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Entries in Scandinavia (65)

Friday
Feb122016

Interview: Tobias Lindholm on the Oscar Nominated 'A War' and Creating Time on Film

Writer/Director Tobias LindholmJose here. In Tobias Lindholm’s A War, the hardest battle for Danish commander Claus M. Pedersen (Pilou Asbæk) comes not in the warzone of Afghanistan, but in a courtroom back home where he faces prison time for a tactical decision that ended the lives of civilians. A thoughtful essay on the rules of humanity during wartime, the film remains largely apolitical while still engaging audience members who might question the very nature of foreign invasions, the need for war, and our roles as humans in a world that pits us against each other. Directed with confidence by Lindholm, the film remains outside any specific genre while providing a master class in how to create tension, intimacy and thrills.

A War has been nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar and Lindholm isn’t completely unfamiliar with the experience, having also worked as a writer in the 2012 nominee The Hunt. The versatile filmmaker is next working on yet another screenplay with Thomas Vinterberg and is also writing Paul Greengrass' next film. I had the opportunity to talk with him the day after the Oscar luncheon, and he shared his insight into creating time on film, his cinematic pet peeves and the excitement of awards season.

Our interview is after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Feb042016

Interview: Alicia Vikander on Modern Girls, Talking Robots, and Scandinavian Celebrity

Vikander at the SAG Awards where she won Best Supporting ActressWhen I sat down with Alicia Vikander to discuss her career she was full of surprises, and not just in the way she answered questions. She approached in what looked like the simplest black dress, nothing special at all, until she turned around and the dress had an elaborately elegant back with a trailing bow. She promptly plopped down in a chair, opened a small bag of chips, and began munching away. She's a vision, alright, but the vision kept shifting: Unadorned Beauty, Glamorous Star, Girl Next Door. 

This hard to pin down picture shouldn't come as a surprise. In the short time we've been watching her she's been equally believable as a sly robot, a conflicted Danish queen, a debutate Russian aristocrat, a bohemian artist whose world is turned upside down, and a British writer during wartime.

But she's been so ubiquitous this year, both on screen and red carpets, that we're wondering which sides of herself she's yet to reveal. So we begin, counterintuively, with her future.

[The following interview was conducted before she won her SAG Award else we'd have talked about it.] 

NATHANIEL R: You've had so many movies released in the last few years. If you don't slow down, what's going to be left to accomplish?!? 

more after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec162015

Interview: Director Roar Uthaug on Making the Disaster Film Feel Fresh in 'The Wave'

Director Roar Uthaug

Jose here. The fact that Norway’s Oscar submission this year is a disaster film, should be reason enough to warrant attention. It also happens that The Wave is quite a fun ride to sit through! Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, director Roar Uthaug, delivers a film that demands you get the largest bag of popcorn available, some candy and a giant soda. It’s a film meant to be enjoyed, something which Hollywood often forgets to provide when focusing on CGI extravaganzas that always put the effects before the people.

Uthaug’s film centers on a family led by sensitive geologist Kristian (Kristoffer Joner) and his pragmatic wife Idun (Ane Dahl Topr, the star of last year's Norwegian Oscar submission 1001 Grams), who are preparing to leave their charming little town, when everything that can possibly go wrong, does indeed go wrong. The issue in this case is disastrous landslide that causes a tsunami in the fjord! To say that Uthaug excels at creating tension and induces nail-biting (my cuticles resent him) would be an understatement. What is surprising is how fresh the film feels by the end. Uthaug was kind enough to answer some questions I had about his film.

Read the interview after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec162015

Academy's Make Up and Hairstyling Branch Triple-Down on Tom Hardy

Glenn here. If there's one thing we know about the Academy's make up and hairstyling branch it's that we know nothing about what they will or will not like. Evidence of that is quite clear in this year's preliminary shortlist of seven contenders, of which three will be selected as the nominees. As we are all aware, the make up and hairstyling category remains the only one with three nominees each year - give or take a slow year in the world of animation - despite every film having it in some capacity and despite being one of the few categories that doesn't have a predetermined sway towards prestige.

This year's field of seven is as wholly unexpected as we have come to expect from both the branch and from this year in general. The list of films in contention for a nomination who will get to present their works to the branch, include Tom Hardy, Tom Hardy, and Tom Hardy. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Friday
Nov132015

Pilou Asbaek Goes To "A War" 

Memorize this face as you'll be seeing a lot of it.

This is Pilou Asbaek, who appears to be the love child of Michael Shannon and Leonardo DiCaprio, but whose acting is surprisingly subtle given that visual prompt. Now picture him shaggier and with a sword as he'll be joining Game of Thrones for Season 6 to play Euron Greyjoy. GoT has become to Scandinavian and Northern European stars what Law & Order once was to NYC stage actors or Harry Potter was to older British thespians; the place they all end up in some capacity large or small! You'll also soon see him as Pontious Pilate in the Ben-Hur remake and then reunited with Scarlett Johansson (he played her cowboy hat wearing boyfriend in the first scenes of Lucy) for Ghost in the Shell  a couple of years from now. In other words, he's suddenly in demand.

