The Velvet Café

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Movie kisses are overrated – or why movie love is best when miserable

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“… and so they lived happily together for the rest of their lives.”

This was the way fairy tales used to end when I grew up, way before Disney realized that girls actually dream of other things than marriage.

Nowadays I find most love stories with happy endings quite unbearable. Is there anything more boring than to see a couple wrapped up in their own little bubble of happiness? They obviously don’t care for anything but themselves. Why should I care about them?

The movie bloggers in Sweden run a blogathon every month and the theme of February was “love”. (I suspect that the upcoming Valentines’s Day might have something to do with this).

And the more I thought about the topic, the more I realized how dark I want my love movies to be.

You have to push me hard to come up with a love movie with a happy loving couple that I truly love. I suppose there are a few in Love Actually, but my favourite one in that movie is the miserable guy who communicates his unfulfilled love with cards. Then there’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which is a bit in-between and not very clear about the prospects of the future. One of my favourite love couples in a movie last year was Only Lovers Left Alive. If you think about it, their relationship is pretty great. But their overall life situation isn’t.

So let’s have a look at my current favourite movie couples:

10. Perfect Sense
Susan and Michael fall in love. Unfortunately the world is coming to its end meanwhile. It’s just a shame that I don’t know of anyone else apart from me who has seen this film.

roman holiday
9. Roman Holiday
Joe and Princess Ann fail badly in overcoming the class divide.

8. Never Let Me Go
As if a dystopian society wasn’t enough, poor Kathy and Tommy are separated from each other because of jealousy.

7. Bright Star
Fanny Brawne and John Keats, seperated by a wall of financial issues and disease. The further away they are from each other, the more I root for them.
brief enc

6. Brief Encounter
There isn’t much physical contact between Laura and Dr Alec during their brief encounters at a railway station café. But this means that every little touch will mean something. Oh, that touch on the shoulder – immensely more erotic than any intercourse possibly could be. The impossible love is the sweetest one.


5. Brokeback Mountain
Ennis and Jack. Do I really need to say anything? Isn’t this the most heart breaking love movie ever?


4. The Bridges of Madison County
Robert and Fransesca – competing with Brokeback mountain for the title “Most tear provoking love movie ever). It’s a shame that it appears so rarely on people’s top lists.

3. Lost in Translation

I’m not entirely sure of the nature of the relationship between Charlotte and Bob, what to make of the food holding scene and exactly what words that were uttered in their final meeting. Regardless what, they’re my favourite platonic love couple evs.


2. The Remains of the Day
Miss Kenton and Mr Stevens. Every time I watch this movie I can’t help hoping that you’ll step out of your comfort zones, cross the barriers and confess your love to each other. Miracles DO happen, right?


1. Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight
Oh, Jessie. Oh, Celine. Unlike most couples on my top list, you aren’t doomed. Your relationship is worth saving, though it will require some effort. Please, please give it a try!

Separation, yearning, death and disaster, misery and melancholy. There you are, my favourite ingredients for love movies. And all movie kisses are overrated, unless they’re performed in a sense of danger and desperation.




Here are the takes on love in movies by my fellow bloggers (in Swedish):

Fiffis filmtajm
Fripps filmrevyer
Har du inte sett den?
The Nerd Bird
Rörliga bilder och tryckta ord

Musings on the danger of using social media in movies

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Within a short period of time I’ve seen two movies where usage of social media is an essential element of the plot.

In Frank Twitter and YouTube was used to build an audience for a rock band. In Chef social media basically rule the world. That’s where careers are built and ruined and if there’s anything you can take away from this otherwise lacklustre film, it’s the crash course in how to handle Twitter and Vine.

Two examples aren’t enough to call something a trend, but I suspect they’re not the only ones we’re going to see this year. And I must say that I’m a little conflicted about it.I can see what they’re trying to do there: be relevant to a young, contemporary audience. There are hundreds of thousands active Twitter accounts in Sweden alone, which is a very small country. 54 percent of the population is on Facebook. Of course social media matter and why wouldn’t they matter to the characters appearing in your movies, provided they’re not hobbits or elves living in a fairy tale land where messages are sent by magical orbs or butterflies.

