LFF opinion: ‘Kidz in da Hood’, ‘Heartbeat Detector’, ‘In Prison my Whole Life’ and ‘Unrelated’

Kidz in da Hood || Ylva GustavssonKidz in da Hood
Dir: Catti Edfeldt and Ylva Gustavsson

I was wary off the bat with ‘Kidz in da Hood’ (Förortsungar) because of the ‘kool’ spellings in the title, that coupled with the fact that it was a ’street’ movie for children made me start to worry for my sanity before I even sat down in the screening. ‘Kidz..’ is the story of a young immigrant girl who along with her grandfather finds refuge in a young musicians flat on a council estate in Sweden. I was unaware that ‘Kidz..’ is kind of a musical as It didn’t mention it in the blurb I read and when a character broke into song (or rap) I was like ‘oh jesus…’. Here’s the thing.. I fucking HATE musicals.. I really can’t stand them, they’re just below cheerleading and mime in my scaling of the dramatic arts. I don’t know what it was about this film but something won me over even with the actors throwing in the occasional song. The child leads are all good, rating high on the cute factor without ever slipping into little rascals territory and the adults are also sincere and likable. The standouts are obviously Beylula Kidane Adgoy as Amina (her first acting role) and Gustaf SkarsgÃ¥rd as Johan (son of Stellan SkarsgÃ¥rd no less).

Despite my initial hesitations ‘Kidz in da Hood’ was a charming film, ideal for kids and adults alike. It’s not perfect but has some great performances, a plot that skips along and the occasional Swedish kid rapping.. which is actually much better than it might sound.

Rating: Kidz in da Hood is 96 minutes long and feels like exactly that

You can check out the non-subtitled trailer on the official swedish site here

Book tickets here

The Heartbeat DetectorThe Heartbeat Detector
Dir: Nicolas Klotz

Ok here’s the imdb synopsis for this film “Paris, today. Simon works as psychologist in the human resources department of a petrochemical corporation. When Management gets him to investigate one of the factory’s executives, Simon’s perception becomes disturbingly chaotic and cloudy. The experience affects his body, his mind, his personal life and his sensibility. The calm assurance that made him such a rigorous technician starts to falter.”

i’ll be perfectly honest, I thought this film was dire. I didn’t have a fucking clue what was going on 90% of the time. It seemed to start out with the lead ‘Simon’ investigating his boss using the pretext that he’s attempting to reform a string-quartet said boss was part of several years beforehand, then Simon and his co-workers go to a rave on a weird island for no reason and he starts to hallucinate, in the end its apparently all about the containers they used to kill jewish people in during the war. yeah. exactly. what? rubbish.

‘The Heartbeat Detector’ was an absolutely awful film, I quite like the lead actor, that’s the only positive thing I can think to say about it. If you enjoy this film, you’re an idiot.

Rating: ‘The Heartbeat Detector’ was 143 minutes, and made me want to stab myself in the eye with a spoon so I could leave the cinema

Book tickets if you must here

In Prison my Whole Life‘In Prison My Whole Life’
Dir: Marc Evans

The premise of this documentary appealed to me straight away: “A look at the life of imprisoned political activist and former Black Panther member, Mumia Abu-Jamal, who’s death sentence for killing a police officer was overturned in 2001 due to errors made during his original 1982 sentencing hearing.”.

The title ‘In Prison my Whole Life’ refers to the fact that our guide through the film William Francome (now 26) was born on the same day that Mumia Abu-Jamal was put on death row (where he still resides). Mumia’s conviction and imprisonment is a fascinating case, it’s a great starting point for a documentary , and Francomes’ obviously close relationship with the material makes it all the more viable. Despite his youth and apparent inexperience Francome guided by director Marc Evans, juggles and explains the facts well, pulling in some fascinating archival footage (Police bombing the house of black activists in Philadelphia?!?!) interviews with former black panthers, and experts on the case such as Noam Chomsky.

I thought the motion graphics used in the film to help recreate incidents from Mumia’s case and to transition between scenes would grind on me but after I settled into it, I found it quite compelling and it helped to explain certain facets of the case that otherwise would have remained confusing.

Marc Evans and William Francome have constructed a compelling argument in documentary, form not that Mumia Abu-Jamal is necessary innocent of all his charges but rather just that the trial was unfair. It perhaps isn’t the most balanced documentary but it wears it’s heart on its sleeve and remains a fascinating watch.

Rating:’In Prison my Whole Life’ feels anything but dragged out at its 95 minute running time

You can see a trailer for the film on their myspace page here

Book tickets here

UnrelatedUnrelated
Dir: Joanna Hogg

“A woman escaping an unhappy marriage takes refuge with a friend’s family on holiday, where events force her to confront the reality of never having her own children.” Director Joanna Hog cut her teeth on Soap Operas, and while I wasn’t aware of this while watching ‘Unrelated’ it seemed to make sense when I read it in the press notes. Of course it far out ways things like ‘Eastenders’ on all fronts, but the story does seem slightly soap-operaesque.

‘Unrelated’ while not quite my cup of tea; a sort of woman-on-a-journey-of-self-discovery mixed in with elements of ‘The Graduate’, was obviously a good film. It did make me slightly uncomfortable because of the extreme middleclass-ness of all the characters and seeing my own family reflected in it perhaps a little too much, but I think that acts as a testament to quality of the acting and the direction. Joanna Hogg has an interesting and very personal style, capturing what feels like real and delicate moments between the characters, and yet holding the audience at arms length as observers.

I hope this doesn’t sound too sexist, and it is meant as a compliment, but if I have to watch any woman-on-a-journey-of-self-discovery films, this is the kind I’d want to watch not shit like ‘Bridget Jones’. Well directed, well acted, interesting and mature.

Rating: It was nicely paced so felt about right for the 100 minute running time

Book tickets here

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  1. [...] posted a link to this in the mini-review of this film below, but I think it’s worth posting directly again, because the more I [...]