Friday, January 22, 2010

Underrated Movie #20: Reprise

The pyrrhic conclusion of Recent Movies Week!

Title: Reprise
Year: 2006
Director: Joachim Trier
Writers: Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt
Stars: Espen Klouman-Høiner, Anders Danielsen Lie, Viktoria Winge

The Story: Post-Modern/Intimate/Exuberant/Dark Comedy/Drama about two young first-time novelists dealing with successes and setbacks in modern-day Oslo.

How it Came to be Underrated: Even as recently as fifteen years ago, this movie would have become a cult-phenomenon (at least in NYC), but too many over-hyped recent European directors failed to connect with audiences, and it’s hard to get people excited anymore.

Why It’s Great:

  1. The film can be very funny and also very serious, but it doesn’t confuse "serious" with "leaden". In fact, it’s exhilarating throughout. Watching it, you can believe that the French New Wave is alive and well and living in Norway.
  2. Re-watching this, I was surprised to realize some of its tricks were borrowed by (500) Days of Summer, which was less successful and far less ambitious, but still a lot of fun. Both movies point to the same sad conclusion: The defining characteristic of our unremarkable generation is the inability to bridge the gap between our fantasy lives and our reality.
  3. Trier gets it. Too many arthouse directors have begun to act as if the accumulated language of filmmaking is a burden around their necks. The most important question for a director to ask him-or-herself is “If I cut here, what will the audience expect to happen next, and how can I play with that expectation?” Directing is the art of the reversal. But many modern directors have it gotten it backwards. They dismiss the audience’s tingling of expectation as a craving for cliché. They time their cuts to dampen expectation instead of increasing it. No expectation = no reversal = nobody cares.
  4. Yes, it’s Cockeyed Caravan’s first foreign language movie! I do watch them and I do love them. So why haven’t I covered any so far? If I may be lame for a moment, a part of it is practical—I do the write-ups while I re-watch the movies. And if they’re speaking Norweigan, I can’t follow along. I vow to solve this problem by learning Norweigan, and every other language that has produced an underrated film. Look for updates as this project progresses.

Underrated Compared To: those super-bleak European films that the Village Voice still goes crazy for.

If You Like This, You Should Also Check Out: There was a recent French film called Poison Friends that started with a very similar premise, then went in a more of a thriller-ish direction, then veered back toward character-based drama. I was a fan.

How Available Is It?: On dvd and Watch Instantly.

Today’s Post Was Brought To You By: Not Again!

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