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Förening Film i Malmö presents
Dir. LUKAS MOODYSSON
Swedish & English (No Subs)
Poetic, experimental and different, Container is described by Lukas Moodysson as “a black and white silent movie with sound” and with the following words; “A woman in a man’s body. A man in a woman’s body. Jesus in Mary’s stomach. The water breaks. It floods into me. I can’t close the lid. My heart is full.”
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In this movie the camera-eye follows an obese individual who has severe body and gender dysphoria, obsessive tendencies, an apparently split personality, who is also a hoarder and worships celebrities. It’s filmed in the style of Bernard Queysanne’s “Un homme qui dort”, a black and white movie where you have a woman’s voice narrating the habits of a student dropout over silent solipsistic footage. In the case of Container, the person we follow is an ultimate outsider, an individual who has been abandoned by his parents, and the psychiatric health and social services, who are playing pingpong with him. He has become a container, a dump for the excesses of a pharmacological cornucopia, the saturation media, and the Hansel & Gretel food industry. (I will alternate in the review between calling the individual involved him and her as there are as of yet no satisfactory gender unspecific pronouns in the English language).
Her celebrity fantasies are darkly kaleidoscopic, she convinces herself that Brad Pitt is coming to marry her, but briefly, and then is onto the next ephemeral fantasy, dreaming about Russell Crowe being lonely in a hotel airport. As well as celebrity he has interests such as the Chernobyl disaster, the Second World War, dead porn stars, methods of torture, pregnancy, God, Jesus and Mary, all sorts really. There’s no name or credit for this individual, who has the body of a man, but has a kind of inner child who is a slim woman of a different race who we often seem him carrying piggyback or morphing into, following an edit. “Their” apartment is full of apparently random things like vinyl records of Leonid Brezhnev speeches, DDR stamps, celebrity autographs (Christina Aguilera and such), gas masks, cosmetics, empty pizza boxes. The narration is done in a woman’s voice, which is perhaps the inner voice of the person we’re seeing (it’s hard to imagine that a slim Asian woman would have an imaginary alter-ego of a fat white man).
She has a horrible relationship with food, for one meal for example eating 6 raisins, and for another incessantly gorging, which she describes as punishing herself. You get paranoid statements like “My blood is full of fat”, and he talks about the “thing” in between his legs being radioactive and wanting to cut it off. There’s detailed descriptions of the effects of radiation sickness, and also occasionally trips around the dilapidated and empty orphanage where she claims to have been brought up, although the narration is pretty unreliable.
What I thought was beautiful amidst the horrid squalor was some shots at night in fields where little spotlit images of flowers appear, including a stroll amongst the umbels of what looks like wild carrot. These shots bring one in mind somewhat of Man Ray’s great experimental film Emak-bakia. Mostly though the film takes place all in one apartment, which may be a hotel room, as we are led to believe that he cleans hotel rooms for a living, though this may also be fantasy.
It reminds me of a show I saw in 2003, Jake and Dinos Chapman at the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford. The show got in the press because the Brothers Chapman bought a real collection of Goya prints (“The Disasters of War”) and defaced them with cartoons. But the thing that stays with me is an installation, which was a caravan in a kind of country setting which you could walk round and look inside. It was plastered with pornography, also pictures of second world war armaments, and the floor was covered in art monographs of mostly modern artists, unwashed cutlery and such, crap outside, and also strangely enough a Macdonalds sign in the background.
This is what Container brings me in mind of as well. It’s about what loneliness does to people I suppose, about how the fabric of modern life smothers people. At one point the narration goes on about how in the morning’s paper there was news of Kylie Minogue’s breast cancer and a little boy who dropped dead playing football and then “I can’t close my eyes, you have taken away my eyelids.” It’s true that there is this toxic media coverage that is omnipresent, that focuses on meaningless detritus, a white noise that you can barely shut out, and that you can’t fight alone.
Container was really very painful for me to watch because I found myself associating with a lot of the behaviour, which isn’t nice. Like at one point we hear “No-one wants me, no one’s ever needed me, I was always chosen last in gym class”, these are the same sort of thoughts I had/have. I’ve also wished not to have a body, for different reasons, though, and have dysfunctional behaviour with food. She says at one point “I’m covered by a thick layer of lead and concrete and if anyone comes close to me they will get cancer”, which is often how people behave around me.
And the question Container begs at the end is why have we chosen this way to live. And I haven’t got an answer. whole movie is a tour de force; it’s a period movie, with all the right cars and clothes and props, but we forget that after the first ten minutes. We’ve become involved in the movie’s web of mystery, as we always were with the best private-eye stories, whether written or filmed. We care about these people and want to see what happens to them.
And yet, at the same time, Polanski is so sensitive to the ways in which 1930s’ movies in this genre were made that we’re almost watching a critical essay. Godard once said that the only way to review a movie is to make another movie, and maybe that’s what Polanski has done here. He’s made a perceptive, loving comment on a kind of movie and a time in the nation’s history that are both long past. “Chinatown” is almost a lesson on how to experience this kind of movie.
IMDB USER REVIEW by oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddy_Merckx