Nine lives (Ni liv)

ni-liv-posterNorwegian language black and white biographical action from 1957.
Starring: Jack Fjeldstad, Henny Moan, Alf Malland
Director: Arne Skouen
Writers: David Howarth, Arne Skouen
Bechdel test: Fail

Exposition

Jan Baalsrud is part of the resistance during the Nazi occupation of Norway. During an operation all the other saboteurs are killed or captured, so Jan must get himself to safety, and the only place he can get away from the constant German patrols are in Sweden.

Reactions

“Nine lives” is based on a true story. If not, I would have found the tale unbelievable. Crossing the 200 km from Rebbensøya to the Swedish border would be quite a feat even in full health, with sturdy equipment and no one chasing you. Even springtime that far north of the Polar Circle offers harrowing weather conditions and the terrain across the mountains to the border is only for the more experienced hiker.

I have plotted an approximation of Jan Baalsrud’s route, as it is a bit confusing in the movie where he is and why he keeps having to use boats. His route is about the distance from London to Cardiff for reference.

And that is one of the movies weaknesses, we never quite know where Jan Baalsrud is. We are either supposed to know this information already, or it is supposed to not matter. I just kept wondering where he was throughout the movie. (So I tried to help other potential viewers by making a map. Take a look before the movie, no need to memorize anything, just get an overview, and rest assured, there are no spoilers in the map.)

Most of the “Nine lives” depicts the journey from the moment Jan Baalsrud is alone until he reaches Sweden, although there is a framing story where he tells his story to an official from the Norwegian government. This framing is very brief and doesn’t impact the movie much. Which is lucky as it falls flat and the big moment where Baalsrud gets respect for what he did just seems silly.

Contemplations

“Nine lives” is naturally a bit dated in some ways as it is now 60 years old, but for the most part it held my attention and told a story well. It is a shame that the beautiful landscapes in the area are shown in black and white, but the photography is otherwise excellent.

The resistance movement during the war might not be well exemplified by such an extraordinary feat, but all the help Baalsrud received does show a more general part of history. This makes the story more important than just one lone guy’s survival.

The acting is great in all the parts, and the only little annoyance I had with the movie was the overly dramatic music during the travel scenes.

Judgement

“Nine lives” is a good movie, but maybe not something to watch often.

Epilogue

I would recommend “Nine lives” to anyone, it is both good and important in some ways. Not a bad idea to watch it once.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Nine lives” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

47 movies down. 318 to go.

If you want to get “Nine lives” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “The celebration”. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

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Selma

selma-posterAmerican biographical drama from 2014.
Starring: David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth
Director: Ava DuVernay
Writer: Paul Webb
Bechdel test: Pass

Exposition

The black population of Selma, Alabama is prevented from voting by the racist practices of voter registration officials back in 1964. Dr Marin Luther King, Jr and other members of the non-violent Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) travel to Selma in order to help organize passive resistance to these voter registration denials.

Reactions

Watching “Selma” was a bittersweet experience. We all know what happens to Dr King a few years after the Selma to Montgomery marches, and we also know that the struggle helped black voters.

Seeing a dramatization of events we all know from history books could become a bit tensionless, but the movie takes us behind the scenes enough to make us curious about how the marches actually helped. We see that the negative publicity from the marches is leveraged against politicians who are initially unwilling to act, and how the leaders who do this pressuring is an essential part of effecting change. In addition to being a lesson in political work, it also creates the tension in the movie. What is it that is going on behind the scenes in this monumental moment in US history?

The movie begins with Dr Martin Luther King, Jr receiving the Nobel Piece Prize, an award that can help to put political pressure on an issue. The SCLC then chose a place to next put their attention based on what visuals the chosen site will create, and Selma is the winner.

The movie then follows the Selma to Montgomery marches linearly, with a closer look at how pressure is put on elected officials and the personal struggles of Dr King. We get to know a man without any polished image of who he was, and this gives us an affinity for the character that creates part of the bitter sorrow when watching “Selma”. He becomes a real person that we know has little time left. The casualties of the civil rights movement that we actually see injured, or worse, in the movie is of course also a bitter part of this story.

