Films About Kicking Stress in the Balls

Written by Michael McNeely October 07, 2011

Hey, sometimes I just wanna enjoy a movie without worrying about writing a review for it. In this mindset, however, I always feel bad because each of these movies does deserve a full feature. However, time is not on my side, and so, if it’s a snapshot of a movie that intrigues you and makes you want to see it, I’ve done my job. Feel free to e-mail me suggestions of films I should look into for my foreign/independent columns (Icarus.mcneely@gmail.com).

So, four recent independent/foreign films you may be interested in watching on the theme of coping with stress, often unusual (TROLL!).

 

TrollHunter (2010)

Country: Norway

Language: Norwegian

 

Boss batttle.

TROLL! The secret to a good fantasy is how they explain the mythos to you – striking a  balance between being unpredictable and imaginative while not being  boring and too dense or complex to understand. Take a crash course on Trolls – learn how they call the mountainous and forested regions of Norway (quite a beautiful place, really) their home, and how you can defeat them if you see one. Be prepared for how they explode when dying and how they chase after Christians (that was never explained – how do they know, and is this proof that God exists?). Kudos to the man who plays Hans (Otto Jespersen) who plays the “unappreciated hero” to such a degree that when he says that there needs to be a change in troll management, you feel for him. It’s one of those shaky cam movies, for better or for worse (I was so happy when they changed cameras midway!)

 N.E.D.S. (Non-Educated Delinquents) (2010)

Country: Scotland

Language: English, Scots

 

Psycho on bridge, anyone?

From the director’s 1970s youth in Glasgow, we enter a world of neighbourhood gang violence and incompetent/unfeeling schooling that potentially turns youth into psychopaths just to survive. John McGill (Conor McCarron) is a stocky fellow who doesn’t look like much – until you witness him taking joy into bashing another boy’s brains out on the ground. At school, the obsession with rankings is paramount. John is trying to get into the A class (he’s in the B one, and everyone knows his dissatisfaction, including the annoyed teacher who thinks John should be happy where he is). His friends are in the F class – the special ed one as everyone calls it – and the teacher there does not care what his students do. A critique of how we treat our youth which may be over-long, but does have striking scenes and set-pieces of tension and violence (including a metaphorical trip to the zoo at the end).

ANIMAL KINGDOM (2010)

Country: Australia

Language: English

 

Two of J’s uncles – looking pretty tough here.

When J’s mother dies, her brothers and mother decide to take him in and raise him as one of their own. Problem? They’re all criminals. Second problem? The cops hate them all, indiscriminately. J (a wonderful James Frecheville) has to literally choose between his family’s interests and working with Guy Pearce’s character, a honest detective, to turn them all in.  Meanwhile, his uncles television with him, remind him to wash his hands after going to the washroom, support him with pursuing a girlfriend, and remind him that he can talk to them anytime he needs to. They’re good role models, up until they shoot two cops in point-blank range – and he’s  their alibi. Very gripping drama, watch out for the grandmother who just might be the scariest of them all.

 THE BEAVER (2011)

Country: Australia

Language: English

 

The new seeing-eye dog.

I remember having to try very hard not to laugh when people came up to me at my job as a box office volunteer and asked for “two for the beaver.” Mel Gibson (love him or hate him, he can act) plays Walter Black, the head of a toy company, who is in a very depressive/suicidal state at the beginning of the film (separated from his family) when he is saved by a talking beaver puppet. I could identify with Walter’s depression, especially the part where he has to write down what he needs to accomplish during the day so that he can sluggishly go about it. Gibson does a good job of doing the voice of both his character and the beaver – there is no ventriloquism here, but it helps you realize that the beaver is an extension of Walter’s personality – something that he desperately wants to be. At some point, the beaver becomes hazardous to his health, and it is interesting to try and figure out why this change occurs. Kudos to Jodie Foster (Walter’s wife, and also director) and Anton Yelchin (Star TrekFright Night) for their emotional responses to Walter’s mania.

TRIVIA: Based on a screenplay no one ever thought could be made into a movie.


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