Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Storm (2006)

by Nick
Swedish film has stranded itself in a quagmire.

After coming back from this years Berlin Film Festival a respected Swedish film journalist was reported to have told fellow journalists "The Danish... why the hell are the Danish beating us? Even Iceland is doing good. And now the Norwegians! God save us from Finland."

Of course, a Dane had to explain it.

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"The only mistake Bergman ever did was not dying" - Lars von Trier, speaking in a symposium on Bergman.

I don't think you can overestimate the influence Ingmar Bergman still wields in the film industry, stranded on an island on the coast as he is. The legacy is too great, and no matter how you try, you fail. Film consul Marianne Ahrne (one of the three people who give out the very important economic film grants) said a year ago that she had read over 700 screenplays in the last 20 months, but none "in the Bergman tradition." Is it any wonder that little good comes out of here?

The recently released Storm is one of the films the Swedish Film Institute gave a grant.

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Storm is the story of DD (Eric Ericson), an ego-chauvinist pig journalist working for the Swedish equivalent of Rolling Stone, who one night crosses paths with leather-clad mystery vixen Lova (Eva Röse) chased by a man in black (Jonas Karlsson) and his bald-headed goons. From this encounter DD will come into the possession of a metal cube, that will make him come to realize some deeper truths about himself and in the end force him to make a choice (yes I know, how very rental backflap-ish of me).

Both original in its own way, and enormously derivative, the easiest way to describe Storm would be as the Swedish Matrix. Here, instead of virtual reality, you have metaphysics. Instead of anime inspirations, you have seventies scif-fi comics. Instead of Yuen Woo Ping pulling wires, you have the spirit of Bergman pulling strings.

Here - instead of the main character having to look into himself so that he can go on to become extraordinary - the main character has to look into himself to find his flaws, so that he can become normal!

I'm sorry, but this last thing is just another one of those aspects of the Swedish mentality which I find so annoying and troubling. Is there any culture that glorifies its self-pity more?

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Still, it might be a step forward. And perhaps it's unfair to still see Bergman's shadow when they are so obviously trying to move away from it.

It is a very pretty film (as you can see from the trailer), with some great sound work (apparently they even recommmended that the sound be turned up extra at theatres) and at least two of the best actors in Sweden (Karlsson and Röse). Ericsson, who plays the main character, might be someone worth looking out for. He does manage to make this initial asshole - who turns out to be even worse later on - somewhat sympathetic towards the end.

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The story does surprise you from time to time, and it has a small Caché-like element to it, considering its title, which I'm not sure if I imagined or not.

I'm sure someone over at AICN is likely to go batshit over it, and have a good run at sci-fi fests the world over. Which it is deserving of.

Recommmended to those who want their sci-fi-fantasy with a bit more depth.


Blogger Chris said...

Interesting, I know we hardly get Swedish films in San Antonio, but a scif-fi matrixy movie might actually find its way.

This is a weird trend though; foreign films trying to break into american audiences by imitating the Matrix. There was Immortal, then Nightwatch, and now Storm.

3/07/2006 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

I'll see it if it ever comes out here.

Speaking of Swedish cinema, Mikael Håfström's Evil (Ondskan) is opening in the US this week, after what, 3-4 years? Any value in that?

3/07/2006 04:51:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Well it's miles ahead of Night Watch, which I hated because of its fucking attention deficiency syndrome. Don't see that one in a theatre, it'll give you a migraine. Very overrated. If they'd slowed it down, given it some mood and some of the stuff going on some much needed explanation from time to time, it could have been fun. It had potential.

All I've heard about Immortel is that it's shit.

But I agree it's a strange trend, and one in which I think they're going the way about it. Although the excellent American production values are a welcome addition, this black-leather vampire trend sweeping Europe mostly isn't. It's like we've been told by the Americans how Europeans are, and now are trying to portray it that way. I like how some of the films try to imprint themselves with a certain national character, but I wish the ambition was higher than horror films.

And Brian, I hated the novel the film Ondskan was based since I was a kid (message: might makes right), and thought the film was a might bit earnest and glossy. In general dislike the director (did Derailed). Can't say I recommend it, unless you like school-bully films.

3/07/2006 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Hmm ... going to Night Watch Thursday night. It's a decision I made with the full knowledge that it'll suck, though. Also, there's not much else playing right now.

3/07/2006 05:19:00 PM  

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