The hunt for happiness is miserable indeed, not least when it involves the seduction of your married neighbour.
Such is the predicament Kaja (Agnes Kittelsen) faces in Anne Sewitsky’s dramedy debut when, weary of her chilly marriage, she cosies up to hunky Sigve (Henrik Rafaelsen).
The ensuing drama is typically Scandinavian in the best way possible – the setting’s beautiful, the tensions slow-burning. Meanwhile, musical interludes courtesy of a barbershop quartet lend a playful undertone.
Sweet but never saccharine, Happy Happy is as delicate as Kaja and just as endearing. 4/5
Via Total Film
1. The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)
It’s a testament to director Ingmar Bergman’s command as a filmmaker that, despite numerous loving pastiches (see Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey), The Seventh Seal remains an imposing, arresting drama flush with startling imagery. Bengt Ekerot as Death is truly something to behold.
2. Let The Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
In a cinematic environment rotten with rubbish vampire flicks, LTROI damn near revolutionised the genre. It may be bloody and savage (and at times downright weird), but it ebbs with an affecting melancholy that lingers long after that watery final scene has delivered its one-two pow-wow.
Read the full article at Grolsch Film Works
Not since the days of Ingmar Bergman (or, alright, Abba) has it been so cool to be Scandinavian. With the popularity of the Millennium novels/films at fever pitch, not to mention well-received genre flicks Rare Exports and Troll Hunter, Scandinavia is definitely making it big in the cinematic arena right now. Its latest offering is Headhunters, a stylish Norwegian mystery (based on the book by Jo Nesbø) that doesn’t exactly break any rules, but is bags of fun anyway.
Featuring everything from grisly car wrecks to speared mutts, Headhunters is as frequently grim as that multi-meaning title suggests. Not that you’d guess as much from the film’s spritely opening scenes. We’re introduced to anti-hero Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie), a status-hungry, anxiety-riddled suit who exploits his role as a corporate headhunter to gain important information that’ll help him in his on-the-side hobby of art-thievery. Except then he rips off the wrong guy in Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game Of Thrones), an ex-military bloodhound who turns Roger from hunter to huntee.
After a fleet-footed and funny opening, Headhunters quickly transforms into a breakneck chase movie. The film’s location-dashing mid-section is often wordless and viscerally involving, mostly thanks to Hennie’s committed turn. It also includes a comically horrible scene where Roger, shall we say, ‘pulls a Slumdog’.
The main problem here, though, is that Headhunters’ mystery is too unwieldy to truly rivet. It’s so bogged down in boring corporate politics that it’s unable to function as the glorified action movie it has every right to be. As a study of a man brought down by his own insecurities, though, it’s often tongue-in-cheek funny, even if tonally director Morten Tyldum seems torn between two different movies. Still, despite its flaws, Headhunters is pacy and engaging. The Scando invasion continues… 3/5
With its big hairy feet planted firmly in two worlds, horror-comedy Troll Hunter strives for both titters and trembles. It’s Norway’s belated answer to The Blair Witch Project, as well as any number of CGI monster movies – a down-and-dirty mock doc shot entirely from the perspective of a hapless crew of student filmmakers. They’re following huntsman Hans (Otto Jespersen), who’s spent his life covertly tracking and killing trolls in western Norway.
As the title suggests, Hans is the star (Jespersen blends John Wayne bravado with Jeff Bridges charisma), but the real pin-ups are the trolls themselves. Stomping, mountainous hell-beasts, they’re part Dahlian nightmare, part something else, divided into different species (Darwin would have a heart attack) and suitably savage in nature.
Less savage is Hunter’s wit. The dry humour works in places (a troll can sniff out a Christian at 10 paces), and writer/director André Øvredal has fun playing around with fairytale mythology. Sadly, the arid nudge-winks only truly come into their own in Hunter’s third act, early jokes either getting lost in translation or simply not hitting their mark.
More successful are Hunter’s shaky-cam action scenes. Thought Blair Witch’s careering camera was difficult to stomach? Hunter pushes the boundaries of topsy-turvy framing to the max – and though Øvredal had a budget that barely scraped the two million pound mark, his film doesn’t scrimp on the thrills. Forest chases, cave stakeouts and one heck of a frosty finale all ensure that Hunter is no troll when it comes to set-pieces.
Last year, newbie director Gareth Edwards took guerrilla filmmaking to new highs with the made-for-peanuts Monsters. Troll Hunter takes the same equation – innocent nobodies minus big production values plus big beasties – and delivers something entirely different. Monsters turned out to be a love story. Troll Hunter turns out to be about hunting trolls; and not much else besides.
Anticipation: The memory of 1986 snorefest Troll is still fresh… 3
Enjoyment: Shaky cam with subtitles might prove too much for some, but the trolls are a towering achievement. 4
In Retrospect: Fun, funny and fearless. Hunt it out if you’re after something different. 3
Via Little White Lies