The traps
But for how understandable it is that you include them, I think it also is a little risky.There are traps to fall in if you don’t beware.

One is that a middle-aged screenwriter may have an idea about how different social media work, but isn’t necessarily an expert user. It’s so easy to get some detail wrong. I’m not necessarily thinking of the actual mechanic of it, such as how long a tweet is or how people respond to or forward certain messages. That’s fairly easy to make a quality check on. What can be a bit trickier is to make it believable. Is it likely that a such and such tweet will catch fire in the way it does in the movie? Is the tone right? Does it spread at a likely pace? Or is it obvious that it’s sprung out of someone’s idea about social media rather than coming from their own experience? If you get it wrong, you’ll rub all those young expert users the wrong way with your clumsy attempts to be modern.

Another risk is that you’re tempted to make too much of a deal out of the social media. If it starts to dominate the movie rather than being a part of people’s everyday life, it gives the movie a silly, unbalanced feel. And it also signals: “hey, I’m a middle-aged person who just discovered social media, isn’t this a remarkable thing?” Very uncool.

A strong timestamp
But the biggest problem, of course, is that it sets such a strong timestamp on the movie. The development in this territory goes at a crazy speed and within a year or two so much can happen that the movie you had spiced up with that magic social media ingredient now all of a sudden looks hopelessly outdated. If telephones an computer design age quickly, it’s nothing compared to what social media does. And the question is: does it age with charm, the way that old cars or space pyjama suits from the 60s do? I can’t know for sure yet, but I suspect not.

My suspicion is that the filmmakers are perfectly aware of this danger, but it’s not such a big deal. They’re not aiming for making a new Brief Ecounter, which can be enjoyed by generation after generation of film lovers. They have their box office race running over a few weekends, and under that brief period their chosen social media isn’t likely to go anywhere.

I’m curious to see what we’ll think about today’s movies with social media in fifteen years. Will they have aged the way that You’ve Got Mail has? And if so, will they likewise have charm enough to make up for it?

photo credit: kelly.sikkema via photopin cc

Written by Jessica

September 12, 2014 at 1:00 am

A few angry words on the lack of love for voice acting

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Today I got an e-mail from the number one movie theatre chain in Sweden, where I have a gold level loyalty card. They offered me the chance to “lend” my voice to one of the characters in Disney’s upcoming adventure comedy Big Hero 6.

According to the letter it wouldn’t be necessary to go through a painful, time consuming audition. All you had to do to participate in the casting was to record yourself with your cell phone, saying the line: “Hello, do you hear me? Do you know your name?” and then post it on Instagram. The winner would do the voice recording in Stockholm at a certain point. No economic compensation whatsoever would be paid, not even to cover travel costs.

The winner would get tickets to the premier of the movie. Yay.

I think this speaks volumes about how much certain elements of the film business care about the products they sell. As long as the sales volumes of popcorn don’t drop, they’re happy. Reading as reading. Any schmuck who can read the ingredient list from a package of cornflakes can read a few lines in an animated movie, according to their beliefs.

And it makes me so mad. It’s disrespectful towards train actors who do this for real, who put their heart into every role they make, no matter how small because they’re professionals. And it’s disrespectful towards the audience. When we watch a Disney movie, rightly or wrongly, we expect it to keep a certain level. That includes the dubbed voices we get in the Swedish release.

Motion caption actors
Motion caption actors have received a lot of love over the last few years. Every time a new part of the Hobbit or the Planet of the Apes franchises come out, someone will start talking about Andy Serkis and how much he deserves an Academy award for his brilliant body acting.

Don’t get me wrong. The computer generated creatures in movies become much more alive and believable thanks to the cooperation between the actors and the animators. I appreciate that. What I don’t get though is that voice actors aren’t given the same kind of attention and respect. One good voice actor can turn a movie into something completely different than what it else would have been. I don’t have to remind you about what Robin Williams was to Aladdin.

As a fellow film fan I can see why someone would enter the casting competition of Big Hero 6. Who wouldn’t like to be a part of a film recording? Even if I had to do it for free and even pay for my own train ticket to the studio, it would feel as if it was worth it.

However, as fun as it may be for the individual, it’s wrong to everyone else.

