Archive for the ‘Nordic Feel’ Category

Icelandic selection

Posted: July 22, 2010 in Nordic Feel
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A koldrum klaka (Cold Fever) – Friðrik Þór Friðriksson, 1995

A Japanese man travels to Iceland to perform a traditional burial ceremony for his parents who died there several years back. On his journey, he gets into strange adventures and meets lots of more or less lovely weirdoes.

Englar alheimsins (Angels of the Universe) – Friðrik Þór Friðriksson, 2000

A young artist’s fragile mental equilibrium is broken when his girlfriend leaves him, and we follow his desperate and inevitable descent into madness and a mental institution.

101 Reykjavík – Baltasar Kormákur, 2000

A guy way too old to be living with his mother spends dark Rejkjavik days and nights in a booze and party fantasy land, until his mother’s gorgeous Spanish friend moves into their house. He cannot resist sleeping with her, only to find out that she is in fact her mother’s girlfriend and the two women seem to have used him to get a child. Nice grow-up call.

Nói albinoi – Dagur Kári, 2003

All that Nói wanted was to escape the cold, snowy winter of the small town he lives in, With the appropriate girl, of course, which complicates things a little bit.

Kaldaljós (Cold Light) – Hilmar Oddsson, 2004

A guy too deeply disturbed by a childhood tragedy to connect with anybody, let along be prepared for fatherhood.

Gargandi snilld (Screaming Masterpiece) – Ari Alexander Ergis Magnússon, 2005

Brilliant documentary about Icelandic music and its connection to the landscape.

Mýrin – Baltasar Kormákur, 2006

Two investigations, one criminal, one genetic, merge in an intense and suspenseful thriller.

Heima – Dean DeBlois, 2007

Hauntingly beautiful documentary about Sigur Rós performing home, in Iceland, from small villages and non-existent villages to Rejkjavik.

Brúðguminn (White Night Wedding) – Baltasar Kormákur, 2008

True Kormákur comedy about a guy about to marry a girl half his age after already having “consumed” one wife.  I am a little bothered to feel for him, his attitude annoys me, but that does not change a fact that this is a funny and strange masterpiece.

Norwegian selection

Posted: July 22, 2010 in Nordic Feel
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Elling – Peter Naess, 2001

Elling lived with his mother till he was 40 and till she died, then ended up in a mental institution, then in a state apartment with his former room-mate from the institute. They are both adorable nutcases, to scared to leave the house, but of course, they will learn through very funny episodes how to open up to the world

Folk flest bor i kina (Most People Live In China) – Various, 2002

Excellent collection of short films, each portraying a political party running in the elections in Norway.

Hawaii, Oslo – Erik Poppe, 2004

Dreamlike, loosely connected stories of different people with some metaphysical undertones.

Salmer kja krøkkenet (Kitchen Stories) – Bent Hamer, 2003

Absolutely charming comedy about scientific observation being complicated by a strange, growing friendship. A Swedish research institute prepares a study to try to make kitchens as efficient as possible by sending out observers to watch people’s kitchen habits in rural Norway.

Frit Vilt (Cold Prey) – Roar Uthaug, 2006

Boring, wanna-be thiller horror about the usual young people stuck in a spooky abandoned hotel.

Den Brysomme Mannen (The Bodersome Man) – Jens Lien, 2006

An allegory of hell presented in beautiful images as the perfect modern city. Except there are no emotions allowed.

Reprise – Joachim Trier, 2006

Witty film about young writers, their loves and blocks.

Kunsten å tenke negativt (The Art of Negative Thinking) – Bård Breien, 2006

A support group for disabled people offers a heartbreaking comedy when they try to force their leader’s method in positive thinking on a cynical newly paralyzed guy.

Nord – Rune Denstad Langlo, 2009

A guy recovering from a nervous breakdown sets out to find his child “up north”, travelling endlessly and meeting all sorts of weird and funny characters. Also contains the recipe on how to get drunk using  tampon.

Finnish selection

Posted: July 22, 2010 in Nordic Feel
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Jäniksen vuosi (The Year of the Hare) – Risto Jarva, 1977

Strange and unusual take on environmental and political issues, a true Finnish classic.

Kauas Pilvet Karkaavat (Drifting Clouds) -Aki Kaurismäki, 1996

Touching minimalism from the master of minimalism, Kaurismäki, about a tram driver and a waitress who lose their jobs and have to face money problems during economic crisis.

