Tom of Finland (2017)

The images created by Tom of Finland may very well be familiar even if, like me, you know nothing about the artist himself. His drawings have influenced modern culture in many recognisable ways since the middle of the last century, but there is even more to the man that this film seeks to reveal.

In true biopic style, the narrative is hampered slightly by having to or trying to cram a lifetime of work, love, life, happiness, sadness etc into an hour and a half. Time races forward, or a flashback conveys an idea, and the viewer can’t help but wonder if some of the difficulties encountered by the subject in his life have been glanced over simply because it isn’t possible to show or tell everything of note.

And yet, despite racing through 50 years in an hour, the film manages to capture the really significant moments of artistic  success very well indeed. There is a very touching moment when Tom realises just how important his work has been to large groups of people he had never even met before. And the occasional reappearance of Tom’s ‘muse’, Kake, is really well-integrated into the narrative just the right amount and at the correct moments.

For once, a biopic from which I actually learned a lot about its subject.

Jag är Ingrid – Ingrid Bergmann in Her Own Words

I’m not sure why I went to see this – I tend to avoid my favourite actors on chat shows, in interviews or just being themselves because I’m so often disappointed, and the myth has been shattered. I’d rather just see their work on the screen, which is why I like them in the first place.

I guess I was hoping to learn more about the Hollywood background or the making of her films, but as her daughter Isabella Rossellini comments, her personal letters, diaries and home video are all about her family. And one of the main things we learn is that she was hardly ever with her children, preferring instead to do precisely what she wanted – take whichever job she wanted, marry the men she wanted, move to the country she wanted – without appearing to realise that, as the mother of four, sometimes you can’t do exactly what you want when there are young lives reliant on you.

And this may be heresy, but Alicia Vikander didn’t do the film any favours. She was ‘playing’ Bergman, in that she was reading the letters the actress had written to narrate the events depicted. But her delivery was so monotone and without emotion that I was starting to yawn.

Had this been on BBC4 on a Saturday evening, I would have been OK with it, but I’m not convinced it deserved a theatrical release.

A version of this post appeared on http://www.filmdispenser.com/

Det borde finnas regler – There should be rules

As a rule, I avoid anything which has the tag ‘coming of age’ – I don’t want my leisure time to be filled with precocious teenagers.

And while there is an element of that with one of the friends, Mia – who takes centre stage – is fortunately more interesting than this and is played very competently by 14 year old Anna Hägglin.

As you would expect in a film featuring three teenagers, the adults in their lives are usually absent or messed up, but the fact that the young people themselves aren’t miraculously perfect helps this film a lot.

Force Majeure

A film which challenges our own view of ourselves. We probably have an idea of how we think we would react in extreme circumstances, but until we are actually put in that position, most of us will probably never know.

And when you discover yourself to be a very different person from the one both you and those around you thought you were, where does that leave your relationships?

With some wryly funny moments and stunning cinematography, this film places this scenario on the table and opens up a whole can of worms. It’s uncomfortable more than funny, and asks a whole bunch of awkward questions.

En duva satt på en gren och funderade på tillvaron – A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

At times very funny, at times sad, and at times quite horrific, this surreal film is … well, surreal!

There is much that does make the viewer reflect on existence, on aspects of humanity, on death and life. It uses a bland, washed-out colour palette which matches the dead-pan delivery of much of the dialogue, and plays up the monotony and desperation of most of the protagonists. Reflecting on life, it seems, is serious business.

I certainly didn’t understand it, but I was entertained.

The Salvation

Beautiful Mads Mikkelsen straps on a holster, loads up his Winchester and primes his cheekbones for a showdown with the guy who done killed his family.

It has some gorgeous visuals which make it a pleasure to watch, but beyond that it’s actually a formulaic revenge Western with one-dimensional characters, predictable plot and some minimalistic growled dialogue.

But hey, Mads Mikkelsen.

Kvinden i buret – The Keeper of Lost Causes

As a fan of the many Nordic Noir television series which have been screened via our telly boxes these last few years, I enjoyed this film very much.  There’s the twisty turny plot, misty connections between characters, and car journeys through pine forests. It had one of the darkest plot lines, and as for tension – it came in bucket loads.

Despite, or maybe because of all this though, I can’t help but feel that it really belonged on BBC4 on a Saturday evening, rather than on a cinema screen.

Perhaps I’m just used to having my Scandinoir delivered directly to my sofa, so that venturing forth to seek it out seemed a bit over the top.

But I do have a positive reason for wanting it on my TV, too, and that’s the developing relationship between the broken, middle-aged cop and his enthusiastic, young, Asian partner. They are great together, and I’m keen to see more of them. It appears that there are some TV episodes featuring them which have been made subsequently and so I hope we’ll have access to them in the future.

Preferably on the telly.