporary dystopian hit, The Hunger Games. With the Catching Fire movie coming out in the fall, why not get your dad started on the superior books?
And don't even try to tell me these are books for me because that's hogwash.
I haven't read this, but it's definitely on my "hope to read soon" pile. Maybe your father loves baseball? (my father hates it as it turns out, but my grandfather loved it!) Baseball fans will likely enjoy this kind of story...I don't know I feel like we are different from other kinds of sports fans and that's evidenced by the sheer amount of baseball literature in existence. Plus there's a lot of mythology and history around the sport, etc. Synopsis: A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist follows an embattled Little League team in inner-city Newark, revealing the complex realities of life in one of America’s most dangerous cities
When Rodney Mason, an ex-con drug dealer from Newark’s rough South Ward, was shot and paralyzed, he vowed to turn his life around. A former high-school pitching ace with a 93 mph fastball, Mason decided to form a Little League team to help boys avoid the street life that had claimed his youth and mobility. Predictably, the players struggle—they endure poverty, unstable family lives with few positive male role models, failing schools, and dangerous neighborhoods—but through the fists and tears, lopsided losses and rare victories, this bunch of misfits becomes a team, and in doing so gives the community something to root for. With in-depth reporting, fascinating characters, and vivid prose, Jonathan Schuppe’s book is both a penetrating, true-to-life portrait of what’s at stake for kids growing up poor in America’s inner cities and a portrait of Newark itself, a struggling city that has recently known great hope as well as failure.
Ha, just imagine this as any history book ever. I've never read it (apparently I don't read books I think of as being for dads, hmmm) but my dad did! And I watched the mini-series which I really liked. American history is fun, right? Plus everyone can use a refresher now and then.
I loooove this book. Also, this is for the spiritual/Christian father. This is one of the most inspirational books I have ever read. It's about writing a better story with your life. It's easy to read and engaging and is the kind of book that just really makes you think it's possible to live a better life. Also, it is not an ad for the movie Blue Like Jazz! (when I talked to my sister about this book she said someone described it like that) though it IS probably part of the reason the Kickstarter project was successful.
Why not give your father this page turner about a messed up married couple? This page turner is sure to please, plus there's a bit of a Father's Day surprise in it. I mean maybe one of the characters would be a really bad dad, but who cares? Dads come in all kinds. Anyway if your dad missed this one, maybe now is the time to read it!
Sure people were pretty split on this book, but there's a chance you dad might find it interesting. If for no other reason than to be part of the culture conversation! While also not a feel good book, it does have something interesting to say/explore!
Or maybe your dad likes Sci-Fi? In which case I recommend my own personal favorite The Sparrow. Also not a happy book, but a VERY GOOD BOOK. Jesuits in space, etc. It's also a very gripping book when I read it, I remember how much I didn't want to be torn away from it!
But...maybe your dad would like a little less heavy and prefer a nice light mystery instead? In that case Strong Poison is perfect! It's a fun mystery with a surprise ending and doesn't include the world's darkest twistiest people.
Lord Peter Wimsey is a fun detective and the humor is so enjoyable.
Or you could get your dad this fun, short e-book, about the appeal of the epic fail that explores what in the world is so wrong with us that we enjoy these things. I really enjoyed this one, but have yet to review it!
So...those are my suggestions! I feel like they might be not the typical list, but I know it doesn't matter you all stopped after suggestion number 1 and will be getting War and Peace for your father this year.
For anyone spending Father's Day fatherless or in a bad relationship with their father--all my love.
Leave me your suggestions in comments!
Posted by Amy at 12:00 AM
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Even though I announced it here in March, I finally put up a post at the BBAW site about ending BBAW (Book Blogger Appreciation Week).
It's so weird because even though I really made this decision a long time ago, and I KNOW it's the right decision, both times I've written these posts I've felt so sad and nostalgic.
I think part of it has to do with how much blogging has changed. When Ana and I hosted a Halloween swap this past fall, we were both surprised by the relatively small turnout. And that's a consistent pattern for any community type event or meme I've tried to host in the past year. It's just not the same place or my place in it has changed.
When trying to figure out if Film Club was still something we could do, Sheila mentioned that it comes down to FOMO in a lot of ways. That's Fear of Missing Out for those who don't know. She says she sees it online and also in real life. People are just very very hesitant to commit to anything nowadays because they don't want to end up missing out on a better offer later.
This makes me so sad. And also it's kind of insulting to anyone who plans things in advance out of consideration!
It also made me think of one of my favorite Sara Groves songs and since someone recently said they wished I'd talk more about music, I decided to write about this song. (this person will probably be sorry)
I don't listen to much new music at all, unfortunately, I listen to like the same stuff over and over. When I was writing about The Americans, I wanted to use some of Sara Groves lyrics and that like opened a floodgate to listening to her stuff all over again like it was brand new--I'm not even kidding! (it's not. Brand new. And it's certainly not brand new to me!) But there are few lyricists who I really admire and feel like...I don't know see the world as I do and are able to capture it in words that are both revelatory and familiar. Words that feel like they came from deep inside of me even though I didn't write them.