Contemplations

“Selma” has a stark choice in colors that creates an image of a dramatic and tragic story. The visuals are strong, and there is none of the crispness and lighthearted mood of the civil rights movie from a few days ago; “The Help“.

The acting was good in every scene and I detected no weak performances in any role, which is quite nice in a movie with this large a cast present in many scenes. Especially brilliant was David Oyelowo as Dr King. His performance is an important part of why this movie is good.

The choice of telling the story this way, with an insight into how these marches worked and stopped the racist practices of voter registration in Alabama, makes this movie more then just a telling of this one struggle. This is an important lesson in political processes and the forth estate. Maybe something we all should know and see, both in general, and especially now when the media sometimes is referred to as fake news.

Judgement

“Selma” is both a good and important movie. Next time I think it’s a hassle to go and vote, the struggle of the people in this movie will stop any such contemplations quickly.

Epilogue

I think everyone should Watch “Selma” at some point. Not a movie for children, though. I think many of the excerpts of speeches by Dr Martin Luther King, Jr also rings true today and the movie will show just how brilliant his insights into people was. Just sit back and enjoy.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Selma” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

41 movies down. 324 to go.

If you want to get “Selma” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “There will be blood“. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

La vie en rose

la-vie-en-rose-posterFrench language biographical movie from 2007.
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud, Pascal Greggory
Director: Olivier Dahan
Writers: Isabelle Sobelman, Olivier Dahan
Bechdel test: Pass

Exposition

Édith Piaf grew up in extreme poverty in in 1920’s Paris and Normandie but ended up as one of France’s most loved singers. Sadly during her short life Édith had several sorrows that broke her heart and body.

Reactions

There were many remarkable features of “La vie en rose”, but none more so than the music. The movie used tapes of Édith Piaf where that was avaliable, and other singers such as Jil Aigrot and the young girl below; Pauline Burlet. Marion Cotillard who portrays the adult Édith lip syncs. Luckily she does it well. Well enough so that I could not tell, at least. In the mean time, enjoy the scene where we hear the young Piaf sing for the first time.

Contemplations

The audio is of course important in a movie about the life of a singer, but they do it well, and the songs are placed in the movie at good intervals and accents the story well. The songs are well integrated.

Visually the use of the stage before Piaf goes on is especially powerful and we get to feel the joy, anticipation and passion of performing. There is also other pretty and strong visuals in “La vie en rose”. Well crafted cinematography.

The story is told in several timelines intertwined and we get to see defining episodes of her life rather than a linear story from birth to death. Sometimes we are also presented with a back and forth between scenes in different timelines.  This could have been messy, but often it showed reasons for her actions and a connection between events in her life. The movie had few enough unnecessary elements and lines to handle the movements in time and space.

The star of this movie is, even more than the songs, is the acting. Marion Cotillard shows such raw emotion that I was in tears through half the movie and the Academy award was well deserved. The other actors were also a credit to their profession.

Judgement

I definitely do not regret watching this movie. It showed me love and life. This is the best movie I have watched so far in my experiment.

Epilogue

I recommend that everyone see this movie.

In addition to everything else, Édith Piaf is sometimes called the soul of Paris. In my opinion, that is most evident in this song. Enjoy.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “La vie en rose” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

38 movies down. 327 to go.

If you want to get “La vie en rose” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “The help“. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

The Elephant man

the-elephant-man-posterAmerican biography from 1980
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt, Anne Bancroft
Director: David Lynch
Writers: Ashley Montagu, David Lynch, Frederick Treves, Eric Bergren, Christopher De Vore
Bechdel test: Fail

Exposition

A surgeon in Victorian London discovers a man being exhibited as “The elephant man”. Through various interactions this surgeon, Frederick Treves, gets to know the severely deformed John Merrick. Treves discovered that Merrick, who has until now been kept as an exhibit, is a well educated and kind man. Treves tries to give Merrick a life worth living.

