[What Did Jaci Think? Late February]

In case you missed it, I spun off this year’s Noir City into its own post. Enjoy that bitter little world over here.

Onward!

There will be more Nordic film soon when I post my coverage of the 10th Annual Nordic Lights Film Festival, but Silent Movie Mondays provided a terrific kickoff to it with the Norwegian silent epic Laila. Based on a novel, it’s the story of a Norwegian girl who is raised from infancy in a Sami community & finds herself torn between the two cultures when she grows up.

Though it deals in some tropes about the Sami people, it is surprisingly empathetic for 1929. I was a little nervous about a nearly three hour long silent film, but it is consistently interesting, both in terms of the story and the cinematography of the snow-covered landscape, and it even includes multiple, highly effective action scenes shot with sled-mounted cameras. Obligatory gay note: Laila definitely had more chemistry with a shopgirl than with either of the male suitors; she went into the shop & addressed her firmly with: “I like your face. Let’s be friends.” And it worked!

This year’s snow-capped survival movie, Arctic, is tight and tense, and is carried entirely by a gently competent Mads Mikkelsen. He’s been eking out an existence on the ice after a plane crash, but when a helicopter crashes nearby, leaving one woman badly injured, he decides to risk taking action to bring her to safety.

It’s not remotely a romance, which is a refreshing change, and they do not have a language in common (though she is in little condition to speak anyway). He is very tender with her, displayed in many small moments that I appreciated. He holds her gently before he lays her down in his shelter, almost but not quite a hug, not creepy or exploitative, but just a brief moment of human contact for a man who has been without it for so long. He finds a family photo on the helicopter and repeatedly puts it in her line of sight. The softness in the character, beyond what would be hoped for basic caregiving, was a lovely touch.

Fighting with My Family, the biopic of the rise of WWE star Paige, was an entertaining while by-the-books sports movie with a highly likeable cast. Wrestling is still unlikely to ever be my jam, but this movie did give me a greater appreciation for the hard work that these stars put in and the degree to which the whole production is just storytelling. Storytelling I understand.

Greta is a hoot, but the vibe in my theater was that it was wasted on the apparently straight audience. Because here’s the thing: it was pretty gay. Aside from the near camp of it, there are no boyfriends, very few men, and maybe one scene where men talk to each other? And their topic is the women! Chloë Grace Moretz and her roommate (scream queen Maika Monroe) met at Smith. I mean. What more do you need? Isabelle Huppert repeatedly confessing her love? Okay, you get that too!

The set-up is Greta leaves handbags around the city to trick kindhearted young woman into returning them and thus getting lured into her orbit as …a friend? An object of her overbearing affection? A daughter substitute? Perhaps all three. And it quickly turns into a stalking story, where the NYPD is just as useless as anyone might expect. People are free to stand on the street, eat at restaurants, chew gum in the hallway, and eventually dance in stockinged feet as a sedative takes you crashing to the floor. The ending was perfection and I was thoroughly entertained.

In the world of TV I attempted a show that shall not be named that many love, but I quit in the middle of the third episode. I realized I didn’t care about any of the characters and in fact I was irritated by all of them. I am not even going to ask if it gets better. It’s fine. We don’t all have to like the same things. I’ll just keep pretending I’m going to watch it someday and you can pretend that you believe me.

But what makes a character irritating? Who knows. Because I also watched Crashing through twice this month, even though at least half of those characters are actively, intentionally irritating (“You’re quirky” “Thanks, I try really hard!”). Crashing is also infuriating because it runs only six episodes, it ends at a major pivot point for everyone, and then, cruelest of all, THERE IS ALMOST NO FANFICTION. For the love. Please someone write me some decent Crashing fic before I die of waiting. Thank you very much.

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