Qt3 Movie Podcast: Border


#1

This is what Sweden sent to the Academy Awards. Unlike us, the Academy didn’t go for it.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.quartertothree.com/fp/2019/02/25/qt3-movie-podcast-border/

#2

First, Kelly Wand is a liar. Bordopsis was awesome.

I wrote to Christien that I was expecting every person to have a really different take on the movie, and was that a right assumption!

I watched the movie only once and didn’t know anything about it. I only knew it was Swedish and labelled as “fantastical” (I don’t know if this genre exists in English: it’s basically a movie featuring surreal elements, but devoid of serial murders) in the movie program.

Border wasn’t a difficult watch for me. It was even the opposite, being a very relaxing movie experience. That is very rare for me, as I easily feel unease by just sitting in a movie theater for some reason.
Just like Alita, the look of the main character’s face bothered me for a couple of seconds, and then I didn’t think again about it.
The tail’s scar, though. It was really disturbing. I do not think I’ll ever watch that Hereditary thing you mention…

The experience was overall far remote from any horror or unease in my case: from the start, I thought that the actress perspired goodness, and I would have really been caught by surprise if the story had turned into a monster one.
I thought Tina and her relation to objects, natural or artificial, was beautiful, reaching an apex when finally achieving a relation with another living being during the love scene of the middle of the movie. I found their kiss scene genuinely beautiful.
I didn’t feel disgust or revulsion during the movie (well, excepting for the birth sequence, of course!), but that is such a personal matter anyway.
This might be why the second half of the movie didn’t work with me: Vore exuded lust (this might be an heavy word… sexual energy?), but not malevolence to me, and I was just shocked at how ugly inside he turned out to be. (See, Chris Elliott sucked, but he wasn’t that bad!)

I’m more in line with Christien on the interpretation of the end of the movie.
I think it implied she got somewhat through to Vore (or that Vore simply didn’t want to bother with a child, for a darker take).

Awesome show; it was a pleasure to hear all those new and different point of views. I knew I missed a lot!


#3

Did you see Shelley, Abbasi’s last movie? That does some interesting stuff with which character is the monster. Also, horror loves to corrupt or destroy good characters! Eva Melander does make Tina remarkably sympathetic, but the first moment when you meet her and her lip twitches, it read to me as profound hatred for the passengers disembarking. It’s only later revealed what that twitch means, but it’s noteworthy that Tina doesn’t sniff with her nose, but with a gesture than implies deep loathing and disgust.

A couple of things come to mind. He always seems to be sizing up the person he’s talking to, almost like a wolf or snake considering a meal. His name is the Latin root for eating, as in “carnivore” or “voracious”. But to me, he has the air of someone who knows something you don’t know, and he wants you to know he knows, but he refuses to tell you what it is. Always holding something back as well as holding something over you.

The scene where he calls the neighbor’s baby “sweetie pie” is chilling, because you know there’s something else going on there, you know he’s not the kind of person to just go all googly over a squirming baby. And in retrospect, you find out exactly what’s going on in his head at that moment. If standing there at that point – after he’s decided what he’s decided – taking the sauce pan and exchanging terse niceties with the young couple isn’t malevolence, I don’t know what is!

I don’t think the movie has an arc for Vore. I love that he tears up after Tina unleashes on him, but I didn’t get the sense that she got through to him. After all, he’s about to steal the baby next door and then flee. How is that getting through to him? And if it’s something that happens offscreen, in the cut from the ferry to Tina at her overrun home, why would Abbasi do it that way instead of working up to it over the course of their relationship?

But I agree there’s a lot of ambiguity at the end. Or maybe I just missed the clues Abbasi gives us. But I’d love to hear how that read to others. I wonder how Lindqvist’s story ends.

-Tom


#4

I loved your email. And I love this post. I’m particularly interested in you expanding upon this in the future. Border was a good and difficult watch for me for personal reasons in addition to the weird sense of ratcheting tension that goes on in the movie, so it’s interesting to me to read that it was relaxing for you.

It’s also interesting to me to see you say you feel unease sitting in a movie theater. I had to think on that. I can feel a sensation in the muscles of my back as I think about it. [“Still interested,” says Kellywand.] I relax when I settle into my seat after the trailers are over, the opening dopey student film commercial about Coca-Cola plays, and the commercial reminding me to go to the concession stand for more popcorn. Once the movie proper begins, and the theater is dark, and my phone is on silent, and my notebook is in my lap, my muscles relax. The world is somewhere else.

It’s interesting to me that you have the opposite experience. But this may be an aspect of my upbringing.

I’d love to hear more about your experience with horror. Inside was a tough movie for me…have you seen it? Can you give us a couple of examples of horror movies that worked for you?

