Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jessica Lundberg, Elisabet Helander, Björn Englund, Leif Larsson, Ollie Olson
Written by: Roy Andersson
Directed by: Roy Andersson
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Swedish, with English subtitles
Running Time: 90
Date: 05/24/2007

You, the Living (2008)

4 Stars (out of 4)

'Living' Gloom

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Roy Andersson returns with the terrific new film, You, the Living. As far as I can tell, it's only the second Andersson film to turn up here (after 2001's Songs from the Second Floor), and he's probably not much of a household name yet, but deserves to be. He's like a cold soup mix of Buster Keaton, David Lynch, Jerry Lewis and Terry Gilliam, hawking deadpan jokes as well as chilly, disheartening mean streaks in his blocky, deep-space single takes. Every frame is drenched in blue-gray, ranging from gray clothes to gray buildings and gray clouds (a thunder and lightning storm breaks up the grayness by turning it a bit darker). There's rarely a continuous cut within a scene, and camera moves are even scarcer. His disparate characters talk about dreams and nightmares, practice musical instruments (there's a hilariously ill-fitting ragtime score) or simply wait in endless lines. You could call it deadpan comedy or dark comedy or both, but lightweight or disposable it's not. (Reviewed at the 2008 San Francisco International Film Festival. The film received a theatrical release in July of 2009.)

DVD Details: The excellent, long-awaited new DVD from Palisades Tartan starts things off with a commentary track by Roy Andersson (in Swedish with English subtitles). We also get some interview/onstage footage of Andersson in New York in September of 2009 (speaking English this time), a short documentary on Andersson, a very cool little featurette on the movie's sets, 15 minutes of clips from earlier Andersson films (including his great Songs from the Second Floor), and a bunch of trailers for other Palisades Tartan releases. The movie itself comes in 2.0, 5.1 and DTS audio mixes, with optional English subtitles. [Note: I upgraded my intital rating from 3-1/2 to 4 stars.]

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