But for now he's just a respected Danish actor (a TV star at home, and best known abroad for A Hijacking as well as a brief stint on The Borgias)  making the rounds with his country's Oscar submission A War. It's a real contender for the finalist list and then possibly the big deal Oscar nomination. Asbaek plays a Company Commander in Afghanistan who comes under hot water back home for a questionable decision he makes to save his men while they're under heavy gunfire from the Taliban. Though there are a couple of violent scenes, A War is quieter than its title suggests and more concerned with ethical and psychological fallout from going to war. And its legal consequences, too, as the movie is partially a courtroom drama

At a cocktail reception following the film I was surprised to hear from Pilou that most of the soldiers he shared scenes with were actual soldiers rather than professional actors. I wondered if he felt like a mentor, teaching them how to act with the camera and he humbly suggested that the opposite was true. He couldn't make one false move as an actor since it would read inauthentically while in the company of actual soldiers who were just doing their jobs.

Pilou and his director Tobias Lindholm both referred to the war in Afghanistan as "our Vietnam" in conversation. They drew the comparison because the Danish people never quite understood what they were doing in Afghanistan in the first place -- it's the only war they've ever fought that did not touch their borders. (In the early Aughts, Denmark apparently had a more conservative leader than usual who jumped in with Bush & Blair). A War is vaguely reminiscent of Susanne Bier's great film Brødre (2004, remade in the US as Brothers in 2009), though that one centered on PTSD. Given that the films are more than 10 years apart it's obviously a war that the Danish people are still struggling to make peace with.

Saturday
Oct172015

Art IS Commerce

You like it? Ingmar Bergman will buy it for you. (Well, if it's under about $25. ) Behold the new Swedish 200 kr. starring one of the greatest auteurs of all time. 

via

Thursday
Sep242015

TIFF Review Index

Let this serve as the official TIFF Review reference guide since the festival closed up shop Sunday night after the Free screening of the People's Choice winner Room. We hope you enjoyed reading along with our reviews. Amir and I saw about 50 movies between us but we'll have to wrap up now as NYFF screenings have already started and Oscar charts MUST be updated and so on.

Fall Film Season is finally upon us!

3 of my favorites of the 29 I saw...

37 Films Reviewed
45 Years British marital drama (Nathaniel)
3000 Nights Palestinian prison drama (Amir)
Anomalisa Existential stop-motion dramedy (Nathaniel)
Arabian Nights: Vol 2 Portugueuse art film with politicial satire vignettes (Nathaniel)
As I Open My Eyes Tunisian music drama (Nathaniel)
Baba Joon Israel's immigrant family drama & Oscar submission (Amir)
Bang Gang French teen sex drama (Nathaniel)
The Clan Argentine true crime drama (Nathaniel)
Closet Monster Canadian LGBT drama (Nathaniel)
Dégradé Palestinian hair salon set female drama (Amir)
Demolition Canadian grief dramedy (Nathaniel)
Desde Allá Venezuelan LGBT Drama & Venice winner (Amir)
Dheepan French Immigrant drama, Palme d'or winner (Amir)
The Dressmaker Australian revenge dramedy (Glenn)
Embrace of the Serpent Black & White Colombian Amazon journey (Nathaniel)
Eva Doesn't Sleep experimental Argentine corpse drama (Nathaniel)
The Family Fang US Dramedy about a performance art family (Nathaniel)
Girls Lost Swedish LGBT Teen Drama (Nathaniel)
Granny's Dancing on the Table Swedish animated/live-action hybrid (Nathaniel)
The Here After Swedish School Drama (Nathaniel)  
Homesick Norwegian incest drama (Nathaniel)
I Saw The Light US musical biopic (Nathaniel)
Invisible Filipino immigrant drama (Nathaniel)
Love French 3D sex drama (Nathaniel)
Much Loved Moroccan docudrama on sex workers in Marrakech (Amir)
Mustang Turkish coming of age drama (Amir)
Phantom Boy French animated adventure (Nathaniel)
Room US family/crime drama, and People's Choice Winner (Nathaniel)
Spotlight, US journalist drama (Nathaniel)
Stonewall US gay history drama (Nathaniel)
Taxi Jafar Panahi's comedy & Berlinale Winner (Amir)
Truth US TV news political drama (Nathaniel) 
Victoria German continuous shot crime drama (Nathaniel)
The Wave Norwegian disaster epic (Nathaniel)
The Witch this year's Sundance horror sensation (Nathaniel)
Youth Showbiz drama (Nathaniel) 

upside down, VICTORIA turned me, inside out. and round and round

Other TIFF Articles
Best Actress Contenders (Nathaniel)
Red Carpet Opening Weekend (Jose)
Red Carpet Post-Venice (Jose)
Victoria's Single Take / Birdman Comparison (Sebastian)
People's Choice and Other Awards (Nathaniel)
Women He's Undressed - The Interview (Jose) 
IndieWire Critics Poll (Nathaniel) 

TIFF Juries of One
I polled the podcasters who stayed the whole fest. Here's what they said...

  Nathaniel R Joe Reid Nick Davis
Film Room Son of Saul Arabian Nights
Director Cirro Guerra, Embrace of Serpent Ridley Scott,
The Martian
Laszlo Nemes,
Son of Saul
Actress Charlotte Rampling,
45 Years
Cate Blanchett,
Truth
Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Dheepan
Actor Jacob Tremblay,
Room
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation Frederick Lau,
Victoria
Supp. Actress Kate Dickie,
The Witch
Julianne Moore, Maggie's Plan Ghalia Benali, As I Open My Eyes
Supp. Actor Stanley Tucci,
Spotlight
Scoot McNairy, Our Brand is Crisis Abdella Didane,
Much Loved
Craft Contribution Sound,
Victoria
Cinematography,
Son of Saul
Cinematography,
The Assassin
  Cinematography, Embrace of Serpent Art Direction,
Room
Sound,
Son of Saul
  Score,
Spotlight
Costumes,
 The Danish Girl
Camera Operator, Victoria