My Friend Dahmer

A dramatised biopic of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s teenage years. I’d say it’s probably best to come to this movie with no idea about who Jeffrey Dahmer is, and just see it as a character study of a disturbed young man missing opportunities to reach out for help. Otherwise, it is a bit unsettling watching such a sympathetic portrayal of a man who committed some of the most horrendous murders.

What’s good about the movie is it doesn’t really mention the murders until the end, on a black screen right before the credits, and then with no details about nature of the deaths. What I could have done without is the jaunty soft rock play-out music still going over the information.

By not really referencing the murders, the film can simply be a drama about teenage alienation, and the lack of communication and emotional support within male teenage friendships. 

The Charmer

An engaging film about an Iranian guy who tries to get his green card in Denmark but seducing women in the hopes of marrying them.

It’s an interesting look at race and gender and power. For him, these white women hold his life in their hands, they can decide if he stays and prospers here or gets deported back to Iran. They have all the power. For the women, he uses them, betrays them and humiliates them, it completely destroys one woman and her family. He has all the power. There’s no easy way to reconcile this.

It’s also a love story, with a sympathetic if morally ambiguous main character, whose past sins are steadily catching up with him.

How Victor “The Garlic” Took Alexey “The Stud” to the Nursing Home

A Russian comedy (not often you get to say that).

Viktor is a supreme dobber who discovers that the father he assumed died in prison is in fact living with a spinal cord injury in a flat across town. His father is an even bigger dobber than him, so Viktor decides to pap him off to a nursing home and claim the flat for himself. But all does not go to plan.

It’s a road trip redemption movie, with a lot of farcical humour and a soundtrack of thumping Russian rap.

The Cured

A zombie allegory for the release of political and paramilitary prisoners and their reintegration back into their community after the end of The Troubles. To hammer it home, the zombie virus is called the Maze virus (Maze Prison, Maze virus, gedit?) It’s one of those films where I actually would have preferred to read as a book. There’s a lot of really interesting ideas, but the actual characters feel more vehicles for that than real, lived in people. It’s also one of those horror films that confuses loud for scary. But it does have plenty of good zombie shit so I was still happy.

Sweet Country

An Australian film about a black guy who shoots a white guy in self-defence. And if a story starts like that, you know how it’s gonna end. Visually, this film conveys the awe of the Australian landscape, following Sam as he goes on the run. Despite the fact he could kill his pursuers numerous times, he is only interested in getting away, and even stops to save the life of one. A story that remains unfortunately relevant.

Mobile Homes

A film about homelessness and parenthood. A woman tries to provide what life she can for her son while they flit between motel and squat, selling fighting cocks with her violent boyfriend.

What I liked about this was its portrayal of neglect and abuse as not necessarily the product of people but of the practicalities of poverty. Of course the boy’s gonna be left all day alone, who has money to pay for childcare? When the boy accidentally lets one of the birds out and catches a nasty cut from its talon trying to retrieve it, what are you gonna do, attend to the boy or catch the bird? The bird’s worth 3000 dollars. The cut will heal. Want me to tell you that that’s not the way things are?

The mother struggles to negotiate the inescapable truths of their lives while attempting to leave a crack open for hope to enter through. Solid film.

120 BPM

A love story set among the Parisian branch of Act Up, the AIDS activism group. It has a very naturalistic style to it. It is the first time I’ve seen a political activism meeting look like a real political activism meeting, boring and with agendas and petty bickering and menial practicalities and clash of personalities. Despite its serious subject, it’s a film with a lot of humour and warmth. Recommend.

Pin Cushion

A British Mean Girls with no jokes. Played straight down the line, this is a tale of female loneliness. With echoes of the start of Carrie, this is a film about the outsider, what it’s like to be permanently locked out of the society the rest of us seem to share in with ease. It’s also about mother-daughter relationships, and how we can need them most at the times we have pull away from them to grow. The ending is horrendous and brought me to sudden, stinging tears.

If you like this