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Celluloid Fun - An eclectic blog of arthouse and independent films with some mainstream movies.

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Screen Scandinavia by Linh

Norwegian Nonpareil


Norwegian poster artwork for the film Pioneer/Pionér.


Norwegian director and writer Erik Skjoldbjaerg’s (Insomnia, Prozac Nation) most recent film Pioneer is in the early development stages for an American re-make with George Clooney attached as a producer. Skjoldbjaerg’s original Norwegian version has hit and miss aspects yet is still a compelling drama thriller. The film is inspired by true events where the discovery of large oil and gas resources at the bottom of the North Sea in the 1970s, sparked a collaborative effort between Norway and America to establish underwater pipelines to transport the oil ashore.

Pioneer/Pionér is set in the late 1970s and early 1980s, opening with archival footage of oil being discovered off the Norwegian coast. As Norway do not have experienced deep-sea divers and technicians to do the task of testing the seabed for underwater pipeline construction, an American team are brought over to train the Norwegians. US deep-sea divers Mike (Wes Bentley), Ronald (Jonathan LaPaglia) and supervisor Ferris (Stephen Lang) arrive to train the Norwegian team which includes brothers Petter (Aksel Hennie) and Knut (Andreas Eriksen). After the teams undergo a series of tests and exercises, an actual dive into the North Sea is organised. Unfortunately, Knut loses oxygen during the dive and Petter is unable to resuscitate him. Petter is determined to seek the truth behind his brother’s death, which leads him on a dangerous path involving distrust between Norway and the United States, corrupt oil company executives and government cover-ups.

Pioneer has a brilliant first half which creates a claustrophobic feel for the underwater scenes and adds some humour to the training and testing sessions. The second half moves the action away from the sea to land where Petter, a solid performance from Aksel Hennie, is using old style methods (no Internet or any twenty-first century technology) like breaking and entering, to investigate why nobody took responsibility for his brother’s death and no safety measures were in place for the diving team. Overall, this film is akin to an old-style 1970s conspiracy thriller with many questions left unanswered, which might frustrate audiences accustomed to more fast-paced and spoon-fed action thrillers that Hollywood serves up. Hopefully, George Clooney produces something equally good or better for the American re-make.


Norwegian poster artwork for the film Ballet Boys/Ballettguttene.

Norwegian director and producer Kenneth Elvebakk (Den hemmelige klubben/The Secret Club, Et positivt liv/ A Positive Life) is primarily known as a documentary film-maker but has also produced work for radio and television. Elvebakk’s latest documentary feature is Ballet Boys/Ballettguttene, which follows three teenage boys over a period of four years as they train, study and audition to fulfill their dreams of becoming a professional ballet dancer on the international stage. Audiences may be familiar with Stephen Daldry’s successful film Billy Elliot, about a British boy who became a ballet dancer, yet this documentary takes ballet dancing and the artistry and technique of dance performance to greater extremes and higher intensities.

The teenagers in the seventy-five minute film are Lukas Bjřrneboe Brćndsrřd, Syvert Lorenz Garcia and Torgeir Lund. The three teenage boys’ experiences, anxieties and struggles are on display as they enter the competitive world of ballet. Their friendships and alliances change, become fragmented or strengthen as they each enter various stages of success or failure in their pursuit of a dance career. Lukas, Syvert and Torgeir train together at the Norwegian Ballet School and they are aware that ballet is frequently associated with “girls in pointed shoes and pink tutus” yet they see masculine aspects to ballet dancing. The three boys make sacrifices in their young lives such as not hanging out with their friends, not having girlfriends and spending almost every spare moment training and performing. All three boys compete with and against each other in front of panels of judges for the chance to enter the National Academy of Arts in Oslo. One day, Lukas unexpectedly receives an offer to audition for the Royal Ballet School in London and it could be the ultimate opportunity for his ballet career.

This documentary may appear to be like a reality television show without the commercial breaks, yet there is more depth and substance in this film that covers issues of identity, gender, family and friendships. It also has a coming-of-age aspect where audiences can see how the three young teenagers become young men who juggle their personal lives with intense dance training for a career that may not eventuate.

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Screen Scandinavia by Linh

Icelandic Intrigue

Icelandic poster artwork for the film Metalhead/Málmhaus.