Juha – Aki Kaurismäki, 1999

Silent movie (for some reason) about an unfaithful wife and the men in her life.

Äideistä parhain (Mother of Mine) – Klaus Härö, 2005

During World War II a huge number of Finnish children were taken in by Swedish host families to avoid the war. This is the touching story of one of them.

Laitakaupungin valot  (Lights in the dusk) – Aki Kaurismäki, 2006

Film noir Kaurismäki style.

Sauna – Antti-Jussi Annila, 2008

This is one of my favorite horrors, about two brothers who are sent to define the border between Finland and Russia after the 25 year war. They arrive in a strange village where nothing is what it seems and they have to face their troubled consciousness and guilt. Terrific atmosphere, solid acting and a story that is worth a couple of viewings, as it has many layers and connections impossible to catch at first. It also allows several different interpretations, so all the better.

Swedish selection

Posted: July 22, 2010 in Nordic Feel
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Hamnstad (Harbour City) – Ingmar Bergman, 1948

Early Bergman, probably for fans only, although if you watch it not knowing that it is Bergman, it is a pretty good film.

Kvinnors väntan (Secrets of Women) – Ingmar Bergman, 1952

Sisters-in-law telling each other stories about their marriage, while a young girl decides to escape with her love.

Smultronstället (Wild Strawberries) – Ingmar Bergman, 1957

Bergman to the bone, with his usual strong emotional impact, beautiful images and sensitive story telling. An old man is facing his regrets, disappointments and mistakes.

Det sjunde inseglet (The Seventh Seal) – Ingmar Bergman, 1957

Highly symbolic (maybe even a bit too highly for my taste) tale about a man playing chess with the devil and looking for the meaning of life in the Middle Ages.

Persona – Ingmar Bergman, 1966

My favorite Bergman, haunting, sad and powerful.

En passion (Passion of Anna) – Ingmar Bergman, 1969

The story of a doomed love affair on an island with troubled people and random acts of animal cruelty.

Riten (The Ritual) – Ingmar Bergman, 1969

Three actors are under investigation for pornography. They gradually reveal more than their interrogator asked for, and finally give an exclusive performance of their play, The Ritual.

Scener ur ett äktenskap (Scenes from a Marriage) – Ingmar Bergman, 1973

A troubled marriage and all the staged it goes through, including divorce. Incredible dialogues and chemistry between the main characters.

Offret (The Sacrifice) – Andrei Tarkovsky, 1986

It’s on my list of the most annoying films I can think of.

Lust och fägring stor (All Things Fair) – Bo Widerberg, 1995

Sometimes incredibly sexy, sometimes incredibly boring tale of a 15-16 year-old boy being sexually initiated by his “approaching 40 but still hot” teacher. Every boy’s dream, I guess…

När mörkret faller (When Darkness Falls) – Andres Nilsson, 1996

Engaging stories about different types of abuse and the victims who will not put up with it anymore.

Bara prata lite (Talk) – Lukas Moodysson, 1997

Excellent short about how far a man will go just to have someone to talk to.

Fucking Amal – Lukas Moodysson, 1998

Troubled teenage girls dealing in very different ways with their homosexuality in a depressing small town called Amal.

Tillsammans (Together) – Lukas Moodysson, 2000

Children growing up in a charming madhouse, trying to figure out who’s doing who.

Trolösa (Faithless) – Liv Ullman, 2000

If you think cheating hurts a hell of a lo more in reality than in fiction, watch this story.

Sånger från andra våningen (Songs from the second floor) – Roy Anderson, 2000.

Brilliant, funny, allegorical, apparently inspired by a Peruvian poem.

Lilja 4 Ever – Lukas Moodysson, 2002

The brutally realistic story of a young Russian girl left alone by her mother and too naive to realize when she’s being taken for a fool. The price she will have to pay for being a child would be too much for anyone. Powerful film about how young Eastern-European girls end up in the West.

Terrorister – en film om dom dömda (Terrorists: The Kids They Sentenced) – Stefan Jarl, Lukas Moodysson, 2003

Documentary about an anti-globalization protest in Gothenburg and the retributions that followed.

Ondskan (Evil) – Mikael Håfström, 2003

Boarding-school violence that only begets more violence.

