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An Appreciation for Scandinavian Films... (1 Viewer)

Mike Frezon

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A couple years ago, my wife Peg and I realized that a number of our favorite films had a common director—Lasse Hallström. His early films were fascinating and his Hollywood films were stories that we liked told in a way that really spoke to us.

mylifeasadog.jpg


Then, more recently, I blind-purchased the Swedish film A Man Called Ove. The description of the film intrigued me. I waited (a full year!) for a good sale. Bought it. We loved it.

ove-poster.jpg


Which made me think. Maybe there’s something about Scandinavian sensibilities which appeals to us.

After some quick research, I read about two other movies (by the same Norwegian director, Bent Hamer) that had achieved a certain amount of acclaim in the US: Kitchen Stories and O’Horten. And they turned out to be two more movies we both enjoyed very much.

Kitchen_stories_poster.jpg
o-horten-norwegian-movie-poster-md.jpg


Based on a recommendation, I then purchased the Swedish film The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. Another hit! Not quite as character driven as the other films…it played more as a farce/caper (with some elements ala Forrest Gump)…but still also steeped in the backstory of what motivated the title character.

c078f52714c750cdc7db39c541781097.jpg


So since Peg and I have never been interested in things Scandinavian (Norse culture, hygge, trolls, fjords, etc.). We’ve never even been inside an IKEA!

Maybe it’s got something more to do with some of the common themes which link these types of films: a single, eccentric main character…quirky comedy, a fair amount of silence, some darkness and a real willingness to view the human condition through these filters.

I don’t know. But I’m hoping that I can strike a chord with others here who might have seen and liked some of these films and who might have recommendations of others.

And I have no fear in branching out into other on-topic points of interest: Bergman, anyone? :D
 
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bujaki

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A couple years ago, my wife Peg and I realized that a number of our favorite films had a common director—Lasse Hallström. His early films were fascinating and his Hollywood films were stories that we liked told in a way that really spoke to us.

mylifeasadog.jpg


Then, more recently, I blind-purchased the Swedish film A Man Called Ove. The description of the film intrigued me. I waited (a full year!) for a good sale. Bought it. We loved it.

ove-poster.jpg


Which made me think. Maybe there’s something about Scandinavian sensibilities which appeals to us.

After some quick research, I read about two other movies (by the same Norwegian director, Bent Hamer) that had achieved a certain amount of acclaim in the US: Kitchen Stories and O’Horten. And they turned out to be two more movies we both enjoyed very much.

Kitchen_stories_poster.jpg
o-horten-norwegian-movie-poster-md.jpg


Based on a recommendation, I then purchased the Swedish film The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. Another hit! Not quite as character driven as the other films…it played more as a farce/caper (with some elements ala Forrest Gump)…but still also steeped in the backstory of what motivated the title character.

c078f52714c750cdc7db39c541781097.jpg


So since Peg and I have never been interested in things Scandinavian (Norse culture, hygge, trolls, fjords, etc.). We’ve never even been inside an IKEA!

Maybe it’s got something more to do with some of the common themes which link these types of films: a single, eccentric main character…quirky comedy, a fair amount of silence, some darkness and a real willingness to view the human condition through these filters.

I don’t know. But I’m hoping that I can strike a chord with others here who might have seen and liked some of these films and who might have recommendations of others.

And I have no fear in branching out into other on-topic points of interest: Bergman, anyone? :D
I've enjoyed all the above films as well. Good to branch out! As for Bergman, I'd start with something like Smiles of a Summer Night.
 
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titch

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Welcome to the frozen north! Agreed, Smiles Of A Summer Night is a good start, but my favourite Bergman - and Robert Harris' - is Wild Strawberries:

https://www.hometheaterforum.com/co...-strawberries-in-blu-ray.323972/#post-3962918

There are so many other treasures - you will love the Oscar-winning Pelle The Conqueror (a fine blu ray release last year):

https://www.amazon.com/Pelle-Conque...4&sr=8-1&keywords=pelle+the+conqueror+blu+ray

A great recent Norwegian thriller, is the supernatural thriller Thelma. That hasn't yet received a region A release:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thelma-Blu...qid=1516692935&sr=1-1&keywords=thelma+blu+ray

The Swedish version by Tomas Alfredson of the vampire thriller Let The Right One In, is far superior to the American remake. But whatever you do, do NOT watch that director's appalling Scandi-noir turkey, The Snowman. Probably the worst movie of 2017!
 

SAhmed

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I have really enjoyed all of the Bergman movies that I have seen - not necessarily understood all the themes and some have taken multiple viewings. Persona is my personal favorite but they are all great!

Regards,
 
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Dave B Ferris

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A couple years ago, my wife Peg and I realized that a number of our favorite films had a common director—Lasse Hallström. His early films were fascinating and his Hollywood films were stories that we liked told in a way that really spoke to us.

mylifeasadog.jpg


Then, more recently, I blind-purchased the Swedish film A Man Called Ove. The description of the film intrigued me. I waited (a full year!) for a good sale. Bought it. We loved it.

ove-poster.jpg


Which made me think. Maybe there’s something about Scandinavian sensibilities which appeals to us.

