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Fehér isten (2014)
Brilliant satirical parable!
Hungary's official entry in the 2015 Academy Awards foreign-language competition, and winner of the Un Certain Regard prize at last year's Cannes festival, White God offers a dark - very dark - take on the way humans exert authority, and superiority, over our fellow creatures.
Beautifully shot in the old, grand quarters of the city, and staged with astounding realism - dozens of dogs roaming the streets, leaping walls, and wreaking havoc.
A MUST see for all animal lovers and most important...."no animal lovers".
Om jag vänder mig om (2003)
A Swedish Tale
By using a group of Sweden's best actors, Björn Runge is leading us through a film while he wants us to understand his message. As a Swede I recognize the desperation and the modern dilemmas the characters represent: upper-middle-class alienation, the exhausting pursuit of cash and middle-class trappings, paranoia and pill popping.
Björn Runge deserves credit just for keeping the multiple stories straight. He jumps around from one household furnished in Scandinavian modern to the next almost identical one. But his segues are seamless, and there's never any confusion about where you are.
This film may have been an inspiration for Ruben Östlund and his film "De ofrivilliga/Involuntary" (2008). Both are studies of human behaviour once the individual has reached a certain point in life or in a social situation. It is about social awkwardness & spinelessness, and male pride Some criticism of the welfare state Sweden can sometimes be present but above all, the movie is about resolution and to take responsibility for their life choices and actions. "If I turn around" is a reminder to listen and see each other before it's too late.
De ofrivilliga (2008)
A Swedish story
Five independent stories which all possess an admirable wit and acuity. They all share one thing - the involved have to stand up for their own will and resist the so often overwhelming peer pressure that we all at some point has been the victim of.
Ruben Östlund has created a sleek, straight and accurate film where the acting is unbeatable. We have to be alert, listen and try to keep up with the sometimes very complicated plot. The camera is rolling and it allows all the involved to take all the space. The stories has a strange sense of normalcy on the surface, and the every day situations succeeds each other with finesse, perfectly knitted together until the end without any forced resolution or final connection. It is this kind of story I feel can be associated with Sweden. This may be our future culture imprint.
Ruben Östlund possesses a narration that grabs at his audience and he is not afraid to challenge. It is exciting despite unremarkable equality in the presentation, and the persons in the five stories, feel very real.
Alicia Vikander, you did it again!
Alicia Vikander proves once again why she is Sweden's rising star with yet another strong, intense performance. She plays the smug Erika whose secure existence with a stable boyfriend, a hip job and a high class apartment collapses after a complicated birth. She joins a frustrated therapy group that is trying to find an answer to why they are so unhappy. Together, they spontaneously check into a hotel to escape their reality by being someone else. The day after they realize that they do not want to go back, and check into a new hotel ...
With warm humor and lovingly portrayed characters who grow and develop from their stereotypical shell, Lisa Langseth manages to make a fun but at the same time serious, original work and it is liberating in the Swedish film industry where most of the films are detective stories, slapstick's or comedies.
There is an evocative darkness relieving the more hilarious situations. Langseth takes its characters seriously and chooses no easy solutions to their problems. They are charming and often funny, yet tragic, broken souls on a desperate search for answers to impossible questions. It may be considered pretentious and the resolution is a bit obvious but the director and the actor's stubborn beliefs makes the story pull through.
David Dencik is ridiculously good as an Indian-loving oddball with a mother complex. He is impressively honest and naked (even literally) and transforms what could become the gang's geek to an exciting underdog The other actors are able to breathe life into their characters, including Simon J. Berger in his few scenes as the boyfriend.
An adventure film for all ages!
Isdraken fits into the youth adventure genre. Unlike most Swedish films, the action is fast paced, which gives it an appeal for young audiences. The film can be viewed as an adventure, but for those who enjoy looking for metaphors and hidden meanings, they are there as well. The Swedish director, Martin Högdahl, has managed to make his film equally appealing to both viewers seeking pure entertainment and those willing to invest some thought into the story and its messages.
Fiery metal riffs and melodic rock ballads greatly enhance the film's atmosphere. The score is used mainly as a characterization device certain songs are associated with the appearance of a character or an event.
The narrative calls to mind the 2003 film starring Haley Joel Osemont Second Hand Lions and the 2010 film Hesher. But it is by far more suitable for family viewing than Hesher and much more upbeat than Second Hand Lions.
None of the characters is particularly memorable, however the performance of Philip Olsson (for whom the role of Mik in Isdraken is a debut) does impress as he manages to convey a lot of personality into his character.
As with most Swedish films, viewers will be treated to bright colors, and widescreen photography that emphasizes the nature of the country (snow, ice, forests and still more snow).
Surprisingly, I ended up satisfied, though my expectations for an emotional drama were not met. I don't hesitate to recommend the film especially if you intend to show it to or see it with youngsters.
Äta sova dö (2012)
The film Äta Sova Dö, must be seen!
