Archive for the ‘Norway’ Category

The European movie scene is unique and marvellous. Look beyond the top 10’s and you will find movies that bombard your senses and leave you deep in thought.

Movies with subtitles is something that surprisingly few in the UK seem to enjoy. We’re not quite sure why? To shake things up a bit, here’s a list of European movies that will make you laugh, weep, shiver and think.

Armour (Love) – dir. Michael Haneke / Austria | France | Germany

After Anne (the late Emmanuelle Riva) suffers a stroke, Georges’ and Anne’s life together hit a point of no return. The two retired pianists suddenly face the perhaps toughest challenge of the lifelong love: old age and the deterioration of mind and body.

Brutally honest, Armour portrays aging love and the helplessness that follows when a loved one slowly succumbs to the ravages of old age.

We follow Georges’ struggle to accept the inevitable, as Anne suffers from early dementia and a series of strokes, reducing her to little more than a helpless child.

“In the course of two hours, Haneke suggests that the ultimate test of a lifelong passion may come not in its first flourish, but in the compassion of its very last days, and that while love cannot conquer death, it can give life’s bleakest moments a run for their money” David Hughes

Jagten (The Hunt) – dir. Thomas Vinterberg / Denmark | Sweden

In this critically acclaimed Danish thriller, Thomas Vinterberg shows how a close- knit small community can crumble in no time when rumours are on the run.

Lucas, a small town nursery teacher, is falsely accused of sexually abusing his best friends daughter.

As we follow the slightly awkward but charming divorcé being torn apart and shunned by the local community, we are reminded of how relentlessly a smaller group can turn on you when you need it most.

“Vinterberg sets our suspicions twitching from the off, which makes us wonder later, with no small measure of guilt, which side of the mob we would have been on.” Robbie Collin

La Tête en friche (My Afternoons with Marguerite) – dir. Jean Becker / France

La Tête en friche is a heartwarming atypical love story. Germain is a very self- conscious, bloated man-baby in dungarees. Marguerite an articulate, fraile, and intelligent 95-year-old.

In a public square in a small French village, Marguerite and Germain form a close friendship over literature. Marguerite’s subtle love for words and Germain’s quirky wonder over them brings them closer day by day.

“Germain suffers through flashbacks to his unhappy childhood, but seems on the whole serene. He loves Annette but he declares himself “in love” with Margueritte.

So are we, a little. She is bright-eyed and high-spirited, and never overplays the heart-tugging” Roger Ebert

Les Émotifs anonymes (Romantics anonymous) – dir. Jean-Pierre Améris / France | Belgium

With both main characters suffering from awkward bashfulness, emotif, this french comedy is a quirky but adorable story of how two very shy chocolatiers, Angélique and Jean-René, fall in love.

As the chocolate enterprise takes its worst toll, Angélique, originally hired for sales, anonymously develops a new line of special chocolates. Through their passion for chocolate, the two chocolatiers finally find a way to communicate.

“The tale of two pathologically shy chocolate makers who are meant for each other but are too afraid to connect is a mug of warm cocoa with marshmallow topping that produces a comfy feel-good glow” Stephen Holden

Bal (Honey) – dir. Semih Kaplanoğlu / Turkey | Germany | France

This award winning film is set in the densely forested region of north-eastern Turkey. Yakup and his family lives in an isolated mountain area, and he makes a living by climbing trees to harvest wild honey.

Yusef, Yakup’s son, struggles in school. He is lonely, has a stammer and is desperate for attention.

One day Yakup doesn’t come home.

In an astonishing scenery, we watch Yusef slip into silence as his mother Zehra’s heart breaks.

“It is a film whose unhurried pace must be allowed to grow on you, but once it has, there is something engrossing about the tragedy unfurling slowly and indirectly before our eyes” Peter Bradshaw

Kon-Tiki – dir. Petter Skavlan / UK | Norway | Denmark | Germany | Sweden

This spectacle of a film is based on the true story of the Norwegian ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl, who set out to prove that people from South America could have settled in Polynesia in pre- Columbian times.

