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Entries in Norway (9)

Monday
Sep162019

TIFF Quickie: Crazy White Women!

by Nathaniel R

For this last batch of short TIFF reviews, let's look at three films about mysterious and/or psychologically complex female characters. The post title was glib but the films aren't. 

DISCO (Jorunn Mykelbust Syversen, Norway)
This puzzling drama centers on a champion dancer whose mom and step-dad run some kind of evangelical church. Apparently in Scandivania -- as with America -- conservative faith movements are on the rise. Syversen shows empathy for her characters but chills it with a clinically detached rhythym to the cutting. The lost protagonist Mirjam (Josefine Frida Pettersen) has mysterious physical troubles and vacant psychology that can bring flickers of Todd Haynes' Safe (1995) to mind.

Syversen's strongest skill seems to be in observational mode. In one escalating series of scene at a Jesus camp the choices in camera distance are particularly compelling. In medium shot we observe a group of boys being told to breathe quickly in and out of paper bags to drive out the demons inside them. Cut to a long shot as we watch them comically pass out as they hyperventilate. This is a followed by a not at all comical baptism that is shot more like a drowning. Despite Syverson's obvious skill and a tight running time (94 minutes), Disco is far too repetitive and its point of view remains as opaque as Mirjam's psychology. It's not enough, always, to merely observe. C

EMA (Pablo Larraín, Chile)
The first image is a startling one: a still working traffic light engulfed in flames...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Aug182019

"Out Stealing Horses" wins Norway's Top Film Prizes

by Nathaniel R

Out Stealing Horses

You may recall that when we posted our April Foolish Oscar predictions we suggested that the Norwegian film Out Stealing Horses could well compete for the Best International Film Oscar. That was a blind call based solely on its pedigree (a lush adaptation of a best-seller with a known director) since a) we hadn't seen the picture, b) Norway hadn't submitted it, and c) there weren't many industry reactions yet. Those things are still true save the latter which is now emphatically untrue. It's obviously well liked since it just took the top prize at Norway's annual Amanda Awards. Early critical reaction via Berlinale in February was also positive. 

More about the Amanda Awards and that film after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Sep042018

Intriguing Foreign Film Oscar options from Kosovo, Norway, and more

by Nathaniel R

 

We're now up to 24 Oscar submissions so we're almost a third of our way to seeing the full list. Here are the new announcements since the last post. (You can see the full submission list, with more details and links to trailers and such, on the updated Oscar charts.) Surprisingly none of the three expected frontrunners (Poland's Cold War,  Mexico's Roma, and Lebanon's Capernaum) have been officially announced as submissions yet. We have long lists for Brazil, Denmark, The Netherlands, and Israel to date but no official pick. We've usually heard about Mexico's longlist by now as well. Hmmm. 

  • The Waldheim Waltz -Austria 
    Documentary on a former UN Secretary General's relationship with the Nazis
  • The Eighth Commisioner -Croatia 
    A comedy about a politician overseeing an election on a remote island
  • A Son of Man  -Ecuador
    Father and son search for inca gold
  • Euthanizer - Finland
    A dark morality tale about a mechanic who puts sick pets out of their misery... it's apparently pro-animal and anti-irresponsible pet owners though it sounds horrifying on surface. 
  • Namme  - Georgia
    A family drama about the tradition of local healing waters threatened by environmental problems
  • The Marriage - Kosovo
    A gay love triangle in which a woman doesn't know her fiance is in love with his best friend
  • What Will People Say - Norway
    A Pakistani-Norwegian teenager is kidnapped by her parents and taken to Pakistan (where she has never been) to teach her a lesson. This film was released in the US back in July and we missed it. Argh!
  • Buffalo Boys -Singapore
    A 19th century action movie about two brothers avenging their father, a former Sultan
  • The Interpreter -Slovakia
    Two old men journey to meet surviving witnesses of a wartime tragedy

Related:
First 10 official contenders for foreign film
6 more contenders for foreign film
49 suggested European Film Awards contenders
Spain's Finalists
Israel's Finalists

Thursday
Sep282017

NYFF: Norway's Oscar Submission "Thelma"

by Jason Adams

Sometimes a critic can't help but interject him or herself into a review, and Joaquim Trier's Thelma is one of those times for me. Thelma tells the story of a young woman from a cripplingly religious family who goes off to college and starts having epileptic seizures that coincide with an awakening of same-sex longings. Meanwhile I'm the homosexual son of an epileptic and was raised in a speak-in-tongues Pentecostal church. Needless to say I felt Thelma, you guys.

So much that it's hard to divorce myself critically to see the forest for the dead birds dropping down among the trees. Trier gets so many precise details so right that I know from my own specific, particular life experience - the warm waves of excitement and guilt at discovering drink and swear-words when you first leave home; the way an epileptic seizure can be a sudden horrific tearing open of reality itself's seams -  that I'm more than willing to go along with anything he does, even when it is sometimes a hint too austere for its own good.

It's hard to say something that features a woman deep-throating a python - but you know, in a sexy way - remains austere, but Trier manages. He is Norwegian, after all. Thelma is an ice pond of a film floating over fiery little volcanic eruptions - like its protagonist (an exquisitely conflicted Eili Harboe) Thelma is Fire & Ice, Passion & Repression, a Freudian phantasmagoria strapped into a cool silk blouse.

Thursday
Aug032017

More TIFF Lineups: Midnight Madness and Platform

Another day another festival announcement. TIFF keeps adding to the festival. Even though they've reduced the number of films this year it's still SO MANY TO CHOOSE FROM IN EACH SECTION. Herewith the Midnight Madness and Platform choices. Let us know which ones you're most curious about!

Gael García Bernal in the French film "If You Saw His Heart"

PLATFORM
This section of 12 films, which tends to focus on directors in early stages of their careers, is actually juried (though TIFF isn't known for awards really outside of "People's Choice" which tends to have a strong correlation to eventual Best Picture nominations at the Oscars).

“Platform is the place to look for the distinct stamp of today's most interesting directors as they establish their reputations.
- -Cameron Bailey, TIFF's artistic director

The three-person jjury for 2017's Platform are directors Chen Kaige (China), Malgorzata Szumowska (Poland) and Wim Wenders (Germany)

Beast (UK) A troubled woman becomes involved with a suspected killer in this debut from Michael Pearce [WORLD PREMIERE]
Brad's Status (US) Screenwriter Mike White returns to the director's chair for this story about a man (Ben Stiller) comparing himself unfavorably to friends while touring colleges with his teenage son [WORLD PREMIERE]...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec162016

The Nine Foreign Film Finalists for Oscar

The Academy's complicated process in nominating for Best Foreign Language Film is nearing completion. Last night they winnowed down the 85 film list to a more manageable 9 films. Those 9 will screen for selected panels in multiple cities and 5 nominees will be determined. A few observations and trivia notes about the list after the jump...

Click to read more ...