Metalhead/Málmhaus is written and directed by acclaimed Icelandic film-maker Ragnar Bragason and is a film about youth, identity, grief, family and community which are all tied together with the pulsating beats of heavy metal music. The film begins on a farm in rural Iceland, where a twelve year old girl named Hera (Diljá Valsdóttir) witnesses the accidental death of her older brother Baldur. Hera blames herself and deals with her grief by turning away from religion and towards heavy metal music. Hera adopts her brother’s love of heavy metal music and even wears his black leather jacket as a way for her to remember him. When Hera is in her early twenties (Thorbjörg Helga Thorgilsdóttir), she is still grieving and has become obsessed with heavy metal. Hera’s bedroom wall is covered with posters of 1970s heavy metal bands, heavy metal is continuously blasting from her cassette player and she is often seen walking around listening to heavy metal on her Walkman. She wears only black and dreams of forming her own heavy metal band. Hera taught herself to play heavy metal music on her brother’s guitar and her behaviour gradually becomes more erratic. Her parents Karl (Ingvar Eggert Sigurössen) and Droplaug (Halldóra Geirharösdóttir) are still grief-stricken and coping in silence as the farming community attempt to help them overcome Baldur’s death to move on with their lives. The arrival of a new priest named Janus (Sveinn Ólafur Gunnarsson) is not as one expects and Hera’s childhood friend Knútur (Hannes Óli Ágústsson), who still has a crush on her, returns with intentions to marry her. Metalhead is beautifully filmed, capturing the glorious beauty of rural Iceland from its snow-topped mountains to the misty-aired atmosphere of Iceland’s weather. The cast, particularly Thorbjörg Helga Thorgilsdóttir as Hera, is fantastic and the story’s universal themes will resonate with all audiences.

Icelandic poster artwork for the film Spooks and Spirits/Ófeigur Gengur Aftur.

There are not too many comedies in the schedule for the Scandinavian Film Festival, but Spooks and Spirits/Ófeigur Gengur Aftur is a ghost-haunting supernatural comedy film about a spirit who refuses to have his home sold and his relationship issues with a family member left unresolved. In the film, thirty-something actress Anna (Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir) has recently buried her father Ófeigur (Laddi) and has inherited his house. She and her boyfriend Ingi (Gísli Örn Garđarsson) plan to sell the house to move into a bigger and newer house in the suburbs. However, Ófeigur returns as a spirit and continues with his womanising and drinking while he scares away potential buyers. Ingi suggests an exorcism, but it goes awry and awakens Ófeigur’s jealous former lover (Elva Ósk Ólafsdóttir). The former lovers’ incessant bickering and quarrelling become unbearable for Anna and Ingi, but the situation gets worse when Ófeigur goes too far with his womanising ways. This film is written, directed and co-stars Ágúst Guđmundsson and was a box-office success in Iceland. The film bears all the trademarks of 1980s supernatural comedies in the vein of Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice and High Spirits, yet this film has many references to Icelandic culture and the special effects are simplistically effective.


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Poster artwork for Australia's 2014 inaugural Scandinavian Film Festival.

Screen Scandinavia by Linh

Over the past decades, Australian audiences have been treated to a diverse array of films from the Scandinavian regions such as Sweden’s Let The Right One In, The Millennium trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest), the Finnish film Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, Danish films The Hunt, A Royal Affair and Dancer In The Dark, Iceland’s Children of Nature and Norwegian film Kon-Tiki. A film festival celebrating Scandinavian screen culture has been long overdue in Australia, hence Australia’s arthouse cinemas will present the inaugural Scandinavian Film Festival in July this year.

Most audiences are familiar with certain Scandinavian directors such as Danish film-makers Susanne Bier (In A Better World, Brothers) and Lars von Trier (Melancholia, Breaking The Waves), Sweden’s Ingmar Bergman (Fanny and Alexander, The Virgin Spring) or Norwegian film-maker Liv Ullmann (Miss Julie, Kristin Lavransdatter). However, the inaugural Scandinavian Film Festival will introduce Australian audiences to some lesser known, long-established directors and up-and-coming, contemporary film-makers whose works are inspired by and sometimes emulate the great Scandinavian directors of the past.

