couple days ago I read an excellent article from the Flickering Myth web
site called "Brooding, Stark, Cold and Dark: The Beauty of Nordic
Cinema". Journalist Tom Jolliffe writes that every cinematic nation
tends to have a particular forte, or a period in time very distinct for
creative output that sees them produce work unique to them. He
continues, "In terms of Nordic cinema, each individual nation, Sweden,
Denmark, Iceland, Finland and Norway certainly have unique
eccentricities of their own, but there’s an overriding consistency
between much of the best works of each. The region shares much of the
same atmosphere and cold winters, so often a backdrop in the films
(especially thrillers). Likewise, there’s a distinct leaning to
introspective characters and oodles of repression."
One of the
films Jolliffe discusses is "In Order of
Disappearance" (Kraftidioten, 1994), starring Stellan and
directed by Hans Petter Moland.
black comedic thriller has all those great traits. There are swathes
of repression lingering between characters, or felt by them
individually. Additionally, another specialty of many Nordic films
is a uniquely macabre sense of humor that permeates this film
particularly well. Skarsgård,
like so many Nordic leads, is a character of few words, and has
reached a point of explosive reactions as he dishes out revenge, one
by one, working his way through the criminal organization who killed
his son. Again, it’s a slow burn, very deliberate. The town, the
conditions, the look of everything plays such a big part. The
settings are so important in these films, as they create specific
conditions for the character to exist within, and they shape the
character and the story."
The film was remade last year
as "Cold Pursuit" for American audiences (who dislike subtitles) with
Liam Neeson seeking revenge in Colorado. Rather than let Hollywood screw
up this remake, Hans Petter Moland once more directed this story. On the
Tomato Meter, it scored 69% versus the Norwegian version which
rightfully deserved 86%. The director brought some of his regular
collaborators with him on "Cold Pursuit", including cinematographer
Philip Øgaard, his costume designer and a few stunt performers. But he
relished the novelty of making things anew. Moland told the press, "The
chance to work with Liam was interesting, and making the film for a
whole different audience who hadn’t seen the original and transplant it
to a new culture was fun."
a beautiful new photo of Stellan and Megan taken at the London premiere
of "Mamma Mia 2" on July 16, 2018.
an awesome site called "Pajiba" created by several established
journalists who contribute on various subjects including film. The
other day Petr Knava wrote an article called, "1998's 'RONIN'
is a Stone-Cold Classic and I Love Every Little Thing About It." Such a
clever read! He starts off by saying, "'Ronin' is a masterpiece. A
sorely underappreciated action gem from a time before CGI took over
everything. And I love every little thing about it."
describing the characters played by Robert DeNiro, Jean Reno, Natasha
McElhone and Sean Bean, he states that the film also "features a
beautifully sweaty and sinister Stellan Skarsgård
as the man whose name everybody in the film just loves to pronounce:
Gregor. Everyone in 'Ronin' gets a chance at saying 'Gregor' at least a
few times. And they all have a whale of a time getting every possible
permutation of feeling out of it. Gregor and Gregor! and Gregor?! and
Gregorrr and Grregor and G R E G O R. Everyone just has a blast. I love
every little thing about this damn film."
I totally agree with Knava's
analysis including -
"I love all the market stalls that
get destroyed in the crazy car chases through small French streets. A
glorious cinematic tradition! I love the French sirens during the
chases. I love the fact that it ends as it begins, with De Niro
wandering through the dark, vertiginous streets of Montmartre... I love
every little thing about 'Ronin.'"
You can read the whole article
at this link. Enjoy!
week Broadway World announced that Stellan would be a guest voice on
Fox's "The Simpsons" on the 11/15 episode. True, the show has
remained one of the most groundbreaking entertainment
franchises, recognizable throughout the world, but I
am proud to say that over the past 30 years, I have never seen even one
episode. I don't know if this is supposed to be Stellan's character but
it looks like his nose.
the second Sunday in November, Swedes celebrate Father's Day. So,
how does Stellan rate himself as a father. In a recent interview, he
replied, "You should probably ask my children. [laughs]. When they were
young, I shared my ex-wife's house chores. In the intervals between
films, I bathed & changed the children, prepared meals, played with
them, put them to sleep. I have been both father and mother. And I loved
it. I didn't think it was a chore. And today, when my sons are adults, I
like to just sit with them in front of the TV and watch a good football
match or some sporting event. I think that above all I always gave my
children a lot of freedom. Because this is their life, not mine. These
are their choices, their decisions. I have never been a perfect father
and I still am not. I did not hide my faults from them. They saw that
sometimes I was angry with something, that I was wrong, that I was
unjust. I did not always have time for them. However, I never
deliberately cheated them. I did not lie. The most important thing in
all this is mutual respect of parents and children. I respected their
opinions, also those with which I disagreed, and thanks to that they
also accepted what I was saying, not as a compulsion to do something,
but as advice that they could accept or reject. I just asked them to
think about what I was saying. I never expected self-respect just
because I'm a parent."
hope you enjoyed a glad fars dag!
regard to the 2021 Oscars, the annual ceremony has been postponed
and will take place in Los Angeles on April 25th. As reported last week,
HOPE will battle films from around the
world to be included on the shortlist of ten films and then hopefully become one of
the five nominees. Most recently, 92 films were submitted.
added new material today. The film page for the 1993 film
(THE SLINGSHOT) has now been completed. This coming-of-age tale was
written by Swedish inventor Roland Schutt in 1989.
