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Sweet Land


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Maybe it's just because I've been struggling with the stuff I've been writing about Flannel Pajamas (which I had serious problems with and left a bitter taste), but this lovely film surely cleansed my palate.

Whereas Pajamas is a look at failing relationship, this is a story of a relationship conquering great adversity.

Beautifully written and filmed. Great little scene during the closing credits in which the whole relationship is seen in a dance.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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That was cryptic, Darrel. More info about SWEET LAND, including links to trailers. It's not in wide release though it apparently won prizes at film festivals in 2005, and is not yet available on DVD. Cue the Netflix queues!

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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Story of a mail order bride (inge) in upper plains, just post WWI. Isolated by language and anti-German prejudice, and in time, by community morality. Film actually begins with Inge's death in present day, then goes back in her grandson's memory of stories.

Lots of little things that are so well done in the film. A refrain for Olaf (her betrothed/husband) is "banking and farming don't mix". But right after Inge's death, someone comes to her grandson Lars saying, "I'm sorry for your loss. I can give you 2.2 million for it. Put up 1200 houses." Shots that really aren't repeats but subtlely bring to mind earlier shots. (e.g. Olaf and Inge walking in field after harvest and the scene where Lars and the realtor are walking in the field as she makes the offer to buy). Wonderful cinematography that emphsizes the beauty and size of the plains, and in the process shows the isolation.

I'm sure it'llnever get beyond art houses, but keep an eye on the one near you. Or wait for it to make Netflix.

There's a trailer and list of theaters (none in NC - sorry Beth) at the website

Edited by Darrel Manson
A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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A couple of unimportant notes:

We saw this by accident. We had planned to see Little Children, but the first showing of the day had been cancelled for a special event. So we did this instead. Can't say I'm sorry, but I still need to see Children.

This from the presskit - Producer

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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  • 2 weeks later...

Really, I'm bumping this because it's one of those films you all are going to mourn not seeing earlier when you get around to the DVD.

But to provide a bit of input to justify the post: I note that Jeff Lipsky is doing the distribution for this film. He directed Flannel Pajamas that I reviewed and I got to meet at roundtables not long ago. I like this one far better than FP. In fact, my opinion of FP is low enough I haven't even started a thread on it.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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  • 1 month later...

Okay, four different friends of mine... all of whom have impeccable taste... have all seen this recently in Seattle, and three out of four declared it their favorite film of 2006 (all four loved it).

I gotta see this.

What's up? Is it just not showing anywhere? Bad publicity? I too have a sinking feeling that this is going to end up on our top ten lists a month or two too late....

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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What's up? Is it just not showing anywhere? Bad publicity? I too have a sinking feeling that this is going to end up on our top ten lists a month or two too late....

If you're up for a trip, it's playing in Lincoln until the 18th.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
Opus, Twitter, Facebook

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I've done my part to promote it. In fact I sorta feel bad it isn't higher on my year end list than it is (8th place in a double feature with a film that reminded me of it in a few ways - which is getting even less of a release)

It seems to finally be getting a few more outlets. I hope it keeps growing.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Looking through IMDB, I see that it's now grossed more than it's $1M budget. Its widest distribution at one time to date is 28 screens. It's website shows where it's playing and coming. It did get some Indie Spirit awards. My dream would be for it to get any nomination for an Oscar (fat bloody chance), which would then serve to catapult it into the world's awareness.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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  • 4 months later...
Story of a mail order bride (inge) in upper plains, just post WWI. Isolated by language and anti-German prejudice, and in time, by community morality. Film actually begins with Inge's death in present day, then goes back in her grandson's memory of stories.

[snippage]

I'm sure it'llnever get beyond art houses, but keep an eye on the one near you. Or wait for it to make Netflix.

There's a trailer and list of theaters (none in NC - sorry Beth) at the website

Sweet Land finally opened in the hinterland of NC this weekend. My friend Caroline & I saw it last night and we enjoyed it very much. The framing parallels of present and past provided an effective structure, but the present-day scenes were so sketchy that it was difficult to tell who was who and what the huh? was happening. We were much more involved in the story from the past and wouldn't have minded more of it. Nevertheless, highly recommended.

If I had time & money, I'd go back to the theater tonight & see it again, followed by a talk with the director, Ali Selim.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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Looking through IMDB, I see that it's now grossed more than it's $1M budget. Its widest distribution at one time to date is 28 screens. It's website shows where it's playing and coming. It did get some Indie Spirit awards. My dream would be for it to get any nomination for an Oscar (fat bloody chance), which would then serve to catapult it into the world's awareness.

The widest release it managed was 47 screens back in Feb. or March. They certainly didn't use their money on making prints.

