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Entries in Scandinavia (52)

Saturday
Aug292015

Autumn Sonata: Ingrid's Swan Song 

Happy Ingrid Bergman Centennial! The great movie star was born 100 years ago on this very day in Stockholm, Sweden. Jose closes out our 10 film retrospective with a look at her final feature film - Editor

Jose here. True story: there was a time when I thought Ingrid Bergman and Ingmar Bergman were the same person. Not because I had seen Persona and dreamt of metaphysical unions between both great Swedes, but merely because I was a child.

I first laid eyes on Ingrid on the box of my grandma’s tape of Casablanca, when I was 6, and there was something about those eyes filled with longing and sorrow that one day drew me to insert the tape into the player. Bewitched by the earthy qualities and the warmth she exuded, I devoured as many of her films as I could get my hands on, until one day I heard someone talk of Ingmar. Convinced that it was merely a mispronounced version of Ingrid’s name I remained oblivious until the day I saw The Seventh Seal at age 12. The more I learned of Ingmar’s work in the following years, the less I thought there would be room for Ingrid in his world of damaged, oft cold human beings.

Then I watched Autumn Sonata and not only did she make sense in Ingmar’s universe, it seemed to be the place she was born to be in. Playing world famous pianist Charlotte Andergast, the director allowed her beautiful features to reflect a severity she had merely suggested in earlier roles during her career, as if she chose not to be breathtaking. The film has Liv Ullmann play Charlotte’s daughter Eva, who resents her mother for not having been around much when she was a child. To say that their exchanges are unkind would be an understatement, when every word seems like a dagger aimed for the ultimate kill.

Cinema's Legendary Bergmans. No relation.

Ingmar’s kind of existentialism often drew from his own life, but in Autumn Sonata he seems to have made a film all about Ingrid. For starters, the very notion of a mother abandoning her children was something that allegedly tormented Ingrid who left her own child in America to pursue a relationship with director Roberto Rossellini in the 1950s, in traditional Bergman fashion though, Charlotte isn’t entirely filled with regret though, and she seems pleased with having Eva’s contempt, rather than having spent her life pretending she wanted to be with her children. It’s a bold performance that breaks from the nurturing qualities Ingrid had shown all throughout her career.

Charlotte turned out to be the Oscar winner’s big screen swan song, she would then go into semi-retirement only to act in a Golda Meir biopic that would win her an Emmy and a Golden Globe, but her work in Autumn Sonata makes for a beautiful bookend when juxtaposed with her first big role in Intermezzo. In fact, we could propose a theory that Charlotte is another version of Intermezzo’s Anita Hoffman, in fact she could even be the same woman, a professional musician who realizes her art is more important than anything else in the world, after being subjected to endless heartbreak at the hand of the man she loves. It’s a thing of beauty to realize that she had been showing us shades of Charlotte more than 40 years before. Could it be that Ingmar had seen Intermezzo as a young man and dreamed this part for his leading lady before he began his own career? Even though Ingrid and Ingmar weren't the same person after all, they were meant to do transcendental art together all along.

previouslyIntermezzo (1939), Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde (1941), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1942), Notorious, (1946), Joan of Arc (1948), Journey to Italy (1954), Indiscreet (1958), The Inn of Sixth Happiness (1958), Cactus Flower (1969) and 10 Best Ingrid Bergman Kisses (1935 through 1970)

Thursday
Aug062015

Ingrid Bergman Centennial: The Film That Brought Her to Hollywood

August 29th marks the Centennial of Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982), one of the greatest of all movie stars with a career that stretched from the early 30s through the late 70s, encompassing multiple classics, multiple countries, and multiple Oscars. We'll be proceeding mostly in chronological order. Here's Abstew to kick things off with "Intermezzo" - Editor

Had it not been for a Swedish elevator operator working in the building that housed the New York offices of Selznick International Pictures, the world might never have discovered the young actress that would become the Hollywood legend Ingrid Bergman. It was 1936, and the soon-to-be star had just appeared in a Swedish film named Intermezzo about a famous concert violinist (played by Sweden's first stage star Gösta Ekman) that leaves his wife and family and has an affair with his much younger accompanist. There was clearly something special about the actress playing the love interest. The elevator operator wasn't the only one to see it, but he happened to have the ear of Hollywood producer David O. Selznick's talent scout Kay Brown (since she rode in his elevator everyday), telling her to seek out the film and to pay special attention to the girl in the picture. And in the early part of 1939, Brown flew to Stockholm and persuaded the young actress from Intermezzo to come to America and star in the Hollywood remake. Thus launched the international career of Ingrid Bergman and, as they say in the pictures, a star was born.

But her path to stardom in Hollywood wasn't without its hurdles...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Feb172015

So Nice, She's Been Nominated Twice: Liv Ullmann

abstew here. With her second nomination for Two Days, One Night, Marion Cotillard joins a small but prestigious group of actresses that received both their Best Actress nominations for foreign language performances. The first actress to achieve it was Sophia Loren who we discussed over the weekend. Today we look back at the Norwegian muse of the master Ingmar Bergman...

Liv Ullmann
after the jump 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Feb062015

Tack för det, Magnolia. A Blurb Whore Triumph!

Thanks to Kyle Turner (who guest-starred on one our Smackdown podcasts last year) who alerted me to this little blurb on the DVD of Force Majeure (I have not seen the DVD. Just this tweeted snapshot)

I was completely unaware of this and was not contacted by Magnolia Pictures. The quote looks a little weird out of context (the humor is very cerebral but it was, to me and the theater I was in at TIFF, indeed "hilarious") and fused together like that. Here was my original capsule review if you're curious. The film eventually came in at #12 in my Best of the Year list

I guess this means I have to buy a physical copy.

