Many favorites, as well as a small handful of films that I don't care for... in no particular order (1960-2014).
Borgman is the central character in Alex van Warmerdam’s dark, malevolent fable. Is he a dream or a demon, a twisted allegory or an all-too-real embodiment of our fears? Borgman is a sinister arrival in the sealed-off streets of modern suburbia. His presence unleashes a crowing gallery of distortion around the careful façade constructed by an arrogant, comfortable couple, their three children and nanny.
Twenty-second watch of March around the World: Netherlands. And so this challenge, although officially closed by now, brings me to my home country. I haven’t seen a Dutch film since 2010 - the absolute must-watch recommendation to all of you: New Kids Turbo. The advertisement of Borgman - “what if Dogtooth had been directed by Michael Haneke?" - is rather enticing though, so that was something to check out. My good grief, I had no idea such a brilliant piece of cinema could come from my country. First scene? Took me by surprise. The titular antagonist Borgman is chased out of his underground burrow (a common style of living here in the Netherlands) to an high-class residential area where he starts ringing doors, asking the inhabitants whether he could have a bath in their house. What happens next is indescribable, but stellar. I mean, how satisfying is this?
Van Warmerdam is my favourite Dutch director. He makes films that are quintessentially Dutch in their tone and touches upon Dutch sensibilities with confounding and intriguing absurdism.
Borgman is a step away from that in so far that this is a more universally themed film, but it is still imbued in that trademark van Warmerdam style. It is a film that is very difficult to grasp and I feel attempting to make sense of it is missing the point. This is a visually striking mood piece, focused more on conveying a sensation rather than recounting a story.
Borgman is about evil. Evil we, adults, call upon ourselves, invite into our homes, driving our self centred lives. As heavy as this…
Borgman is a very playful, intriguing and exciting piece of film from the Dutch veteran Alex van Warmerdam (starring in a smaller role as well, as he usually does).
Borgman flings us into the action with a riveting chase between a priest and his lackeys and a group of men hiding underneath the forest soil.
One of these men turn out to be Camiel Borgman.
After Borgman warns his compatriots of the impending danger, himself having barely managed to escape, he enters a fashionable slice of suburbia and tests the inhabitants' will to let an unknown, unkempt man have a bath.
After instigating an altercation with the man of one of the houses, he manages to instill a bit of…
“And they descended upon the earth to strengthen their ranks.”
With the utmost confidence and command, Alex van Warmerdam's Borgman opening scene sunk it's hooks in deep and refused to let me go for the remainder of it's running time. A Priest and a lynch mob of sorts hunt down a nest of (literal) underground vagrants and send them scampering for safety out of the woods and into palatial suburbia, and from this dizzying and disorienting (and one of the most exhilarating cinematic moments I have experience of late) set-piece we are flung into the world of the sly and seductive Camiel Borgman.
A film that would seemingly fall into the expanding 'home invasion' subgenre of cinema, Borgman eschews categorization…
I don't want to say too much about Borgman if you're going to watch it, because it's the strange kind of film that's best to go into somewhat cold. I will say though that it's a deeply dark and downright unpleasant work of cinema filled to the brim with enormously flawed and unstable characters that angered me to my very core. Of course, this was the director's intention.
One might think the primary theme of this film is betrayal, but I would argue that the amount of manipulation that this film contains - manipulation sometimes bordering on the point of mind control - overshadows the betrayal and sort of renders it void. There were times when I felt certain characters…
“And they descended upon the earth to strengthen their ranks,” reads the Biblical quote at the start of beginning of the film. Along with only one or two other clues that possibly link together, this quietly unnerving Palme d'Or nominee from Alex van Warmerdam is a tale without true definition. A dark comedic and surreal look at evil that asks you to decide who is more deserving of their crimes.
Two men arrive at the residence of their local priest, weapons in hand and armed with intent. No words are spoken as the priest joins their charge into the local forest axe held firmly in his hand. They know exactly where they are heading, stopping in an area where they…
Claimed to be the leader of the forces that expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Camiel, the protagonist that is. Filling the ranks of archangels. Alex van Warmerdam does not convince me. The plot, to me, is an off mix of imitation and feigned talent. But the kick off is brilliant.
Cinema pundits celebrates van Warmerdam. I am not there, yet. I will try out his earlier works, and return to the subject.
1/2 star for the images "corpses under water"
"Das Böse hat seinen Reiz. Das muss auch die Hausherrin einer wohlhabenden Kleinfamilie feststellen, als sie aus Mitleid einen verwahrlosten Landstreicher in ihr Haus schleußt nachdem dieser von ihrem Mann gehörig verprügelt wurde. Doch der Fremde ist mehr als es den Anschein hat und wird die Kleinfamilie schon bald in seinen Bann ziehen um mit ihr ein diabolisches Spiel zu treiben. BORGMAN ist Spass am böse sein. Eine hübsche Sammlung visueller Gags und makaberer Streiche. Jedoch fehlt es an Atmosphäre und emotionaler Biendung sodass selten wirklich Spannung aufkommt und trotz seiner Unberechenbarkeit etwas Packendes oder Überraschendes entstehen kann. Das ist sehr schade, denn BORGMAN hat viele frische Ideen, gute Schauspieler und ist sehr kompetent gefilmt. Man wird das Gefühl nicht los, hier hätte deutlich mehr drin sein können, doch der Funke mag nicht so recht überspringen."
Well-constructed, slightly creepy but intriguing and suspenseful throughout.
“There’s something surrounding us. It slips inside now and then”
Much of the analytic interpretations of the Dutch thriller Borgman has surrounded its potential religious thematic and it’s easy to see why with the opening bible quote and plenty of references. In my eyes though, this odd home-invasion movie could just as well be perceived as a class-based analogy in the same way (and with that said, not without a possibility for the religious aspects to be there as well).
The way our main player Camiel Borgman (Jan Bijvoet) ascends from his hole in the ground could be perceived as a means for the forgotten under-class to rise up and make a move. After setting foot in our safe liberal…
MARINA: We're not in Denmark!
I liked it. I'm not sure what it was. But I liked it. A lot.
I RECOMMEND LEARNING NOTHING ABOUT THE MOVIE BEFORE WATCHING IT.
What a wonderfully odd film! I remember seeing a few rave reviews of this when it came out, but if I'm honest, the drab poster killed my interest in it. That stern face and bland background gives no idea of how mischievous, fun and deeply, deeply strange a film this is (this one is a bit better).
Borgman is a home invasion film of sorts, although that also doesn't really do it justice. We first see the title character being driven from his subterranean home by a shotgun-wielding priest; with no explanation given for the destruction of his home, this left me immediately on the side of the victim - one of many things here where I wondered if this…
Superb, strange, intriguing film. Almost an inverted look at how some "old boy" networks can move into any societal arena and take over, due to connections and the psychology of class. Well, that was my interpretation of the material anyway. I am sure there may be more to it, and am equally sure that others will read it differently.
***EDIT (March 30, 2014)***
Wow! I never would have expected that I'd get anywhere close to 100 likes on this…
Originally a list made prior to Cannes 2014, now updated every mid-April.
This is every Palme d'Or nominee since the…