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Stockholm Stories (2013)
Impressive dramedy which ties together perfectly
Lets get one thing over with, I work quite close to director Karin Fahlén, she's actually sitting one meter from me right now - but if I didn't like Stockholm Stories I just wouldn't have an opinion about it. That's me, I rather stay quiet and say nothing instead of giving constructive criticism ;) But the truth is, Stockholm Stories is a damn fine dramedy, one of the best Swedish movies in quite a while. And this comes from a dude who usually dislikes modern Swedish cinema.
Based (kinda) on a short story collection written by actor Jonas Karlsson, it's not totally wrong to say it's a Swedish Short Cuts. There's a lot of haunted personalities floating around in Stockholm, and all of them are somehow intertwined with each other. We have the stiff government secretary who one day spots his name on an envelope inside a car. He can't stay away from this mystery and starts to investigate who's car it is and gets obsessed (which is a kind word, he's more or less a stalker) by the woman who wrote it, an even more anti-social and strange woman who happens to have a pointless beef with a comedian over a delicatessen basket he stole from her. Nearby we follow a stuttering young man who fights with a conservative father who want to control his life, include the girl he meets - who happens to be the lover of a certain politician and also the sister of a young and naive writer who want to get out of his father's shadow. And the rest I leave up to you. You get the point.
There's a lot of emotions going on in Stockholm Stories, and thankfully everyone and their story is tied together in the end - not necessary for the best of the characters, at least if you see it a traditional dramaturgical way. I've always felt that there's more good ways to end a movie than with total happiness, sometimes a bit of bad luck can be happy in it's own twisted way.
Director Karin Fahlén and screenwriter Erik Ahrnbom carefully avoids the clichés - just the detail with the naive writer actually NOT being especially talented is a brilliant idea, because that's probably a lot more realistic than him being a brilliant writer like his genius, dead father. Now he's just a pretentious wannabe who just wanna get published by all means necessary. A nice pretentious wannabe, but still. Cecilia Frode, who plays Jessica, almost makes an alien character, totally unattached to the society around her, with odd (and fantastic) clothes and a talent for starting fights just because she can't let it go.
Another favorite character is Peter Carlberg, who plays the conservative father. With eyes so empty (imagine the eyes of a shark) and so emotionally disturbed I instinctively started to hate him the first time I saw him. This in contrast to Pia Halvorsen, who plays his wife - also excellent - but a bitter-sweet, humorous sadness, walking the line between comedy and true drama. I could watch a whole movie with these two personalities - and their stuttering son of course, played by Filip Berg.
But the true star of the show is Karin Fahlén, who tells the story with steady hands and perfect pace. I adore how she deliberately stays at a distance from her characters, visually that is. Kinda lurking far away, almost spying at them -. and gradually comes closer the further the story goes. She shows a part of Stockholm we rarely see, far from the typical yellow picturesque houses and landscapes with famous landmarks place in the middle. There's no Globen, or Town hall no castle or the typical churches. It gives as more realistic view of the south of Stockholm ("Söder") than before, not the usual tourist footage we're treated with in millions of other movies shot in this wonderful town.
Stockholm Stories are far away from what I normally review at Ex-Ninja, but this is one of those Swedish movies that needs a boost at the box office. It's released tomorrow (7/3-2014) Friday in Sweden, go and see it in the cinema and thank me afterwards. I promise you'll like it!
The best from the UK in many years!
Oh boy. Inbred is clearly one of the best, funniest and goriest black comedies I've seen it a very long time. No, I won't compare it with Shaun of the Dead or Tucker & Dale, because Inbred are in it's own brilliant league. It's darker, gorier and has a Monty Python-esque Grand Guignol atmosphere. I'm of course to young to have experienced real Grand Guignol, but I'm sure Inbred is pretty close to that once was the hottest entertainment in Le Gay Paris.
Every good movie lives its life because of good characters, and Inbred has a phenomenal cast. I'm writing this now without the luxury of Internet, but just google the movie and check out the cast! Our heroes has truly depth, with enough personality to make us care when they finally bites the dust. Even the antagonists are written with love and they are so superior to similar "inbred rednecks" that it would be any problem to write another story only focusing on them.