Saraband – Ingmar Bergman, 2003

Complex family drama, possibly the follow-up to Scenes to a marriage (same actors, same character names, 30 years passed), Bergman’s last film.

Et hal i mitt hjarta (A Hole in My Heart) – Lukas Moodysson, 2004

Really disturbing, violent and pornographic film about people making porn films. After the screening I went to, Moodysson said he loved his characters very much. He was almost crucified by the angry audience.

Container – Lukas Moodysson, 2006

On the same occasion, Moodysson said his aim as a director is to make films more and more difficult to watch and finally to arrive at a point where nobody can watch his films anymore. Cynical aim, almost fulfilled with Container, a hypnotic and poetic experimental film without plot or purpose.

Farväl Falkenberg (Falkenberg Farewell) – Jesper Ganslandt, 2006

Nostalgic growing up story in the vain of Gus van Sant (i.e. sloooow) about friends who are about to leave their native town, one way or another.

Du levande (You, the Living) – Roy Andersson, 2007

Stunning sequences, boarding on the absurd about ordinary and less ordinary lives.

Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One in) – Tomas Alfredson, 2008

Sensitive and touching vampire horror with a truly amazing script and cinematography.

De ofrivilliga – Ruben Östlund, 2008

Series of short stories clearly inspired by Roy Andersson, but with a lot more plot and somewhat less poetry.

Danish selection

Posted: July 22, 2010 in Nordic Feel
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Vredens dag (Day of Wrath) – Carl Th. Dreyer, 1943

Carl Th. Dreyer is an often misregarded genius of cinema, who inspired many generations of filmmakers to come after him with his unique film language and his focus on a good story and bringing out the maximum from his actors. This is his early masterpiece about the beautiful young wife of an aging pastor. She falls in love with her husband’s son, confesses and causes her husband’s death, which leads to her trial as a witch.

Ordet (The Word) – Carl Th. Dreyer, 1955

A dreamlike athmoshpere that would have Tarkovskij twist and turn of envy, and a powerful film about the faith of the simple man and the possibility of miracles through love. It also features a character who has lost his mind studying Kierkegaard and has come to beliee that he is the reincarnation of Jesus.

Gertrud – Carl Th. Dreyer, 1964

Sensitive portrait of a woman with such a high ideal of love that no man can live up to it, ever. Sad and beautiful.

Du er ikke alene (You Are Not Alone) – Ernst Johansen, 1978

Young boys at a boarding school explore their sexuality and unite against the prejudices of the grown-up world.

Nocturne – Lars von Trier, 1980

Trier’s early short form his surrealist period.

Forbrydelsens element (The Element of Crime) – Lars von Trier, 1984

A detective pursues a serial killer with highly unortodox methods taken from a book (the Element of Crime), which involves hypnosis and complete identification with the killer. The first film of Trier’s E trilogy.

Epidemic – Lars von Trier, 1987

Brilliant exploration of the relationship between film, fiction and reality and the role of the artist (filmmaker).

Medea – Lars von Trier, 1988

Trier’s haunting adaptation of the legend of Medea based on Carl Th. Dreyet’s script.

Europa – Lars von Trier, 1991

Arguably the best of the E trilogy (although I tend to like Epidemic more) about complex human dramas in the aftermath of World War Two.

Riget (The Kingdom – miniseries) – Lars von Trier, 1994

The most original film series ever made, about a haunted hospital built on a cemetary and the weird people inhabiting it. Some of the scariest and funniest moments of Trier magic.

Breaking the Waves – Lars von Trier, 1996

The second film of the trilogy about female sacrifice about Bess (Emily Watson’s greatest performance), the slighty too simple minded but very much in love young wife who prays hard to bring her husband home and suffers unimaginable pain and humiliation when her wish is fulfilled.

Pusher I – Nicolas Winding Refn, 1996

Refn is the resident action thriller director of danish cinema. This is the first film of the trilogy, featuring a very young Mads Mikkelsen in his first big role.

Riget II (The Kingdom II – miniseries) – Lars von Trier, 1997

If the first series had some equilibrium between the different story lines, this second one is, in my oppinion, completely stolen by Udo Kier and the monstruous baby.

Smilla’s Sense of Snow – Bille August, 1997

Insightfull thriller about a woman from Greenland now living in Copenhagen who suspect that a little boy was murdered.

Idioterne – Lars von Trier (not credited), 1998

The dogma film about idiots and dogma film.