After some quick research, I read about two other movies (by the same Norwegian director, Bent Hamer) that had achieved a certain amount of acclaim in the US: Kitchen Stories and O’Horten. And they turned out to be two more movies we both enjoyed very much.

Kitchen_stories_poster.jpg
o-horten-norwegian-movie-poster-md.jpg


Based on a recommendation, I then purchased the Swedish film The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. Another hit! Not quite as character driven as the other films…it played more as a farce/caper (with some elements ala Forrest Gump)…but still also steeped in the backstory of what motivated the title character.

c078f52714c750cdc7db39c541781097.jpg


So since Peg and I have never been interested in things Scandinavian (Norse culture, hygge, trolls, fjords, etc.). We’ve never even been inside an IKEA!

Maybe it’s got something more to do with some of the common themes which link these types of films: a single, eccentric main character…quirky comedy, a fair amount of silence, some darkness and a real willingness to view the human condition through these filters.

I don’t know. But I’m hoping that I can strike a chord with others here who might have seen and liked some of these films and who might have recommendations of others.

And I have no fear in branching out into other on-topic points of interest: Bergman, anyone? :D

Mike, given that your affection for dogs is well-known on this forum, have you seen the Lasse Hallstrom film "Hachi", starring Richard Gere?
 

Martin_Teller

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Bergman is my favorite director, I've seen 62 of his films. My top 10 Bergmans:

Fanny & Alexander
Scenes from a Marriage
Winter Light
Shame
Through a Glass Darkly
Sawdust and Tinsel
Autumn Sonata
Saraband
Thirst
Smiles of a Summer Night

Some non-Bergman favorites:

Songs from the Second Floor
The Match Factory Girl
The Bothersome Man
The Best Intentions (written by Bergman)
The Phantom Carriage
The Kingdom (mini-series)
Leningrad Cowboys Go America
Miss Julie
Pelle the Conqueror
The Saga of Gosta Berling
You, the Living
Drifting Clouds
Girl with Hyacinths
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
Day of Wrath
Kitchen Stories
The Man Without a Past
The Hunt
The Idiots
Let the Right One In
Nine Lives
Ordet
La Vie de boheme
 

Mike Frezon

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I didn't mean to give the impression that I haven't seen any Bergman films!

In fact, when I was a teenager, my local PBS affilliate aired any number of Bergman films which I watched with great fascination (probably partially for the occasional bits of nudity which might appear as well as the rather stark imagery and grand concepts dealt with--not to mention a language I'd never heard before!). What an education for a youngster!

It has been a long-standing Frezon family joke that whenever I tried to promote the viewing of an unpopular title it would always go back to the time I tried to once convince the family to watch The Seventh Seal ("but it's GREAT! It's about a knight...who returns from the Crusades...and plays a game of chess...on a beach...with Death!! What's NOT to like?!?").

I love The Seventh Seal. Also Summer with Monika, and The Magician. There are many others I've seen...but not in years. I will be on the watch for Wild Strawberries and Smiles of a Summer Night. I know I have the Criterion DVD of Autumn Sonata on my shelf.

===============

We have another Norwegian title on its way to us. Elling by director Petter Naess. I'm not sure it will fit the mold of what we've experienced with those other films referenced in the OP...but it should be here within a few days.

===============

Mike, given that your affection for dogs is well-known on this forum, have you seen the Lasse Hallstrom film "Hachi", starring Richard Gere?

For sure! And don't forget he was also at the helm of A Dog's Purpose. We've seen most of his films and we were really surprised to put together how much we enjoyed all that we had seen!

Welcome to the frozen north! Agreed, Smiles Of A Summer Night is a good start, but my favourite Bergman - and Robert Harris' - is Wild Strawberries:

https://www.hometheaterforum.com/co...-strawberries-in-blu-ray.323972/#post-3962918

There are so many other treasures - you will love the Oscar-winning Pelle The Conqueror (a fine blu ray release last year):

https://www.amazon.com/Pelle-Conque...4&sr=8-1&keywords=pelle+the+conqueror+blu+ray

Thanks, Kevin! :D Pelle the Conqueror looks like a perfect fit. It just went into my Amazon cart.

"Supernatural/thriller", though, are words which don't work for us. We prefer drama/comedy. Peg abhors horror, scary, action/adventure films.

And, Martin, I appreciate that lengthy list of non-Bergman favorites (including Pelle!). I'll be sure to research those with an eye towards checking some out.
 
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bujaki

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Wild Strawberries is blessed by a truly wonderful performance by the great Swedish director Victor Sjostrom. It's a deeply humanistic film with an unforgettable closing scene.
I've seen all of Bergman's theatrical films save for The Serpent's Egg.
Etched in my consciousness is the beauty and terror of Cries and Whispers.
Moving to another country, Denmark, and to Dreyer: I've seen most of his extant films. Besides the obvious (The Passion of Joan of Arc, Vampyr), there's Day of Wrath; and my all-time favorite, the one that shook my soul: Ordet.
 
