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Songs from the Second Floor (2000)

Cast: Lars Nordh, Stefan Larsson, Torbjorn Fahlstrom, more...
Director: Roy Andersson
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: New Yorker
Genre: Foreign, Black Comedy, Scandinavia
Running Time: 97 min.
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Songs From the Second Floor, which shared the Special Jury Prize at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, is an indescribably surrealistic examination of the pointlessness of modern life in a nameless city full of directionless people. Throughout a series of unrelated vignettes, all marked by absurd black humor, the film's characters stand witness to an utterly motionless traffic jam, the pathetic firing of a 30-year employee, a magic trick gone horribly wrong, and the failed business ventures of a crucifix salesman. Dialogue is largely absent from the film, and even where present, it usually only confounds what little expository quality there is in the narrative. The tone of Swedish director Roy Anderssen's highly original and challenging project recalls such bleak visionaries as Samuel Beckett and Luis Bu˝uel, and though it certainly perplexed audiences, it also left them laughing uncontrollably. ~ Derek Armstrong, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Like nothing else in--or out of--the film canon by talltale March 14, 2008 - 3:44 PM PDT
3 out of 5 members found this review helpful
I'm going to do something I have not done before, and that is to rate SONGS FROM THE SECOND FLOOR as a "10," though I've only seen it once. Words such as "brilliant," "profound" and--yes--"masterpiece" are required for this one. I've never experienced anything like this movie, and I suspect I'll be lucky to encounter much else as special and original.

The subject here is nothing less than the human condition, and if this sounds way too heavy, trust me--it's not. Director/creator Roy Andersson has an amazingly light touch for a theme so profound and dark. Yet, while this film is strange, it is in no way difficult to watch or to comprehend. You'll easily lose yourself in it. Covering economics, family, history, medicine, religion and more--from a Scandinavian perspective not all that different from the rest of the western world--it links its many quiet incidents so artfully and interestingly that by the end you'll know exactly what you've seen and where you've been. No matter how initially bizarre, each scene, each subject connects to our world.

The visuals here are amazing, too: calm, profound and beautifully composed. A kind of grace seems to hover over every character and event, no matter how bitter and appalling some of these might seem. "Beloved is the person who can sit down" goes one of the "poems" by an ex-taxi driver who's now a mental patient. Ah, yes. And when, late in the film, a character who's been trying to sell crucifixes moans, "Who could make a profit off a crucified loser?" you may very well think, as I did: Mel Gibson, of course! This film is "art" in every sense of the word, and it puts to shame much of what that heavily-hyped trashman Lars von Trier, another Scandinavian, has given us. Rent it, and be quietly amazed.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.66)
68 Votes
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Cannes Film Festival & More - 2000
Official Selection, Certain Regards... and more. Here is a bit more information on the films screened at the Cannes. I have attempted to list all the films that were considered for an award as well as any special screenings.
surreal & ideal
Guarenteed to make you think, spin, laugh, or just turn off the telly in disgust of the images or pretense. Some of my favorite films. Unavailable that should be on list include: The Wild Wild World of Jane Mansfield, The Reflecting Skin, Salo.

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