It'll be fun to see this in real life. Especially since it's a Scandinavian film and an Oscar submission and I'm always seeking both kinds of movies out at film festivals. It's just too bad it wasn't nominated. Magnolia recently picked up "Tangerine" which I loved loved loved at Sundance. So feel free to quote away on that, Magnolia!

Sunday
Feb012015

Thin Skins and The Art of Being Snubbed

I've been sitting on half formed think pieces about this one for a couple of weeks deciding whether to publish but here goes...

A very recent article at Wired about journalist behavior at Sundance made a lot of journalists angry. I agree that a lot of movie journalists are jaded (I think that about other Oscar bloggers all the time who don't see to love it like I do). The piece isn't really fair because there are a lot of terribly behaved people of all types of badges at festivals. The type of badge you wear does not influence your behavior, your character influences your behavior. Still there's so much online response and twitter uproar about this that it reminded me of all the potshots taken at Birdman's depiction of a critic (in a movie that is not meant to be taken literally at that). In short: a lot of media writers have thin skins. I'd include myself here I must say but I think it's better to take your lumps quietly than protest too much. (Movies.com had a similarly themed piece on bad movie etiquette but it was more generous and didn't point too specific a finger.)

The uproar over these pieces reminded me of my own discomfort about the way people react to Oscar snubs (or omissions if the "s" word offends you). This season in particular, the Selma situation has provoked a lot of criticism,...

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Saturday
Jan032015

Best of the Year Pt. 1: Double the Swedes & Triple the Tilda

With love for last year's cinema.

2015 has a lot to live up to. This past year delivered amazing films from fresh-voiced directors, a good number of them female for a change, and it also came through, unexpectedly, with a surprising spread of high quality empathetic and diverse LGBT cinema. But even if you're stuck in multiplex-only towns, the mainstream also delivered with sneaky overachieving surprises in genres as oft-lazy as superheroes, horror, animation, giant monsters, and crime thrillers. When it came time to draw up my lists I had 30 pictures I really wanted to celebrate. Thirty! 

So let's briefly sum up (alphabetically) the films that just missed the top 20


The Boxtrolls - Laika's boldly grotesque superbly-voiced Victorian fable. 
Godzilla - Smartly reimagined not as reboot but myth returned. The paratroopers. Gah!
Edge of Tomorrow - Emily Blunt's 'full metal bitch' isn't easy to forget. Neither is the film's gleeful rapid fire anarchy in treating Tom Cruise as South Park might. "You killed Tom Cruise!" Repeat ∞
Happy Christmas - No budget? No problem. Just write a warm funny script, film it in your home and hire famous actor friends. Joe Swanberg is living the Cassavettes dream only seems much happier about it.
The LEGO Movie - Excessively clever and fun. But in truth I'd rather it win a Clio than an Oscar.
A Most Violent Year - a slow simmer but Jessica Chastain is at full boil
Nightcrawler - Jake & Rene's bring out each other's best but their character's worst in this amoral nightmare. Great dialogue but man do those laughs curdle.
Two Days One Night - Belgium's Oscar submission is simple in narrative if not in complexity of feeling but Marion Cotillard is impossibly good / real / Oscar worthy
The Way He Looks - In a simply fantastic year for queer cinema (thank god - it's been a while) this was the sweetest offering, a coming of age pic about a blind teenager and his two best friends
Wild Tales - A raucously entertaining Argentinian anthology produced by Pedro Almodóvar and directed with skill and wicked invention by Damian Szifron. If you can, see it with a group of friends (comedies are always best that way). I'm already sad I didn't include it in the top 20!

So here we are. Twenty may feel like an indulgent number to settle on for this 2014 countdown party but it comes down to this. No matter how many times I adjusted my "tippity top" movies list I couldn't live without these twenty. They were the ones that refused to budge, that defined the year for me, that demanded top ten placement, refuting the laws of math. To sum up: This cinephile had a great year in the dark. If you were positive I loved it and you don't see it in the top 20, it's tied for 21st! 

The film year is not drawing to a close just yet -- we keep celebrating through Oscar night. But the calendar year is a wrap so here is part one of my favorites roundup starting with a Tilda Swinton double feature...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Nov162014

Stockholm: Wrapping Up with Uma, Ingmar Bergman and ABBA!

Glenn's last report from the Stockholm Film Festival...

The Stockholm International Film Festival is now over and as I try and drain the last remaining symptoms of jetlag out of my body (not to mention any recurring dependence on restaurant food, great wine, and luxurious European comfort that such a trip offers) it’s time to take one last look back. I will miss seeing the image of Uma Thurman lording over her loyal subjects as I walk down Drottningattan every day.

The FIPRESCI jury – combined of myself, Quirijn Foeken of The Netherlands, and Dieter Wieczorek of France – awarded our price to Hungry Hearts from Italian director Saverio Costanzo. The film stars Adam Driver and Alba Rohrwacher (you may remember her from I Am Love) as a couple whose impending child brings about an avalanche of potentially fatal paranoia. It was the first film that we saw at the festival and despite some rallying by Rakhshan Bani-Etemad’s Tales, Xavier Dolan’s Mommy, and Dietrich Brüggemann’s Stations of the Cross, it just felt right.

For what it’s worth, this was my top ten, hastily scribbled on a napkin...

(ABBA, Bergman’s chair, drinks with Debra, Force Majeure, and more after the jump…)

 

Now that the winner of #sff14 has been announced, I can share this list of my top ten from the festival and what I voted for.

A photo posted by Glenn Dunks (@glennwithaniphonecamera) on Nov 11, 2014 at 6:20am PST

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