Not until his late 70s did Schutt sit down to write his vivid
memories of childhood during the 1920s in Stockholm.
His novel took
Sweden by storm and became a best seller. The book also captured the imagination of filmmaker
who adapted it for the screen and ultimately directed the film.
Sandgren said, "Schutt's novel is brimming with ideas. The
movie is my interpretation of what I felt when I read the book. That's always the way it
is - a direct translation isn't possible. The world described in the book appeals to
me... There is a terrific vitality in this story and an undertone of absurdity that really
turned me on. The existential questions we formulate during prepubescence are important
throughout our lives."
It opened to positive reviews in the U.S. in April 1994.
Film critic James Berardinelli called it "a
wonderful mix of tragedy, humor, and triumph." while
AllMovie critic Clarke Fountain described it
as an "affectionate, richly detailed portrait".
29th Guldbagge Awards the film won the award for Best Film.
Åke Sandgren was nominated for both Best Director and Best
Screenplay, while Basia Frydman was nominated for Best Actress.
The film was the Swedish submission to the 66th Academy Awards
for Best Foreign Language Film, but did not receive a nomination.
Here's a photo from the film's publicity shoot with Basia and Stellan.
It was somewhat of a coincidence that on April 23,
1989, at the Södra Teatern in Stockholm,
Norstedt publishers featured six new books with readings by their authors. Stellan
stood in and read poems for Maria Larsson who couldn't attend. Also
present was 76-year-old Roland Schutt, who read from his book "Kadisbellan".
Who would guess that three years later Stellan would be cast in the
screen adaptation of that book!
Here's a photo of Stellan with his makeup artist.
Hardy is to lead an all-star cast of the Vietnam War movie "The
Things They Carried", which also includes Tye Sheridan, Stephan
James, Bill Skarsgård, Pete
Davidson and Ashton Sanders. Rupert Sanders is directing the feature
that is based on Tim O'Brien's acclaimed collection of stories about a
group of young soldiers and their experience on the front line during
the Vietnam War. Rupert says, "I am so excited about the cast we have
put together – we have not seen this many young stars from different
backgrounds sharing the screen since the days of 'Platoon' and 'The
Norwegian Film Institute has selected Maria Sødahl's cancer drama
HOPE to represent them for the Oscar nominations. Norway has been
perpetually overshadowed by Sweden and Denmark in terms of the cinema so
this is exciting news.
nominations for the 33rd European Film Awards have just
been announced and they include two films with Stellan.
THE PAINTED BIRD was
nominated for Best Film and HOPE
received two nominations - one for Maria Sødahl as Best
Director and one for Andrea Braein
Hovig as Best Actress. The ceremony was scheduled to be
presented in Reykjavík, Iceland on
December 12, 2020. However, due to the pandemic, there will be a
virtual ceremony without an audience, broadcast and streamed
from Berlin on that date.
When "Hope" was released in Sweden
last Friday, it was renamed "Living on Hope" (Leva på hoppet),
which both Stellan and the director disliked. It appears that
the film was well received. Here are a couple reviews. Rasmus
Torstensson of Filmtopp.se writes, "Just like with the best
directors, it is clear that Sødahl has something important to
say with the film, that there is something beautiful. In
addition, she also manages to get the most out of her actors.
Stellan Skarsgård and Andrea Bræin Honvig completely excel.
There is incredibly credible chemistry between them. Skarsgård
has the more toned-down role where he portrays every little
nuance in Tomas with bravura."
And Sofia Olsson, SVT.se writes,
"At the center of these well-designed scenes is always an almost
alchemical reaction between the main characters Andrea Braein
Hovig and Stellan Skarsgård. They are good individually,
together they are unbearably captivating. This does not
necessarily mean cheering them on as a romantic couple, but as
human beings. Lost, kind-hearted and imperfect. In the film's
best scene, time stops when these two just look at each other
for a long time, bravely and completely silently. It is the
film's blackest hole and most shining star at the same time."
Atlantic published an article the other day called "Why British
Police Shows are Better". Journalist Christopher Orr believes
the British detective story is enjoying a golden age
unparalleled since the days of Agatha Christie or perhaps even
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He writes, "When you take away guns and
shootings, you have more time to explore grief, guilt, and the
psychological complexity of crime. While American viewers shake
off the hangover from our long bender of forensic TV franchises,
Britain has been doing a booming export business in tidy,
ruminative detective series."
such series in RIVER. Orr
continues, "At times, British crime shows can seem quaint to an
American viewer. The tragic incident that kicks off the
excellent miniseries 'River' starring the magnificent Stellan
Skarsgård and, as his partner, 'Unforgotten’s' Walker would
hardly cause a stir on a show on this side of the Atlantic; on
'River', it creates a use-of-force issue. Skarsgård, on foot and
unarmed, chases a suspect who makes an unsuccessful leap from a
balcony and falls to his death. This will be treated not only as
a police scandal, but as a genuine ethical quandary. Did the cop
really have to chase this suspect? Couldn’t he have waited for
Ventures has acquired worldwide rights to G-Hey Kim’s horror
film "Don’t Click" starring Valter Skarsgård.
