Movies of the Week #11 (2017)

I’m getting sloppier and sloppier. Typical.

Movie of the Week:

Toni Erdmann (2016)




Hrútar (2015): The Icelandic movie about two brothers and some sheep proved darker than expected, yet serious to the bone as well. When Gummi loses against Kiddi (i.e. the two bro’s) in a local competition about who’s got the more impressive sheep – ram, actually – he takes it upon himself to investigate the well-being of his brother’s flock. I’m not quite sure whether it starts out as a ruse or whether his concerns are real, but Gummi reports to the authorities that some sheep might be infected with scrapie. Surprise, surprise, they actually turn out to be and the whole community is forced to sacrifice their sheep and take a two year hiatus from any sheep rearing- and they weren’t doing it as a hobby, either. While some decide to give up altogether, Kiddi refuses to comply and takes it out on Gummi, as their feud escalates. In its dry fashion, Hrutar is not devoid of humour, and keeps away from excessive sentimentality. Not the briskest experience in terms of pace, it might take a while to get into it, with rewarding results in the end. 7/10


Les saveurs du Palais (2012): In my chase of the foodies, watching a movie about former French president Mitterrand’s private cuisine slots in naturally. Framed contrastingly for the lead character, inspired-of-true-events Hortense Laborie, the story starts somewhere in the Arctic as a couple of Australian filmmakers try to squeeze some information out of Hortense, turned polar chef by choice. She might be unwilling to cooperate, but we get the whole story nonetheless – her call to the Élysée Palace, her authentic, French, the-way-my-grandmother-used-to-do-it cooking, her talks with the president, her struggle with bureaucracy. A lot if it is by the numbers, if well executed. The only reason the movie stands out is thanks to Catherine Frot’s performance of a not-quite-complete character. 6/10


Toni Erdmann (2016): The synopsis of Toni Erdmann is preposterous: A practical joking father tries to reconnect with his hard working daughter by creating an outrageous alter ego and posing as her CEO’s life coach (IMDb). If anything, it’s not even preposterous enough to express what really goes on in the movie. As Winfried, aka Toni, surprise-visits his daughter Ines in Bucharest, where she does the usual pants-and-suit job for a consulting company, things escalate quickly from awkward family visit to absurdist bonanza. Toni Erdmann does two things exquisitely: flesh out a couple of characters on the brink of self-denial and set/frame them perfectly against expatriate corporate life in the quirkiness of Romania. The end result is a deeply personal, humorous, dissociated and yearnful existential ride into 21st century modernity. Just perfect. 9/10