In 2014’s film selection, there are twenty-one Scandinavian films from Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden for audiences to enjoy. Some have won awards from their own country while also gaining recognition from prestigious international film festivals. Some of the films have not won any awards but have earned box-office success due to their wide appeal and audience support. The inaugural Scandinavian Film Festival has no closing night film event, but there is the opening night film The 100 Year-old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared and a special event screening of Waltz For Monica.

Swedish Selection

Swedish poster artwork for the film The 100 Year-old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared/Hundraĺringen Som Klev Ut Genom Fönstret Och Försvann.


The 100 Year-old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared/Hundraĺringen Som Klev Ut Genom Fönstret Och Försvann is a film adaptation of the book by Swedish author Jonas Jonasson and directed by Felix Herngren. It is an adventure comedy about an elderly man named Allan Karlsson who is still mentally alert and physically fit despite his age. When Allan is soon to turn 100 years old, he ends up in a retirement home. While his carers plan a party to celebrate his 100th birthday, Allan shows no interest in the party so he steps out the window and disappears. Allan then finds himself at a bus stop where he steals a suitcase filled with money from a criminal gang who chase him across Sweden. He then embarks on a Forrest Gump-like adventure where he befriends an elephant. Through flashbacks, the audience is shown how Allan has always been having adventures throughout his life, as he meets some of history’s most notable and notorious world leaders including Harry S. Truman, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong and Winston Churchill.

This film is upbeat and has some unexpected surprises yet is dark and thought-provoking. Robert Gustafsson who portrays Allan, is excellent in the role and audiences will find him endearing and affable as the fearless and unassuming centenarian who likes to blow things up. This film won a Guldbagge Award (Swedish equivalent to an Oscar) in the Audience Award category, and was nominated for Best Actor, Best Make-up and Best Music.

Swedish poster artwork for the film Waltz For Monica/Monica Z.


Waltz For Monica/Monica Z is the special event screening for most capital cities. It is a biopic loosely based on the personal and professional life of the popular Swedish jazz singer and actress Monica Zetterlund. Monica (Edda Magnasson) is a 23 year-old telephone operator from a small town named Hagfors in Sweden who lives with her parents and five year old daughter named Eva-Lena (Nadja Christiansson). Monica often dreams of being part of the vibrant and exciting jazz scene in Stockholm, until one day in the winter of 1960, an English jazz pianist named Leonard Feather (Ralph Bernard) invites her to New York. This trip changes Monica’s life and she begins her triumphant yet turbulent journey to stardom as a jazz singer performing in jazz clubs in New York and Stockholm. The film depicts the usual dilemmas entertainers face when juggling their career and personal life. Monica is a talented and beautiful singer who quickly learns the trade-offs and sacrifices made to stay in the music business. Her career skyrockets while her personal life nosedives as she fails to please her father and commit to her lover while raising a young daughter.

Edda Magnasson is brilliant in the role of Monica and she sings all the songs in the film. The 1960s costumes in the film are gorgeous and the music wonderfully captures the golden age of the jazz era. Keep an eye out for legendary jazz musicians and singers Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis in cameo appearances. Waltz For Monica won four Guldbagge Awards: Best Actress, Best Direction, Best Supporting Actor and Best Costume Design.

Danish Delights

Danish poster artwork for the film The Hour of the Lynx/I Lossens Time.


The Hour of the Lynx/I Lossens Time is a Danish film adaptation of Per Olov Enquist’s stage play of the same name about two women who join forces to fight the evil overtaking a young man’s mind and destroying his soul. The film opens with a teenager named Drengen (Frederik Christian Johansen) who is seen walking around a rural village while rambling on incoherently. He arrives at a cottage where he brutally slaughters an elderly couple before attempting to set himself on fire. The film then jumps to Drengen at a high security psychiatric hospital where he has attempted suicide as “instructed by God”. A psychiatrist named Lisbeth (Signe Egholm Olsen) is charged with assisting Drengen and involves him in her project to help inmates by assigning them with pets. However, she ends up enlisting the help of Helen (Sophie GrĺbŘl) a female priest after a series of incidents at the hospital that threatened to shut down her project. The two women work together to delve deeper into the dark recesses of Drengen’s mind and uncovers something more shocking than they expect with life-changing consequences.

