University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

(3) Films of Summer

The Badger

ByThe Badger

Oct 9, 2009

Yes, apparently summer 2009 has finished! Already! Mental. Here are three very good films from that short, largely cold and rainy period, which you may have missed:


Aside from the odd police officer deciding to kick the crap out of some long-hairs, the predicted “Summer of Rage ‘09” (recession casualties rising up in violence, pitched battles on the street, looting, that kinda stuff) didn’t really happen, did it? But one outpouring of actual political despair and anger this summer came with Armando Iannucci’s debut feature In The Loop, a geopolitical spin-off of BBC4 Westminster satire The Thick Of It. Eschewing broad swipes, the film’s point (as well as a lot of its plentiful laugh-out-loud moments) is expressed through the hysterical, slapdash, childish and self-interested way that the characters bicker, as war becomes ever more inevitable. Like Dr. Strangelove, but with more inventive swearing (sample line: “That is going to fucking fist your UN vote to death.”)


Alright, this was technically released in April in the UK (and in 2008 in many territories) but the word-of-mouth buzz seemed to really kick in during the summer months, as people raced to inform their friends about “that awesome Swedish vampire movie”. Perhaps it’s the gleaming snow and piercing darkness of the cinematography that sticks in people’s mind; maybe the superb portrayal of adolescent isolation and the fumbling young love between Oskar and the mysterious Eli. Or hell, maybe people just really like vampires – this film hinges on the gothic lore, bloody creepiness and inherent violence of those iconic creatures, and, when a sudden set-piece or glimpse of gore punctures the eerie tension, it can terrify and shock just as much as any other film in the genre. It could just be that this film lays out its emotion, frights and occasional visceral imagery so expertly, it’s hard not to get sucked in.


With the expensive, swanky décor that litters director Steven Soderbergh’s Manhattan to the casting of, gasp, real life porn star Sasha Grey as the seemingly glassy, detached protagonist, one’s first impressions of The Girlfriend Experence are geared towards sleaze and wealth. However, this is not a film of excess and pornography. Quietly tense conversations between Grey’s prostitute (who provides the titular experience at a high cost), and either her distant boyfriend or her clients, make up the majority of the film. The restrained dialogue brings out the frustrations that emerge when lives are overtaken by the idea that success and functioning human relationships are incompatible, whether you happen to be a sex worker or a stock broker.

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