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Mike Frezon

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Peg and I watched our next film: Pelle the Conqueror

8154.jpg


This one was a head-scratcher for us. We liked it...sort of. We thought it was a beautiful film...and we found ourselves really caring for the characters. But when it was over (all 2 1/2 hours!) we were left wondering what the point of it all was.

I had a question about the ending:

The idea of such a young boy striking out on his own in a strange land without his dad. He was still getting picked on by his classmates for goodness' sake!

Peg's feelings:

I'm mixed-- it was beautifully filmed, interesting characters, compelling, complex, deep...but really, really bleak. At the end I felt kind of empty, like why did I just go through all that, emotionally?

So this wasn't much like the quirky films I mentioned in the OP...but it definitely had that Scandinavian sensibility to it. And it was definitely one very beautiful, heart-tugging film.

A question: There was a trailer at the head of the Blu-ray for a film called The Best Intentions by the same director: Bille August. What do you guys think of that one?
 

titch

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Peg and I watched our next film: Pelle the Conqueror

8154.jpg


This one was a head-scratcher for us. We liked it...sort of. We thought it was a beautiful film...and we found ourselves really caring for the characters. But when it was over (all 2 1/2 hours!) we were left wondering what the point of it all was.

I had a question about the ending:

The idea of such a young boy striking out on his own in a strange land without his dad. He was still getting picked on by his classmates for goodness' sake!

Peg's feelings:



So this wasn't much like the quirky films I mentioned in the OP...but it definitely had that Scandinavian sensibility to it. And it was definitely one very beautiful, heart-tugging film.

A question: There was a trailer at the head of the Blu-ray for a film called The Best Intentions by the same director: Bille August. What do you guys think of that one?

The ending of Pelle The Conqueror was because Max von Sydow's character was too old.

I'm sure you and your wife would like The Best Intentions. This also won the Palm D'Or at Cannes (1992). It is based on the life of Ingmar Bergman's parents. It is a wonderful film, with the cream of Scandinavian actors, including Max Von Sydow. My only gripe, is that the cinema version (and the one available on blu ray), is the condensed version of the four-part miniseries that aired on TV over here. Like Ingmar Bergman's Fanny and Alexander, the longer TV version is much richer and full of detail, than the theatrical version.
 
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Martin_Teller

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Third (although technically first since I mentioned it earlier :P ). The Best Intentions is sublime, especially if you have any interest in Ingmar Bergman.
 

CraigF

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Do you like noir? It's not exactly scary or anything close to that really, tense though, and twisted of course. Almost certainly a bit of violence as per noir usual. Call it twisted intense drama. If it sounds a bit interesting, there are numerous "Nordic noir" titles I could suggest. I would say it's a modernistic take on noir, fairly different in presentation and sensibility than what we would call "neo noir" from Hollywood.
 

Mike Frezon

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We have another Norwegian title on its way to us. Elling by director Petter Naess. I'm not sure it will fit the mold of what we've experienced with those other films referenced in the OP...but it should be here within a few days.

It took too long, but Peg and I watched Elling tonight. It was NOT at all what we expected it to be. Some online reviews had referred to it as a raunchy flick. It was anything but. It was another absorbing character study about two men who we came to care very much about. We celebrated their achievements and were disappointed at their failures. We watched them grow over the course of the film and were captivated by their stories.

A big regret for us is that we waited as long as we did to finally spin up this disc. (We gotta stop being so affected by reviews.)
 

Mike Frezon

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Do you like noir? It's not exactly scary or anything close to that really, tense though, and twisted of course. Almost certainly a bit of violence as per noir usual. Call it twisted intense drama. If it sounds a bit interesting, there are numerous "Nordic noir" titles I could suggest. I would say it's a modernistic take on noir, fairly different in presentation and sensibility than what we would call "neo noir" from Hollywood.

Craig: Sorry I somehow missed your post all this time.

I'm good with noir...but I'm not sure what Peg would think. When I think of '40s & '50s US noir, I think Peg would be fine. Any violence is certainly muted compared to today's standards. In fact, I watched Witness to Murder the other day with Barbara Stanwyck and George Sanders and she sat in on some of it with me. So I'm not sure exactly what "Nordic Noir" would be like and am unsure as to if it's something Peg would enjoy. But I'm curious. Give me some titles and I'll look at reviews (right after I got sone saying I need to be careful with online reviews!) to try and make some kind of determination.
 

CraigF

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^ I have no idea exactly what I had in mind when I wrote the above post. :) But I would say Headhunters could fit, if you haven't seen any of the more popular (and typically more violent) Nordic noir-ish films. It's a good low-budget film that belies its budget, you'll probably like it.
 
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titch

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^ I have no idea exactly what I had in mind when I wrote the above post. :) But I would say Headhunters could fit, if you haven't seen any of the more popular (and typically more violent) Nordic noir-ish films. It's a good low-budget film that belies its budget, you'll probably like it.
Uh...check post 9. Peg abhors horror, scary, action/adventure films. Wouldn't recommend Headhunters!
 

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