Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN

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Jena Malone Photo
Jena Malone as The Woman / Speaker
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656.22 MB
Swedish 2.0
25 fps
1 hr 11 min
P/S 3 / 17
1.19 GB
Swedish 2.0
25 fps
1 hr 11 min
P/S 11 / 26

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddy_Merckx10 / 10

Difficult depressing watching, but has a lot to say

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.

Reviewed by Chris Knipp6 / 10

If you loved 'A Hole in My Heart,' you'll adore 'Container'

Lucas Moodysson is best known for his wry 2000 feature about Seventies Swedish communes, 'Together,' and the stark and heartbreaking 2002 depiction of a Russian girl exploited for prostitution, 'Lilya 4-Ever.' He's also made a film about a man shooting a porn movie in a shabby apartment while watched by his young son ('A Hole in My Heart,' 2004),a much-praised study of teenage girls ('Fucking Åmål'/'Show Me Love,' 1998; Ingmar Bergman called it "a young master's first masterpiece"),and a documentary ('Terrorists: The Kids They Sentenced,' 2003) about anti-globalization demonstrators at Gothenberg. This may give some idea of his orientation, which is very political and takes on a variety of social issues.

'Container' is a venture--not a very accomplished one--into the avant-garde. With a continual murmured voice-over by the young American actress Jena Malone (who at one point identifies herself and says she's never been to Sweden before),in grainy black and white, the film seems mostly to depict a young overweight man who's a cross-dresser, though it's hinted at one point that the man "playing" this role is nothing of the kind. This person, sometimes in dress and wig, plays with clippings and all kinds of only half-identifiable junk, rolls around on the floor, and, in the voice-over, which is not particularly coordinated with any on screen action, describes himself as continually fantasizing about being a celebrity, about being in contact with tabloid film stars like the Spice Girls and the porn queen Savannah. Sometimes these references are funny, and they give the otherwise often mournful or deranged chatter a cozier note. Sometimes he/she also refers to Jesus and pregnancy and virgin birth. Gradually a sense is conveyed that this person is a metaphor, though mixed with other things, for a twentieth-century media-overloaded public. He's fat because he's a "container" for all the detritus of corporate over-production, the junk of life that can never be disposed because there's nowhere left for it to go. The "consumer" consumes all, and becomes puffed up with garbage. We are the detritus of our collective consumer lives.

Another description of the film reminds one that the protagonist "carries an Asian woman, piggyback, through a garbage-filled landscape." There are also sequences that seem to be in a hospital, wandering from corridor to corridor; and still others in a trashy abandoned house with peeling walls and debris everywhere. The film was shot in Chernobyl, Transylvania and in Sweden's Film i Väst studios in Trollhättan.

While obviously Moodysson has been capable of warm humanism, this is more an effort at thumbing his nose at the audience, and follows upon A Hole in My Heart, which has been described as nauseating. Clocking in at around 75 minutes, 'Container' is so uninteresting and repetitious that it seems much longer, and only sheer masochism and an overriding sense of duty kept me from walking out before it was over. Films of this kind are never easy to watch, because they don't have a "hook" of character, chronology, or visual touchstones to keep one watching. One might add that a barely mumbling, depressed-sounding young woman's voice is not much of an addition to the cinematic effect. Compare things like 'Koyanasqaatsi,' which while meandering and repetitious and lacking in narrative content, engages with visual beauty and hypnotic music. Obviously Moodysson eschews the slickness of such work; and why not? But, though surreal and rife with mysterious and strange goings on, 'Container' lacks the visual originality and interest of similarly avant-garde filmmakers like Stan Brakage or Kenneth Anger. 'Container' ultimately is very clearly better to talk about than to watch. Where Moodysson's career is going now is hard to say. One reviewer, perhaps appropriately self-styled as "Movie Martyr: Suffering for your cinema," describes this as the next step in Moodysson's "spectacular career immolation following his first few features" and concludes that "those who still might be willing to give the director the benefit of doubt, and especially those who appreciated 'A Hole in My Heart,' should be encouraged to seek out 'Container.'" Yes, and others can rely on second-hand accounts.

Shown as part of the Film Comment Selects series at Lincoln Center, New York, February 26, 2008.

Reviewed by vicentiugarbacea10 / 10

Moodysson who?

"I'm dilated 10 cm. My heart is full. " This is how a 70 minutes discourse ends. Lukas Moodysson called his newest work "a black and white silent movie with sound". The sound is a stream of consciousness discourse that comes to challenge the visual. Images and words combine to render emotions, feelings and thoughts. Questions of homosexuality, transgender personality, abortion, faith, depression, suicide, the misery of postmodern civilization are raised. What sense can someone make in this depressing world? A man in the body of a woman and a woman in the body are living among the remains of a failing world. Religious icons are mixed with plastic fetuses and with human bodies in strange postures. A collapsing world is living inside of the man. The man lives as well in a space that is made by the remains of a glamorous world. Pop culture icons, religion, mass media, war, terrorism, cancer are the stable points of the world that he lives in. Homosexuality is a public disease. Jesus is inside Mary's stomach.

With this film Moodysson challenged some of the most powerful cultural stereotypes that are influencing actual societies. At a certain moment among a huge amount of trash you can see a postal paper bill with the Romtelecom logo, the Romanian public telephone company. Romania is referred several times, directly or indirectly. The most accurate reference is made through the association between Roma people and Romanians, when the character speaks about the roommate that s/he had in Madrid. He was a Gypsy, which means a Roma, but soon he denied it stating that he is Hungarian. However his mate didn't believe him. Apart from this stereotype I mentioned there are some more important ones.

Religion is put face to face with issues that are challenging its importance in nowadays societies. You can see all along the film several Christian Orthodox icons. They are frequently associated with plastic fetuses and it is obvious that this questions the relationship between Church and abortion. Homosexuality and transgender issues that are one of the main ones come to face again the religion.

Pop culture icons are referred continuously in the film raising the problem of the influence that pop culture has in contemporary society. Why is the girl depressed? Maybe because she doesn't look like Christina Aguilera and she will never can. That's why she gets into antidepressants and psychological therapy and she harms herself? Only to realize that every teenage girl does just the same. She's so common after all and she wish to die. The whole world looks like a world of Apocalypse. Nuclear disasters have been replaced by a more powerful threat. Cancer is everywhere.

What can you say when you see such a film? Personally I consider it to be a masterpiece. Moodysson is one of the few directors who are truly experimenting with the cinematic language nowadays and manages to create a highly original and groundbreaking work.

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