Just Like Home

Not rated yet!
Director
Lone Scherfig
Runtime
1 h 37 min
Release Date
30 March 2007
Genres
Drama, Comedy
Overview
The tale of a troubled small town, and the brave few who made it their mission to keep the community together. As the citizens of a secluded Danish town gradually loose their trust in one and other, the sight of a naked man walking through town in the early hours of the morning sets off an unsettling wave of paranoia.
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VJ Morton3
Right Wing Film Geek



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  • TIFF Capsules — Day 10

    TIFF Capsules — Day 10

    CALIFORNIA DREAMIN, Cristian Nemescu, Romania — 6

    Of the four recent Romanian films I’ve seen, this is the one that comes closest in style and tone to the East European black-comedies of the 60s (Munk, Forman, Menzel, etc.) — a bureaucratic snafu, an arbitrary decision-maker, allegorical plot, a lot of people waiting around, and establishing a temporary idyll while “the papers are being processed” offstage. With a group of American soldiers trapped in Romanian Nowheresville on their way to Kosovo, you get a range of reactions and interactions, all of them at least bordering on the cynical. I was also floored by the black-and-white flashback to the 40s, which explains exactly why some of the people behave as they do. Compared to the northern part of ex-Commie Europe though, Balkan humor, or at least the behavior of the characters, is a bit less dry and bit more blustery. DREAMIN is a funny delight, but it just went on for too long for the premise and the episodic structure eventually wore out its welcome. I can’t help but think Nemescu would have tightened it up some if he hadn’t been killed in a car accident.

    ANGEL, Francois Ozon, Britain/France — 8

    I may need to take another look at Todd Haynes’s FAR FROM HEAVEN, to which I had a decidedly mixed reaction, because I so thoroughly enjoyed this movie, which succeeds on exactly the terms that HEAVEN’s fans say it did. A sort of female bildungsroman about a teenage dreamer who becomes a writer of cheap romances and then Britain’s biggest literary star, ANGEL isn’t in any way a parody or a pastiche or a travesty of the 30s/40s woman’s picture. It is simply an example of it, a re-creation of it — outdated conventions and all (complaining about the obvious rear-projection, as does the lead review on the IMDb as I write this, utterly misses the point). And given the subject matter and the central character, this is an entirely appropriate stylistic choice. Like Blanche DuBois, Angel doesn’t want realism, she wants magic. ANGEL is in color — a garish and stylized look by contemporary standards; not so much by the standards of the color available in the 30s, but Ozon is at least nodding in that direction. But in every other respect, you can imagine MGM of the 30s putting out this movie, with Norma Shearer or Joan Crawford or Greer Garson in the lead (even to the lead actress being too old for the early, teenager scenes). You can hear the ghosts of Franz Waxman or Dmitri Tiomkin on the extravagantly romantic, mostly-strings score. The honeymoon is presented in a montage of “around the world” scenography (obvious back-projection again). The sets are deliberately opulent (per the “Tiffany studio” rep) to the point of unbelievable if ANGEL were in any way trying to be realistic or even contemporary, but which by their very stand-out quality, sustain both the illusion of a re-creation and the reflection of a soul who doesn’t want realism. In the same vein, what makes Romola Garai’s performance in the central role so awesome is that she stakes out her own ground within this stylized genre. Garai in no way imitates Bette Davis or some of her particular mannerisms. She simply acts herself but in a manner that recalls Davis, and her character is as much a self-centered dynamic asshole as anything Davis ever created. Like Barbara Stanwyck in BABY FACE, Garai is clearly having a ball playing an unredeemed bitch in the early scenes and then, when the character starts to suffer as the genre demands, she’s just as self-assured in her pleadings. There is simply no substitute for conviction.

