What To Watch Thursday: The Act of Killing and Napoleon Dynamite

What To Watch Thursday: The Act of Killing and Napoleon Dynamite

May 30, 2013 |  by  |  Art, Event
About the author
Born and raised in this amazing city, Steven (25) remembers quite vividly the first film that as a young boy got him addicted to cinema: The Neverending Story. And it really is a never-ending story, his grand film study has gone on ever since. Since then his taste has extended beyond such a fantasy coming-of-age film and will now guide you to what to see and what to skip.

What To Watch Thursday is Overdose’s weekly film concept: every Thursday – which traditionally is Premiere-night in the cinemas across Amsterdam – we will review at least two films that are definitely worth your while. Our main goal is to shield you from horrible films and wasting your precious time. In the process we will try and give you as much in-depth background, without spoiling anything!

The Act of Killing

Anticipation: ★★★★★ (nrc) ★★★★★ (Volkskrant) ★★★★★ (Parool) ★★★★ (Filmkrant)

Appreciation: This documentary is quite controversial to say the least. Apparently its creator Joshua Oppenheimer is now no longer welcome to stay in Indonesia and his films will not be screened there either. A sign perhaps that there’s still something quite odd when it comes to Indonesian politics. Sufficient to say The Act of Killing has made a huge impact and it will undoubtedly leave you baffled. When General Suharto took over in 1965, many ethnic Chinese and other political dissidents were brutally murdered and the perpetrators never really prosecuted. Oppenheimer’s film records a bunch of these genocidal killers from the mid-’60s, as they shoot their own movie that diligently details how they killed well over a million alleged communists. It makes up for many bizarre scenes and disconcerting moments. For example, Anwar Congo, one of the most feared death squad leaders at the time, describes how he murdered while being high on John Wayne films. In the end it seems that what makes this documentary so strong is its ability to present this bizarre tale while refusing to judge. Ultimately this distanced tone achieves a hugely powerful impact, and because of it The Act Of Killing is both intellectually stimulating and horrifying at the same time.

Length: 115 min.

Verdict: 4/5 – Bizarre and unsettling, this is about as good as a documentary can get.

Where to see: Watch this film in Cineville’s De Balie, Eye and Het Ketelhuis.

Napoleon Dynamite

Anticipation: The movie that inspired a generation, perhaps. De Uitkijk is screening this cult-classic Friday night and if you haven’t seen this utterly goofy film you most definitely should. The story of Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder‘s screen debut) is as depressing as it is hilarious. Napoleon is a lonely soul who decides to help his new friend Pedro win the class presidency in their small mid-western high school. In the process he encounters a bunch of disturbing personas while also having to deal with his bizarre family life back home.

Appreciation: It definitely takes a certain sense of humor to enjoy this one, but if you are in the right mind-set Napoleon might steal your heart. The many uniquely compelling characters cover a wide range of social outcasts and their bizarre behavior makes up for great entertainment. However, this is not mean-spirited mockery. There is something of a sincere and genuinely tender touch to this film. Although ultimately these characters are played for laughs. And laugh you will: there are so many hilarious quotes you can take out of this it will make your head spin. If you’re still not convinced, watch the great clip from the film that I included instead of the trailer.

Length: 82 min.

Verdict: 4/5 – vote for Pedro!

Where to see: Watch this film Friday May 31th, 23.00 in Cineville’s De Uitkijk.

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