This film is compelling and weaves together conflicting themes of science and religion, faith and love, mental and spiritual health with clever editing and narrative structure. The film has multiple perspectives and is initially narrated by the female priest Helen but the audience is invited into the minds of other characters. Another interesting aspect of this film is the use of time and memory as a story-telling device such as the flashbacks from Drengen’s childhood. The Hour of the Lynx has strong performances from the three lead actors and the subject matter may be a bit dark but is solid material when exploring such profound themes in the film.

Danish poster artwork for the film The Keeper Of Lost Causes/Kvinden I buret.


The Keeper Of Lost Causes/Kvinden I buret is a film adaptation based on Danish author Jussi Adler-Olsen’s best-selling first novel of the same name in his Department Q book series. The slick and suspenseful crime drama is scripted by Nikolaj Arcel (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, A Royal Affair) and directed by Mikkel NŘrgaard. The film begins with deputy crime detective Carl MŘrck (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) called to a house-raid, but he decides to enter the house with two other colleagues without waiting for back-up. As the trio enter the house, Carl is injured, one of his colleagues is shot dead and the other is left paralysed for life. Carl goes on sick leave and shortly afterwards, his wife leaves him. After three months, Carl returns to work but he is still on medication and has begun drinking heavily. His chief inspector assigns Carl to another police unit called Department Q where he is teamed with a new partner named Assad (Fares Fares) to read and close cold cases from the past twenty years. Carl comes across a case where a female politician named Merete Lynggaard (Sonja Richter) disappeared five years ago. According to police reports, Merete had committed suicide by jumping off a ferry while on a holiday with her intellectually disabled brother Uffe (Mikkel Bo FŘlsgaard). Carl believes Merete might still be alive after uncovering some crucial evidence, so he and Assad begin to investigate further which leads them to the shocking truth behind Merete’s disappearance.

The film has a mix of thriller, comedy and mystery that does not overpower the film’s dark and sinister story of solving and closing cold cases. Audiences who have read the book will enjoy the film's clever editing that involves cross-cutting to parallel flashbacks with real-time sequences of Merete’s disappearance and the detectives investigating her case.


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2014 Spanish Film Festival

May 4th 2014 06:23
Exquisitamente Espańol by Linh

Hola amigas/amigos


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Photo-bombing Favourites by Linh

Forget planking or twerking because photo-bombing at random is the latest trend and fun way to get attention on social media. During the Oscars red carpet arrivals, backstage and in the Green Room, the glamourous and the well-groomed let out their quirky side and were captured photo-bombing unsuspecting celebrities. It is all done in jest and nobody gets physically or emotionally hurt, but there is guaranteed laughter after discovering one has been photo-bombed. The two most prominent photo-bombers during this year’s Oscars are Benedict Cumberbatch and Jared Leto. Benedict’s photo-bombing was so popular that it became a social media meme featuring The Beatles and a bookmark. Below are a few of the funniest and best photo-bombing moments during the 2014 Oscars


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VICTORS: Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Lupita Nyong'o and Jared Leto backstage in the press room during the Oscars at Loews Hollywood Hotel on Sunday 2 March 2014 in Hollywood, California. Image: Jason Merritt/Getty Images.


Versatile Victors by Linh


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Academy Awards golden statuette. Courtesy of oscars.org


Musical Musings by Linh


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Academy Awards statuettes. Courtesy of oscars.org


Picture Perfect by Linh


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Stellar Supporters by Linh

I think this year’s list of potential winners for Best Actor in a Supporting Role is the most open field out of all the categories this year, where none of the nominees are past winners, and all five actors appear in five different films which are nominated for Best Picture. Therefore, the potential first-timers section is long and the only section of my list. I enjoyed all the actors’ performances, but I think only two of them are most likely to win the Oscar in this category. I have created a list of the recently announced Oscar nominations for the acting categories and which performers I think will be likely to take away the little golden statuette this year


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Leading Lads by Linh

This year’s list of potential winners for Best Actor in a Leading Role is diverse in character roles, acting experience and Oscar award potential. There are two actors I find to be most likely to win the Oscar in this category but I do expect some surprises at the awards ceremony. I have created a list of the recently announced Oscar nominations for the acting categories and which performers I think will be likely to take away the little golden statuette this year


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