NEWS: JULY 2020

07.18.20:

Here are some interesting tidbits from a 2016 interview with Stellan;

What's your home like?

SS: I live in Stockholm, the southern part. It’s a former working-class area, and now it’s more of a hipster area. A lot of artists live there. It’s the most fun part of Stockholm. We’re in a beautiful old 1908 apartment with a lot of life.

If you could own one work of art for your home, what would it be?

SS: Oh, there are too many to pick one. It’s like asking me for a favorite color. I cannot say which is my favorite color.

What about music? Is there anything that’s been playing in your house as of late?

SS: We are playing all kinds of new stuff. My wife listens to a lot of jazz music. I have kids that listen to some horrible stuff. You have to let them enjoy it—even if it’s very terrible.

What is the best-designed set you’ve ever worked on?

SS: There was something old Hollywood about "Cinderella" (2015). They built everything: the ballroom, the castle rooms. The costumes were fantastic. Cinderella’s blue dress is probably the most incredible dress I’ve ever seen. The pure aesthetics of that film were fascinating. It was very beautiful.

What do you keep on your bedside table?

SS: Books. Right now, I’m reading a book called "Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945" by Tony Judt. He was a historian in Europe and has written several beautiful books. He died of ALS a few years ago. This is a fantastic book, mainly about Europe, but about history after World War II. It’s really good knowledge to have in these dire times when we see the extreme right and the extreme left sort of popping up again.  [My husband also read this book and thought it was excellent.]

What was the best movie prop you’ve gotten to take home?

SS: ome people save their scripts or the back of their chairs or something, but I don’t. I think I have too much, anyway. I want to have as few possessions as possible.

Do you have a favorite architectural site that stuns you every time you see it?

SS: I stay at the Bowery Hotel whenever I’m in New York, and I’m really happy to see the Chrysler Building every night when I go to bed.

That Chrysler Building is absolutely stunning in the evening. Many years ago I spent a July 4th weekend in a high-rise apartment in the Turtle Bay section of Manhattan. Outside our bedroom window was a close-up view of the art deco building all lit up in the night sky. So beautiful!

I'm fortunate that I'm only 90 miles north of the Big Apple  and whenever I visit, I definitely feel exhilarated. Love the energy! When filming "Return to Montauk", Stellan commented, "Every time I land at JFK, I get palpitations and my heart rate goes faster. This surge of adrenaline does not subside before my departure. We are tainted by the energy of this city. It affects almost everyone. Having New York as a setting is very special. We see it in so many films. We have all these images in mind even without having been there. The Empire State Building, yellow taxis..."

Fan art featuring Valter, Gustaf & Bill, and Alex:

07.13.20:

When Stellan was recently asked by journalist Joseph Owens if he was tired of defending the "ethical value" of the films of Lars Von Trier, Stellan firmly replied, "No. I don't have any ethical problems with Lars von Trier's films at all. That's not a problem. You have problems with the perceptions of them when he's accused of being misogynistic. No one has written as many fantastic roles for women as he has, and he is those women! He’s not very good at writing male roles though, which I have suffered from but, of course, if you mean that if you don’t portray a woman as a heroine, who is all-good, all-smart and strong, then that’s misogyny, then you’re in trouble."

In another interview, Stellan is asked if he feels like a star. No surprise, he responds, "No! I hate red carpets, getting into uncomfortable suits, parading in front of the paparazzi lens. For friends, I am Skarsan. And for actors, an ordinary work colleague, a normal guy."

And his thoughts on the pandemic - "All my film projects were canceled by the end of the year... The world will never be the same again. Finally, people will realize how vulnerable they are regardless of whether they are rich or poor, educated or illiterate." And what about the film industry? Stellan explains, "European independent cinema has always had to fight for its survival, so it is hardened and I believe that it will survive, although the number of non-commercial cinemas may decrease. Certainly multiplexes will do better. Despite the dismissed premieres, great super-productions will somehow manage. And certainly the biggest winners are and will be streaming platforms. They are just recording huge customer growth. Anyway, when the epidemic is over, people will want to go back to theaters. Only it takes some time for them to feel relatively safe again."

OUT STEALING HORSES (Ut og stjaele hester), directed by Hans Peter Moland and starring Stellan, is set to be released in American theaters and VOD on August 7. I love these Nordic dramas!

This adaptation of Per Petterson’s 2003 novel of the same name made Time magazine’s list of the Top 10 Fiction Books of 2007 and The New York Times’ 10 Best Fiction Books of 2007 list as well. The film itself was also Norway’s representative for Best Foreign Film at this year’s Oscars but missed out on being nominated. It has its international premiere at the Berlin Film Festival last year.

This is an excellent intro to the film - "Summer is special, especially in one's years leading up to adulthood. School break aside, it's the ideal time for growth and exploration. Lifeguarding at the neighborhood pool or cashiering at a grocery store sets the foundation for a solid work ethic. Spending more time with someone you really care about lets love’s experience into the heart to—hopefully—flourish. Even the leisurely drives with all the windows rolled down shows how much more of the world is out there to take in. It's that season of the blazing sun that forms much of the backdrop for 'Out Stealing Horses.'"

07.07.20:

I have created a special page for eldest son Alexander. Among the photos I have posted are several from his ads for Clarks, the British-based, international shoe manufacturer and retailer. Alex has been featured in both the Autumn/Winter 2019 and Spring/Summer 2020 campaigns. His quote is "Comfort is coming home." How true! On recalling his first pair of Clark Desert Boots, Alex said: "The Gallagher brothers of Oasis wore them, so naturally I had to get a pair. I remember thinking they looked too clean when I got them, so I asked my dad to run over them with his car. He went back and forth a bunch of times, so they’d look aged and worn." What a good father!

