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  • Issue of
  • Apr 1-7, 2009
  • Vol. 29, No. 25

News & Views

Arts & Culture

  • The Scene
  • The Haunting in Connecticut

    Based on an allegedly “true” home invasion story from the ghost-happy 1980s, The Haunting in Connecticut is deep-fried in a double layer of supernatural hokum drenched in decades of haunted-house-movie orthodoxy. The fun starts when the middle-class Campbell family decides to rent a second home in far off Goatswood so that their sick eldest son Matthew (Kyle Gallner) won’t have to commute far after his chemo treatments. His worried mom (Virginia Madsen) finds the perfect spot, a roomy, gothic-looking fixer-upper, but with a caveat: It was once a mortuary where unholy experiments were performed long ago. Swiftly fading Matt starts seeing all sorts of dead people, and they are seven shades of freaky and nonplussed spectral guests. Eventually the whole family’s seeing spirits in the breakfast nook, and the puzzle starts to come together as a stack of moldy photos is found that details a lot of the unexplained phenomena. And then there’s a box full of human eyelids. The family calls in gravel-voiced Elias Koteas to bust some ghosts.
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  • The Scene
  • Revanche

    What starts as a too-slow neo-noir about an ex-con named Alex (Johannes Krisch) who decides to rob a bank in order to free his Ukrainian prostitute girlfriend (Irina Potapenko) from her pimp, unexpectedly turns into a muted but poignant moral drama. Building on the kind of coincidences that would sink a mainstream flick, Revanche (which can mean “revenge” or “do over”) sends Alex, devastated by the tragic outcome of the robbery, to his grandfather’s farm (Hannes Thanheiser) in the film’s second half. Nearby lives Robert (Andreas Lust), the unfortunate cop who stumbled upon the robbery. Tortured by its outcome and feeling emasculated by his inability to have a child, he withdraws from wife Susanne (Ursula Strauss). This ignites an unexpected relationship — between her and the brooding criminal contemplating revenge. While the plot twists probably sound soap opera-ish on paper, on screen Spielmann presents them as the inevitable ironies of life, understating the contrivances and rooting everything in gritty authenticity.
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  • The Scene
  • Everlasting Moments

    This elegant but mopey melodrama tells the true story of an early 1900s working-class woman who discovers she has a gift for photography but struggles to remain loyal to her abusive husband and ever-growing family. Maid and mender, Maria Larsson (Maria Heiskanen), who, after winning a camera in the local lottery, tries to sell it for much-needed cash. Enter the charming photo shop owner, Sebastian Pedersen (Jesper Christianson), who talks her out of pawning it, convincing her to explore her artistic side. But as Maria’s hidden talents become unleashed, her drunken, philandering husband Sigfrid (Mikael Persbrandt) reacts with jealous self-interest. And then, of course, there’s the family brood, seven children with tales and troubles of their own. Maria is caught in an emotional tug-of-war. Despite her evolving creative spirit, she views the camera as a harbinger of family tragedy, banishing then retrieving it throughout her life. She bounces between joyous self-discovery, deep friendship with Pedersen, and the demands of home, while the domineering Sigfrid slowly struggles to prove himself a worthy provider. Despite Everlasting Moments’ gorgeous imagery, the film is schematically melodramatic and shamelessly sentimental, rife with bland dialogue and pointless digressions.
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