We follow Thor (a pompous Norwegian man who cannot swim) in his adventure to raise money, build a balsa- wood raft, and draft from South America to Polynesia (4,300 miles). With a crew of several Norwegian men trapped on an ocean raft, arguments unfold and their craft of a raft, ‘Kon-Tiki’ is put to the test.

“What the film doesn’t skimp on is spectacle. Brilliantly shot in a rugged National Geographic-like way by the cinematographer Geir Hartly Andreassen, it captures the sailors’ feelings of both awe and terror about their self-inflicted predicament” Geoffrey Mcnab

About the author

At Global Language Services Ltd we’re passionate about languages and language nuances. We’re a language service agency based in Scotland, supplying interpretation and translation services locally, nationally and internationally.

The technology of the 21st century is remarkable, but however good the translation technology is, it cannot yet pick up the subtleties of a language, the culture that underpins it, or even the humour that oils many of our conversations.

When Alexa and Siri say nae we say yae!

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Joachim Trier follows his highly regarded Oslo, August 31st with his English-speaking debut Louder Than Bombs, which received mixed reviews in Cannes and Toronto before arriving here in Glasgow. Featuring an impressive cast including Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects, Millers Crossing), Isabelle Huppert (Amour) and Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network, The End of the Tour) Trier directs with skill, regardless of the new challenge of a second language.

Louder Than Bombs opens with a striking image of life – a newborn holding the hand of its father Jonah (Eisenberg) – shortly followed by a reveal of the death of Eisenberg’s mother Isabelle (Huppert), although this has already happened by the birth of Jonah’s son. This becomes a staple technique of the film, jumping forward and backwards in time, revealing a bit more detail each time, or viewing the same scene from a different character’s perspective. As a result, the dead mother Isabelle remains a living, breathing character in the film’s narrative, either due to flashback or premonition.

As for the rest of the family, the film deals with their varying attempts to cope with the grief of losing their mother including the sensitive windowed Husband Gene (Byrne), the aforementioned Jonah – who is more similar than his secretly suffering mother than he realised – and the younger teenage son Conrad; expertly played by Devin Druid, previously only known for playing teenage Louis C.K in his eponymous show. Conrad’s character is particularly fascinating, as while he appears to be the hardest hit of all, he shows the greatest deal of optimism in the film.

As well as family grief, Louder Than Bombs is very much about the words and feelings that go unexpressed between close family members – and the gap in understanding that this creates. Jonah’s character goes in the opposite direction of his younger brother: at first seeming capable of saving his family’s problems, but soon emerging as repressed and neglectful.

While the premise may sound fairly depressing, there is plenty of emotional depth found in this film. Louder Than Bombs retains a sense of humour and is playful enough with its form to keep it from being a “Capital D Drama” as Trier has put it. While the film examines the universally difficult subject of family grief, it doesn’t fail to show the warmth that these characters exert; even if often misplaced – as shown in several attempts by the father and sons to engage with the opposite sex – with varying degrees of success and conscientiousness.

On top of this, Trier plays with not just narrative structure, but with realism and filmic self-awareness, including lots of fun references to influential films (Vertigo, being one.) He also uses the imagination and dreams to represent the characters’ consciousness on screen. The greatest example of this is Conrad listening to a female classmate he is crushing on. As she reads aloud a classic text, he starts imagining her words visually; his mind takes over and she begins narrating the scene of his mother’s death and what thoughts might have gone through her mind, when she realised she was about to die. It is a truly thrilling scene and a technique that Trier explores throughout this intriguing film.

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Of late, Norwegian, Danish and Swedish television and film has – deservedly – received a lot of attention and adoration. The countries have their masters in crime, drama and comedy genres, yet few of us would know their names. Hopefully with Force Majeure, the name Ruben Östlund will start to become commonplace, and the rest of his career will continue to impress.