This song, "Every Minute", is from Sara Groves 2002 album All Right Here. Hahaha yes it is that old. Still one of my favorite songs.
It's a song about spending time with someone, really spending time with them. It's a song that both mourns the loss of the way relationships used to be and talks about the dangers in really letting yourself be with someone.
When I was junior high/early high school I did this thing called Bible Quizzing. Yeah no sports for me, just Bible quizzing! Which was basically a (surprisingly really competitive) program where we learned a book of the Bible and then once a month we'd drive to a church in our district and have a meet. The questions were super specific and by the time the finals rolled around, you'd know from one or two words out of the quiz master's mouth what question they were going to ask. I only went all in one year, and was so crushed in the finals (which were basically what determined who went on to the nationwide competition) that I can still feel the pain of that defeat in my heart!
Anyway, the group from my church was pretty close and we had a Christmas party/slumber party at our coach's house. We went Christmas caroling in her neighborhood and came to this elderly ladies house. She was delighted to have us and told us it meant so much to her, she'd been so lonely and worried about Christmas this year. She couldn't even get her decorations down, she explained, they were up in the attic and she couldn't manage it. She was kind to us and I think we all really felt for her. We went home, baked some cookies for her, and the next day went back to offer to help her decorate her home for Christmas.
When we returned, though, she seemed quite different. She thanked us for the cookies, but insisted everything was fine, and she was fine. The return visit was short, and we left confused. I was still young and I hadn't learned this really important thing about life yet, that my quiz coach offered up. "Sometimes," she explained. "When people allow themselves to be really vulnerable, they feel embarrassed about it afterwards. She was protecting herself."
It's so hard to really get to know one another in our time. We put up so many walls and by the time we reach adulthood we've learned to play games in our relationships with others. At some point in our lives, we're rejected and that rejection is going to be painful enough to alter the way we interact with people in the future. (being stingy with our love as Ana recently put it) It's maybe even part of the reason that we get busy and worry about the latest and greatest thing we might be missing out on..filling our lives with activities rather than each other. And also....well we're human and it's our natural tendency to get what we can out of things, including people. I mean I know this all works together.
But anyway, that's what I love about this song.
"At the risk of wearing out my welcome," Sara Groves sings, "At the risk of self-discovery."
I love these lyrics because I think they capture my feelings exactly. I do worry, of course, that people will eventually tire of me, that I'll end up being too demanding, too needy, too much. Too much me, lol. But also, the very best friends and relationships are the ones where I feel like I discover myself more and more, who I really am. And it's not always pretty. There's a lot of ugliness in me, I realize it all the time. But the right relationships are the ones where you don't feel any less loved once you realize this. When someone sees this in you, and loves you anyway. (and yes they are RARE)
This song specifically reminds me of my old church. We had meetings on Friday nights at our leader's apartment and I'd often stay for hours afterwards sometimes until 2 or 3 am. And we talked about everything, mundane and deep and I felt so loved and accepted. (and I loved so much in return)
"I couldn't think of one thing I'd rather waste my time on than sitting here with you."
Aw I love this because it speaks to being fully present with the people we are with and not worrying about missing out on other things.
But my favorite part is of course the bridge which I have up there in that rudimentary graphic. Because YES. The longer you live and move around and the more people you know, the more people you love--your life becomes fragmented. Parts of you are everywhere and there's just this longing to connect those pieces..and to connect all the wonderful people you know and love together. I hate camping, lol, but nothing in the world sounds better to me than having all the people I have ever deeply loved together and telling stories and loving each other well. I think this is what heaven is like...a place where the fragmented pieces get sewn together into something whole.
Anyway, this is one of my favorite songs in the world and just writing this has made me really teary. It's a song about the whole acceptance and joy of another person's company..."always know that you're invited my friend."
Anyway, I've embedded the video for anyone who wants to give it a listen...the style might not be to your taste, tbh, but ugh I love her so much.
(Bookish note!I sort of associate this song with Life As We Knew It. The reason is that I was listening to it a lot at the time (not surprising--there's a reason I DO NOT connect my spotify account!) There's this part where Miranda says she never knew she could love so deeply, and the forced "time together" in that book makes me think of this song!)
Saturday, June 8, 2013
We were originally going to watch this for Film Club, and after I watched it, I sort of wished that we had still Film Club. Then I remembered I'd probably be discussing it alone anyway! But...maybe some of you have seen this since it did win an Oscar for foreign language film.
I've seen a handful of Susanne Bier's movies now and something that sort of strikes me about them is that despite the almost overly dramatic premises of the films, they are infused with such such real human feelings that it's forgivable. A credit, I think, to both the actors and the scripts. This is, I guess, a matter of personal preference? Like I feel there is so much weight and reality to the characters that I can feel brimming beneath the surface, the films really capture small moments of human interaction and expression in a way that make them feel so real. I don't find it to be cheap sentimental emotion at all.