I don’t want to see another voice acting casting like this, ever.

photo credit: nofrills via photopin cc

Written by Jessica

September 5, 2014 at 1:00 am

Loncon3: Five days in geek heaven

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LonconLogoI’m starting to write this post with the intention to share some of the atmosphere and the joy I felt as one of the approximately 8 000 members of the world science fiction convention of 2014, Loncon3, which took place in London in the middle of August.

I know already that I will fail. How could I possibly give you an idea of what it was like? Should I begin with the symphony orchestra that played the Star Wars suite so well that the audience of several thousand science fiction fans refused to let go of them until they had played the Superman intro another time?

Or should I try to make you understand how cool it was to have a one hour long conversation with Adrian Hon? He’s one of the creators of the running app Zombies, Run! and also the author of A History of the Future in 100 objects, which is one of the most inspiring, thought-provoking and fun-to-read science fiction books I’ve encountered in years. He’s so interesting that you feel smarter just being around him.

There are so many moments of wonder to choose between. I saw a real guy from NASA, how about that? And how about the science fiction fan from New Zealand, who clearly was “one of us”, but also had been working at Weta since the beginning of the Lord of the Rings movies. He had now advanced from making elf ears to doing digital special effects. He revealed that it takes a couple of weeks to make just a few seconds of fire breath from Smaug.


The audience. Photo: Sofia Karlsson

There were moments of darkness. I went to a panel about the usage of drones an was stunned by the testimonies we got there from former soldiers who had served in Iraq and shared what it’s like to kill people with the help of drones and why it’s problematic.

The programme
With up to 20 different events going on at the same time in parallel programme tracks, you could only see a fraction of what was going on at any given moment. My experience is completely different from the one of anyone else. There was a special program track for academics. People who like young adult fiction could spend their entire convention discussing only this. For film fans there were a number of movies and panels to choose between. Fans of literature, art, music, science, anime and games – everyone had plenty of content available just for them.

We’re really a diverse group of people when you think of it. And yet there’s something that keeps us together: the love for things that are imagined. Some of us prefer visions of the future that build on science and are fairly plausible, others are fans of fairy-tales for adults, scientific or not.

A safe spot
I would say that fandom is a place that is slightly more tolerant for differences than the ordinary world outside. It’s a safe spot for everyone, from my experience. I’ve been a science fiction fan since the middle of the 80s, an I’ve never been harassed or looked down upon because of my gender. There are other female fans who disagree on this, but nothing I’ve heard of has been anywhere near the level of misogyny that has been reported recently from the gaming community. I’m sure that even more can be done, but even as it is now, I dare say that the science fiction fandom has come a great deal further in terms of gender equality, diversity and inclusion than society in general.

Hugo winners of 2014. Photo: Johan Anglemark

Hugo winners of 2014. Photo: Johan Anglemark

Like all worldcons, Loncon3 was entirely run by volunteers – many hundreds of them – who do it for fun, not for profit. And this is what sets it apart from commercially run conventions. You don’t go to the convention as a customer and you’re not mostly a target for marketing from various movie and game franchises. While there is a small area where you can buy books, art and t-shirts from vendors, it’s not what the convention is about.

Whatever you pay to get inside (which honestly isn’t all that much considering what you get) isn’t an entrance fee. You’re buying a membership- As a member of the convention you’re there on the same terms as everyone else. Those who run it, those who participate in the programme, those who listen to panels and participate in discussions – we’re all there as equals. Your appearance at the convention may not cause the same queues as George R.R. Martin. But basically you’re just as responsible as he is for making it a great convention. We are science fiction fans having a great time together.

I’ve already mentioned a few of my top moments at my convention and here  are some more highlights. Remember though: this is by no means the whole thing. It’s a sample of what I saw, which was a lot more than this. And all in all there were over 1 000 programme items.

Signing queue for the very popular George R.R. Martin. Photo: Johan Jönsson

Signing queue for the very popular George R.R. Martin. Photo: Johan Jönsson

Space on screen
A panel discussion about the different visions of life in space that are offered in movies with Elysium and Gravity as examples of extremes, where one goes for realism and the other one for political consciousness. The most interesting perspective was given my Chris Baker, who worked as a concept artist on Gravity, was surprisingly lukewarm towards the movie he’d been a part of making.