The gore is just stunning! It's, according to Alex Chandon, 99,9 % practical effects with a final digital touch. We're treated to a couple of ultra-gory scenes of extreme carnage, lots of violence against heads, stabbings, body-slicing! Inbred has every kind of kill you can imagine, and it never takes away the focus from the story! I'm surprised how such - at the first glance - generic story can offer something more, but Inbred actually manages to do this.
Tunnel Rats (2008)
The Raging Boll hits hard - again!
Uwe Bolls Tunnel Rats has just been released on R2UK, and of course I had to run down to the store and get a copy as fast as possible. When Seed came a lot of people was impressed - except the usual Bollbashers - but who cares about them nowadays? Seed was way more cynical than what we've seen from Uwe before, but still had some silliness because the absurd comic book-style killer.
But with Tunnel Rats Uwe has abandon every kinda comedy, satire and tongue-in-cheek. Tunnel Rats is dead serious and works very well that way. It's a story about soldiers in the Vietnam-war that are going to clean up the underground tunnels that Viet Cong uses. Of course everything breaks into pure hell...
Boll spends some time with the characters first. Let us know them - and let the actors do some impressive and naturalistic performances. It's not a pro-American movie... and not a pro-Vietnamese movie either. It's quite natural and shows the brutality at both forces. For once he injects some personality and motivation to the Viet Congs to, and as good performances as the American actors.
It goes into horror-territory (almost) when the tunnels are introduced, but still keeps it realistic. The tunnels are small, because the Vietnamese is small, so it get's extra claustrophobic for the bigger built Americans. Above the ground there's some great action to, well worth a look for those - like me - who loves jungle action. Blood, squibs, limbs blown of, explosions and a nasty feeling of realism. There's no super-soldiers here. People just die.
The Bollbashers would celebrate this movie if there was another name as a director, if Boll used an alias. They just hate it because it's Boll directing.
I love his popcorn-flicks, but I love even more when he comes in to more darker territories and shows us what the world is about.
The ending is dark and cynical, but probably more real than any other Vietnam-movie. Yeah, it's darker than in Seed. And it shows even more the total meaningless of war.
Death Academy (2005)
I finally saw this new try to make a Swedish slasher and I was extremely disappointed. The story was confusing and the actors was so wooden that even me seems like a "Laurence Olivier" in comparison. The worst thing was, of course, that the murder scenes was so amateurish filmed that there wasn't any sense of danger, violence or pain. There was just someone that pointed the camera against the make up-effect and thought that it looked cool. The editing was beyond bad and the unintentional comedy wasn't even funny.
And pink blood? Strange! It's a hard thing to produce an indie-movie without money, but some people just shouldn't come near a camera. I think their next movie, The Griefing, will be better. I hope so anyway.
Thriller - en grym film (1973)
Wow! I've owned the DVD for a couple of days now and I've seen it twice. First with the superior Swedish track and then with the English track.
It's important to know that the only track worth mention is the Swedish track. There you have the great and smart dialogue and character-development that goes totally wrong in the English dub. So watch it with English subtitles. Don't be lazy, learn to read! :)
What strikes me the first when seeing the movie for the first time in a couple of years is how beautiful it is. After watching a crappy bootleg for years, this is a true revelation! Bo-Arne has clearly choose the Swedish autumn for it's staggering beauty and clear and strong colors. This is what I see every years outside my door, but this is the first time I've seen it so well presented in a movie. This is here the movie also shows it's true art-house-face. The scene with the child molester isn't sleazy (thank god for that!) or exploitive at all. It's poetic and horrible. Disgusting. When the tobacco (or just maybe 'snus') pours out if his mouth in excitement it's not just awful and grotesque, it's Swedish film-making at its best.
It's a dreamlike movie, but also very naturalistic (aka very Swedish) with stylish and impressive cinematography by Andreas Bellis. He and Bo-Arne both handles action, sex and drama with the same high quality. I think it's important not to forget the strange and surrealistic score by electro-maestro Ralph Lundsten. Like a constant wall of sound he wraps the story with unique electronic landscapes, some of them very childish and like nursery rhymes and others just...echoes and sonic vibrations/distortions.