The good news for the rest of you is that Amazon shows a DVD release of 7/10. It can be queued up (rather than saved) at Netflix.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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  • 1 month later...

A beautiful film.

I think this tops my life of The Good Ones That Got Away for me in 2006.

So many love stories like this would have given in to the audience's desires and delivered passion and skin busting out all over. But this film is artful enough and sophisticated enough that it can make us swoon through a simple moment when a particular person sets his foot on a particularly squeaky stair step... That moment gives us all the information that we need.

And finally... a big screen romance that I can safely and enthusiastically recommend to my friends AND my family. If this had received the attention it deserved at various Christian media websites, it probably would have shown up in their Top Ten lists at the end of 2006.

One note of criticism. Okay, two... If I had directed the movie, I would have gone around insisting, "Make things muddier! Dustier! Dirtier! And Elizabeth Reaser... yes, you're a heart-stopping beauty, but give the camera a little something more than just your drop-dead gorgeous gaze." She gives that man-slaying expression to the camera with the same frequency that Audrey Tautou gives her cute-as-a-button look to the camera in Amelie. But still, she's a lovely actress, and she and Tim Guinee make a fantastic pair.

Also: Tim Guinee needs a new face. He looks too much like Nathan Fillion.

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Also: Tim Guinee needs a new face. He looks too much like Nathan Fillion.

Wow... that's uncanny.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
Opus, Twitter, Facebook

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All I can do is concur with the comments already made about what an excellent film this is. I was amazed by the stark beauty of the cinematography, especially those shots of the lone farmhouse in the middle of the field. It reminds me of long drives I've taken across the Plains, and admiring the flat expanse of the land, broken up by portruding objects: houses, tractors, a distant herd of cows.

This film captures the kind of locale and lifestyle that is too rarely seen on screen.

Edited by Crow
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  • 2 weeks later...

Saw this again last night. In spite of all my praise for it, I'd forgotten just how good it is. Each shot is perfectly framed. Lots of scenes that are just a joy to watch -- Inge and Brownie eating the pie, Inge staring at Olaf as he eats the meal she's made, lunch in the middle of the harvest, ...

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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  • 2 weeks later...
All I can do is concur with the comments already made about what an excellent film this is. I was amazed by the stark beauty of the cinematography, especially those shots of the lone farmhouse in the middle of the field.

Yeah, I liked those shots of the farmhouse, too ... but what was it Darrel was saying in an earlier post about this being filmed, carbon-neutral, in London? Hmmm.

As nice as the cinematography is

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Yeah, I liked those shots of the farmhouse, too ... but what was it Darrel was saying in an earlier post about this being filmed, carbon-neutral, in London? Hmmm.
Where do you get London? It's Minnesota. The company that dealt with the carbon credits is in London.
Darrel, I think I responded to this film the way you did to The Golden Door, and you responded to that film the way I did to this one. Liked it, didn
Edited by Darrel Manson
A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Yeah, I liked those shots of the farmhouse, too ... but what was it Darrel was saying in an earlier post about this being filmed, carbon-neutral, in London? Hmmm.
Where do you get London? It's Minnesota. The company that dealt with the carbon credits is in London.

Minnesota. That sounds about right.

Maybe I liked the dance at the end better than the milk swim.

Good one! The theme of marriage -- why, how -- is similar, I thought. Sweet Land has more overt theology, which is lovely. As pretty as the images were, and as sound as the moral content was, the movie didn't move me particularly. I'm not sure why. But I liked it fine.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: If I had directed the movie, I would have gone around insisting, "Make things muddier! Dustier! Dirtier! . . .

YES. I was thinking this film looked a little too pretty, a little too costume-y -- a little too much like a "Heritage Moment" commercial -- within the first five minutes. (Not necessarily counting the prologue / framing device.)

The music, it seemed to me, also smoothed things over just a bit too much; in the early stages of the relationship, when the couple don't really know each other at all and we ought to feel that the future could go one way or the other, the music tells us that romance WILL bloom. (Then again, the prologue / framing device pretty much tells us that, too.)

Nice film over all, though.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 1 year later...

The Curator posts an appreciation of Sweet Land, a film that has become sweeter with time.

Have any of you reviewed the film?

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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The Curator posts an appreciation of Sweet Land, a film that has become sweeter with time.

So interesting that she should note the influence on this film of artist Andrew Wyeth, who died yesterday:

{The director's} vision takes its cues from Andrew Wyeth, who said, “You can lose the essence by detailing a lot of extraneous things.”
Edited by BethR

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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The Curator posts an appreciation of Sweet Land, a film that has become sweeter with time.

Have any of you reviewed the film?

yup

One of my wife's all time favorites. I'm pretty sure I had it on my top films of the year when we saw it.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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