Time in the Novel
The science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson held an interesting talk, where he compared the narrative pace in works by various authors, with Virginia Woolf and Olaf Stapledon as examples of two extremes. One of them can let millions of years pass over a page, the other one can linger over a few seconds for pages. Robinson wrote off the prevalent “truth” that “show, not tell” always is better. It’s all more like music. There are different beats and you need to know when to use what. Something that is just as true in the case of movies.

Sherlock Holmes and science fiction
This was a lecture by the scholar Amy H Sturgis, who spoke about the many connections between science fiction and Sherlock Holmes. I already knew about Data’s inclination towards dressing up as SH at the holo deck in Star Trek TNG, but it turned out there’s a lot more to it.

Zombies Run! New Ways to Understanding Games
The writing team of my favourite game was there and since more or less the entire audience consisted of fans like me it turned into what I’d call a love party for the fans.

Audrey Niffenegger’s lecture on HG Wells
HG Wells was a president of the English PEN, and in the honour of him, the author of the bestseller The Time Traveler’s wife held a wonderful lecture about the power of imagination, inspired by one of his novels. It was said that this lecture will be available on the net at some point, though I haven’t been able to find it yet.

Furry Fandom: Not What You Think
This was one of the least attended events that I went to, but definitely one of the nicest. Members of the Furry Fandom described what it’s about and also made a demonstration of what a furry dress can look like. If you ever thought that it’s related to kinky stuff in the bedroom, I can assure you it’s not. Furry fandom is a place for highly creative and adorable people who are brave enough to not give a crap about what others think of them and while I doubt that I’ll ever be a part of them, I’m glad that they exist. I was a little shocked to hear though that their upcoming world convention will attract some 5 000 people. There might be a day when furry fandom is bigger than science fiction fandom, believe it or not.

The Worldcon Philharmonic Orchestra. Photo: Johan Jönsson

The Worldcon Philharmonic Orchestra. Photo: Johan Jönsson

Book covers: The Good the Bad and the Ugly
A panel of artists, art directors, editors and writers presented some of their favourite and no-so-favourite cover artwork. This was immensely fun to watch and also made me think about movie posters. I really would like to pay more attention to those than I do. There’s a great deal of work put into them. Some are great, others not. There are entire blogs that focus only on this and I have no ambition to become an expert, but I would like to give my opinion about it every now and then, from the perspective of a consumer.

The Hugo Awards Ceremony
To be completely honest, it wasn’t that much to be excited about. Award ceremonies rarely are to be honest. And the Hugo’s don’t even have the budget of the Oscars. Besides there had been some fuzz around the appointment of the hosts. The first one was swipped out because some people had found some of the humour things he’d done in the past offensive. We ended up with the authors Justina Robson and Geoff Ryman, who did their best to not be offensive to anyone. And that doesn’t make for good entertainment. Nevertheless I can’t deny that it was a little cool to be in the same room as some celebrities. The creators of the TV series Game of Thrones were there and received their award in person. Some Doctor Who actors were there too. They didn’t get any award, but fans could talk to them and get their pictures taken.


The fan village and the exhibition hall. Photo: Johan Anglemark

The Fan Village and the future worldcons
Finally I need to mention the fan village. While I spent a lot of time listening to various lectures and panels, I also spent some time hanging around with science fiction fans from all over the world, friends as well as new acquaintances. Every night there were parties with free booze thrown by different groups of fans who were aspiring to arrange a worldcon in the future. (We ran a Scandinavian one too, where fans were treated with Swedish vodka and candy). If I had been a little tad younger and a little more unwise I would no doubt had stayed up longer and become quite wasted. But I prioritized sleeping so I could get up in time to enjoy the programme items. Next time maybe, if the programme isn’t as awesome as it was in London.

Speaking of which: if you’ve been with me this long you may wonder about how to catch a worldcon in the future. When and where will you find it? Well, the next two are already decided: Spokane in 2015 and Kansas City in 2016. The following one will be chosen through an election next year.  Helsinki in Finland is one of the candidates and I hope they’ll win, because that would mean that I’d attend for sure.

