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Entries from Cinecultist tagged with 'Film Comment'

Confounded by Lukas Moodysson

containerposter.jpgInnovative Swedish director Lukas Moodysson continues to challenge the devotion of your Cinecultist. Last night, we went to see his most recent work Container at Lincoln Center, where it was playing as a part of the annual Film Comment Selects series and we walked out of the hushed theater perplexed. On the way home, we even contemplated accosting Film Comment's pithy editor Gavin Smith on the platform of the downtown 1 train for some further explanation, but then thought better of it. Sometimes it's better to struggle with the thoughts evoked by a Moodysson movie alone.

Moodysson has said cryptically that Container is his silent film with sound, which makes sense in a way because the diegetic characters, a cross-dressing fat man and his tiny female Asian alter-ego, don't speak. Instead we hear a continuous train-of-thought voice over from American actress Jena Malone who narrates what seems to be the man's twisted and self-hating inner life. Obsessed with religious iconography, celebrity culture, consumer detritus and cross-dressing, the voice-over is both fascinating and maddening. It leap frogs from topic to topic, musing over Paris Hilton's ubiquitous fame one minute, then gender confusion and the desire to lick everything the next. The droning buzz of Malone's whispers even began to make Cinecultist feel a little ill, which isn't surprising after sitting through the graphic surgery footage in Moodysson's last movie A Hole In My Heart.

Surely anyone paying for a ticket to see this film at this series would expect a challenging movie, but apparently a bunch of the audience members weren't digging Moodysson's avant-garde experimentation because at the 20 minute mark about 15 or so people boldly got up and exited the theater. Cinecultist though wasn't tempted to flee, we still wanted to see where Container was going. As the final pixelated gray image cut to black, we didn't have a concrete conclusion on Moodysson's purpose, though it seems clear that the movie is interested in false exteriors masking true interiors. We're all containers for something, etc. Interestingly, of all the oddities that flashed past in the 72 minutes, that shot of the beige cooked ravioli swirling around the bathtub was perhaps one of the most oddly unsettling images from the whole proceeding. Don't ask us why. It was just too weird for words.

Thank goodness, Cinecultist found out that our man Lukas doesn't intend to stay on this provocative avant-garde track for ever. As he says in a Channel 4 article on Moodysson and an exhibit of his work at London's Institute of Contemporary Art:

"I'm thinking of going back to making a film that's not about broken or ruined things but whole things," he says surveying the jumbled chaos of his installation. "I had all these things in the room where I write. But when I started working on the exhibition I had to clear everything out. My room is empty and clean and that's inspiring me. My next film is mainstream and totally linear. I need to tell simple stories again."

Whew, that's good news. Cinecultist needs some serious simplicity after convoluted complexity of Container.