Movies of the Week #15 (2023)

Le Otto Montagne (2022): A film on friendship, life choices and love of the mountains, The Eight Mountains is a sight to behold, even if stays on a beaten path. The movie follows two friends of the childhood summers variety, Pietro and Bruno, who reconnect in their twenties while still looking to establish themselves within their own lives. It takes a rather masculine view of the world and its challenges, which suits its character, but not always the strength of its story. That being said, there’s so much melancholy and romance between the slopes, lakes and forests of the Alps, that I found it hard not to nestle into it all, longing for its tragic simplicity. 8

Serre moi fort (2021): Hold Me Tight takes the winding scenic route to tell a painful story of loss and judgement. The premise itself is anything but simple, as a young mother seemingly leaves her husband and two children to rediscover her freedom. A movie about the endless love we can feel towards those close to us, its structure might prove frustrating to follow at times, but it effectively conveys some sort of sense of what Clarisse (Vicky Krieps), our titular character, might be going through. Anchored by a typically versatile performance from VK, Mathieu Amalric’s feature avoids melodrama and finds some poetry in its darkness. 7

8 Mile (2002): One of those movie that have lingered on my watchlist for ages, its time came about as I got a subscription for a new streaming platform and my first hourlong click-through led me to this Eminem origin story. We follow the transition from anxious white boy rapper to fierce stage competitor with…well, not bated breath, but a respectable amount of curiosity. In spite of a rough upbringing and less than ideal domestic circumstances, Jimmy fights through to make himself heard, thanks in no small part to the support of his friends. The character is endearing and you end up rooting for him, but the plot isn’t particularly imaginative and there are quite some familiar motions to get through. I definitely enjoyed Bodied more, because it felt less reverential and more willing to take some chances – also the rapping was crispier. Still, this makes for a good show and has enough personality to matter. 7

Champions (2023): This Hollywood remake of a (slightly) superior Spanish original tells of a disgraced basketball coach who is sentenced to do community service at a local school, managing players with intellectual disabilities. It’s exactly the kind of movie you expect it to be, with some tackiness added on top, but its good nature trumps the odd moment of condescension, helped also by the always endearing grouch that is Woody Harrelson. What I just don’t understand is how and why you’d ever want to stretch this kind of movie to a 2+ hour runtime, which is why it barely hung unto most of the appreciation it fostered. 6

Money Shot: The Pornhub Story (2023): I’m not quite sure what I was expecting when I started watching this Netflix production. Vaguely aware of the Pornhub controversies re: not taking down videos of unwilling participants, which just happened to include underage women and other situations of very questionable legality, leading to Visa and Mastercard not processing payments towards the website any more, I thought the “issue” had been resolved after a purge of the unverified website uploads and enforcement of stricter standards. As I said, vaguely. This documentary tries to show all sides of the story without really taking a serious stand, its case basically amounting to: ok, Pornhub did some naughty stuff, but they weren’t as methodically criminal as some religious conservatives posing as feminist liberals might want you to believe and what about the performers who have finally been empowered to not be servants to the porn studios and also something about freedom of choice and smut. It was interesting in a messy kind of way, but neither poignant, nor self-aware enough to be anything more than a curiosity. 6