Festen (The Celebration) – Thomas Vinterberg (not credited), 1998

The first dogma and dark family secrets.

Mifunes Sidste Sang (Mifune’s Last Song) – Soren Kragh-Jakobsen (not credited), 1999

A man hires a young girl to take care of his mentally ill brother but gets a bit more than he expected.

I Kina spiser de hunde (In China They Eat Dogs) – Lasse Spang Olsen, 1999

Combination of action film and comedy about two brothers who could not be any different.

Bleeder – Nicolas Winding Refn, 1999

The touching and disturbing drama of a man sick of his life and afraid of parenthood who gradually loses his grip and allows himself to be seduced by violence.

Den eneste ene (The One and Only) – Susanne Bier, 1999

Not the best romantic comedy you will see, but not the worst either.

Italiensk for Begyndere (Italian for Beginners)– Lone Scherfig (not credited), 2000

Dogma meets comedy in this gem of Danish cinema.

Dancer in the Dark – Lars von Trier, 2000

Trier’s vision and Bjork’s music. What else could one ask for?

Von Trier’s 100 øjne (Von Trier’s 1OO Eyes) – Katia Forbert, 2000

Documentary about filming Dancer in the Dark. The title refers to the 100 cameras used to film the musical scenes, an attempt of Trier’s to balance the control he has when using the one handheld camera that he made such a big fuss about in the past.

Blinkende Lyghter (Flickering Lights) – Anders Thomas Jensen, 2000

This would have been just another bankrobers on the run story if it wasn’t for Jensen’s dark humor and incredibly insightful way of building characters. The great acting goes without saying.

Baenken (The Bench) – Per Fly, 2000

The story of a grumpy old alcoholic finding a reason to get back to life.

Et Rigtigt Menneske (Truly Human) – Ake Sandgren (not credited), 2001

Dogma about an imaginary boy who comes to life and tries to be human.

En Kaerlighedshistorie – Ole Cristian Madsen (not credited), 2001

Kira tries to be “normal” after two years in a mental institution.

En kort en lang (Shake it) – Hella Joof, 2001

Nice little comedy about a gay man (Mads Mikkelsen!),his illusions and his deep wish to become a father.

Elsker Dig for Evigt (Open Hearts) – Susanne Bier (not credited), 2002

Painfully sad drama about two lovers crushed by a terrible car accident.

I am Dina – Ole Bornedal, 2002

Gaemle mead i nye biler (Old Men in New Cars) – Lasse Spang Olsen, 2002

Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself – Lone Scherfig, 2002

The serial suicidal Wilbur falls in love with his sick brother’s wife.

Reconstruction – Christoffer Boe, 2003

Possibly my favourite love story, which is, of course, not even a love story, just an encounter shifting between fiction and reality.

Gronne Sligtere (The Green Butchers) – Anders Thomas Jensen, 2003

Leave it to the Danes and Jensen to make a comedy about canibalism.

Dogville – Lars von Trier, 2003

Trier’s anti-dogma about how to take advantage of people and how to abuse power. The first of his trilogy about America (the US, he means!).

De fem benspaend (The Five Obstructions) – Lars von Trier, Jorgen Leth, 2003

Experimental film about trier giving harder and harder directorial tasks to Leth and the way these are fulfilled. Interesting exercise to watch.

Arven (The Inheritance) – Per Fly, 2003

The drama of a man who cannot say no to his family duties even if this means complete loss of all his ties to others.

Se til venstre, der er en Svensker – Natasha Arthy (not credited), 2003

Silly little dogma comedy trying to turn into an AIDS drama.

Forbrydelser (In Your Hands) – Anette K. Olesen (not credited), 2004

A woman prison pastor and a murderous mother find that they have more in common than they initially thought.

Brødre – Susanne Bier, 2004

Bier’s second best film after Elsker dig for evigt, about two brothers, one believed to be dead in Afganistan, and the other “inhariting” his family. Good character development and dramatic on screen dynamics.

Kongekabale (King’s Game) – Nikolaj Arcel, 2004

Political thiller with the unfortunately mandator and universal themes of corruption and media manipulation.

Strings – Anders Rønnow Klarlund, 2004

Puppet show on film, a fairy tale for grown-ups, brilliant and unique.