If should also mention that there will be a Nordic convention next year, Archipelacon, which is held at Åland, a group of islands situated in the sea between Sweden and Finland. Obviously it will not be anywhere near the size of a worldcon, but smaller conventions are nice in the way that you get a lot closer to the writers. You’re more likely to get the chance to meet them in person. The guests of honour are George R.R. Martin, Karin Tidbeck and Johanna Sinisalo. If you’re planning a holiday in Scandinavia and have a soft spot for science fiction and fantasy, this may be something for you.

There is one more little thing that I wanted to report about from Loncon3: I saw a lovely little science fiction movie from Sweden, LFO: The Movie, which you probably haven’t heard of since it only has been shown at film festivals until this point. But it deserves a blog post of its own.

For this time I’ll finish my report from the five days I spent in geek heaven. My only regret is that it was my first worldcon. I should have done this way earlier in my life.


Edit: A commenter pointed out that I didn’t talk in this post about the fanzine part of fandom. This is definitely an overlook from my side. I just didn’t spend a lot of time with that at this con, but it’s a topic that is very close to my heart. The making of fanzines is the origin of the fandom which I’m proud to be a part of. I wrote about it a few years ago at my former blog.

Written by Jessica

August 31, 2014 at 10:35 pm

A night at the movie theatre in Cambodia

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“Please take off your shoes”.

This was a new one. I looked at the poster on the wall, hesitating for a moment on what to do.

“No shoe removal” is one of the commandments in the Wittertainment Code of Conduct. The code mentions one exception: if you’re in Japan, you can go ahead and take off your shoes. My current geographical position wasn’t Japan, it was Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Japan was in fact a several hour flight away, but it was a great del closer than Sweden. So perhaps the far-east rules could apply anyway? And besides – even if it isn’t mentioned in the code, shouldn’t the first rule for good behaviour at the theatre be that you follow any guidelines given by the ushers?

3 dollar 50 cents per night
I looked at another note, which informed me that the entrance fee was 3,50 dollars for the entire night, including several movies. 3,50 dollars. Where I come from you wouldn’t even get the smallest sized popcorn boxes for that amount. It’s not that surprising though when you think closer about it. Different markets, different rules. If the ticket prices were European, you wouldn’t sell many tickets in Cambodia, if any at all. They take as much as they think they can from the audience, no more, no less.

Chicken nuggets and French fries
The third thing my eyes fell on was a menu. For someone who prefer theatres to be food free zones, the menu looked scary. Chicken nuggets? French fries? Pizza? Curry? If people really brought all that stuff into the theatre, I feared that I had a quite unpleasant ride ahead of me.

As it turned out, it wasn’t as bad as you could think. Perhaps we were just lucky, picking a screening where popcorn was the only thing that was consumed. (Popcorn is annoying too, but I’ve given up fighting them at this point. There’s no escape from it, not in Sweden, nor in Cambodia. They’re what make the wheels of cinema keep spinning. Or from a different point of view: movies are nothing but vehicles for popcorn sales.) Or maybe the ventilation was excellent. In any case I couldn’t sense any lingering smell of food, not even from the empty plates that were carried out from the previous show.

Beds instead of seats
But let’s move along into the screening room. It was a small one, seating approximately 20 people. No IMAX, but with a screen big enough to make it feel like a real theatre rather than as a glorified living room for home movie watching.

What made it stand out however, compared to what I’m used to, was that it didn’t have ordinary seats. It had beds (and a couple of sofas).

The obvious advantage of bed seating is the comfort. It’s basically like watching the film slacking in your favourite couch. I’m fairly short so I could stretch out my legs fully. Perfect for my constitution. I can imagine it’s less than perfect for tall people, who need to wrap up their legs in order not to kick people in the row in front.

Then there is the problem that too much comfort can be a problem when you watch movies. Watching a thriller or a comedy is fine from a horizontal position, but slower movies can be a bit of a challenge. And how intimate do you want to be with the one sitting beside you? There are no physical barriers between you and your neighbour. Fine if you’re a love couple on a date, but a little intimidating if you’re seated by a stranger.