The film is set in a small village in the south of Sweden, but could as well be taken place in any of the many depopulated villages in the North.
This flick is a small masterpiece with multiple layers and a great thorn in the eye for the hypocritical authority-Sweden! Because this is not the social realistic Sweden that we are used to see. Here we meet a Sweden so ugly, so neglected and so heartbreaking real that the only consolation for the villagers is a forced community in the local pizzeria.
The main character Ràca is played with divine passion by the yet unknown Nermina Lucac. And even though most of the actors in this film are unknown, their performances are more realistic than most I have seen in any Hollywood blockbuster. Maybe we could call it a Swedish "Winter's bone" but still it would be to compare American country music to Swedish "dansbandsmusik".
Gabriella Pilcher has with great accuracy and skill given birth to the characters and the surroundings of the small sleeping village and has created a human mosaic that forces all prejudices to burst. The film can actually be seen by both anti-racists as well as racists !
But above all, Äta Sova Dö is a unique portrait of a female character. Never has a film portrayed a woman like that, a girl with no frills and no feminine adornments. She is just what she is: a rustic, down-to-earth girl from Montenegro with big heart and a guts that will crush every other unrealistic female roll that we have seen on film before.
See the film
. It's an order!
Mikro eglima (2008)
Fun with a serious touch.
I finally found this after been looking a long time for it. Filmed on the small Island of Thirassia (belongs to Santorini), where life nearly hasn't changed since the 50-ies. And it's true! Walking around the paths there or peep into the small mini markets will make you understand how life used to be before the mass tourism invaded Santorini.
Small crime is a comedy but with a few messages and a serious touch to it. Great performances by all the actors, but mainly Aris Serace Vitalis is an expert to show feelings only by his expressions.
Enjoy, laugh and get a feel of the amazing island Thirassia!
Les femmes du 6e étage (2010)
Exactly the kind of film you need to see in order to keep sane...
A great review by Robert Beames (coulden't have done it better myself!!) It has been given the more toner-friendly English language title of Service Entrance, but comic French drama Les Femmes Du 6eme Etage translates literally as The Women on the 6th Floor. Shown out of competition in Berlin, the film was very warmly received thanks in part to the performances of its sweet and amiable leading man, Fabrice Luchini, and its beautiful Spanish leading lady played by Natalia Verbeke. These actors combine with the film's leisurely pacing and entertaining scenario to ensure that it is a winsome and inoffensive crowd-pleaser.
The film, set in the 1960s, follows a wealthy, middle-aged Parisian stockbroker named Jean-Louis (Luchini) whose long-standing maid quits following a row with his demanding wife Suzanne (Sandrine Kiberlain). Unable to clean up after themselves, the couple desperately need a new maid. But when Suzanne's high society friends insist French maids aren't the done thing anymore, she enlists the help of Maria (Natalia Verbeke), a feisty, young Spanish immigrant. Jean-Louis forms an instant and obsessive attraction to her and to all things Spanish, soon striking up unlikely friendships with all the Spanish ladies who live in the servant's quarters above his home a place he knows nothing about despite living in the building his entire life. Worlds collide and good-natured japes ensue as he helps each lady adjust to life in France whilst himself inheriting a new found love of life.
I don't think it's necessarily a coincidence that both the more shamelessly enjoyable films I've seen here up to now have been broad comedies about cultural difference and histories of mass immigration with Almanya looking at German-Turks and Service Entrance exploring the relationship, and the comedy that comes of misunderstanding, between the French and their Spanish workforce. Immigration is still a political hot potato issue in these countries, as it remains in much of Europe, and maybe light-hearted comedy is seen as the best way to preach tolerance, reaching a bigger audience than earnest polemic. In mocking bigotry and by setting it in the past (as an old fashioned attitude) perhaps it is felt that people might be less inclined to identify with those views.
In any case both films are funny and have their hearts firmly in the right place. This French offering is gentler and less ballsy than it's Turkish-German counterpart, but no less enjoyable. The character of Jean-Louis is incredibly easy to like, being child-like in his enthusiasm for his new-found interest in Spain. The character of Suzanne is also refreshingly balanced and nuanced. She'd usually be a two-dimensional figure we would be encouraged to dislike in order to make it permissible for Jean-Louis to consider romance with Maria and yet the film doesn't go down that route: she can be annoying and insensitive but she isn't a nasty person. Maria and the other Spanish ladies are also a joy to watch as they interact with one another and fuss over cheerful little Jean-Louis.
Service Entrance is the filmic equivalent of a soufflé and certainly not a tough watch typical of the standard festival fare. Indeed it falls into the dubious realm of the "feel good" movie. But sandwiched, as it is here, between two-hour long Shakespeare adaptations, Bela Tarr movies, Argentinian slow cinema and films about nuclear disasters, it is exactly the kind of film you need to see in order to keep sane. It is difficult to say whether wider criticism in France will be anything like as positive when removed from this context on theatrical release, but here it offered exactly what was needed and nobody appreciated that more than I.