Only new films opening this week are on Netflix.


Directed by Lisa Williams


The film is about an American program designed to kick-start teenagers out of their rebellious ways.  These are called wilderness survival camps.  The ad in the paper goes like this:  Defiant teenager?  Is your teenager irresponsible, rebellious, or out of control?  Running with the wrong crowd?  Headed down a path with no future?  Help your son or daughter before it is too late.  Powerful 63-day wilderness survival program stops destructive behaviour and puts parents back in control.  Youth learn responsibility, discipline and appreciation for home and family.  This camp is the brainchild of 35-year-old Steve Cartisano.  This documentary reveals what actually went on in these camps.  Needless to say, if the ad does not whet your appetite, probably nothing will.

The film begins with a grown-up daughter telling of her experience as a young teen.  While her parents were out at night when she was in bed sleeping, she was awakened by two strangers - looking like, in her description mountain men.  She was driven by car to the airport and transported by a private plane.  She was asked if she wanted to know where she was going but she said no, in order not to show that she was afraid.  It dawned on her then that her parents had designed the kidnapping.  Celebrity Paris Hilton also talks about the abuse in these camps as she was also an alleged victim.

Besides being a doc about wilderness therapy survival camps run by Steve Cartisano, the doc is also a film about Cartisano.  Being such a unique and according to his children, every intelligent man, his character is intriguing and the time spent on him is definitely entertaining, if not fascinating.

Steve Cartisano, a key figure in wilderness therapy, is known for his unconventional methods and the ups and downs of the Challenger Foundation, which have left a lasting impact on the field.  The film traces his evolution from a military special forces officer to the founder of a well-known but controversial wilderness therapy program.  For a fee of around $16,000, Challenger housed teens for 63 days, providing wilderness therapy and nature exercises to address behavioural issues.  His wife and children are interviewees who speak candidly of the troubled family life - mainly because of the impending lawsuits faced by the company.  Beyond the legal and moral challenges associated with the Challenger Foundation, the narrative delves into Cartisano’s personal life, shedding light on his family. The story not only addresses the controversies surrounding Cartisano but also explores the broader effects of his career choices on his closest relationships.  It portrays him as a complex individual whose legacy extends beyond his professional endeavours, leaving an enduring impact on those who encounter it.

The doc could have spent more time on the effects of the program - whether the youths attending became better human beings.  One of the attendees says on camera that he resorted to his old ways within a few months.  This attendee was seen breaking down in tears when his father paid a surprise visit to his camp.  A few said they benefited.  One would be interested in what others had to say.

HELL CAMP is one of the most intriguing docs of the year for the reason of its subject.   The doc succeeds primarily because it encompasses a wide range of interviewees of everyone involved from the camp counselors, to the patients, to the parents to the investigators to Cartisano and his family.


THANK YOU, I’M SORRY (Tack och förlåt)(Sweden 2023) ***

Directed by Lisa Aschan


Sweden is not known for its comedies.  More like sombre films in the likes of Ingmar Bergman are most of what can be expected from Swede films.  But there are surprises.  The black comedy IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE remade into Hollywood’s COLD COMFORT with Liam Neeson is one example.  During the holiday week when new film openings are very scarce, Netflix has a slew of new films from different countries opening during the week from Christmas Day to New Year’s.  THANK YOU, I’M SORRY from Sweden is a welcome quite unusual comedy-drama - more drama than comedy, with a female slant that should put a smile or two on the faces of Netflix viewers.

Sara lives in a perfect nuclear family with Daniél, their little son, Eliot and soon a second child on its way.  But their life is to be turned upside down and the heavily pregnant Sara is suddenly left alone.  Daniél died in his sleep and was only discovered dead after a few days.  The reason is that the heavily pregnant Sara is sleeping on the couch.  Sara later reveals that Daniel has been cheating on her and that he hides booze around the house.  Her in-laws butt in and move into Sara’s life, much to her consternation and they wonder the reason Sara is not mourning her deceased husband.  But Sara has other problems.  Her father is in a care home and suffering from dementia.  At the film’s start, Sara gets a phone call from her father from his home asking her to find his slippers.  But the biggest problem appears to be her elder sister, Linda, who herself is facing problems with her boyfriend.  She wants to be away from him.  Sara’s help soon appears from a completely unexpected side when Sara's estranged older sister, Linda, a helpless immature adult with a big erratic dog named Zlatan (Eliot calls the dog Satan)offers to move in and help out.

THANK YOU, I’M SORRY could not be considered true comedy as a film as a whole as it deals with serious matters like family relationships.  But the serious matters are interspersed with humour like the part Sara throws a cell phone at her mother-in-law’s head causing her to get two stitches.  And then she has to go to therapy.  She does not get along with her sister either after telling her that she does not want to see her anymore.  The film’s humour is dry and deadpan, but is quite edgy humour, making the film quite an entertaining watch,  The director blends pathos and humour well.

Directed by Lisa Aschan and written by Marie Østerbye, two women, the film has a strong female slant with men appearing only in the background.  In the case of the film, it is a good thing to see their perspective on things,  skewed as they are - not because it is all female, but because it is skewed from the female point of view.

THANK YOU, I’M SORRY is an entertaining different family relationship comedy drama that is entirely watchable and light viewing.  The film opens for Netflix this week for streaming.


Comments powered by CComment