The feature premiered in August at the U.K.'s FrightFest. Valter
plays 21-year-old Josh, who returns from a late night out to
find college roommate Zane has gone missing. All that remains is
his laptop with the screen flashing. As the flashing
intensifies, Josh blacks out only to suddenly wake up beside
Zane in a dank, surreal cellar with no apparent way out.
Director Kim was asked about casting Valter and if she had seen
him in "Lords of Chaos". She replied, "I hadn't seen the film
before his name was brought up during the casting meeting but
after I had seen his work, I was convinced that he would be
perfect for the role of Josh. We sent the script off to his
agency and we were all incredibly pleased when word got back
that he was interested. It was a huge relief because he was
definitely the right person for the job."
film, which also stars Mark Koufos and Catherine Howard, will be
released in select theaters and on demand on December 11, 2020.
16 years ago, I came across a September 2004 cover of
SCANORAMA, an inflight courtesy magazine of Scandinavian
Airlines. The title was ""Swedish actor Stellan
Skarsgård chilling in a limo on Lidingö outside Stockholm."
It goes on to say that "he is as close as Sweden comes to an
A-list Hollywood actor." The next two photos come from a 2006
issue. Stellan's leap in the air reminds me of his co-star
Meryl Streep jumping on her bed in "Mamma Mia".
While I was googling "Scanorama"
to find any other issues, I came across the Scanorama Film
Festival in Lithuania. They were screening "In Order of
Disappearance" last year in October.
Since the HBO series
"Chernobyl" was partly filmed in Lithuania, Stellan is fondly
remembered by those from Vilnius. From the Scanorama web site -
"A pleasant, always good-natured, friendly, Swedish star actor
without stellar pride has become a favorite of our city. He also
does not spare good words when talking about our country,
Lithuanian film professionals, with whom he had to work, and as
a solid gourmet, he does not forget to praise good Vilnius
Scanorama, which has shown all of Hans
Petter Moland's films, invited both
Stellan and Hans to attend the festival but their intense
schedules prevented them from coming, so a long-distance
phone call to Stellan was made. A well-known voice was heard
from the screen at Scanorama's office on the agreed day and
hour. This is some of their conversation:
Q: You are a
world-renowned actor, often living on an airplane for
professional employment. What does home mean to you? And where
does Stellan Skarsgård
feel at home?
SS: In fact, I travel three to four
months a year. I spend the rest of my time at home with my
family in Sweden, so the concept of home is pretty clear to me.
Q: Do you feel
Swedish or do you consider yourself a global citizen in a global
space? Is the concept of the Homeland as your country important
SS: I feel both a citizen of the world
and a Swede. These two identities coexist in me without
experiencing much conflict. I grew up in Sweden, my family lives
here, Swedish culture has grown into my blood. Cinema opens up a
world and a wider horizon for me. I work with people of
different nationalities. I travel to
foreign countries. These experiences complement each other and
Q: In H. P.
Moland's latest film "Stealing Horses", your character hides
from the world and only realizes the past and feels relief. Do
you have this condition yourself?
SS: The main
character in the film, Tronde, and I have nothing in common. He
is haunted by a childhood trauma that I have not experienced. My
childhood was very happy. Reflections on the past, however, are
common to every aging person. It’s a way to perceive yourself
Q: You film all over the world.
also filmed in Lithuania. What image of our country did you take
SS: I spent half the summer in
Lithuania filming the series
"Chernobyl". The creative team was
very professional. I enjoyed the beautiful nature, great people
and good restaurants - good food is very important to me.
super photo of Stellan
and Megan at the Emmy Awards last year. Note the different
earring in each ear on Megan. Is that fashionable these days?
Independent announced that a new study has named the 2019
historical drama CHERNOBYL
as the most addictive TV series of all time. A study conducted
by Enders Analysis has named the top 20 TV shows that British
viewers were most likely to watch from beginning to end. The
five-part mini-series was a co-production between HBO and Sky
UK. Love this drawing of Stellan and Jared Harris.
"Breaking Bad" would have topped the U.S. list!
graced the cover last month of Italy's L'oumo Vogue
magazine and discussed his latest project - "The Northman",
Robert Eggers’s highly anticipated third film, a "Viking revenge
story" that Alex himself was crucial in bringing to production.
When he met Eggers a few years ago, he discovered the director
was a huge fan of Viking culture and of that historical era, so
he immediately felt he would be the perfect guy to direct this
movie. Together they found an author and poet in Iceland, Sjón,
who came onboard to write the screenplay. Production in Northern
Ireland began in August after being delayed for months due to
In the article, Alex is
referred to as "a really, really nice man.
A Swede through and through, Alexander, or Alex, is a very
down-to-earth gentleman who could definitely act as more of a
big shot, considering he is also one of the most interesting
actors in Hollywood right now." The 43-year-old should make his