Early releases
Finally I need to say something about the programming. I hadn’t expected Cambodia to be the place to go if you want to see the most recent releases. It’s a small and very poor country about as far as you can get from Europe and North America and you could imagine that it would take some time for movies to reach this market. But in fact it’s the opposite. Most movies seem to open in Cambodia either earlier, or at the same time as they open in Sweden. As an additional bonus they also screen classics, something that is nearly impossible to see on a big screen where I live, unless you join a film club.

Movie theatres in Phnom Penh
Sadly I only managed to make one theatre visit during my three week trip in Cambodia. I ended up at The Flicks, which is run by expat volunteers. There are several other movie theatres in Phnom Penh, among them The Empire, which has a  similar concept, also offering comfortable beds and brand new films mixed up with classics.

If you ever visit Cambodia as a tourist (which I sincerely recommend you to do, it’s as beautiful as it’s heartbreaking), don’t miss to spend at least a night in a cinema. It’s cheap, it’s fun and it’s a movie experience unlike what you get at home.



Written by Jessica

June 17, 2014 at 2:43 pm

The Velvet Café’s top list of 2013

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Bloggers make their top lists of the year earlier and earlier. Publishing them in the beginning of December is not unusual. I insist on waiting until the year is over before I do anything about my list. However this year I’m a little later than usual, for no good reason. I’ve just been busy and haven’t come around to it.

I don’t expect anyone else to be particularly interested in my list at this point. But I don’t make it for you, I make it for me, because it gives me a sense of order and because I’ve found that those year lists are pretty useful as reference material. So here I go anyway. Late, but dedicated.

The rules
My rules are the following: movies that either had their first theatrical release in Sweden or were released directly for DVD can be taken into consideration. Screenings at film festivals don’t count, since they’re so limited and out of reach for most of us, including me.

If you wonder why I haven’t included a certain movie, chances are that I haven’t seen it yet. Here are some examples of movie which will be 2013 films as far as I am concerned, either I’ve seen them or not: Her, Only Lovers Left Alive, American Hustle, August: Osage County, Inside Llewy Davis.

Needless to say this was hard. Like super hard. And if you asked me tomorrow, the list would have shifted into a different shape. It’s mood relatd.

And now ladies and gentlemen – bring on the list!

Honorable mentions
First a few movies that didn’t make it into the actual list but which I want to give a nod:

The Bling Ring

I felt emotionally disconnected from Sofia Coppola’s movie, but it worked for me at an intellectual level.

Liv and Ingmar
This might be old news for Bergman experts, but to me this documentary put the relationship into a new light.

world war z
World War Z

The film is pale compared to the book it’s based on, with little more than the title in common. But I give it as much as that the mass scenes with zombies were awesome.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Another round of Battle Royale. It was enjoyable but I hope they’ll get do something different in part three. This was basically more of the same.

One of three movies this year about gangs with criminal girls. My initial sympathies for them faded pretty quickly.

OK, I admit that it was forgettable even if I dislike the word. But it was fun as long as it lasted


about time
About Time
It was a milk chocolate movie, for days when all you want to do is to hide under a blanket and comfort yourself with huge amounts of TV and sweets.

Anna Karenina
Oh, the dresses. The dresses!

Django Unchained

Five minutes was all it took for Django to win me over. Those five minutes didn’t just introduce the heroes – the bounty hunter Dr Schultz and his to-be partner Django, former slave. It also contained the main features of the movie I was about to see: a well balanced mix of drama, comedy and stylish, choreographed over-the-top violence.

Don Jon
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s debut as a director  holds a lot of promise and if he decides to go on with a career not only appearing in movies, but also making them, I’ll be in line to watch them.

The Hobbit: The desolation of Smaug

A little bit better than the first one, partly thanks to Tauriel, badd-ass elf woman.

Mood Indigo
The first half of the movie is just one long visual crazy party. It’s like having sparkling champagne straight into your veins

The gaze of a child gave it the shimmer of a fairy tale. Next time I’d love to see a female protagonist though.

Tom Cruise in Oblivion

Many claimed Oblivion was bad in different ways. I didn’t notice. I was too busy having fun watching it.

Only God Forgives
Only surface? Perhaps. But what a surface!

pacific rim
Pacific Rim

I didn’t have a good excuse. But I fell in love with it nevertheless.