Allegro – Christoffer Boe, 2005

Maybe it’s because I had such high expectation after Reconstruction that I resent this film so much. It’s not that bad, really. A pianist goes back to his hometown Copenhagen and his past catches up with him.

Pusher II – Nicolas Winding Refn, 2004

My favourite of the three, the most engading and suspenseful.

Dag og nat (Day and Night) – Simon Staho, 2004

A man decides to kill himself and goes to say goodbye to all the people in his life, trying to talk to them, tell them about his troubles, but nobody listens. I still have no idea what exactly makes this film boring, but there’s definitely something missing from it…

Manderlay – Lars von Trier, 2005

Well, the problem is, that after Dogville,  this just seems utterly in vain. What I appreciate most about Trier is his ability to change and come up with something original for every film he makes…and Manderlay is the exception. It’s not a bad film, of course, it’s even good, just not good enough for Trier.

Dear Wendy – Thomas Vinterberg, 2005

Dissapointment, complete bore.

Adams Aebler (Adam’s Apples) – Anders Thomas Jensen, 2005

My favourite Jensen film about a delusionally good priest, a neo-nazi, a cleptomaniac and so on. Sounds like a joke, and it is funny, but it also so much more than that.

Voksne mennesker (Dark Horse) – Dagur Kári, 2005

Great, witty, original balck and white film about a dislexic graffiti artist and his best friend who desperately wants to become a football referee.

Nordkraft (Angels In Fast Motion) – Ole Cristian Madsen, 2005

Drug film, not that original, but worth watching.

Pusher III – Nicolas Winding Refn, 2005

The final film of the trilogy.

Kinamand – Henrik Ruben Genz, 2005

Gentle, funny love story between an unhappy, slightly overweight Danish plumber and the sister of Mr. Cheng from the Chinese restaurant across the street.

Drabet (Manslaughter) – Per Fly, 2005

A university professor abandones his family to help his student mistress, a radical leftist activist accused of killing a police officer.

Nynne – Jonas Elmer, 2005

The Danish Bridget Jones.

Efter Brylluppet (After the Wedding) – Susanne Bier, 2006

A man running an orphanage in India and struggling to keep the children safe, finds out something about his past that would completely change his life.

Direktøren for det hele (The Boss of it All) – Lars von Trier, 2006

Trier trying to make a comedy. Well, it’s not bad, but it’s basically the acting that saves it, not the story.

Kunsten at græde i kor (The Art of Crying) – Peter Schønau Fog, 2006

Disturbing film, at first glance a comedy but so, so far away from being funny. It’s an excellent story and a good film, though.

Prag (Prague) – Ole Christian Madsen, 2006

A couple goes to Prague to rediscover what makes them a couple in the first place. Excellent acting and sensitive storytelling.

Spraenfarlig bombe (Clash of egos) – Tomas Villum Jensen, 2006

The most brilliant parody about Danish filmmaking, exploring all the troubles with the hendheld camera and “too much art”.

Daisy Diamond – Simon Staho, 2007

The obsessive wish to make it as an actress drives a woman to unspeakable cruelty.

Hjemve (Just Like Home) – Lone Scherfig, 2007

Charming little comedy about a small town and the bizarre people who inhabit it.

Kaerlighed pa film (Just Another Love Story) – Ole Bornedal, 2007

The seeminlgy boring life of a crime-scene photographer turns upside down when he falls in love with a car crash victim.

Kandidaden – Kasper Barfoed, 2008

Dissapointing, full of cliches, boring.

Bronson – Nicolas Winding Refn, 2008

Possibly Refn’s most disturbing film about a violent and mentally instable character who is a big fan of Charles Bronson.

Flammen & Citronen – Ole Cristian Madsen, 2008

Solid World War Two drama about the Danish resistance.

Antichrist – Lars von Trier, 2009

The story of a couple trying to cope with the uncopable loss of their child, told in disturbinly beautiful images.

Flugten (The Escape) – Kathrine Windfeld, 2009

A Danish jurnalist abducted in Afganistan tries to protect the young boy who helped her escape and still gain fame by writing a book about her kidnapping.

Applause – Martin Zandvliet, 2009

A one woman show by Paprika Steen about an actress desperately seeking both a life less ordinary and an ordinary life with her children.

The Good Heart – Dagur Kari, 2009

A grumpy pub-owner with a heart condition decides to rescue a young bum but ends up being rescued himself.