Sweden

Roy Andersson – Sånger från andra våningen AKA Songs from the second floor (2000)

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Unique, arresting and often grotesquely funny, Songs from the Second Floor presents us with 45 obsessively composed dramatic vignettes of decaying civilisation, set in and around a clammy Nordic city resembling a 1930s surrealist prophecy of Y2K apocalypse. There’s no plot, only a cumulative sense of impending doom as the hapless cast of failed businessmen, insurance swindlers, crucifix salesmen and senile fascists fitfully negotiate their way towards the ultimate betrayal of future generations. — BG

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Ingmar Bergman – Kvinnors väntan AKA Waiting Women (1952)



While at a summerhouse, awaiting their husbands’ return, a group of sisters-in-law recount stories from their respective marriages. Rakel (Anita Björk) tells of receiving a visit from a former lover (Jarl Kulle); Marta (Maj-Britt Nilsson) of agreeing to marry a painter (Birger Malmsten) only after having his child; and Karin (Eva Dahlbeck) of being stuck with her husband (Gunnar Björnstrand) in an elevator, where they talk intimately for the first time in years. Making dexterous use of flashbacks, the engaging Waiting Women is a veritable seedbed of Bergman themes, ranging from aspiring young love to the fear of loneliness, with the finale a masterpiece of chamber comedy. Read More »

Ingmar Bergman – Riten AKA Ritual (1969)



A judge in an unnamed country interviews three actors, together and singly, provoking them while investigating a pornographic performance for which they may face a fine. Their relationships are complicated: Sebastian, volatile, a heavy drinker, in debt, guilty of killing his former partner, is having an affair with that man’s wife. She is Thea, high strung, prone to fits, and seemingly fragile, currently married to Sebastian’s new partner, Hans. Hans is the troupe leader, wealthy, self-contained, growing tired. The judge plays on the trio’s insecurities, but when they finally, in a private session with him, perform the masque called The Rite, they may have their revenge. Read More »

Ingmar Bergman – Törst AKA Thirst (1949)



A couple traveling across a war-ravaged Europe. A disintegrating marriage. A ballet dancer’s scarred past. Her friend’s psychological agony. Meanwhile, a widow resists seductions from two different persons – her psychiatrist and a lesbian friend. Told in flashbacks and multiple narrative threads, Ingmar Bergman’s Thirst shows people enslaved to memory and united in isolation. Read More »

Roy Andersson – Du Levande aka You, the Living (2007)

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Quote:
Or, you, the living dead. The motley bunch of sad-looking characters that inhabit this series of vaguely-connected episodes of modern Stockholm life that sit somewhere between Kaurismäki, Buñuel and the Far Side cartoons all look as if they died days ago: their skins are white and drooping and their eyes look dead in their sockets. That’s life, though, Swedish director Roy Andersson seems to be saying in this most maudlin of feature-length comedy sketch shows which recalls the gallows humour of his ‘Songs from the Second Floor’ (2000). Read More »

Jan Troell – 92,8 MHz Drömmar i söder AKA 92,8 MHz Dreams in the South (2000)

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Press comment:
Not unexpectedly Troell´s contribution to the group-project facing the new millenium -“Swedish stories” – is outstanding. Here the lives of ordinary people on the countryside on Sweden´s southern tip mirror, without effort, something more general. This time we encounter some enthusiasts running a small radio station. Singing, talking, and greeting is heard, listened to and exchanged.. The image of a technology serving people and their fellowship is developed together with the one of a society not having lost its soul. —Troell is the great observer among Swedish documentarists. His brilliant cinematography and associative editing literally cuts out meaning and coherence from the visible reality.
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Bille August – Den goda viljan AKA The Best Intentions (1991)

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Scripted (but not directed) by Ingmar Bergman, Best Intentions is a multilayered backwards glance at the courtship of Bergman’s own parents. Henrik Bergman (Samuel Froler) is a struggling theology student in the year 1909. His intended, Anna Aakerbloom (Pernilla August, who married director Bille August while the film was in progress) is from a well-to-do family. Despite the expected class differences and personality clashes, love-or at least mutual understanding-prevails. But after a harsh, spare few years as the wife of a clergyman, Anna yearns for the more bountiful pleasures of her family home. Bergman writes himself into the proceedings as a mewling infant. The current three-hour theatrical version of Best Intentions (original title: Den Goda Viljan) was simultaneously prepared as a six-hour TV miniseries, which ran in Europe, Scandanavia, and Japan. Read More »