10 Contemporary Films from Norway

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for Cinetalk.net

1001.Grams (2014) Bent Hamer – Drama

The latest film from the director of the acclaimed Kitchen stories.

Norwegian scientist Marie attends a Parisian seminar on the weight of a kilo (yes it is subject to evaluation!)  As tragic events occur, her own measurement of life’s weight becomes a parallel story.

This is a subtle, beautifully shot, slow paced drama with clever parodic instants gently mixed into the story with very riveting character developments. It explore the depth through the weight of life in an original and tender way.

 

Bothersome man – Den brysomme mannen (2006)  Jens lien – Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

In a dreamlike fantasy, a man arrives in a new city where he is instantly provided with job, lodging… and a beautiful wife! Everything fine. But he starts asking questions…

There is this strange irony and happenings in Bothersome Man that recall the writings of Kafka. It is also filled with this insane humor we find in numerous Scandinavian films and played by great actor Trond Fausa like everything going on was not so abnormal. This is one strange oddity, with surreal and engaging style.

 

Jonny Vang (2003) Jens Lien – Comedy-Drama

While trying to start a Worm Farm, Jonny tries to cope with bad lucks that might be more than the result of accidents and link to some of his adolescent behavior.

With its succession of sympathetic characters, weird happenings witty humor and 70’s film feeling (the way its shot on location with a natural look and the various strange changes of pace),  Jonny Vang offers in subtle ways more than what its premise promises. A fine little gem.

Lien’s follow up, The Bothersome Man (Den brysomme mannen ,2006)) is such a departure from this one, that it’s refreshing to see a filmmaker able to succeed within different genres.

 

The King of Devil’s Island – Kongen av Bastøy(2010) Marius Holst
With Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård as its star and  with also Kristoffer Joner (The Revenant), this film, based on a true story, tells of the tragic lives of the early 20th century inmates of the boy’s prison island of Bastoy, located in the Oslo fjord. The boys attempt to survive under an abusive and sadistic regime when a new inmate arrives with an agenda of its own leading to tragic results.

conventional but pretty well done drama, makes it works, showing you can apply simple things when you do them well and have a screenplay. A good drama.

 

Kitchen Stories Salmer fra kjøkkenet(2003) Bent Hamer – Comedy/Drama

What an insane and beautiful thing this one is.

In the 1950’s The Home Research Institute sends a group of scientific observer to rural Norway in order to study the kitchen routines of the average single man. Under no circumstances are they aloud to interact with the subjects of the experiment…

A clever and simple comedy with depth and a tiny surreal feel, carefully crafted and beautifully acted. It manages to get emotions out of its zany subject with slow but perfect timing. This is a rare piece of cinematic gentle oddball. A must. This is a GREAT film.

 

Elling (2001) – Petter Næss – Comedy

Sheltered by a possessive mother for forty years, Elling is sent, upon her death, in a state institution where he meets Kjell. Released and provided with a state-funded apartment two years later, the two men become roommates. Now they have to find the courage to step outside on their own…

Academy award nominee for Best foreign Language Film, this enjoyable, light comedy, that even spanned a prequel, runs like a feel good-movie. It’s improbable but not without its charms. The leading men offer sympathetic performances.

 

A Somewhat Gentle Man – En ganske snill mann- (2010)- Hans Peter Moland- Drama/ crime/ comedy

Fresh out of prison for murder, Ulrik has to cope with his past made of frustrated women, petty gangsters, his disapproving son and a snitch.

An highly unusual crime drama with sharp-witted sarcastic Humor, good timing and great acting, especially from its lead Stellan Skarsgård who looks so sad and lost. How to take commonplaces of the genre and turn it upside down to something fresh with fine balance is what it’s about. Who would have thought such a miserable life could be so funny…

 

Sons of Norway – (Sønner av Norge) – 2011 Jens Lien – Comedy/ Drama

By the director of Bothersome Man.

At the end of the 70’s Nikolai, the son of a free spirited hippie architect, discovers punk music as a way to the exception in a community of conformity.

A hippy-anarchist comedy, joyfully irreverent, while turning corners a bit too much in its depiction of secondary characters and situations, Sons of Norway sets on an unusual tender depiction of a father-son relationship, which is its main interest.

 

 

Cross my heart and hope to die -(Ti kniver i hjertet) – 2006 – Marius Holst – Drama

In 1960’s Oslo, young  adolescent Otto is not the most popular of boys. Enters the mysterious Frank, a strange young man with a shadowy past and an attitude that will have an influence on his life.

There was some misleading advertisement campaign, when it came out, comparing it to Lasse Halstrom’s My life as a dog. It is far more darker in tone than the later. With the actions and reactions of the protagonists, it has compelling ways of showing real life like a strange affair, slowly building a climax of discomfort around this young boy summer of awakening where some things take shape and other matters are left unexplained. An enthralling drama.

 

Turn me on dammit – Få meg på, for faen (2011) Jannicke Systad Jacobsen

Alma, 15 years old, is horny. Consumed by her fantasies she seems to bother everyone. And she is quite alone in her quest.

This is one surprising take on such a subject and a clever one that brought home the best screenplay award from Tribeca Film fest in 2011. Simple and direct this a little gem of a comedy drama on Sexual (miss) understanding and the rite of passage. It is successful in depicting a clever young character (played by then new comer Helene Bergsholm) who tries to come into possession of herself at a difficult age. A charming film.

 

(See also : 5 Norwegian Genre Films in the Film Genres section)

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