The tale of the lovable loser is a familiar one. He's goofy and awkward, but by the end of the film, has some sort of awakening. He'll find his inner strength, clean his act up, and maybe get the dream girl. In Arild Frohlich's 'Fatso', however, there's nothing lovable about Rino Hanssen. He's an agoraphobic mutant who spends his time drawing comics, masturbating, and having non-consensual sex with melons. His existence is barely a blip on the radar. An obese man-child, Rino is fixated on sex and women, which is problematic considering his only social contact comes in the form of his miscreant friend, Fillip. When Rino's father rents out a room in the house to the beautiful and nubile Malin, Rino's life is upended.
Sadly, there's little to like here. All of the characters are self-centered and often abrasive. The story is terribly uninspired, one that has been interpreted more times than you can count. The humor revolves around mocking Rino's sad existence, which comes off as depressing and more than a little pathetic. It's too mean spirited to be truly funny and relies too heavily on unending masturbation jokes. It all comes off as a particularly nasty, yet half-hearted Farrelly brothers movie.
From the Farrelly siblings over to the Coen brothers, 'A Somewhat Gentle Man' feels like it spawned from the 'No Country For Old Men' auteurs, but if they were Norwegian. Stellan Skarsgard plays Ulrik, a quiet, recently paroled thug. After 12 years in the penitentiary, he's trying to get his life back together and reconnect with his estranged son. That proves to be difficult however as old criminal ties, a bevy of women, and a caustic boss complicate matters. What unravels is a dark and understated comedy. It takes its time, mirroring Ulrik's deliberate efforts to construct what becomes a house of cards. Skarsgard is remarkable, subtly revealing his exasperation as things repeatedly turn against him. Despite appearing to be an unassuming mechanic, the habits and hardness that made up his old life still pull at him. It's not often laugh out loud funny, but its a film that stays with you and endears you to its lead.
Not to malign an entire country and it's folklore, but Finland has some bizarre and kind of terrifying myths. Keep the trolls and viking plunderers. It's their idea of Santa Claus that's enough to keep you awake at night. In 'Rare Exports', an eccentric Brit guides an archaeological team digging into a mountain. As is often the case, they unearth something horrible, awaking a devilish Santa Claus. As the locals prepare for their annual reindeer roundup, they find that the herds have all been slaughtered. With the economy already feeble, the rural Samis and Laplanders find themselves in dire straights. Then their children start disappearing. What follows is a rousing adventure full of comedy, sentiment, and some intense creepiness. With a healthy dash of Joe Dante, the film doesn't take itself to seriously and easily becomes one of the standout films of the festival. It's a novel take on a familiar figure, one that demolishes the idea of Santa as a cherubic, bearded saint.