Posts Tagged ‘Swedish Film’

Så som i himmelen – Minute Movie Review

Montag, Oktober 18th, 2010


The Swedish Film As in Heaven follows extremely successful conductor/musician Michael Nygvist after he has a near fatal heart attack and returns to the village of his youth to recuperate. Once there, the film uses every cliché of the usual underdog sports team drama, except that it’s about a choir and slightly more realistic than those films. But even the realism doesn’t change the fact that this is essentially the Swedish version of a Disney movie, what with the sappy uplifting and everything. If you go in for church choir movies, this is probably the best you can find. If you don’t, there are many better Swedish films to explore your love for Scandinavian cinema.

Random Observations:

Så som i himmelen at the IMDb

I really have nothing more to say here.

Antichrist – Minute Movie Review

Montag, September 6th, 2010


After the loss of their only child, Charlotte Gainsbourg is overcome by grief while her husband Willem Dafoe, a therapist, decides that he himself should help her. They go to a secluded cottage in the woods where things quickly get out of hand as her delusions begin unhinging their life. Brilliantly acted, perfectly filmed, the film is one of the most abhorrent films I have ever seen. Brutal and unrelenting, the film is anything but a pleasure to watch. But the story, the mythology and the themes make it worthwhile – and give you plenty of opportunity to muse about the film afterwards, even though what you really want to do is purge your mind of the images.

Random Observations:

Antichrist at the IMDb

Lars von Trier said that he tried to make a horror film with this, but ultimately failed. As I see it, however, he made a much more horrifying film than any of those so-called horror films today. Saw XVII or whatever they may be called.

Co-produced by just about every country in Europe (Denmark, Germany, France, Sweden, Polen and Italy, to be precise), set in the US, and filmed in my home state, Nordrhein-Westfalen.

I’ve wanted to delve into Lars von Trier’s work for a long time, but I’m not sure whether this was the right starting point. Especially since the film does not even follow the Dogme 95 rules. At least I sincerely hope it doesn’t.

Personally, I found the opening sequence, set to a beautiful piece by Georg Friedrich Händel (‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ from the opera Rinaldo), much worse to bear than any of the psychological and physical torture and mutilation later on.

I briefly considered making this Lars von Trier Week, but I really need an easy comedy now.

Lilja 4-ever – Minute Movie Review

Sonntag, Mai 16th, 2010


Lilja is a young teenager living somewhere in the former USSR. Her mother has abandoned her for a new man living in America. Her aunt doesn’t give a damn and due to an unfortunate betrayal by her best friend, the local boys consider her a whore. She only has one friend, a younger boy who loves and adores her. In that horrible situation, it is not surprising that she falls for the charms of a man who has only one secret aim – to take her to Sweden as a sex slave. Based on a true story – and millions more like it – the film is a horribly bleak look at modern realities. It is honest and unforgiving, painful in its depiction of the emotional and physical violence inflicted upon Lilja. But it’s also a very sweet film, with the depiction of the friendship being among the most honest ever to be put on film. It’s a horrible story, but it’s told in such a way that you are not just shocked, but feel with the characters.

Random Observations:

Lilja 4-ever at the IMDb

Director Lukas Moodysson has a knack for showing honest teenage emotions. This is also visible in his earlier, much lighter in tone, film Fucking Åmål, which is one of my favourite films of all time.

There are many scenes in the film that are almost too painful to watch, yet they are also incredibly sweet. The final scene is the pinnacle of that.

The film is mostly in Russian and was mostly filmed in Estonia. I always thought they made it a point not to speak Russian there anymore?

Oksana Akinsjina (or Oksana Akinshina, depending on which transliteration you prefer) was only fourteen when she played Lilja. She rightfully won several awards for her acting.

En Passion – Minute Movie Review

Samstag, April 24th, 2010


Living alone on a remote island, Max von Sydow tries to deal with life. He meets Liv Ullmann, whose husband and son have died, and a married couple. During the film, the four people connect and grow apart, all the while trying to survive in a world they hardly understand. Experimental even by Ingmar Bergman standards – actor interviews describing their character’s motivation are strewn throughout the film, for instance – The Passion of Anna does not work completely. It’s great acting and examination of the lies we base our lives on, however, make it well worth watching.

Random Observations:

En Passion at the IMDb

Is it just my copy or is the omission/blankness of the title card deliberate?

I think I might have cancer of the soul as well.

If you love animals very much, this film might not be for you. Especially if you know that Bergman didn’t fake the cruelty.

The film is a companion piece to Bergman’s earlier film Skammen. Here, what seems like an epilogue or alternate ending to Shame, is depicted as a dream Ullmann’s Anna is having.

Skammen – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, April 21st, 2010


In Shame, Ingmar Bergman examines the effects of civil war on people. Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow have fled to a remote island after their orchestra has been disbanded to escape from the political situation. But naturally, the war comes to find them and they are drawn into the conflict just like everyone else. They try to remain apolitical, but this proves impossible, and before long their association with one side makes things even worse. The film is a brilliant slow-moving story, focusing on simple scenes and scenarios to show the atrocities of war for civilians. The last sequence is so thoroughly dispiriting that it is almost impossible to watch.

