Container reviewed

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Container reviewed

Postby oeb » Tue Jan 09, 2007 4:24 am

I've finally gotten around to watch and review Lukas Moodysson's latest film Container - so it's added to the site. If you weren't a big fan of A hole in my heart and is afraid this one is similar you should certainly read the review. The Swedish DVD release is also reviewed. It shouldn't be necessary to mention that the afore-mentioned DVD is in stock and ready to ship from nordicdvd.net (now even accessible through nordicdvd.com). Biographies for the actors are also added. For your convinience, both reviews are also included right here in the forum :).

FILM REVIEW
Score: 5/6

The theme of “Container” is in a way similar to “Fucking Åmål” told in a completely different way. The monologue is coming from a woman trapped in a man's body. It's about sexuality, about not fitting in. There are plenty of international pop-cultural references. Similar to “Ett hål i mitt hjärta” this displays both a fascination and ambivalence towards modern culture. This is a very contemporary piece of art – it doesn't feel pretentious at all, but very truthful and heartfelt. “Container” is like a poem with images.

Lukas Moodysson returns to his poetic roots with "Container". The "flow of mind"-style monologue read throughout the film could easily have been taken from one of his books. Stylistic the film works better than "Ett hål i mitt hjärta". Completely silent black and white images are the backdrop of an almost whispering female monologue in Swedish or English. The Swedish language "feels" more like Moodysson's words and there are also some Swedish references that can’t be translated directly to English (but on the other hand people outside Scandinavia wouldn’t be able to relate to them so it’s better to use other words anyway). On the other hand it’s certainly not a second choice to hear the English version narrated by Jena Malone.

Unlike “Ett hål i mitt hjärta” there are no "shock effects". There may be some parts of the monologue and images that are potentially disturbing, but it's more fun in a way than it is sickening. Except for a low hum near the end sound effects are non-existing (quite the opposite of “Ett hål i mitt hjärta”). The surround track simply places the female narrator in the middle of the room. The voice is rather monotonous and almost whispering. Together with the visual style this makes the film so calm that I sometimes drifted off into my own thoughts while watching. The film is rather short, 1 hour and 11 minutes – but due to the style it obviously feels longer. On the other hand, it’s never boring. The monologue never stops and you will be astonished that he actually has written the things that are said many times. The film is shot in black and white and the same grainy 16mm-look that “Fucking Åmål” had. It's a nice touch that even the Memfis logo has been made black and white for the occasion. The film opens with the complete credits so it can end with just a black screen. In a way the visual look is similar to “Ett hål i mitt hjärta”, but the editing is calm just like the audio and not fast-paced with many cuts.

Sometimes I felt that the images could correspond better with the words – you could almost ignore the image altogether and just listen to the audio. A few times something referenced in the monologue turns up later on screen. A lot of the images and the words obviously don't make much sense, but it's simply a "flow of mind", so it's not supposed to make sense all the time either. I think this is a rather cool way of writing – more or less the way this review is written, even though it is edited – and I'm sure “Container” is too, even though it doesn't appear that way. It’s like instant messaging or simply your mind put on film – just a continuous stream of thoughts. I certainly hope more people will give “Container” a chance even though they were put off by “Ett hål i mitt hjärta”. Because this is something completely different and still a lot of the same – in a way “Container” is a resume of Lukas Moodysson’s work up until now, including his poetry.


DVD REVIEW (Swedish release)
Combined score: 3/6

Video: The film is presented in 16:9-format with an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1. Menus and bonus materials are 4:3 (1.33:1). Considering that the film is grainy 16 mm black and white this is certainly not a film you'd use for reference. I might have expected a crisper look though - with better contrast - more like the classic black and white films. But this is probably how the film was intended to look. Anyway, the digital transfer looks fine without any digital artefacts. Even the opening credits appear in either Swedish or English to correspond with your selected audio language. Since the film is only 71 minutes a single layer disc is sufficent to archive proper bit rate (the entire film is not stored twice obviously, just the opening credits). Average bit rate: 7.92 Mb/sec. (Swedish version) 8.4 Mb/sec. (English version) DVD-5 (Single layer) 4.28 GB. Score: 4/6

Audio: Two soundtracks are included - Swedish and English. Since there is simply a narrator and no actual dialogue we're not talking about a dubbing track in this case, but two versions of the film. Both languages are available in DD 2.0 (192 kbps) and DD 5.1 (448 kbps). If you select the DD 5.1 English audio track in the menu the film is still played with DD 2.0. You have to select it manually by remote. DD 2.0 is standard for both languages. The background audio for the menu is actually DD 2.1. Unfortunately no subtitles or captions are available in either language. This would certainly have added to the experience of the film since the narrator is almost whispering so it can be hard to catch all the words. However, there is no danger in turning up the volume - there are virtually no sound effects. The only "surround" effect is to place the narrator’s voice rather indistinct in the middle of the room, and a low hum towards the end of the film. Score: 4/6

Bonus materials: The menu is available in Swedish and English. The only bonus material is a picture gallery from the museum exhibition of Container in Stockholm, Copenhagen and London 2006 (1 minute and 59 seconds). The film is divided into chapters, but there are no scene access menus (!), so in order to access them you have to use the skip buttons or the chapter selection feature of the DVD player (if it has any). Even for a “small” film like this you should be able to expect more from a DVD release in 2006. Score: 1/6

Packaging: Transparent Amaray II case with a black and white cover in the same style as the film. It’s a nice touch that the female actor is shown on the front and the male actor on the back. The film reveals that this is actually the same person – as the girl exists only in the man’s mind – and that he identifies himself as a woman – thus the reason to put her on the front case. No booklet, but some press photos are printed on the back of the sleeve. Score: 4/6
oeb
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