Force Majeure [Turist] is an example of very high-class filmmaking, elegant yet simplistic. Whereas some films use the medium to present vistas of sheer beauty, others choose to quietly tell a tale. This is a mixture of both, focusing on a family holidaying in the French Alps, experiencing some drama once an avalanche incident spotlights some shaky parenting. östlund brought the film to Cannes 2014 where it was awarded the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize – it got many critics talking (and laughing), proving its worth before general release. It looks terrific and centres on some fantastic performances.

To explain the story would spoil the pleasure in watching the scenes unfold naturally. It is, to synopsise it as briefly as possible, a look at a family dynamic eroding after a distressing event. Much like Funny Games, there is a twisted glee to seeing a WASP family lose their dignity over something they never expected. Johannes Kuhnke as the father Tomas is simply wonderful. A very handsome, intelligent father, he looks like the perfect role model. When our perception of him changes, as it does for his wife (Lisa Loven Kongsli) and kids, you can see him play on that external judgement. It is a gradual alteration, spanning over the 120 minute runtime, but it is judged perfectly. The time elapses without many superfluous elements felt, concluding eloquently, with a very realistic (and comedic) presentation of a domestic dispute having preceded it.

Chapters [Ski Day X] are punctuated by the controlled explosions of the Alps, set to the frantic violin of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons III. In many respects it’s an obvious artistic play to show tension and outbursts – common tropes of the film – yet it also links to the playfulness all round. There is a beauty to the film, but at its core, it is a low-budget black comedy. So, it uses symbolism in due part, still preserving its domesticated, grounded heart. The drama that pulsates through the film is so recognisable for anyone who has had some familial outburst on holiday. And so you watch on with heightened attention, curious to know how things will be resolved, and entertained by the hurdles that impede Tomas and his wife and children.

It is not a film that has any twists or spoilers to wow the audience (and even though this review reads like it wants to detract you from knowing much, it is only to keep the film fresh upon viewing), but it is constructed around very stark images and themes. Force Majeure will stay with you – tickling you or itching at you (depending on how you react to the neuroses on show). Whatever your perception may be, you will certainly remark on the superb talent– cast and crew – able to make such an unadorned movie laden with insightful, enjoyable moments.

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A Thousand Times Goodnight, a film whose narrative purports to chart the experiences of a female war photographer, can be stamped with the same indictment that the protagonist herself is accused of in her photography: glamorisation.

All visual representations of suffering border on the danger of aestheticizing it, almost by definition; but, glamorisation and, even worse, exploitation are far more problematic matters. While the film does not aim to represent war per se – it’s more about the photographer – it feels as though A Thousand Times Goodnight uses the whole Third World conflict scenario purely as a backdrop to a portrait of very First World family drama: jarring, to say the least.

When the war photographer Rebecca, played by Juliette Binoche, takes her daughter to a Kenyan refugee camp for a school photography project there’s trouble at the camp: we see shootings and rampages – the stuff of daily newsreels fictionalised for your HD viewing pleasure – solely through the lens of Rebecca’s bravery. The director emotionally foregrounds the photographer’s bravado before the suffering of the people she is shooting. Although emotional identification with the protagonist is part of the dramatic conventions of a certain type of narrative cinema, this supposed identification is scrammed by the overwrought performance.

Juliette Binoche, a usually very talented actress capable of registering distress with the barely detectable movement of an eyelash, has become the go-to actress for the image of the damsel in distress. In a Thousand Times Good Night she delivers a hand-wringing, chest-beating performance worthy of Ancient Greek mourning rituals. Potentially very interesting inklings of a complex relationship with her husband, played by Game of Thrones hunk Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, are not explored in any depth. In fact, the actor seems to serve no other purpose than being a bearded Abercrombie model.

Not every film has to deal with the intricacies of its subject matter: it can just set out to tell a simple narrative story of the cheap tear-jerker kind and everyone can go home happy. But with a subject matter as ethically problematic, thematically and emotionally rich as a war photographer’s trials and tribulations, it is problematic that no nuances are explored. This is particularly surprising given that the director himself, Erik Poppe, is an ex-war photographer.

