Norway

Music Box Films

2011’s Headhunters is a refreshing blast of blackly comic Norwegian fun that mixes laughs and blood-soaked shenanigans into a deliriously enjoyable cinematic cocktail, and it rightfully exposed Jo Nesbø‘s fiction (on which it was based) to a wider audience. Remake rights were snapped up by Mark Wahlberg, Nesbø’s other books received attention from Hollywood (including one that attracted Martin Scorsese’s eye) and it even made our 2011 Best Foreign Films of the Year list. But it wasn’t the only movie that year to be based on the best-selling Norwegian author’s work. Jackpot features a lot of the same ingredients — dark comedy, graphic violence, inept criminals — but those similarities start and end at the surface. Oscar Svendsen (Kyrre Hellum) is the only survivor of a shootout that left eight people dead. The police are actually working the carnage-strewn crime scene when Oscar arises from beneath a corpse surprised both that he’s alive and that the cops are staring at him. Oh, he’s also a bit unsure as to why there’s a shotgun in his hands. Detective Solør (Henrik Mestad) immediately takes him in and begins the interrogation, but Oscar’s explanation as to the events leading up to the massacre repeatedly tests the veteran detective’s bullshit detector. Even so, Oscar swears it all started with a bet on a soccer match.

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review blind

Movies about blind women seem to fall into a subgenre all their own, and the overwhelming majority of them (including Wait Until Dark, Julia’s Eyes, The Eye, Blink, South Korea’s Blind) are suspense thrillers. The women are seemingly helpless victims-to-be forced to survive some malevolent outside force threatening their lives. The new Norwegian film, Blind, has chosen a different route. Ingrid (Ellen Dorritt Petersen) has recently lost her sight to a degenerative disease, and she has made her apartment the entirety of her new world. Her husband Moreten (Henrik Rafaelsen) is supportive, but she ignores his suggestions that she venture outside again. Her alone time already allows her mind to wander, but it also comes with thoughts on her husband’s infidelity, the lives of strangers, and the distinct sound of breathing in the apartment when she should be alone. But are these things real or imagined?

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ff detective downs

Robert Bogerud (Svein André Hofsø) is a rather unique detective. Of course he has the typical hat and trench coat favored by private eyes past, he places ads in local papers as detectives are wont to do, and like many of his brethren he specializes in missing persons cases. He’s also never had a case, missing person or otherwise. What makes him unique though is the very same reason he’s never actually been hired. Robert has Down Syndrome and lives in a group home. When a distraught woman appears in his “office” requesting his help even he’s dumbfounded. “But,” he says matter of factly, thinking perhaps she’s somehow missed the obvious, “I’ve got Down Syndrome.” Undeterred, Rita Starr hires him to find her missing husband, a former Olympic champion named Olav. The two head off to Starr’s estate with the cheers of Robert’s fellow residents bringing a smile and a lift to his his step, but his investigation begins hitting snags almost immediately. All is not as it seems between Olav’s wife, elderly mother, and two grown children, and it’s going to take everything Robert’s got to solve and survive the case. Detective Downs could have easily taken a turn for the insensitive or the crass, but co-writer/director Bård Breien weaves a gentle, fun, and warm mystery thanks in large part to his lead actor.

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31 Days of Horror - October 2011

They said it couldn’t be done. A fifth year of 31 Days of Horror? 31 more terror, gore and shower scene-filled movies worth highlighting? But Rejects always say die and never back away from a challenge (unless you count that time Nathan Adams was double dog dared to eat Nazi-flavored snow), so we’ve rounded up the horror fans among us and put together another month’s worth of genre fun. Enjoy! Synopsis: What could possibly be worse than a zombie attack? A zombie attack where all of the undead are racists, that’s what. And that’s exactly what eight Norwegian med students stumble into when they take a trip out to the mountains for some leisurely skiing and instead find themselves face-to-face with hordes of undead Nazis who have returned from their graves to avenge a WWII-era villager revolt. The girl with the dreadlocks better watch herself. I bet they take her first.