Reactions

I have not seen this movie before, and was surprised at how different it was from what I expected from a movie by David Lynch. (“Twin Peaks” is a favorite of mine.) The surreal and unexpected elements weren’t there, and the sometimes slower scenes that focus on minor events in daily life were just boring in this movie. In for instance “Twin Peaks” I found the little stops at the diner in the morning entertaining, while in “The elephant man” I struggled to keep my attention on the screen at times. However, I was also quite moved during other parts.

“The elephant man did not already have the Bechdel test performed on the Bechdel site, so I attempted to see if the movie would pass. There are a few scenes with more than one woman, and there are even a few scenes where both women are named, but they keep talking about men. There is one scene where I am uncertain if the content counts as being “something other than a man”. It is the matron and a nurse is talking in front of a mirror. The nurse says something to the effect of “It was nice of Mrs. Kendall to lend me this dress for going to the theater. Does she know [what is happening to Merrick]?”

The first part is about something other than a man, but it is immediately followed by talk of a man, so is that enough?

I am open to suggestions, but for now I failed the movie.

Contemplations

The acting was amazing, and specially John Hurt as John Merrick was convincing. The mixture of naivety and life experience was both fascinating and strange.

The story is based on the life of Joseph Merrick who lived in Victorian London, and had a quite similar life story to the John Merrick in the movie. Weather his personality or that of his surgeon savior was anything like depicted is uncertain.

The story in “The elephant man” is good and entertaining, but a little to shallow to keep my attention for a whole movie.

The choice to make the movie black and white puzzles me. This part of the Victorian era, approximately 1886 to 1890, it not a time where this photography could have been made. It is probably an attempt at making the movie seem closer to the time this story happened, and maybe put a focus on the real life of Joseph Merrick, but I don’t think it succeeds. It just seems like a cheap way of making the sets and costumes.

Judgement

I will probably not watch this movie again. I would not mind terribly if someone else put it on, but I would not search it out.

Epilogue

I would not recommend “The elephant man” unless someone is particularly interested in this side of Victorian England.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “The Elephant man” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

15 movies down. 350 to go.

If you want to get “The Elephant man” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s already on your shelf?

Tomorrow’s movie is “Hell or high water“. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

Lawrence of Arabia

lawrence-of-arabia-posterAmerican and British biographical drama from 1962
Starring: Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn
Director: David Lean
Writers: T. E. Lawrence, Robert Bolt, Michael Wilson
Bechdel-test: Fail

Exposition

A British officer during the first world war, T. E. Lawrence, is sent to Arabia where he gets involved in the Arab Revolt against The Ottoman Empire. We follow Lawrence through many adventures, and see things mostly from his perspective. The film is based on the memoirs of T. E. Lawrence; Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

Reactions

They don’t make movies like this anymore. A true masterpiece. In technicolor and with thousands of extras the grandeur of what Lawrence experienced comes to life on the screen.

I doubt how accurate the movie is; it seems unlikely and condescending that these peoples needed some white guy to come and unite and rescue them. I don’t doubt that Lawrence experienced much of what is seen in the movie, but he might at the very least not have been as instrumental in the development of the Arab Revolt.

Still as a movie, as a story, it is fantastic.

And yes, I have seen “Lawrence of Arabia” before.

Contemplations

Everything in this movie is splendid and a joy to watch. Acting, images, sound, just everything.

The complete absence women is quite glaring, and strange. And when I later contemplated that this area becomes modern day Saudi Arabia, with their extreme repression of women, I also started to wonder what probably went on off camera in the women’s lives. Not a very good thought.

The rest is all just amazing, and I was, once again, so taken in by the story of Lawrence, that none of this occurred to me until after the movie.

Judgement

Of course I will see this movie again some day.

Epilogue

My recommendation is that everyone see this movie at least once in their life.

If you have seen the movie, and are curious about the book it is based on, here is an amazon link to The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence. I have become curious enough to start reading it.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Lawrence of Arabia” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

Six movies down. 359 to go.

If you want to get “Lawrence of Arabia” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s already on your shelf?

Tomorrow’s movie is “Monsters, Inc.“. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.