    THE SUN ALSO RISES, Jiang Wen, China — 5

    When you start training in submission wrestling or jiu-jitsu, the first thing you’re told is that submitting or “tapping out” is part of the game. If you’re caught, you’re caught; and “only wimps submit” is not an attitude you can take. In the analogous spirit in the matter of film criticism … I now must tap out to a sunk-in arm bar. I wimpishly admit that I have no effing idea what this movie is about. It’s got something to do with the Cultural Revolution, and there are stretches of 10 or 15 minutes when it almost makes sense. There seem to be a couple of plot lines, one involving a professor and a film screening of Maoist propaganda, and another involving a crazy mother who climbs trees. I almost hope that Jiang just made it deliberately obscure in order to confound the Chi-Com censors. What makes SUN tolerable is that it’s so gorgeous to look at — the high-contrast images with the colors saturated up to 11 (especially on the orange-red, as if the whole film was shot at Roland Garros tennis stadium). It’s also often quite funny or bizarre (particularly in the mother character, throwing sheep down trees). But seeing SUN was like watching a coloratura opera in another language, without titles, without having read the book. You admire the virtuosity for a while and remind yourself to “read the book next time.” But in the end, you can’t embrace it.

    MY WINNIPEG, Guy Maddin, Canada — 8

    The key word here is “my.” This is the most humorously self-absorbed “City Symphony” movie since Fellini’s ROMA, and any resemblance between this film and the actual capital of Manitoba is purely coincidental and quite probably actionable (“10 times the suicide rate of any place in the world”? Really?) I was stunned when I saw on the credits that the Documentary Channel had helped finance this film — eccentric, brilliant and side-splittingly funny though it is. Some of the history recounted has a basis in fact — but everything in Maddin’s hands becomes raw material for his wack imagination, maybe the greatest comic mind working in the movies now. For example, I have no doubt that some sort of accident at a Winnipeg racetrack really did kill some horses. I rather doubt that the horses fell into the river, instantly freezing them to death. And I’m positive that the frozen-in-death heads did not remain above ice all winter and become a kind of decorative statuary attraction for Winnipegers. In this, MY WINNIPEG is like the greatest ever segment of David Letterman’s “Brush with Greatness” — absurd comic embellishments off real events that we’re not supposed to believe, but told with a straight face because it’s so much more enjoyable that way. In a similar vein, this gives a reason for the use of the usual Maddin style — a fevered, impressionistic look, silent footage (a copious voiceover narration here, though) and a “looks 70 years old” quality. It’s part of the “straight face,” given how old some of the history is. Maddin also makes the film intensely personal, after his fashion, by re-creating certain episodes of his 60s Winnipeg childhood, but his now 80-something mom playing herself (not so, though this is what is said during the film; see comments), hired actors playing the others in his family. And using a chihuahua to play the family’s boxer-pup (or was it the other way around). And remembering the world’s most absurd TV show (to describe it would spoil it) — “The Pride of Winnipeg.” Writing this capsule, I’m already starting to convince myself I’ve underestimated MY WINNIPEG. One complaint though: there was not a single mention of Winnipeg’s second-greatest artists, the Crash Test Dummies, so stunned that I left the theater asking myself “Hmmmmm?”

    JUST LIKE HOME, Lone Sherfig, Denmark — 3

    I want to finish this quickly, so I can get to some of the posts and updates I’ve put off. So it’s hardly worth mentioning this completely forgettable sitcom, which, if it hadn’t been in Danish (or at least not in English), would never grace an important international film festival. The minute you see that one of the characters is an uptight Christian virgin, the only question is “whom will she bed by the movie’s end?” This being Scandinavia, it can be literally anyone for all it matters. This also being Scandinavia, she and the rest of the women will also get a chance to see every man in town naked.

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    September 24, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

    2 Comments »

    1. I haven’t seen MY WINNIPEG yet, but I’m almost certain that Maddin’s mother is not played by his the Maddin mater familias. Rather, it is Ann Savage, the bad ass femme fatale from the grungiest of poverty row noirs, DETOUR. I’m sure Maddin took some special thrill from the idea of being sprung from the loins of a dame like Vera.

      Comment by cstults | September 26, 2007 | Reply

    2. You are correct, mon ami. I never bothered to check the IMDb or TIFF credits or anything, just took what Maddin said in his voiceover to be the case, i.e., that this was his mother, but he cast everyone else.