What is the position of the war photographer ethically in relation to the subjects of their photography? How does the main character feel about the disparity between her model-home catalogue life in a cozy Irish town and the conflict-zones she works in? Is she a spectator or an active participant in a conflict? Sometimes the questions a film does not ask say more about it than the questions it does, which in this case are not very many, bar: Why did Juliet Binoche agree to do this film?

by Dasha Lisitsina

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The Heart of Bruno Wizard is a raw feature documentary from first time director Elisabeth Rasmussen. The film dives into a little known pocket of the British punk scene during the late 1970’s to find Bruno Wizard, the uncompromising singer of The Homosexuals. In his present state he faces bleak homelessness and serious health problems. The film bares its low budget flaws for all to see and fails to truly dramatize Bruno’s predicament; yet it also captures his life with real intimacy.

The character of Bruno makes most sense when informed by his own amusing words “I changed the name of my band from The Rejects to The Homosexuals, to keep the major labels away from us.” What Bruno specifically strives for never becomes entirely clear in The Heart of Bruno Wizard, but that is less the fault of the film than simply a part of Bruno himself. Bruno knows what he does not want to associate himself with, more than what he does. The tendency to reject the norm is perhaps the characteristic that lead him into homelessness, but it also makes him an endearing and interesting character with real integrity.

Rasmussen’s film does suffer from teething problems familiar in early, low budget filmmaking attempts. The film is constructed with a wide variety of interviews that are assembled haphazardly in awkwardly framed shots. The interviews are informative though and Rasmussen achieves great access, with contributions from luminaries in the British music scene including singer Marilyn, DJ Don Letts and former Homosexuals member Susan Vida, as well as American animator M. Henry Jones. The group place Bruno in context, which makes his present life of illness and poverty all the more affecting.

The finest moments in the film are the snapshots of Bruno now. After some time spent sleeping on the streets, Bruno checked himself into a homeless shelter and gradually managed to obtain his own flat in London. Having finally moved in Rasmussen captures him furnishing his home at a hilariously gradual pace, initially sleeping in a cupboard instead of a bed. Bruno’s enormous appreciation for his cupboard is both touching and humbling, as Rasumssen helps us realise the privilege of possessing such amenities.

Rasumssen is so dedicated in her desire to portray Bruno that she forgoes any distinct style of her own, which could have strengthened the film. There is passion within her filmmaking though and her ability to connect with characters is an essential filmmaking quality. In an interview she said working with Bruno helped her give up her fears; a theme he staunchly endorses. If making The Heart of Bruno Wizard was a process of discovery for her, then she may well be on the way to finding a voice. Lets see where this young director decides to go next.

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The charmingly titled Angst, Piss and Shit from Norwegian director Fredrik S. Hana is a stylish throwback to Italian Giallo filmmaking (shot in Argento-esque CinemaScope), with a subversive Nordic humor and tragically melodramatic core.

Arthur Berning stars as Kjetil, a deranged serial killer whose relationship with his girlfriend Wenche (Maja Baaserud) has gone sour. The couple once engaged in romantic adventures of a murderous nature, but we discover that Wenche’s taste for violence has dissipated. Kjetil maintains his murderous activities independently; as a result Wenche feels betrayed, even cheated.

The film’s opening sequence, where Kjetil murders an innocent woman in one long absurd take, is totally engrossing. The weird humor that Hana elicits is disturbing, but recognisably unique. Equally striking is the film’s proggy soundtrack by Anders Hana, which recalls long time Argento collaborators Goblin.

Much like its title though, Angst Piss and Shit is far from subtle in its handling of these deranged characters. The interesting central relationship between Kjetil and Wenche is not substantially developed amid the scenes of violence. This is something of a disappointment, as the actors and visual choices are strong.