Random Observations:

Skammen at the IMDb

The soldier interviewing the Rosenbergs is played by director Vilgot Sjöman, who made the Jag är nyfiken / I Am Curious films.

The film appears to be shot on a huge budget for Bergman, with many extras, extensive props (like tanks and such) and even some special effects (like explosions). None of that, however, distracts from the story, but actually adds to the horror of it.

The film also explores many connected and unconnected themes, from isolation to infidelity.

Vargtimmen – Minute Movie Review

Samstag, April 10th, 2010


In The Hour of the Wolf, a painter with a troubled past and his loving wife spend the summer on a lonely island, where he slowly succumbs to his delusions, dragging her in with him. The film by greatest director ever Ingmar Bergman, explores some of his favourite themes, thereby creating something unique – a true horror film. Nevertheless or precisely because of that it is one of Bergman’s lesser films, never living up to the example of Persona, which explored similar issues much more elegantly before.

Random Observations:

Vargtimmen at the IMDb

Great cast with Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow in the lead roles.

The film is very much open to interpretation as to how much of the things shown is actually real, which is quite intriguing.

Did I mention that Ingmar Bergman is the greatest director of all time? You should watch all his films. They are beautifully haunting examinations of the human condition. His black and white work is especially impressive. You can find more films of his reviewed here.

Jag är nyfiken – en film i gult – Minute Movie Review

Freitag, März 26th, 2010


I Am Curious (Yellow) is the first of two films by Swedish auteur Vilgot Sjörman that are mostly remembered for pushing the boundaries concerning the depiction of sexuality. The film blends fiction and reality in the story of Lena Nyman, a young actress trying to figure the world out, especially the political aspects of it. Clearly a product of its time, the late 60s socialist agenda is visible throughout, never disguised by such banalities as story or plot. This is an experiment in cinéma vérité, an attempt by one of Ingmar Bergman’s apprentices to outdo the master. Naturally, that failed.

Random Observations:

Jag är nyfiken – en film i gult at the IMDb

I will watch and review the second film, this time in blue, later today. Maybe taken together they have more of an impact.

Män som hatar kvinnor – Minute Movie Review

Sonntag, November 8th, 2009


Män som hatar kvinoor, also known as “Men Who Hate Women”, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” or, in German, “Verblendung”, is the film adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s first posthumous bestseller. It’s the story of a journalist waiting for a prison sentence trying to uncover a murder 40 years ago. A well-constructed thriller – that deviates much from the novel and deletes most of the minor plot lines – the film is gripping until the end, with interesting characters that are well played. It’s not great, but in the genre, it’s quite good.

Random Observations:

Män som hatar kvinnor at the IMDb

Hey, I can understand newspaper headlines in Swedish! Go me!

Ett hål i mitt hjärta – Minute Movie Review

Sonntag, September 6th, 2009


Set almost entirely in a small apartment, “A Hole in My Heart” tells the story of four people. Rickard is a middle aged loser who has never coped with the death of his wife. Together with best friend misogynist Geko he spends most his days playing video games and talking nonsense. But they also make amateur porno films with twenty-one year-old Tess, who has dreamed of just that since age 12 and is no stranger to cosmetic surgery. All that happens while Rickard’s song Eric stays in his room, even closing the blinds against the sun-light and listening to noise that defies the conventions of music like harmony and melody. But despite his shut-in status, out of the four people he is actually the most open to the outside world. The film has some brilliant scenes, mostly when blurring the lines between dreams, fantasies and reality, but much of it is simply disturbing and relies on shocking images more than a shocking story. There is potential for greatness, but most if it is squandered.

Random Observations:

Ett hål i mitt hjärta at the IMDb

The reason I watched the film – which is about as far removed from my usual taste as is possible – was the director, Lukas Moodysson. I was hoping that he had made another better than brilliant film after Fucking Åmål (simply put one of the best love stories of all time), but sadly, this is not it. It’s not bad, but also not great.

If you want to watch this film – and there really isn’t any reason why you should particularly want to – be warned that it has some pretty disturbing images. So disturbing, in fact, that the Swedish posters had to say so.

The few other people’s faces as well as all brand names and images are blurred out. It’s an interesting idea, but mostly it is distracting.

Minute Movie Review – Höstsonaten

Freitag, April 24th, 2009


In “Autumn Sonata”, a brilliant pianist visits her daughter after not seeing her for seven years. After initial joy at the reunion, old animosities surface again, when the daughter exposes the neglect she and her disabled sister have endured from their mother. The last film starring Ingrid Bergman – and the only collaboration between her and Ingmar Bergman – is another psychological drama from the master of them. It thrives on the interaction between Bergman and Liv Ullmann and manages to tell a story of disappointment and unrequited love without any hysterics.

Random Observations:

Höstsonaten at

The film includes quite a few flash backs and they are all filmed with a stationary camera without cuts, creating an almost eery resemblance to memory.

This concludes the unofficial Ingmar Bergman month. The previous films were Det sjunde inseglet, Smultronstället, Jungfrukällan, Tystnaden, Persona, Viskningar och rop and Scener ur ett äktenskap.