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Jackpot Film Review

Oscar is having a bad day. When we first meet him, he’s lying underneath a massive woman clutching a shotgun at a strip club full of corpses. The police are obviously curious as to his connection with all this death and destruction. As Oscar sits in the interrogation room of the police station, he relays a bizarre tale of soccer betting winnings, of gangsters, and of murder. Is Oscar a liar, a killer, or just completely out of his mind? More and more, the collected nations of Scandinavia are proving to have an unparalleled mastery of the crime film. Whether it be a brutal descent into the depths of human ugliness like Sweden’s Millennium Trilogy or something intricately tense and darkly comedic like Norway’s Headhunters, it’s gotten to the point that the assemblage of the words Scandinavian and crime film are enough to heighten many a film geek’s excitement and expectation. Sharp as a concealed knife, and dripping with black comedy, Jackpot proudly takes it place beside the best of this budding new wave of rule-breaker cinema from the north of Europe.

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Foreign Objects - Large

My mom awoke one pre-dawn morning in 1985 and noticed a sliver of light beneath my older sister’s door. Knowing that none of her three kids were morning people she lightly knocked before turning the knob to find her firstborn laying unconscious on the floor, dark red blood seeping from her wrists and soaking into the carpet. She immediately went to compress the wounds while yelling for my father to call 911. An ambulance arrived, and my sister was rushed to the hospital. I slept through all of it one floor below. The depression that led to my sister’s suicide attempt and that continued to haunt my family for years to come was little more than a frustrating embarrassment for my preteen self heading into the most formative, socially judgmental time of my life. I didn’t understand what she was experiencing and instead saw it as selfish, spiteful behavior on her part. I was an indifferent asshole who alternately blamed her for future family troubles or ignored her wholesale as if I was still asleep to her difficulties. It was valuable time lost that should have been spent being a better brother. Those events have surfaced in my memories now and again over the past two decades, but it took a movie for me to come as close as possible to understanding what she was going through all those years ago. Oslo, August 31st, and in particular its powerfully affecting lead performance by Anders Danielsen Lie, explores with devastating effect […]

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Editor’s Note: This review originally ran as part of our Fantastic Fest coverage, but it hits select theaters this weekend, so it’s time to check it out once more. Headhunters has an instinct about it that’s cutthroat with a smile. It’s a comedy of errors with a gun pointed at its head, and it all works with an intensity that manages to be thrilling right up to the end. In the movie, Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) is in over his head (which he considers already too low to the ground) because he thinks his wife (Synnøve Macody Lund) needs the finer things in life. He’s a well-respected job placement rep, connecting the highest salaries to the biggest companies, but he has to supplement his lifestyle by stealing art. When he catches wind of a new client (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) with a criminal career-endingly expensive lost masterpiece, he jumps at the chance, but there are forces much larger at work which see him running from his life and fighting for his marriage.

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Mark Wahlberg seems to be busier now than ever before, and while some people may find that news to be unfortunate I myself am happy to see it happening. (Not to be mistaken with me being happy to see The Happening…) He’s a charismatic actor, and his limited range rarely prevents him from being entertaining at the very least. He released the mild hit Contraband earlier this year, is in post-production on two films and is already potentially attached to another four including Michael Bay’s first non-robot movie in seven years, Pain and Gain. Headhunters is a blackly comic thriller from Norway about an insecure corporate headhunter who moonlights as an art thief. His casually extravagant life takes a dark turn when a robbery goes awry and he finds himself double-crossed and on the run. The film, based on the slim novel by Jo Nesbø, is a an absolutely fantastic ride and was one of my personal favorites from last year. It’s funny, violent, and constantly surprising…and Summit quickly snapped it up for a US remake with Sacha Gervasi attached to helm. According to Shortlist, Wahlberg recently fell in love with the Norwegian film and apparently made a personal appeal to Gervasi to be a part of the remake. It’s assumed Wahlberg is interested in playing the lead role for three reasons. One, it’s the lead. Two, he’s the closest thing there is to a sympathetic hero in the film. And three, a big part of the character’s motivation and […]

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Drinking Games

The rumored-about, questioned and criticized prequel to John Carpenter’s classic 1982 horror flick The Thing has come and gone. Now, it’s coming again, this week to DVD and Blu-ray. The flick tells the story behind the Norwegian outpost in Antarctica, chronicling the first people to dig the Thing out of the ice. Fans of the Carpenter classic will complain about the overuse of CGI and the pointlessness of the new film, but they may also find some likeable moments if they look hard enough. If not, they can always play this game and knock back a few glasses of Ringnes beer or whatever else they drink in Norway.