This is true for In a Better World, as well, a film that on its surface is about bullying, but at its heart is about the violence we all have inside of us and control. Who has it, who wants it, how to use it when its yours, what kind of control/power each individual is most interested in.
Christian's story opens in London where he is reading a poem in memoriam for his mother. We will learn she passed away from cancer and this has torn a hole open inside Christian's heart. Christian's father brings him to Denmark to live with his grandmother. When they first arrive she tells him he can pick any room he wants. Christian chooses a small cluttered unadorned room. His father is surprised and says, "well you don't have to make up your mind now."
"Is it my choice or not?" Christian shoots back. This is our first hint into Christian's mind and the battle for control he is facing. His mother has died leaving him in such a state of utter powerlessness that he is grasping for areas of his life he can control.
When Christian starts school, he notices a boy, Elias, is being bullied. He is seated next to Elias in class and they make quick friends. After school, Elias finds the air has been let out of his tires again. Christian suggests he steal the valves from another bike and let a different boy drag his bike home. As they set about doing this, the bullies show up and Christian tries to stand up for Elias but is hit with a ball/effectively punching him in the nose.
Christian takes action the next day. When he sees Sofas, the main bully, go after Elias again, he follows him and beats him with a bicycle pump and threatens him with a knife. Elias and Christian hide the knife and lie to the authorities about its existence. This deepens their friendship.
When Christian's father questions him about it, Christian explains he had to hit hard first. "Now no one will touch me. You don't know shit, it's like this at every school." And the thing is...while his father argues the fighting will just continue, Christian isn't wrong. Sofus makes friendly overtures to him after that. But even more interestingly is how Christian sees this as something within his control. He loathes the idea of being left vulnerable, he is already so vulnerable to natural life occurrences outside of his control, like his mother dying. As the movie progresses, we come to understand that Christian sees her succumbing to death as a sign of her weakness. He blames his father for hoping she'd die. "I don't have time for people who give up."
But Christian's story isn't the only one. Elias's father is in Africa working as a doctor when he's not home. There's a lot of violence going on in the region, specifically attacks against women. He battles to save their lives.
Christian and Elias become closer and one day when out with Elias's dad, Elias's younger brother gets hit on the playground. Elias's dad rushes over to stop him which in turn leads to the other boy's father coming over and hitting him. (and it's Martin from Broen sob, he's a total jerk in this. Okay I guess he's kind of a jerk in Broen, too, but...) Anyway, this is a huge event. Christian questions why Elias's dad didn't do anything. "I was the strong one," he responds
But the event clearly rattles him, as the film shows him swimming off his aggression later. He even brings the boys over to the workplace of the bully for another encounter in which Lars, the adult bully, slaps him again. Anton (Elias's dad) tells the boy he won this encounter. Christian replies, "I don't think he thinks so."
Okay I didn't mean for this to be a straight up recap of the film, but it's hard to express this constant exploration of violence and aggression and self-control without doing so. I'll try to keep the rest short!
One of the things I really admired is that EVERY character succumbs to their inner violence at some point in the film. Even Elias's mother chokes and shakes Christian after he endangers Elias's life, nailing what she's really railing against. The use of violence and force to control. Anton first agrees to treat a criminal in Africa, but when he makes lewd remarks about a young female victim, Anton lets the crowds beat him to a violent death. But notably, it's this very event that creates within Anton a greater capacity for empathy to understand why Christian builds a bomb to destroy Lars's van. It's the sense of being so powerless over grief, over loss, over everything in life really.
I was really disappointed to read the reviews largely call this movie too sentimental or offering too pat of an answer when I couldn't disagree more. While I do feel the story comes to a conclusion in the film, the questions remain. I think it offers an understandable viewpoint on what drives us to be violent and cruel, and I think it also offers the only real answer to addressing it which is empathy. Of course that doesn't mean it will work every time, but each person must come to a decision on their own about whether self-control or trying to control others is the way they want to go. We are all powerless against loss, death, circumstance in life. We can't change certain things that happen to us or the way people feel about us, all we can do is control our own behavior.
It may sound odd, but I think watching this movie and writing about it just now helped me realize this about myself with some of the anger I've been dealing with lately. (which for me is odd because I rarely get angry and yet lately I've been getting angry so much--also to each their own, but I don't LIKE to feel angry and it makes me feel just as powerless as sadness so I'd really rather figure out ways to work through it rather then embrace it) No one is bullying me or anything, but I guess I do feel like there are these things outside of my control and I'm having a hard time with it.
Anyway, great film, in my opinion! Also, it's really pretty, gorgeous shots of Denmark. And there is other stuff I didn't touch on. Just..I don't know, worth your time! If I felt like we could find them easily, I'd suggest a Susanne Bier's film club theme, but alas, I think a lot of these movies would be hard to find. (not this one, though)