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Fröken Sverige * Tova Magnusson-Norling (2004)

While on holidays in Sweden I thought to tap into that booming Swedish film industry and buy some unknown films. I have found but one shop selling DVDs (and cds and vinyl) and they had only a handfull of Swedish films only one with English subtitles. So we got this 5.3 on IMdB… Fortunately, it is not that bad, but it is not exactly a masterpiece either. The sweet teenager Moa grows up in a Swedish small town as a child of extremely socially involved parents. She herself is part of an active vegan / anti-capitalism / etc. group of friends who frequently demonstrate against “the system”. A few events make Moa growing more individual, thus clashing with her friends and parents, but this also causes her to loose the feeling of being liked. She learns a few lessons of life in the proces. In the end everything turns out just fine, too fine actually and then the film just stops.
“Miss Sweden” is a nice ‘coming-of-age’ drama showing the very left part of society somewhere in Sweden. Moa is a real teenager with whims and caprices and as she has a hard time trying to find out what she wants, other people have a hard time understanding what she is going through. Not a waste of time this film, but just a Swedish movie.

Sound Of Noise * Ola Simonsson & Johannes Stjärne Nilsson (2010)

As soon as I heard of this film, I wanted to see it. A Scandinavian comedy with music terrorists, what more could you want in a film? It premiered last week in my country, we just came back from seeing it. A group of people have alternative ideas about what music should be and as some anarchist kind of conservatory students they write an elaborate piece of alternative music, “music for one city and six drummers”. On several occasions they go out to make music on whatever is there. The pieces get bigger and bigger. The tonedeaf policeman who is appropriately named Amadeus is sent out to stop them. The story of the film is definately original. It brings memories of “V For Vendetta”, but is more ‘real life’. The first performance is amusing, the second is nice, but then it becomes a bit incredible. Actually, if the idea would have been given to a veteral alternative percussion group such as Stomp, the result may have been more interesting. Not that the film is boring, but I have the idea that it could have been better. By the way, this film is a long version of an earlier idea called “Music For One Appartment And Six Drummers” which you can find on Youtube.

Den Brysomme Mannen * Jens Lien (2006)

There are two English titles on the box. “No(r)way Of Life” and “The Bothersome Man”, the latter of which seems to be the international title, but the other is also used. “Den Brysomme Mannen” is a real Scandinavian comedy, society critical and dark. The box was more promising than the film turned out though. A man seems to end up in some kind of purgatory where everything is fine. Fine, but nothing more than that, nothing is good. Things seem to go well for Andreas. He marries a beautiful wife who does not complain when he wants to replace her for a beautiful colleague. Yet, the mediocrity of it all, makes him try something drastic. The scenes following that are amusing, so are other findings in this film, but looking at the total, I have to say that the film never really raises above the level of the experiences of the characters in it.

DeUsynlige * Erik Poppe (2008)

“Troubled Water” is a highly acclaimed, Norwegian drama. A young killer is released from prison and tries to pick up his life, but since he returns to the village he came from, his past soon catches up with him. The film is nicely told and the story develops through flashbacks, but without getting a too forced puzzle. The initial drama is brought quite psychologically but fortunately refrains from getting a gigantic drama. Even though the box claims that you will not leave your eyes dry, the film is not that gripping. An alright drama.

Frygtelig Lykkelig * Henrik Ruben Genz (2008)

“Terribly Happy” is a Danish film about a policeman who is transferred from Copenhagen to a small villiage in the very south of Jutland where they deal with things their own way. Soon Robert is lured into the swamp of the village’s community, being sucked in, never being able to get out. “Frygtelig Lykkelig” is dark in tone and only slowly it becomes clear what exactly is going on, a ‘big event’ acting as lightening rod, but there is more to the situation. To make things worse, Robert’s past is dragged into the situation. “Frygtelig Lykkelig” is a very Danish film with claustrophobic wide-views, a pressing community with strange habbits and the film of course contains grim humour. A good film with a nicely developing story and a minimalistic setting.

Voksne Mennesker * Dagur Kári (2005)

The second film of this Icelandic director that I review. Just as “Noi Albenoi” a film about people having problems living in the modern world. Daniel manages to maintain with having only 7 Danish Kroner income in four years time, while his friend Morfar (Nicholas Bro, the bad guy in “Mørke“) tries to maintain a regular job. When Daniel falls in love with Franc(esca) life gets more complicated. Just as in his debut film Kári has a minimalistic style in filming and in story and uses subtle and quite typical Scandinavian humour with a magnifying glass on modern living. The film starts quite humorously, but becomes more melancholic towards the end. An arthouse film, undoubtely, not brilliant, but pretty good, especially if you like Scandinavian films.

Mørke * Jannik Johansen (2005)

MørkeThat is funny. I have been trying to get this film from my favorite rental for about a month (I had it come over from another branch, but then it was already rented out each time I came in) and then I run into it on the 3-for-25-euros shelve of a DVD shop. I heard this film being compared to “Insomnia” (the original of course that I apparently saw in the cinema before I started making film reviews). “Mørke” (which means “darkness” and is nicely translated by the English word “murk” for the international release) is another Scandinavian thriller and the mist on the cover of this film, undoubtely brings memories to “Insomnia”. Story-wise the two films have little incommon. Atmosphere-wise too, up to a certain degree. “Insomnia” is darker, more gloomy, but for both films go that they are hardly thrillers, more like pressing dramas. Also in both films it is no secret who is the bad guy, what is going on, etc. but both times the directors managed to make the viewer wonder when ‘it’ will happen and this works well for the atmosphere. There is good acting and nice camera work, so the result is satisfying enough to make an American remake of it, just like of “Insomnia“…

Nói Albenói * Dagur Kari (2003)

Hm, my first Icelandic film? In a remote village in the inhabitable landscape of Iceland we follow the young man Nói who has no clue what he wants with his life. The film has the (typical?) Scandinavian sense of absurdity and weird humour and is amusing in its simplicity.

De Fem Benspænd * Jørgen Leth + Lars von Trier (2003)

The Five ObstructionsIf you are looking for some experimental filmmaking, this might be something for you. In 1967 Jørgen Leth made the experimental film “Det Perfekte Menneske” (“The Perfect Human”). Leth was the teacher of Lars von Trier and however they came to this experiment (a bet or something, this does not become clear), Von Trier has Leth remake his film, but with “Five Obstructions”. Obviously Von Trier tries to see if he can get Leth to leave his usual system of making films. There are some pretty bizare demands and Leth does his utmost to make a short film with them to the liking of Von Trier. What you get in this film is discussions between Von Trier and Leth, making offs, the films themselves and of course the original film. I did not like the talks between Von Trier en Leth much, but the films that Leth came with are mostly quite nice to watch. In style they varry from cut-up images to animation.

Storm * Måns Mårlind (2005)

Storm“Storm” is a rather strange and confusing Swedish film. Almost anything I say will give away too much, but “Storm” has several alternating realities and each time when you think you understand the basic idea, there turns out to be another one. Somewhere between a psychological drama (in theme), action and fantasy thriller, “Storm” has combined several popular elements from outside the film industry. The film is not great, not even too original at all times, but an enjoyable watch and a nice mix of different elements.