Theater of Cruelty

The popcorn films won

The Norwegian film year 2006 has been about Kafka, popcorn and gender voting. Ny Tid reviews the film year that passed.


[movie] Measured in cinema visits, 2006 is the second best year for Norwegian film in 30 years, only passed by Buddy and Elling year 2003. And then something happened this year, what good? It is so with waves that one does not quite see what they bring with them until they retire, but 2006 can bring Norwegian film further up on land. Give a chance to get dry on your feet, behind your ears.

That doesn't mean that not stupid things have been done this year either.


The awards speeches have been long. Reviewers have, for the most part, been happy, the price spike has not yet settled. The quality has ranged from slightly pretentious, but unsurprisingly elegant Reprise, to the nesting turkey Cold Feet. Between these, one can quickly draw a scale; there are no more than 13 long, adult, and feature films this year. But it is striking how wide the tension between them is.

Both Reprise and The Crazy Man emphasize the form experiment, both with unique signatures and style certainty, but at the expense of the script. Here one has not been afraid to borrow unrestrictedly from a bunch of big filmmakers, from Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Jeunet to Aki Kaurismäki and Wim Wenders. They did not sell many tickets. These are films for those between the ages of 20 and 35, perhaps most from inside ring 1 in Oslo. At the same time, unpretentious, beer-flavored Long Flat Baller was the most watched film of the year. And Cold Feet was seen by considerably more than one would think, if one follows a recently put forth theory of the power of reviewers over visitor numbers. The taste of popcorn and automatic noise is more compatible with thieves comedy than with burnout in the scars and parties at the Artists' House.

How to use Oslo

Norwegian scriptwriters have over the last few years made a dignified effort to bestow every station on subway line 5 to Vestli in Oslo with a film about how ugly but kitschy tough it is on the eastern edge. This year, vengeful young men bumped around the Ammerud Blocks in Sønner, while the Uro Patrol's panicked policeman played in the violence spiral at Romsås. Meanwhile, life's happy boys dance into middle-class depressions at Frogner in Reprise.

Kafkaske The troublesome man, on the other hand, uses the city – and the course – in a more original way. Here, in line with the theme, Oslo is stripped of advertising posters, gaudy window displays and other noisy time markers, while the massive buildings around the government quarter stand as a petrified bureaucracy's troll. Visually strong, despite worn themes.

Not to mention all the in-depth films. High school teacher Pedersen is well-made, but hesitant. Mary's men challenge thematically, but fumble with poor dialogues and flat design. The low-budget film The art of thinking negatively is enjoyable in its simplicity, claustrophobic, but with the easy-to-treat mixture of humor and darkness. The Slasher movie Free Game sits like a bullet, but doesn't stretch a knife's edge to challenge the genre recipe. Uneasiness is a little impressive wandering in the cliché living room.

Many genres are covered, often in one movie, in hybrids of romantic and small-fun action dramas with a touch of social realism and tragedy. If pure genre ventures want nothing more than Free Game, it's just fine.

The guys

2006 was also the year for the big Women's debate. We had two female lead roles this year, in Mary's Men and Fritt Wild. The former explores a recent taboo with older woman / younger man in a charming but tragic way. Jannicke in Fritt Wild surprises positively. While the boys fist in the abandoned cabin, Jannicke is tougher than both them and the ice chopper.

While women are most often passive prize cows, guys (they're boys, not men) are the frustrated, settlement-seeking type. Sons, Troubled, Reprise. Director Elsa Kvamme points this out in the latest issue of Rushprint, in which she writes about the Norwegian filmmaker's "striking circle around a lost childhood universe, and the absence of a forceful father, combined with an aggressive and uncontested relationship with dominant mothers". In Mary's men, Mary's problems also revolve around the men. The privilege of letting one's soul torment revolve around one's self is to a greater extent reserved for men.

Oh no, quote

Of course, what caused the biggest reactions after the recently proposed approach to the Minister of Culture Trond Giske's film selection was the quotation. If 40 per cent of the key positions in Norwegian film by the end of 2010 are not owned by women, the quotation troll will come and trample the art of porcelain collection.

Some become quarrelsome at the thought of Art being quoted. The art is, as we know, in an independent sphere where the usual rules of structural discrimination do not apply. Daggerets Inger Bentzruds argues against quoting female lead roles: "Films like Uno or Sons would hardly be able to count on public support, due to a lack of important women roles".

To highlight two of the best Norwegian films of the last few years and frighten with their disappearance during quotation is perhaps a bit sought after. Even if 40 percent of the positions were to be proclaimed women, it would not be illegal, or impossible, to make "pure men's films". Quoting does not mean the same thing as promoting bad projects at the expense of good.

Sons also offers some of several new faces that have appeared – without first having been to the National Theater. Norwegian canvas' "grand young men", Aksel Hennie and Kristoffer Joner, with roles in 12 and 17 films respectively since the turn of the millennium, have taken it easy this year and freed up space so that new generations can fill the roles of frustrated, searching urbanists.

Next year I wish: better script, more ladies and new men. ?

Reviewed by Silje Bekeng


Polarized riot.


The Norwegian film year 2006

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