Saturday, October 19, 2013

Stockholm Stories [2013]

MPAA (UR would be R)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
SFDb listing

Stockholm Stories (2013) [IMDb] [SFDb] (directed by Karin Fahlén [IMDb] [SFDb], screenplay by Erik Ahrnborn [IMDb] [SFDb] based on a novel Det Andra Målet by Jonas Karlsson [IMDb]) is a Swedish comedy that played recently at the 49th Chicago International Film Festival.

The film set in Sweden's capital Stockholm involving several interlocking stories that would remind American viewers of recent American films like Valentine's Day [2010] or New Year's Eve [2011] centering on a young poet, Johan, the son of a much more famous (and successful) Swedish writer out of whose shadow he seems unable to escape.  Throughout the film, he's trying to promote his own screenplays / poetry while all publishers, film-makers and journalists want to talk to Johan about is ... his far more famous father ;-).

Now much of this is Johan's own fault ;-).  Perhaps because he would have grown-up in a literary milieu (thanks to his famous father...), Johan's ridiculously avant-guard: He tells one potential publisher that he wants to explore _the ugliness_ of language with his poems (usually poetry seeks to explore language's _ beauty_  ;-) and that he hopes that the reader finishing his current collection of poems would feel "like waking-up hung-over after a party, remembering _exactly_ who had punched him as he was being thrown out and _why_.  YUP, THAT'S A "BOOK OF POETRY" THAT FOLKS WOULD REALLY WANT TO READ ;-) ;-)

He also tells a film-maker that people spend too much time "seeing things in artificial light," (What's cinema, especially in its black-and-white origins/past but a celebration of what one can "draw" using the interplay differing shades of light? ;-)  Instead, he tells the film-maker that "we have to turn-off the light and be willing to sit in utter darkness in order to see ourselves and the world for what it really is."

Now Johan is Swedish, living up there in Stockholm in the Northern Latitudes and it's pretty DARK there in the winter.  Further, Johan HAS been living IN HIS FATHER'S SHADOW FOR ALL HIS LIFE.  Still ... his is a really "dark vision" of reality.

Most amusingly, of course, is that despite Johan's incessant pretentions of darkness in his pitches to (eyes rolling) potential publishers/promoters of his work, HE'S ACTUALLY A RATHER CHEERFUL GUY ;-)   He's utterly unconvincingly "dark."

And so this actually quite normal and often quite cheerful story involving some quite well-drawn and amusing characters is being (amusingly) told through the words/imagery of a young author who's trying really, really hard to be dark (perhaps a la Igmar Bergman) while being an utter failure in doing so ;-).

So this is really a delightful film offering despite the pretentions of the principal character a lovely and surprisingly _bright/lively view_ of life in Stockholm (often colored in the bright blue and yellow of Sweden's flag) despite the snow, despite the cold and despite the darkness of its rather long winters.

What a joy of a film! ;-)

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