(Sweden) Slim Susie (*** 1/2) – Erik comes back to the rural Swedish town where he grew up in search of of his missing younger sister Susie. He meets up with a cast of eccentric characters and the tale of Susie becomes increasingly more tangled and dark. No one should be likable in this movie but for some reason they are. It’s the blackest of comedies but quite a fun movie if you like your comedy dark. It’s also interesting to see how much influence American movies have on the Swedes, as the movie borrows from and references American movies from Pulp Fiction to Star Wars and beyond. [Saw on Netflix Instant Viewing, also available on DVD through Netflix]
(Norway) Buddy (***) – A simple romantic comedy about a twenty-four year old billboard hanger whose girlfriend just broke up with him. When his video lands in the hands of a reality show producer, his reality show star life becomes more complicated with his housemates than he imagined.
There’s nothing really special about this plot but it’s a fun way for an American viewer to get a sense of twenty-something life in Norway– both the similarities and the differences. My favorite bit of trivia? Hearing the English phrases that would pop up in their Norwegian conversations, like "okay" and "I’m sorry". I realized "okay" has become pretty international, but I had no idea the phrase "I’m sorry" was used anywhere but English speaking countries. [Watched on Netflix Instant; also available on DVD]
(Italy/ Greece) Ginger & Cinnamon (***) – A fifteen-year-old Italian girl decides it’s time she lose her virginity and see the world. So she runs away from her school field trip and convinces her 30-year-old Aunt to take her on a trip to Greece instead. The Aunt, recovering from a painful recent breakup, relunctantly agrees. Neither aunt nor niece really fits into the party-like international twenty-some island experience. The niece is a bit too young and the aunt, who acts likes she’s already 50, is a bit too old. But both come to understand themselves better and figure out why their current lives aren’t working for them.
While I ended up liking this movie, the aunt and the niece did drive me crazy at times. Both main characters talked non-stop and seemed to lack any self-awareness at the beginning of the film. But their relationship was kind of sweet and the Greek island scene was interesting. [Watched on Netflix Instant; also available on DVD]
(NYC) Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (****) – Two seventeen-years-olds, each nursing broken hearts, meet at a Lower East Side club and are drafted by their friends to turn their encounter into a nightlong first date. This is one of my favorite books so I was pleasantly surprised how well the movie captured the book’s spirit.
It’s true that Michael Cera isn’t the actor I imagined for Nick and Cera plays basically the same character he’s played in Arrested Development, Superbad, and Juno. Still, it’s a likable character and it works for NIck. Also, Nick’s ex-girlfriend Tris is more nuanced and realistic in the book, while in the movie she’s a cliched mean girl. Kat Dennings is absolutely perfect as Norah though and the movie offers a fun adventure with lots of music and a bit of physical comedy. The language and sexual content is much cleaner and family friendly in the movie, though there is a brief sex scene that we only hear, not see. [Saw on Netflix Instant Viewing, also available on DVD through Netflix]
(Kingdom of Andalasia/ NYC) Enchanted (*** 1/2) – They day before Princess Giselle’s wedding–in the cartoon Kingdom of Andalasia–wicked Queen Narissa banishes the princess down a well that just happens to lead straight to Manhattan. I started this movie with low expectations as I’m not terribly fond of princess movies, Disney, or Patrick Demspy. I was pleasantly surprised how enjoyable it was to watch though. Somehow this movie manages to pay homage to the Disney princess movies while gently mocking them and tells a story that kids will enjoy while entertaining adults. Patrick Dempsey is likable and Amy Adams is spot-on as Princess Giselle. A fun movie for mixed-aged audiences. [Watched on DVD]
(Germany) Hilfe (*** 1/2) – This could have been just a German version of those Freaky Friday body-switching type movies. The nuanced characters and respectful tone make this movie deeper and more enchanting than the usual glossy Disney-like story though. (Parent Note: While this movie is made to be suitable for kids, there is more cursing and mild sexual innuendo in this movie than some American family movies.) [Watched on Netflix Instant; also available on DVD]