      Comment by vjmorton | September 26, 2007 | Reply


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  • TIFFing time again
    (”Just Like Home” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    TIFFing time again

    If this year’s Toronto International Film Festival lineup is any indication, it will be a long fall, with the Artist-Industrial Complex lecturing about the evil that is (in the words of this blurb) “the so-called War on Terror” (and the rest of the usual demonology). With that in mind, I didn’t give a bunch of films playing at this year’s festival so much as a second look — here’s the whole list of Toronto movies and presentations that I would not see on principle. I saw the subject matter or read the descriptions, crossed it off and moved on.

    Looking at that list, or rather the length of it (20 films and several presentations) — I really have to wonder if alienating conservative viewers is something Hollywood, Indiewood and the Festival Mafia do as a conscious marketing strategy or is just so much their unstated “Dasein” that they can’t even step outside themselves to see it.

    But in a festival of almost 300 films, that’s not an insurmountable loss. In fact, here is another pretty distinguished list (will try to reconstruct later, VJM) — the films I really wanted to see but probably will not (I may juggle stuff around, depending on buzz). For the most part, it was simply a matter of scheduling, trying to squeeze a quart of 60 must-see films into a pint pot of 50 time slots. You can get to their individual pages from this list-page.

    • Cassandra’s Dream (Woody Allen, Britain) — no explanation needed, I hope
    • The Last Lear (Rituparno Ghosh, India) — Amitabh Bachchan, the world’s biggest star, in his first English role
    • Beyond the Years (Im Kwon-taek, South Korea) — the pansori singer was the best part of Im’s Chunhyang
    • Christopher Columbus: The Enigma (Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal) — another weird-out conversation piece like A Talking Picture?
    • The Duchess of Langeais (Jacques Rivette, France) — every film by the New Wave Masters is an event
    • Juliette Binoche in films by Hou Hsiao-hsien and Amos Gitai — can maybe the world’s greatest actress help out torpid auteurs?
    • The Pope’s Toilet (Enrique Fernandez/Cesar Charlone, Uruguay) — wack premise could make a great semi- (or even non-) blasphemous black comedy
    • Juno (Jason Reitman, USA) — Thank You for Smoking as a debut film; plus, later, Mike d’A says strong buzz from Telluride
    • Lars and the Real Girl (Craig Gillespie, USA) — Ryan Gosling; the word “Lars” and the use a puppet to substitute for a person (Ryan, stay the hell away)
    • Boy A (John Crowley, Britain) — echoes of Nolan’s Memento and the Dardennes’ Le Fils
    • Ellen Burstyn presents Alice Doesn’t Live Here Any More (Martin Scorsese, USA) — No explanation needed, I hope

    So … bitching over.

    Unlike last year, I got all my first choices, and this festival is shaping up with the potential to be the greatest ever. After a so-so first day, the potential masterpieces come in daily and in bunches — Andersson, Herzog, Rohmer, Maddin, A. Lee, Baumbach, Olmi, Lee M-s, Ozon. Plus enormous buzz on the Bar-Lev, Van Sant, the Coens and Matsumoto. The films by the uneven Miike and Loach look to fit the maker’s good molds rather than the bad ones. Plus Cannes prize-winners by Mungiu, Kawase, Lee C-d. And my first exposures to Tarr, Reygadas, and Jiang. The Breillat and Arcand even seem tolerable. A rediscovered Ford silent, plus a contemporary-made silent slapstick homage. Even Greenaway, whose last film became the first I ever walked out on, is cause for optimism — getting back into Dutch paintings and a group of militiamen, so can we expect The Draughtsman, The Thief, His Wife, etc.? And to top it all off — Max von Sydow presenting one of Ingmar Bergman’s movies a few weeks after his death.¹

    This will be an awesome week-and-a-half. Here is my planned schedule.