Promised Land
Gus van Sant’s latest movie just disappeared. I wonder why. Could it be about politics?


Judi Dench defies the natural laws. She only gets better the older she gets.

Ruby Sparks
From my review:
“Ruby Sparks is by no means a profound movie, but I thought it was pretty damned fun, and considering how picky I am with “fun”, that is high praise. But there’s more to it than just the light hearted comedy; it puts its finger on easy it is to get into a mode where we try to reconfigure our loved ones and how unwise such attempts can be.”


This was surprisingly enjoyable – even for someone who couldn’t care less about formula one.

Side Effects
This made me think of director such as Alfred Hitchcock. It’s got the ingredients: a conspiracy, a battle of wills, cunning plans that are so entertaining that you forgive them for being implausible and women who are as dangerous as they’re beautiful. Besides it’s got Jude Law, who keeps aging with grace and dignity. In the absence of James Stewart, he’s a perfect fit for the role.

Silver Linings Playbook
This film did for mental illness what 50/50 did for cancer: took a bit of the drama out of it with humour.

Spring Breakers
The party went on and on and I didn’t know what point it tried to make. But it was pretty.

tom at the farm
Tom at the Farm

Xavier Dolan, the Canadian wonder, made it again. He’s got talent you could die for.

Warm Bodies
Braiiins! I was charmed.


A punk girl in Saudia Arabia and her drem of a cycle. Infuriating with a little rim of hope.


Beasts of the Southern Wild
The story of Hushpuppy – my hero!

Behind the Candelabra

It was a shame that this was marketed as a TV movie.

Blue is the Warmest Color
This movie quickly got a reputation for its sexual content. But far more interesting than the sex scenes is to see how the relationship evolves and what a struggle it can be to overcome class differences.


Blue Jasmine
Cate Blanchett was magnificent. The movie as such was good too. Regardless of the debate about Woody Allen’s person.

Café de Flore
A delicious movie for everyone who loves the bittersweet. Strangely it never got any cinematic release in Sweden; it went straight for DVD.

A 3D movie in black and white? Not a hit with the big audience, it appears. I was alone in the theatre watching this, which didn’t make it less enjoyable. Oh, Sparky! Movie dog of the year!

Frances Ha

Some movies have a “soul”, if you get what I mean. Others don’t. Frances Ha has it. And it has New York City. And Greta Gerwig, who is wonderful.

Fruitvale Station
From my review:

“I was reminded of that behind every news headline you see about someone dying in a crime or violence related incident, there’s also a hidden story about the people involved. There are children who lose their parents, mothers who lose their sons, partners who lose their loved ones. And each one of them is a human being, not as different from me as I may think as I throw a glance at them from the other side of the platform at the subway station.”

The Great Gatsby

I thank Baz Luhrmann. God knows how many more years I would have waited to read the book if it wasn’t for the beautiful, sparkling and loving (and actually surprisingly faithful) introduction he made with his movie.

I’ve seen it twice now. This is probably the funniest Swedish movie of 2013 – and at the same time it’s very gripping. Remake, anyone?


The Impossible
You enter the theatre annoyed by an issue with your computer, and you leave it with tears and a new spark in your eyes, grateful of what you have. Grateful of your family, grateful of your health, grateful of living in security. Grateful of being one of the winners in the lottery of life.

The Master
From my review:

“ The Master is the kind of movie that begs you for revisits. I would happily come back again to it, to enjoy the cinematography, which is stunningly beautiful, even if you haven’t had the opportunity to see it in 70 mm format, to once again be captured by the score and – above all – the outstanding acting performances.”


Les Miserables
From my review:

“Les Misérables is big, beautiful and shamelessly sentimental. I can understand that it’s not for everyone, but it is for me.

I left the theatre, satisfied as if I’d just had a delicious five-course dinner with the freedom song of the rebels ringing in my ears. This is a meal I’d be happy to eat again.”

A movie about nazi children that manages to not sort people into boxes. It stayed with me for a long time after watching it.


From my review:

“When I left the theatre I felt exhausted and a bit bruised. It’s not just because the running time is long (over 2.5 hours); it’s also that there’s so much to take in as a viewer during those hours. I couldn’t have been more tired if I had been binge watching an entire season of a TV series.”