Nevertheless this is still a very promising short. Hana displays a strong grasp of the technical and artistic variables required to translate his ideas to the screen. Perhaps with a feature treatment Angst Piss and Shit could be a truly compelling (if stomach churning) exploration of demented love.

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In 2012 Norwegian techno artist Todd Terje emerged with a dance track so bouncy that it threatened to put trampolines out of business. Curiously titled ‘Inspector Norse’, the origins of the club smash remained a mystery- until now. Director Christopher Borgli unravels the true story in this 15 minute film, and it all comes down to a loner named Marius.

Terje himself appears onscreen to explain how he came across Marius; a host of youtube videos showing a peculiar young man dancing to a variety of Terje’s songs. Going by his internet alias ‘Inspector Norse’, Magnus inspired the Scandinavian producer to create a track to match this outsiders inimitable bounce.

The film makers track down Marius at his home; he lives with his father in a suburban town, manages their tanning salon business and gets his kicks from impromptu dancing and homemade drugs. But all is not well with Marius. The director notes the Mount Everest pictures lining the walls. Marius explains they are his ‘Whateverest’; an ode to the apathy the outside world has for his music and personality.

This is of course all utter, utter bullshit. There is no Inspector Norse, he is just a sly creation on the part of Terje and the film makers. Inexplicably, viewers have bought into the ruse, even hooking a certain Guardian music critic.

‘Whateverest’ is not a vintage mockumentary, though it leaves you with a wry smile. Marius’ wild antics and subsequent comedowns are too contrived to be laugh out loud or poignant. The film carries a certain charm though, buoyed by the serene, washed out visuals and Terje’s outrageously upbeat music.

Watch it here: 

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Scandinavia is ‘in’ right now. For the past couple of years, audiences have been besieged by numerous TV crime dramas such as The Killing and Wallander, while the silver screen has seen the emergence of the Stieg Larsson franchise the ‘Millenium‘ trilogy. Wooly jumpers, inexplicably angular features and glib criminality are the new black. Or should that be icy grey.

The latest sensation being heralded is Jo Nesbo, whose novel has been adapted for the screen here. The story follows Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie), a slick ‘headhunter’ who seems to have it all, with a beautful wife named Diana (Synnøve Macody Lund) and a flashy minimalist apartment. Quite why a Norwegian man is called Roger Brown is anyone’s guess, but pretty much standard fare for this film. His wife, an exhibition curator of sorts, demands a lavish lifestyle, and more pressingly a child. In order to sate these needs, Roger has a rather far fetched sideline as an art thief. Well, these are tough economic times.

In the first scene we observe Roger stealing into an apartment and helping himself to a valuable painting on the way out. Mildly intriguing, but isn’t this just Hustle with sharper cheekbones? The plot clicks into gear with a meeting with Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a prospective new partner for Roger’s legitimate company. Handsome and smarmy, Clas has designs on Diana and furthermore, an extremely rare German painting lurking in his apartment. I could be wrong here, but I think we may have found our antagonist.

Inevitably Roger conspires to steal the painting, but when his accomplice in the dastardly deed is found near deaths door, things start to get a bit Jackson Pollock. Clas, it so happens, is a deadly ex-army tracker, and so ensues a game of cat and mouse. Frankly, this is a very silly and uneven film.  While the first half errs towards a slick, but ultimately humdrum corporate heist thriller, the second half veers wildly towards Coen-esque absurdist hijinks. It is this section which saves the film from banality, particularly a bizarre sequence featuring a tractor, an impaled dog and lashings of excrement. Possibly the wildest and most fun scene I’ve witnessed so far this year.

To be fair, Headhunters is fairly entertaining, and Aksel Hennie provides an empathetic character with a good line in puppy dog eyes. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau also fares well as the slimy Clas, but make no mistake, this is not high drama. The direction by Morten Tyldum is efficient and the pacy editing moves the film along quickly. The projects downfall is probably down to the source material more than anything, a fairly silly concoction to start with.

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