the square (ruben östlund, 2017)
Monday, February 05, 2018
The only other movie I've seen by Ruben Östlund is Force Majeure, which I liked, although I had no idea there was humor until I read reviews. So it's progress of a sort that I laughed a few times during The Square.
You might call The Square smug ... at the least, it is quite proud of itself. Some of the set pieces (and there are several) seemed to exist solely to have something to show off, and I imagine they'd work out of context ... one notable scene with a monkey man (or whatever he was ... he was played by "animal movement specialist" Terry Notary, recently seen as the title character in Kong: Skull Island) might be interesting if you watched it on YouTube without knowing any context. I loved lead actor Claes Bang, who I had never seen before. He was perfect in the part, and reminded me of many other actors that I liked ... maybe like a Danish Sebastian Koch. And Elisabeth Moss is always surprising, plus she has that ability to look odd and completely beautiful, often at the same time. (That she had a pet chimpanzee was a bit much.)
The Square has a lot to say about the art world, and the people who live in that world, and most of what it says is pretty cutting, if not quite mean enough. None of the characters come off well, although they are pleasant enough on the surface and not exactly evil underneath. It's too long at almost 2 1/2 hours, but you knew I'd say that. I wasn't bored, so it didn't really matter.
And as for Oscars, it's the first Best Foreign Film nominee I've seen, but I much preferred First They Killed My Father, which didn't get nominated.
Here is one of the more talked-about scenes in the movie:
There is also a funny scene featuring a person with Tourette's, and I am crude enough that I am a sucker for Tourette's jokes. Partly because of that scene, I was reminded of Curb Your Enthusiasm, which also relies on cringe humor. So I'll leave you with this, a restaurant opening where the chef has Tourette's:
Two of the worst movies I saw last year were called The Circle and The Square -- both because of high expectations for the people associated (Dave Eggers and Ostlund, respectively). You had more patience than me with this one.
Posted by: JPK | Monday, February 05, 2018 at 07:17 PM
To be honest, I think before the movie started, I had it confused with a documentary from a few years ago, also called The Square. That's what I get for trying to be spoiler-free. (That documentary was terrific, BTW.)
Posted by: Steven Rubio | Monday, February 05, 2018 at 07:27 PM