    6 SEPT
    630pm Fugitive Pieces (Jeremy Podeswa, Canada)
    900pm The Brave One (Neil Jordan, USA)
    1159pm The Mother of Tears (Dario Argento, Italy)

    7 SEPT
    915am You, the Living (Roy Andersson, Sweden)
    noon The Mourning Forest (Naomi Kawase, Japan)
    400pm One Hundred Nails (Ermanno Olmi, Italy)
    715pm Les Chansons d’Amour (Christophe Honore, France)
    900pm Lust, Caution (Ang Lee, Taiwan)

    8 SEPT
    1000am Persepolis (Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi, France/Iran)
    1245pm The Man from London (Bela Tarr, Hungary)
    330pm The Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin, Germany/Turkey)
    600pm No Country for Old Men (Coen Brothers, USA)
    900pm The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik, USA)

    9 SEPT
    200pm Bucking Broadway (John Ford, USA, 1917; presented by Peter Bogdanovich)
    345pm In Memory of Myself (Saverio Costanzo, Italy)
    600pm Nightwatching (Peter Greenaway, Britain)
    900pm Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas, Mexico/Holland)

    10 SEPT
    1000am 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days (Cristian Mungiu, Romania)
    1215pm Happiness (Hur Jin-ho, South Korea)
    300pm Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Shekhar Kapur, Britain)
    700pm Encounters at the End of the World (Werner Herzog, USA)
    915pm My Kid Could Paint That (Amir Bar-Lev, USA)

    11 SEPT
    1100am Children of the Sun (Yaldey Hashemesh, Israel)
    100pm Chaotic Ana (Julio Medem, Spain)
    345pm Operation Filmmaker (Nina Davenport, USA)
    600pm Margot at the Wedding (Noah Baumbach, USA)
    915pm Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant, USA)
    1159pm Sukiyaki Western Django (Takashi Miike, Japan)

    12 SEPT
    930am It’s a Free World… (Ken Loach, Britain)
    noon The Last Mistress (Catherine Breillat, France)
    230pm Atonement (Joe Wright, Britain)
    600pm A Girl Cut in Two (Claude Chabrol, France)

    13 SEPT
    930am Dr. Plonk (Rolf de Heer, Australia)
    1230pm Reclaim Your Brain (Hans Weingartner, Germany)
    300pm Days of Darkness (Denys Arcand, Canada)
    515pm Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-dong, South Korea)
    915pm A Gentle Breeze in the Village (Nobuhiro Yamashita, Japan)

    14 SEPT
    900am Romance of Astrea and Celadon (Eric Rohmer, France)
    noon M (Lee Myung-se, South Korea)
    300pm The Walker (Paul Schrader, USA)
    545pm Erik Nietzsche: The Early Years (Jacon Thuesen, Denmark)
    800pm The Virgin Spring (Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1960; presented by Max Von Sydow)
    1159pm Dainipponjin (Hitoshi Matsumoto, Japan)

    15 SEPT
    945am California Dreamin’ (Endless) (Cristian Nemescu, Romania)
    1245pm Angel (Francois Ozon, France)
    245pm Son of Rambow (Garth Jennings, Britain)
    600pm The Sun Also Rises (Jiang Wen, China)
    800pm My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin, Canada)
    1100pm Just Like Home (Lone Sherfig, Denmark)

    ——————
    ¹ Was there nobody in Italy to do the same for Antonioni? Or is/was any tribute programming done at Venice?

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    Me and MaxIn "Ingmar Bergman"

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    TIFF Capsules -- Day 8In "Denys Arcand"

    September 5, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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  • TIFF Grades — Day 10
    (”Just Like Home” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    TIFF Grades — Day 10

    15 SEPT
    CALIFORNIA DREAMIN, Cristian Nemescu, Romania — 6
    ANGEL, Francois Ozon, France — 8
    THE SUN ALSO RISES, Jiang Wen, China — 5
    MY WINNIPEG, Guy Maddin, Canada — 8
    JUST LIKE HOME, Lone Sherfig, Denmark — 3

    So that’s everything I saw in this year’s TIFF. The grades make it clear that this was a pretty awesome festival, as expected and hyped. Of the 44 films seen, I have five films graded at 9 and another seven at 8 (plus THE VIRGIN SPRING). With only two films graded lower than 3. By contrast, in 2004 (probably the worst year since I started going), I had only two 9-grades, five 8-grades, with another five grades lower than 3.

    I’ll get started on the three remaining days of capsules, plus one essay, when I get back to Washington on Sunday, Morpheus willing.

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    September 16, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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