Ingmar Bergman – Riten aka The Ritual (1969)

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From Bergmanorama:

SYNOPSIS
The Rite deals with a touring variety troupe called “Les Riens,” who are prosecuted and summoned to an interrogation because one of their numbers is considered grossly indecent. They are confronted with the judge’s accusations, which are extremely vague. The judge’s interrogation is harsh and relentless, it humiliates the artists, confuses them, shakes their self-confidence. Who are we? What is the meaning of our lives? – that is, our art?

In a series of taught scenes with great dramatic power and tension Bergman lets the three artists reveal themselves to the spectator’s astonished gaze. In scenes of passion, of blood, of darkness, which are occasionally broken by gleams of hope and consolation, the author gives a vision of what it means to be an artist and of art’s sanctity and curse. In the rite that forms the finale of the film, Art has avenged itself on reason. The artists, the abused ones, have spoken. Continue reading

Ingmar Bergman – Musik i mörker AKA Music in Darkness (1948)

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Bergman writing on the genesis of the film in Images: My Life in Film:
‘In spite of all that happened, Lorens Marmstedt did not throw me out. With great diplomacy he pointed out that now would be the perfect time for at least one modest audience success. Otherwise my days as a movie director migth be numbered. A Ship Bound for India as well as It Rains on our Love had been made for Sweden’s Folkbiografer. Now Marmstedt suggested that I make a film for his own company, Terrafilm. It must be noted that Lorens was a passionate gambler, able to put his money on the same number a whole evening. Continue reading

Ruben Östlund – Play (2011)

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An insightful and troubling film about race, ethics and manipulation, Ruben Östlund’s Play is based on an actual incident in Gothenburg, Sweden in which a group of black kids manipulated white and Asian teenagers into surrendering their valuables.

In Play, Yannick (Yannick Diakité) and his friends target a trio of younger, pre­sumably wealthier kids, two of them from “traditional” Swedish backgrounds and one whose family emigrated from Asia. Yannick and his pals claim that one of the boys stole a friend’s phone. (It’s the kind of claim only a teenager would put any credence in.) Eventually, they lure their targets outside the city, where they construct an elaborate ruse to relieve them of their belongings. Continue reading

Ruben Östlund – De Ofrivilliga aka Involuntary (2008)

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Involuntary is a series of stories exploring different perspectives on the power of a group over the individual. At once humorous and poignant, each situation raises questions about the value of the opinions of others: a man injured at his own party prefers to soldier on through the festivities rather than ruin the night for everyone else; a group of teenage girls pout, preen and flirt, pushing one another further in social and sexual games; a schoolteacher carries out a psychological experiment on her class to illustrate the power of peer pressure; and, at a drunken reunion a young man exploits his mates’ willingness to go with the flow to take advantage of another friend. Continue reading