Regaring the action...it's great. And it looks more expensive than it is. Okey, you can't compare the car chase to the one in Bullit or Blazing Magnums, but's quite alright to be in a Swedish exploitation movie from 1973. They shot it, of course, completely without permits and a bunch of explosives and sometimes unaware extras out in the streets. The fightscene in the warehouse is unique and not very Swedish. It's more of a combination between Peckinpah and Bruce Lee, but directed by Jodorowsky!
The final is both very western AND very Jodorowsky (see, once again I can't let go of the surrealistic vision this movie has). I know, because we've asked him, that Bo-Arne had no intention to let the ending (from the shoot out in the little fishing village to the horse...) to be very Sergio Leone, but it feels a lot like a scandinavian spaghetti western (actually there's been made at least three westerns in Sweden, but we call them 'lingon-western' Lingonberry-western).
But what makes Thriller what it is, is the actors. Christina Lindberg is PERFECT as Madeleine (in the English version, Frigga? Where came that name from?). She's cute, sexy, warm and finally very, very cold. Its a very impressive performance and her love for the character shines thru. Heinz Hopf as the sleazebag Tony is both sadistic...and very frail and weak at the same time. A coward protecting himself with bodyguards and giving people drugs. Heinz was one of swedens best character actors and I'm happy to see him in this movie. Another strong performance is by Per-Axel Arosenius as Madeleines father. A sensitive and intelligent portrait of a loving father. Per-Axel got a brutal ending to his life when he took suicide by burning himself to death in 1981.
This is my favorite Swedish movie ever, together with Man on the roof, and it deserves a good DVD-release like this. Hopefully there will be more releases, maybe with the participation of Bo-Arne and Christina.
Reflections of Evil (2002)
Reflections on Reflections of evil
I think it´s a pure masterpiece of art. Really. I have the deepest respect for this kind of filmmaking.
It´s not horror. It´s not splatter. It´s satire. The best satire I´ve seen in years.
I wrote this just have seeing it the first time:
"Reflections on reflections - Damon Packard, genius or just insane?
One sunny afternoon a strange spam-mail dropped into my mailbox. I first thought had to do with a project I was working with, but I soon realized that this was something completely different. It was about Damon Packard´s epic movie about a man called Bob and his trip through the streets of LA: Reflections of evil.
Damon wanted to give me a copy for free and I mailed him at once. I needed to see this flick. And after studying the very cryptic official page I was going mad. I MUST SEE THIS MOVIE!
I´ve never been so curious about something like I was this time. When I haven´t received a copy in almost one week and really felt sick. I wasn´t myself. I wanted to hear the mailman drop the package in my mailbox.
My angst disappeared on Friday morning. The mailman had a present for me. A dvd from Damon Packard!
A friend of mine got a copy the day before and said that this was very strange, so I just manage to keep away from the movie for a couple of hours. This was something special, and I didn´t want to see it at once. But what the f**k!
This is the story of a slightly tragic salesman. Or is he really tragic? Roaming the streets of LA, furious and clearly out of his mind. It´s like a roadmovie, but inside the heart of tinseltown. The city of happiness and madness. It´s not only about tinseltown, it´s about the american society, the fury of the people. This is the country that never sleeps and never seems to get some rest. People are furious and sad, confused and obsessed. Some reviewer said it made him think about Apocalypse Now - and I agree. This is the ultimate inner travel I´ve seen in many years.
Slowly the city around Bob is turning very weird. The hate comes out and the paranoia is over us. Helicopters is watching everything, cops are everywhere and people are just insane.
During the time the Bob is attacked by homeless people and dogs we´re turning back in time, till 1971. Bob, his mother and older sister is visiting Universal Studios and taking the tour. After his sister disappears and get´s involved with weird sect that makes her one of them. She dies of an overdose (I think). No she want´s to save Bob from the hell he´s in, from beyond the grave.