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The doors of Norway’s Bastoy Residential School remained open from 1900 to 1953, and in that half century hundreds of wayward boys called it home. They found themselves there for crimes big and small, but the goal was the same for all of them. Find the “honorable, humble, useful, Christian boy” inside the criminal, and then return them to society. But while this small chunk of rock adrift just south of Oslo was a home it was never meant to feel like one. A biting cold pervaded the place, inside and out, and it was as prevalent as the rigid discipline, hard labor and overall oppressiveness that was the school’s daily routine. And as inescapable as the island itself. King of Devil’s Island is based on the true story of a student uprising that occurred at Bastoy in 1915. An incident triggered by sexual abuse but fueled by pent-up rage led to the boys overthrowing their guardians and rioting until a unit of the Norwegian army arrived to quell the situation. The film is an affecting drama that mostly overcomes a familiar story with strong acting by Stellan Skarsgard and others, atmospheric cinematography and a core message of integrity and solidarity.

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Why Watch? Shouldn’t our goal be to domesticate the zombies? Here’s a Norwegian twist on an old favorite that combines energy, fear and a bit of heavy music. As it turns out, an anti-bacterial soap might be the key to stopping the zombie menace and have them work for us. The potential is obvious in this fantastic horror short, and if someone bought Torstein Jacobsen and Lars Torp Pettersen a better camera, the sky might be the limit for this pair of filmmakers. What does it cost? Just 12 minutes of your time. Check out the trailer for Vagabond for yourself:

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Why Watch? Because killing your wife is hard work. The frustrating infantalization that takes place to Oscar Gee’s character in the beginning of the film sets up murder as a very sympathetic idea. Christopher Fischer and his crew overcome a small budget with a few tricks (which almost all work) to create a slightly funny, slightly disturbing, slightly poignant film about stuffing your spouse into the trunk of your car. Even more impressively, they do it all without words. What does it cost? Just 12 minutes of your time. Check out For Better or Worse for yourself:

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we talk with Troll Hunter writer/director Andre Ovredal, Prom screenwriter Katie Wech, and The Conspirator screenwriter James Solomon. Perhaps you’re starting to see a theme emerge. Plus, Dustin Rowles and Joanna Robinson from Pajiba enter the Movie News Pop Quiz ring, and both safely exit. Then, we talk about Doctor Who. Loosen up your tie and stay a while. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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In the midst of the Cold War a Norwegian diplomat, Arne Treholt, was convicted of treason against his country for selling secrets to the Soviet Union in the early ’80s. This is true. Not necessarily that he sold secrets as his conviction and twenty year prison term suggests, but just that he was convicted.

In 1992, after serving 8 years of his prison term, Treholt was released and to this day continues to plead his innocence regarding any treasonous activity. This is true.

In 2010, Norwegian filmmaker Thomas Malling made a film depicting the events precisely as they played out back in the 1980s in which Treholt was in fact the leader of a professionally trained black-ops group of ultra-human ninjas. This is true. Not necessarily that Treholt was a ninja mastermind, just that Malling made a film about Treholt being one.

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Deep in the heart of the Norwegian woods, there’s a giant menace standing tall against the landscape. That menace is power lines, and the people hate the power lines. However, they’re completely necessary to keep the trolls at bay. Troll Hunter is a found-footage style faux-doc that sees a crew of young teenagers (whose names matter about as much as their characters) heading out into the dangerous woods to track down the guy on the government dole who manages the troll population in secret. Hans reluctantly takes them into his world, and soon, they’re running for their lives and praying that the UV lamps on the top of his truck still have some battery life left in case they need to turn a 20-story baddie to stone.

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The Coroner

Afterdark Horrorfest 4 finally comes to a belated close with Hidden.

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If you were to pitch a film to me based on just two words, you’d be hard pressed to find a better pair than “Nazi zombies.” A few that come to mind are “Bloody tits” and “Sorority massacre” but Nazi zombies is definitely up there. Who wouldn’t be psyched for a whole bunch of undead Nazis getting a little bit of the old smashy-stab to the brain? It just so happens that those crazy fuckers in Norway had the same idea and brought us Dead Snow, an imperfect movie about a perfect idea, spattered with humor and intestines.

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fo-coldprey2

Foreign Objects travels the world of international cinema each week to look for films worth visiting. So renew your passport, get your shots, and brush up on the local age of legal consent, this week we’re heading to… Norway for a snowbound slasher sequel!

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tommy-wirkola

Tommy Wirkola sat down with us to talk about his much buzzed about Nazi zombie opus.

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coldprey

Foreign Objects travels the world of international cinema each week to look for films worth visiting. So renew your passport, get your shots, and brush up on the local age of legal consent, this week we’re heading to… Norway!

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