We know that Stellan is a foodie, but did you know he had a couple kitchens built that he designed himself? He admits having an aesthetic interest and says, "A kitchen has to work for me. I've never wanted something that looked like it was 'designed'. I mix styles and time periods to make them look as if they have been there forever but have been changed and improved gradually. That gives a kitchen a very personal feeling. They don’t look like an architect who doesn’t care has drawn them. A home, to me, has to breathe and express the people living in it. It’s about more than just aesthetics."

But does he build it himself? He says, "No, I just design it. I am really lousy with building. I’ve tried. I wanted to build some beautiful outdoor furniture in oak with a slightly Japanese design, very simple and very delicate. It took me forever to build it. Oak is hard to work with. Three weeks after it was finished it turned out that the oak hadn’t been aged enough, so it started to bend and everything fell apart. I gave away all my tools to my more able brother."

Several years ago Stellan's wife Megan did a bunch of food videos. I have no idea if the kitchen she used was her own so I can't say that it was a "Stellan" design. However, do note that the stove is placed almost against a wall, not allowing the proper space to work in to the right. A "no-no" in my kitchen design!

It seems plausible that Megan is just as much a foodie as her husband. Stellan was asked was he a self-taught cook or did he use cookbooks. He replied, "I learned from my parents. Both my father and my mother cooked a lot. But I have a huge collection of cookbooks. I read cookbooks, and some things I just invent myself. Usually I start by trying somebody's recipe." When he's off on location, he reports, "I try to pick up as much as I can of the local cuisine.  I always eat what they cook in the country I’m in." He says when he's home he does a lot of Italian because it's pure. He adds, "I also love doing French because I love making stocks. I have in my freezer chicken stock, beef stock, veal stock, and others that I’ve made, so I can always make a good sauce." In his retirement, maybe Stellan could equally excel at doing a cooking show on Swedish TV with Megan.

07.05.20:

Most people recognize "A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man" as being the work of Irish writer James Joyce. However, if you drop the "A", in Swedish, it reads "Porträtt av en konstnär som ung man" and now you have a Dramaten stage production with solo performance by Stellan.  Personally, I think the title is a rip-off and makes for too much confusion. Sweden's production was written by Per-Verner-Carlsson, whose play is based on a August Strindberg letter written as a youth. It premiered on May 14, 1981 and had 16 performances. The first photo shows Stellan on stage in a rather bizarre costume. The second photo was taken at Riksradion (National Radio) with Stellan doing a reading of his role on Sunday, January 20, 1985.

It was 1996 when Danish director Lars von Trier's haunting masterpiece "Breaking the Waves" premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Starring Stellan and Emily Watson, the film was a smashing success.

Twenty years later, it premiered as an opera at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater in Philadelphia. The controversial director’s fable about a woman told to sleep with other men by her paralyzed husband is a work of extreme emotions so it adapted well to an orchestra, a chorus and heart-rendering arias. Back in 2016, Librettist Royce Vavrek  told the press he was 14 living in Canada when he first encountered the film - "I saw it at the 1997 Golden Globe Awards when they showed a scene where Jan asks Bess to take up other lovers. It just blew my mind... I found Lars von Trier to be this master storyteller. I just loved his audacity. 'Breaking the Waves' is something I’ve been carrying with me for 20 years." The opera was the recipient of the 2017 award for “Best New Opera” by the Music Critics Association of North America.

The following year it premiered at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in NYC. In 2019 it had its West Coast premiere in Oakland, CA with West Edge Opera and it will again be performed on the West Coast at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles from February 27 to March 21, 2021.

07.03.20:

Today I've added the TV page for RAPPORT TILL HIMLEN ("Report to Heaven"). While compiling info on this 1994 Swedish mini-TV series, I noted it was written and directed by Ulf Malmros, a name I immediately recognized. I have seen three of his other films -"Min så kallade pappa", "Smala Sussie" and "Bröllopsfotografen". He definitely has a quirky sense of humor and this fantasy-like series sounds like a cross between "Twin Peaks" and the "I see dead people" film "The Sixth Sense".

The story starts out with Victor (played by Johan Widerberg) drowning and apparently dead for 12 minutes. Later he begins to see dead people. He meets Anna (Lina England), who has been the victim of a serial killer. In order for her to enter heaven, she must find her killer and then fill out a report. However, not everyone wants her to go to heaven. Stellan takes on the unpleasant role of a nasty police officer called Gary. Ulf Malmros himself has said that the series was a project he is most satisfied with.  SVT did not request any control over the script, recording or editing so that gave him the artistic freedom he wanted. The series is available on DVD in Sweden and some clips can be viewed at youtube.com.

The Skarsgård men on the cover of Swedish magazine Café -

07.01.20:

After garnering rave reviews from critics and audiences on the festival circuit for the past nine months, IFC Films has finally set a theatrical and VOD release date for the Czech black-and-white war drama THE PAINTED BIRD this month. The film is set to hit select theaters, drive-ins, digital platforms and VOD on July 17.

The photo below was taken during the 43rd edition of Sweden's Göteborg Film Festival in January when the film was screened. During a conversation with the festival's artistic director, Stellan said, "It was absolutely impossible to get financing for such a film which is a traditional arthouse film but the director Vaclav Marhoul succeeded. He filmed it for two years... and it is like the old cinematic masterpiece of Eastern Europe. Black and white and wide screen. Almost no dialogue. It is cinematic storytelling and it is fantastic."

 

   

 

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