Let me say one thing, this is a movie that´s helluva hard to describe. The best way to understand what I mean, is to see it. Go get a copy goddammit.
Packard have shot the movie on 16mm, super8 and Digital8 on a very low budget. But this don´t mean it looks like crap, because it dosen´t. Packard and his cameraman is clearly very talented and the jumping from documentary dogme-style to classic dolly-shots are marvelous and works very well. The light is most of the time very tight and moody. Some people seem to be disturbed by the strange and noise soundtrack. But I don´t. Everything seems to be dubbed afterwards and it makes the feeling of the movie more surreal.
I know, I´m being hypnotized by this flick. I can´t help it. It had something that spoke to me very clearly. Maybe was it the inspiration from J. Kennedy Tools novel Confederacy of Dunce's or the surreal and unconventional storytelling? You´re pulled into Bob's strange mind and all the people he meet. And it´s impossible to stop.
Packard goes from very cheap physical humor to Woody Allen-esqe dialogues, from Jess Franco and Jean Rollin to Herzog and Fassbinder. The inspiration clearly comes from the movies from the sixties and seventies and it works well.
Does Packard want to tell us something with this movie? Maybe I´m very wrong, but I think so. This is a story about a country falling apart. About people who dosen´t trust the system and the constant `big brother' watching over them. The fear of that somewhere there´s a couple of fat men in expensive suites that makes all the decisions of the country's future.
Packard seems to have a love-hate relation to America, Los Angeles and the entertainment industry. Universal Studios become the symbol of the cultural decay of the world and when it almost literary turns into living hell at the end, it becomes clearer. There´s only Damon Packard to make E.T. a terrifying experience. E.T. - the symbol for peace and happiness, cute children and the moral people.
Probably some of you are just calling this movie crap. Some of you will just throw it in the garbage (don´t) and some people, like me, will love it. Adore it.
Give Packard a movie contract and some money, let him do whatever he want. He deserves it.
(and, yes...Damon isn´t insane. He´s a genius)
Sotto il vestito niente (1985)
Solid giallo with style
Okay, I admit: the eighties is a guilty pleasure for me and most of of the horror movies I watch are from those years.
I´m very fond of giallos from the eightes and this is one of my guilty pleasures. Not as good and stylish as You´ll die at midnight, but good entertainment and quite a good story.
Someone is killing models in Milano and the brother to one of them comes to town to find out what happened to his sister. He get´s help from the soon-to-retired police Donald Pleasence. Because he and his sister are twins, he can sense things that happened to her and that helps him a lot during the investigation.
Carlo Vanzinas direction is simple and very effective and he makes the movie work. I enjoyed his work before, the strange espionage-giallo Mystère (with Janet Ågren, Carol Bouchet and John Steiner).
Blood? Yes, a small amount is shed with happiness and those scenes look really good. But most of the stuff is off screen or just not-so-graphic.
The ending is fabulous, I love the use of slowmo there.
Recommended for the die hard giallo-fans :)
Christinas svampskola (1993)
A must for mushroom- and Christina-lovers!
I classy and entertaining educational video with swedish sex-symbol Christina Lindberg as the host. With elegance and wit, Christina tells us about the most usual swedish mushrooms and gives us some ideas about how to spend a good day hunting them.
Christina is as beautiful as ever and it´s a shame that she dosen´t want to start up her acting career again. If you find this video, don´t hesitate to get it!
Sånger från andra våningen (2000)
DVD Review: Songs from the second floor
DVD Review: Songs from the second floor
A man, a typical "office-slave" gets fired from his job. None of his co-workers care and hide behind the doors.
An old magician fails to do the "saw the man in half"-trick and saws an innocent man in the stomache.
An old gay couple is living a boring life. One of them is worried about that he fired a man from his job and the other one studies the amazing trafficjam outside the window.
Karl has finally burned down his furniture store and hopes that the insurance company will believe it was an accident.