“…the actress perspired goodness” is beautifully put, @Left_Empty. It’s a turn of phrase that will stick with me.

I like the word lust here. I don’t think it’s too heavy. I think hunger probably works better, as Tom suggests in response to you. Hunger can imply a number of appetites.

I like the way you write. And I’m pleased that you write in to the show.

-xtien

“Excuse me. The food is supposed to be for everyone.”


#5

You talk about the lip twitching of Tina, Tom, and it’s really interesting: to me it wasn’t a show of her disgust, it instead intuitively evoked a visual display of her smelling sense in my mind, like a dog would display her curiosity, unable to hide it.
I am guessing, just like in a real relationship, that first impression is very crucial in a movie as well, and that this relatively perceived positivity influenced my approach to the rest of the movie.

That’s so perfectly put. I think this is why he appears smarter than he actually is, and how he deceived me as a spectator into thinking he was a better person than he was (I even invented an arc for him that wasn’t there, as you put it later — I liked that made-up arc, though.).
You mention a “sweetie pie”, and this made me aware of another aspect that may make viewings different: I watched it with French subs, and in that scene, I do not remember at all such a dark double entendre; and would have that made a difference! I remember the scene being very benign in my perception, giving the feeling only that Vore didn’t care reading other people’s signs, but nothing grim — an encore on the Salmon Banquet scene, if you wish. In retrospect, of course… I think my second viewing will be very different from my first one.
Anyway, I meant to say that it is very possible that the local translation tainted the movie in a different perspective from the English one.

I am certain I missed a bunch of clues on my part: I hadn’t noticed the package was coming from Finland, and that totally disrupts any optimistic Vore child theory.

To answer both of you, Tom and Christien, I haven’t seen Shelley or Inside, but I am unsure I want to, as I am a real wuss. I am especially weak to any display of sadism. You were also discussing Elephant Man on the podcast, and I think I remember (it was a long time ago) that this movie was horrific to me, not because of the images on-screen, but because of what the man was subjected to.
In general, I am very intrigued by the movies you often mention in your discussions, but I don’t have the guts to actually take action to watch them. The mere thought of watching such horror movies provides me plenty of thrills already!

I am caught in a contradiction right now: I think Tom’s point about part of the horror genre being about disgust is very insightful, yet most “horror” movies that I remember appreciating were hardly graphically horrific: I remember liking the romantic Candyman, the unnerving Lake Mongo, the existentially terrifying Primer and The Abyss - that one was very strong with me as the thought of being stuck, surrounded by a vacuum or water is terrifying to me. Now that I think about it, beyond the supernatural factor, most of those seem to share a theme of characters who lose or have the feeling of losing someone very important to them. “Sentimental horror”? It’s probably got another name.

One movie I remember trying to watch was Banshee Chapter, a movie Tom wrote an enthusiastic review about, and that he even had had an interview with the director, if memory serves right. But I gave up very early, as the sound design was too unsettling for me. Some horror movies are too good at their business.


#6

‘Shelley’ is a very good unsettling movie, highly recommend, but ‘Inside’…

Ignore it, it’s a tasteless splatter flick, where film makers just couldn’t find a good reason, why all main and side characters are not leaving a tiny house. That’s why their actions, their deaths are so stupid, it’s completely impossible to suspend your disbelief. The dumbest cops I’ve ever seen in a movie. Although the final twist was quite good.

I remember, when IMDb forums were a thing, there was a ‘100 things I learned from this’ thread mocking all script writing issues. Reading it was almost like listening to Kelly Wand’s opsis. I laughed so hard, it almost made the whole experience worth it.

Don’t want to offend anyone, but I can’t believe people mentioning that god awful ‘Inside’ (OMG, there is a remake!) in one sentence with brilliant ‘Martyrs’.

Back to Border. I completely agree with you, I can’t call it a horror movie. I didn’t have any expectations like Tom, so I had similar feelings. Tina just radiates positive energy, kindness, dignity in all scenes where she interacts with the nature. When she lets two deers pass by, it was like, that’s it, there is no going back, otherwise it would be a bad writing/film making.

I also like that trick that when you realize that she’s a troll, it completely changes the way you perceive her, her presence, her appearance. The scenes after that made me so happy for her. And I’m really glad Christien mentioned Upstream Color. I got a similar vibe. Upstream Color is my over as well.


#7

Thanks for the tip I saw it last night. I was left discombobulated by the ending at first but have come to terms with it. I think she went to rack and ruin because she felt guilty that the guy hadn’t been caught and that he was still out there up to his nefarious activities. However when she receives the baby and the postcard she see’s a way to actually take control and go to the police woman and say “here we can find him and get him now.” While also getting the chance to seek outs otherTrolls.