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Non-Review Review: Downhill

Earlier this year, Parasite became the first non-English language film to win the Best Picture Oscar.

This was a landmark moment for the Academy Awards and for mainstream American cinema in general. It was significant enough in cultural terms to merit a racist dog-whistle from the President of the United States. It also suggested that it was possible for foreign films to make over the “one inch barrier of subtitles.” The film’s box office returns were impressive, and its cultural footprint quite sizable. Parasite seemed to make its own strong argument for the viability of foreign-language films in the English-language market place.

Passing each other on the down-slope of a marriage…

Downhill makes a similar argument, albeit in much less compelling terms. The indie cringe comedy is an adaptation of Ruben Östlund’s breakout foreign language sensation Force Majeure, premised on the idea that there are audience members who might be drawn to the basic premise of the original film, but alienated by the subtitles. Indeed, Östlund himself seems to have acknowledged this, moving on to more English-language-friendly pastures with The Square, a film with a lot of dialogue in English and starring actors like Dominic West and Elizabeth Moss.

Downhill makes its own argument for the necessity of Force Majeure, by demonstrating just how much can get lost in translation.

Cold reception.

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New Podcast! The Time is Now – Season 1, Episode 13 (“Force Majeure”)

It was a delight to stop by The Time is Now podcast again, particularly so soon after my last appearance on The X-Cast.

This week, I’m joining host and showrunner Kurt North to talk about one of my favourite episodes of the first season and a definite turning point in the evolution of Millennium. Force Majeure is one of the first times in the season that Millennium really lets its freak flag fly high. It is an episode that feels very different and distinct from what came before, eschewing the conventional “serial killer of the week” format in favour of something more abstract and eschatological.

This was a fun, broad discussion. As ever, you can listen to the episode here, subscribe to the podcast here, or click the link below.

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Non-Review Review: Force Majeure

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015.

A blackly comic interrogation of modern masculinity, written and directed by Ruben Östlund, Force Majeure documents a family holiday that goes horribly and spectacularly wrong.

Following a nuclear family on their five-day ski holiday, Force Majeure examines the consequences of a fateful decision by the family patriarch. Dining on a restaurant on the upper levels of the resort, the family witness a controlled avalanche that quickly seems more and more uncontrolled. As a sea of white washes over the restaurant, Ebba tries to shield her children – while Tomas grabs his phone and his gloves and runs for cover, abandoning his wife and children to the elements.

forcemajeure

This sounds pretty bleak. However, Östlund shrewdly decides to play it as black comedy. He uses Tomas’ pretty spectacular failing as a jumping-off point into a number of delightfully uncomfortable sequences that manage to be both squirm-inducingly awkward and laugh-out-loud funny. For all the epic scale suggested by the movie’s one-line synopsis, Force Majeure is a rather more intimate piece of work. Two separate meltdowns over dinners with two different couples are arguably more catastrophic than any force of nature unleashed over the course of the narrative.

Force Majeure is a triumph, a stunning examination of a marriage under pressure.

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Millennium – Force Majeure (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fourth season of The X-Files and the first season of Millennium.

Papa?

It’s begun.

Fire and ice.

Fire and ice.

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