Currently browsing the "Swedish" category.

Review: Another Round

Thomas Vinterberg (The Celebration, Far From the Madding Crowd) directed Mads Michelsen in The Hunt back 2013. In it Mikkelsen played a kindergarten teacher accused of a horrible crime he didn’t commit. In their latest collaboration Mikkelsen again plays a teacher, but this time he’s an older and more tired high school history teacher named Martin. One evening at his friend’s 40th birthday party, he and three of his fellow teachers who’re also stuck in a rut decided to test a theory about the benefits of controlled drinking to increase “social and professional performance.” It’s a strange and uncomfortable premise that somehow makes for an engaging dramedy.

Review: Koko-di Koko-da

Just in time for the holidays comes a truly creepy flick from Sweden about a couple grieving the loss of their young daughter and their crumbling marriage who go on a camping trip and get caught in a Groundhog Day loop of a murderous fairy tale. Every night Elin (Ylva Gallon) wakes Tobias (Leif Edlund Johansson) to say she needs to go outside the tent and pee, and every night a trio of monsters is outside just waiting to prey on her and him. But night after night Tobias awakens with a bit more information and a plan to get away from the horrors inflicted on them the nights before. It’s all allegory of their grief and their broken relationship and as the violent cycle continues they’re ultimately able to find their way back to each other. It’s a very odd film, definitely not for mainstream moviegoers, and frustratingly slow.

Quickie Review: Border (Gräns)

You probably won’t see a more satisfyingly strange film this year than Border. The main character is Tina, a Swedish customs agent with an extraordinary talent. She can smell fear and deceit, so she regularly catches people bringing in contraband, too many bottles of wine, and even porn. But when a strange man named Vore passes through her line, she knows there is a something there, but she can’t read him. And she’s attracted to him. And the more she gets to know him, the more she learns about herself and why she has always been so different from everyone else. For her it’s a voyage of self-discovery and her first real romance. For him, it’s political. For us, it’s a bizarrely fun ride.

Review: Becoming Astrid

This lovely Swedish biopic tells the story of the challenging early life of Astrid Ericsson (Lindgren) who would go on to write the children’s classic Pippi Longstocking and a slew other memorable books. Born in a rather idyllic if strict farming community, at 16 she was offered a job at the local paper and fell for the married editor. Though it was reciprocated, an unplanned pregnancy caused her to make some very difficult decisions that colored the way she saw children and undoubtedly made her the writer she was to become. Played by Alba August (The Rain), Astrid is initially brimming with curiosity and energy, but her pregnancy and the choices she is forced to make with the child take a heavy toll. Fortunately, it all works out by the end, or we wouldn’t have her wonderful books.

Review: The Square

Winner of the 2017 Cannes Film Festival’s Palme D’Or, The Square is a darkly funny satire set in the art world. Christian (Claes Bang) is the head curator at a prestigious Swedish modern art museum staging an exhibition calling for a trusting and compassionate society, who realizes how hard that actually is to accomplish. The film has less a story line than a series of tableaux one walks through ending up with an impression. It opens with an unseen artist building a square of brick right in from of the museum and laying a plaque in it saying,”The Square is a sanctuary of trust and caring. Within it we all share equal rights and obligations.” And everything that happens afterwards refers back to that statement, revealing modern society’s greatest failing.

Mainstream Chick’s Top Picks of 2016

It’s that time of year – when friends, family, and strangers in the elevator ask, “Hey, Did you see [fill in the blank]? Is it any good? What’s your favorite movie of 2016?” Well, here I attempt to answer those questions as succinctly as possible — with a countdown of my top ten movies of the year (12 if you count the ties), as well as a bunch of honorable mentions. They are films that resonated for one (positive) reason or another and represent a broad range of genres. Check ’em out!

A Man Called Ove (En man som heter Ove)

This adaptation of Fredrik Backman’s bestselling novel is one of my favorite films of the year. Written and directed by Hannes Holm, it’s ‘a Swedish curmudgeon finds his humanity’ story that could easily have been sappy and cliched, but balances the mean and the sweet just right for a totally enjoyable ride.

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Adapted from the best-selling novel by Jonas Jonasson, which I thoroughly enjoyed, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is a fun little Swedish flick about an old man who, just before his nursing home keepers can sing him happy 100th, climbs out the window and has a big adventure. It is in Swedish, feels kind of Forrest Gumpish, and it involves a biker gang and an elephant.

Force Majeure

There is a lot of buzz around Force Majeure, a Swedish relationship drama. They LOVED it at Cannes, it is Sweden’s Oscar entry, and the Foreign Press has just nominated it as best foreign language film. But the question to me is, does it appeal more to European audiences than Americans? I liked it and I think it is a well-done film with a compelling question at its center, but best film?

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

With all the hoopla about the penultimate Harry Potter and the third installment of The Chronicles of Narnia, the end of the Steig Larson Millennium Trilogy may have slipped your notice. And that’s too bad since The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest may be the best of the trilogy. Whether you’ve seen the first two, this movie is an entertaining ride on its own.