The Reunion (Återträffen)
This film about bullying really got me thinking about what took place at my high school so many years ago.

Star Trek Into Darkness

Beautiful lens flares and Benedict Cumberbatch as the villain. Perfect.

Stories We Tell
Sarah Polley took a trip into the family swamp of myths and lies and got us all thinking about the stories we tell.

The Way, Way Back
The Way Way Back

Growing up can be a pain, especially in the neighbourhood of jerks like Trent. But it gets better. But it gets better.

We are the Best!
I was a punk rocker in the early 80s, so basically this is a movie about me. How could I possibly not love it?

Captain Phillips, film of the week

10. Captain Phillips
Why Tom Hanks didn’t get an Oscar nomination for this is incomprehensible.


9. The Broken Circle Breakdown
Leave your inner cynic at home.


8. The Place Beyond the Pines
A hard hitting, beautifully constructed drama in three acts. I bought each one of them.


7.  Zero Dark Thirty
Opening in the very beginning of the year, this movie made such an impression that it lasted through the entire year to appear in the top 10. Not bad.

cloud atlas

6.  Cloud Atlas
It breaks my heart to think about how badly this movie made in the box office so I avoid thinking about that part. I’ve seen this movie twice now, and it only gets better. This was a bold and beautiful movie.

Still from the documentary The Act of Killing

5. The Act of Killing
If you’ve seen it, you know why I’m tempted to give up on the future of humanity. I can’t recall any documentary that is anywhere near as disturbing, as horrifying, as nauseating as this one was. The villains are unspeakably evil and make the bad guys in ordinary action movies seem like decent people in comparison.

12 years a slave

4. 12 Years a Slave
From my review:

“This is so much more than a monument over people’s suffering in the post, more than a history lesson about something that you “should know about”. It’s also a movie about the present, about the uglier features of the human nature. It points out mechanisms that are still in use if we open our eyes. And this is what makes it such a tough – and important – movie to watch, relevant not only to an American audience.”

3. Before Midnight

With every conversation another layer is added. I want to grow old with the Before-movies.

2. The Hunt

This movie hit me like a punch in my guts when I watched it in the beginning of 2013.  I haven’t recovered completely yet. What’s most troubling about this film isn’t how the neighbours, family and friends treat xx when wrongly is accused of child molesting. It’s that I can’t rule out that I would do the same if I was in their situation.


1. Gravity
Am I a shallow person for loving Gravity slightly more than 12 Year a Slave? Maybe. But is my comfort blanket and biggest fear in equal measures. I neglect it, I ignore it, I forget about it at times. But it’s always present. Gravity reconnected me to space, and thus to myself. Besides it was a hell of a ride and I’ll never think of 3D the same way again. I don’t regret putting it as my number one. That’s how I felt about it, and there’s nothing I can do about it. My only regret is not watching it multiple times in a theatre when I had the chance.

My international 2013 list

Finally: here is another version of my top 10 list, where I’ve removed the films that are considered 2012 releases in most countries and included the ones that I’ve had the chance to see.

1. Gravity
2. The Hunt
3. Before Midnight
4. 12 Years a Slave
5. The Act of Killing
6. The Place Beyond the Pines
7. The Broken Circle Breakdown
8. Captain Phillips
9. Blue is the Warmest Colour
10. Prisoners


I’m going for an adventure

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Ok, I’m not going to lie about this. The woman on the picture isn’t me. It’s someone far more rich, famous and beautiful. However, I’m soon going to have one thing in common with her. Like her I’m going to visit Angkor Wat. And a lot of other beautiful, terrifying and mind bending places. As I’m writing this I’m ten minutes from starting a 30+ hour long journey taking me to Cambodia. I have a couple of posts upcoming during my absence, but apart from that things will be pretty quiet here until I return on March 9. By then I hope to have a lot of stories to share, from Killing Fields to a night at the movies in Phnom Penh. But you won’t hear a word about the Oscars from me. At the point of their announcement I’ll be on an island with no-wi-fi guarantee. There isn’t even electricity.

Until I return to the café: help yourself in the bar for whatever drink that you want.

See you around!


Written by Jessica

February 18, 2014 at 8:36 am