|The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared|
|The Farewell Party|
|Testament of Youth|
Just quick capsules on the week's arthouse releases (or I'd never catch up):
A mild recommendation for the Swedish folk epic "The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared," which mostly succeeds at the exceedingly difficult task of making absurdist humor funny on a gut level. After his titular self-defenestration, the centenarian Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustafsson) inadvertently comes into 50 million Euros belonging to the most hapless biker gang in Scandinavia. While they try to recover it (good luck with that), Allan recounts his Zelig-like life story, involving a drunken jam session with Stalin, some long years behind bars with Albert Einstein's idiot brother Herbert, and enough explosions to recolor the sky. It's wit and miss at a ratio just to the good.
There are also moments of great humor in Tal Granit and Sharon Maymon's Israeli import "The Farewell Party," about longtime friends at a Jerusalem retirement home who help loved ones commit suicide through the use of a Kevorkian machine; and flashes of wit in Andrew Bujalski's offbeat love triangle "Results," about a gym owner (a buff and sexy Guy Pearce), his bitchy trainer and fuckbuddy (nondescript Cobie Smulders), and the puffy divorced guy (Kevin Corrigan) who tries to buy their friendship with his new money. But the former can't sustain its tone of pitch-black humor, ending with the kind of treacly third act the first two acts would have scoffed at; and the latter evinces too little of the quirky, low-wattage brilliance of Bujalski's comparatively micro-budgeted 2013 "Computer Chess."
Finally, a thumbs down for the would-be weepie "Testament of Youth," with Alicia Vikander (so intriguing as the A.I. Ava in "Ex Machina" earlier this year) as the English WWI nurse and memoirist Vera Brittain. It's the sort of little old lady movie with a plucky heroine, her sweet brother, the boy with an unrequited crush on her, and the one who becomes her mate. The homies get little or no depth of character. Before the war breaks out, they frolic in breathtaking flower fields and comically green forests hiding lakes probably last seen in "Maurice." This being the Empire, any time outside troubles intervene, someone suggests popping off for a spot of tea. Once we read the headline about Archduke Ferdinand (yes, really), we spend the rest of 129 sleepy minutes waiting for each death notice to trickle in.