‘Koko-Di Koko-Da’ is an even more terrifying cinematic nightmare than Trump’s America

YesYou can’t fight grief, much less reason with it or attempt to run away from it – wherever you go, it’s there, attacking you with little remorse and even less restraint. It’s a ubiquitous predator, pushing you, pushing you and mocking you until you just want to scream in anguish. Not that shouting does any good either; in the face of such a sinister opponent, the best one can do is endure, which, Koko-di Koko-da suggests, often requires locating what is most difficult to find in these painful times: compassion for oneself and for others.

As with his prior The giant, By Swedish director Johannes Nyholm Koko-di Koko-da is a folkloric film in which the boundaries between the authentic and the imaginary are fragile and crossable. However, unlike its predecessor, which made clear formal and narrative distinctions between these two realms, this haunting nightmare mixes the real and the unreal until the two are indistinguishable. In that regard, this fascinating sophomore effort – think of a sinister riff on groundhog day, or a darker, more heartbreaking variation of Happy day of the dead –is a significant leap forward for the filmmaker, generating unease from his spooky imagery and unsettling signature song, and emotion from his portrayal of the struggle to cope with unfathomable loss.

In virtual cinemas on November 6 (and on VOD on December 8), Koko-di Koko-da sets its surreal vibe from the start. In the threatening woods, a happy, hissing elderly man named Mog (60s rock star Peter Belli) dressed in a white suit and bowler hat, and wielding a cane, sings a nursery rhyme (“My Rooster is Dead , he’ll never sing koko -di, koko-da ”). It sounds like a demented Swedish version of The man of musicHarold Hill, and behind him, the crazy-haired young Cherry (Brandy Litmanen) leading a fearsome dog on a leash, and lumberjack’s tousled giant Sampo (Morad Baloo Khatchadorian) carrying a dead dog. As Mog sings his haunting tune, the film transforms into a close-up of a music box decorated with an illustration of this trio, then to young Maja (Katarina Jakobson) – her face painted to look like a rabbit – the looking through a shop window. A moment later, her parents Tobias (Leif Edlund) and Elin (Yiva Gallon) arrive, simultaneously panicked that the girl had walked away and relieved to have found her.

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