Karl is the main character in the movie, but we´ll see all these different kind of people everywhere, just worrying about their lives and what´s happning to the city. Why is there trafficjams everywhere and why is the world going completely mad? It´s hard to describe the story in Roy Andersson's "Songs from the second floor", it´s more of a series of paintings, carefully planned and executed on the screen. Roy did this expensive movie without a scrip, relied on amateur actors and with a very downplayed dialouge. Most of the leading actors where found on the streets or in a store, either by Roy or someone else in his team, and using them was probably one of the best things he did with this movie.
Roy Andersson have been Swedens leading TV commerical director since 1968 and have recieved numerous awards for his very special and very personal TV commercials. Most of them are filmed like this movie: just one take, amatour actors and minimal dialouge. In 1970 he did "A swedish love story" and got a big hit on his hands. That resulted in more jobs with TV commercials and it wasn´t until 1975 he did his next film, the massive flop (but now considered a masterpiece) "Giliap". He went bankrupted and continuted succesfully with commericals. So it wasn´t until the year 2000 he did his third, and hopefully not his last film, the mighty doomday vision "Songs from the second floor". Even more inspired from his excellent short movies World of glory (a must-see... it´s impossible to describe) and "Something have happened" about the AIDS plauge and the roots of it, he has finally created the ultimate Roy Andersson-movie.
The film consists of 46 different scenes and set-pieces. Each of them are filmed in one take and with no camera movements (except for one scene, a slow tracking shot on a trainstation). The actors are mostly "ugly" (normal looking and not "movie stars"), painted very pale and bleak. There´s hardly any dialouge, and everything happens to the newly written, lowkey, music by ABBA´s Benny Andersson.
It´s a satire of the deconstruction of social welfares, the society and the people with the power. Ok, it´s a very Swedish movie. Depressing for some people. Extremely funny for others and just to arty for most of the crowd. To me it´s a very funny movie, black comedy at its best, but I believe most people will not describe it that way. But it´s still a powerful drama about lonely people and ghosts from the past. It´s a shame though to talk about it in Sweden, since our nation's way to act during WW2, which is still quite embarresing, but Roy have for the first time brought this up in a Swedish movie for the first time and have made one very funny scene, but still tragic and to some people very controversial. The scene shows a high military man, celebrating his 100th birthday and is totally way up in the blue, at the same time as his colleagues is gonna make a speach about his greatness. When they play a fanfare the old general´s hand is moving up in a nazi-salute and he says with a weak voice "Say hello to Goering..."
The film turns more weird and weird, and in the end the apocalyptic theme is very close. With the sacrifice of a pure child, dead rises from the earth and ghosts are haunting Karl. It never becomes a horror- or fantasytale, just a story about a man and his problems with the society around him. It´s heavy on symbolism, both a good and bad thing. Bad? Mostly because it´s almost to literal and that the film lacks of speed in the middle.
Technical it´s a triumph both for the Swedish filmindustry and for the art of film itself. This wasn´t a cheap film and Roy financed the film mostly himself, mostly without the help of the bad and very poor Swedish filmindustry. The sets built for this movie is HUGE...all, but one take, it´s carefully built sets that´s a must see, specially the airport that never ends, and the trainstation.
The Swedish DVD is excellent and filled with deleted and alternate scenes, a great one hour long documentary, test-clips of three scenes (just faboulus material), audio commentary and some b-reel footage. The picture and sound is sharp and clear, and for those who cares, it´s also in anamorphic widescreen. The bad thing about the extras are this: you can´t remove the audio commentary during the deleted scenes. It´s sad, because in one of them ("the lobster party") there´s dialouge which is impossible to hear now. The cover of the DVD also states that a trailer is included, although there's no trailer on it. Not good. It´s also a bad thing that this edition isn´t avaible with english subtitles.
I hope all you guys and girls out there are gonna have a chance to see this strange movie, even if some of you might find it lousy and boring but the rest the total opposite! :)
(And a big thank to my close friend Rob who helped me correct some of the english spelling)
Urban Legend (1998)
No violence, no sex, no fun
This is probably the worst slasher-movie ever made! It´s not frightning, there´s NO violence and no nudity. And this should be a slasher-flick? Robert Englund have done many bad movies, but this must the most boring one. Watch out for this stinker!