Archive for the ‘films’ Category

Jo Nesbo’s Headhunters: the movie

Posted: August 25, 2012 in films, Norway

I watched the movie Headhunters, based on the book by Jo Nesbo, last night and really enjoyed it.

Perhaps you have to be 1.68m to really appreciate the story of Roger Brown, a short recruitment consultant  who moonlights as an art thief ;-).

Roger’s gorgeous statuesque blonde wife Diana is much taller than him and an expert in art history. The insecure Roger feels he needs to provide her with luxuries, and support her new gallery in order to ward off the predatory taller males that she naturally attracts. Trouble arises when handsome Clas Greve, ex-mercenary and former CEO of a major military  contractor who is currently between jobs, attends an exhibition at Diana’s gallery and Roger learns that Clas has a valuable painting in his apartment.

The action and excitement then accelerate with a rising body count and some typical Nesbo twists and turns to keep viewers guessing. At times you have to suspend disbelief  especially when Roger is squeezed between two enormously fat policemen in a vehicle that goes off the road, but this movie is a fun thriller not a work of art. 

Headhunters is a Scandinavian thriller with no pretensions to movie greatness, but it does have some memorable set pieces, and  interesting over the top acting performances.  

It will be fascinating to read the book in a few weeks and compare it with the movie.   

Last night we watched the 2010 movie Inside Job which was not about some small bank robbery, but an analysis the financial crisis of 2008. 

To listen to the mumbling of distinguished economics professors such as ******** ********* as they tried to explain their actions, and explain reports they wrote such as ‘Financial Stability in Iceland’ would be amusing in other circumstances. [I have removed the name to avoid any legal ramifications.]

What was really depressing was that the some of the very people who lead us down the deregulated garden path to financial meltdown, and presumably walked away with their personal fortunes intact, are back advising President Obama. 

Only a few hours before I had been reading Sweet Money by Ernesto Mallo, published in Argentina in 2007 as Delincuente argentino and come across this passage proving that crime fiction can usually be found ahead of the game. 

Banks used to look like prisons; now they look like a cross between a boutique and a brothel. The walls are covered with posters showing young men and women, smiling and prosperous, offering package deals with bombastic names, that include bank accounts, credit cards, loans for the life you deserve.

Everything carefully designed to neatly package and tie up the customer. The deviousness here is so obvious that even the guy who designed the poster should be put in jail. 

Insomnia 1997

Posted: September 30, 2011 in films, Norway, Scandinavia

The other night I recorded the original 1997 Norwegian version of Insomnia showing on Sky Arts at around midnight, and watched it at a more agreeable time. I will take the risk of being classified as an Art channel snob, or one of the chattering classes, and  say that I thought it was superior to director Christopher Nolan’s 2002 version. The last Nolan film I watched was the full of brilliant computer generated dream sequences blockbuster Inception, and perhaps Insomnia was too simple and spare a story for a Hollywood style treatment.

The original Norwegian Insomnia 1997 directed by Erik Skjoldbjaerg, and written by him and Nikolaj Frobenius, starred the superb actor Stellan Skarsgard as Swedish cop Jonas Engstrom, sent to Northern Norway to solve the murder of a young girl. The other excellent but unknown to me actors helped create a believable atmosphere of tension as Engstrom, unable to sleep in the permanent light of the Arctic summer, begins to lose his grip on reality after a tragic incident in the fog.

Skarsgard has been in numerous movies but I remember him as Gregor in the gripping thriller Ronin, with Robert De Niro and Jean Reno. Perhaps that is why I enjoyed the original better than the 2002 remake, which starred Al Pacino and Robin Williams. To me Robin Williams will always be Patch Adams, and I can never accept him as a villain. 

Maybe I am just quirky always liking the original creation [despite the sub-titles] over any rehashed version. 

Good connections

Posted: September 4, 2011 in films, France, Italy, Sweden

Don’t you love it when the characters in the book you are reading make a reference to a favourite book, or film. I always feel more involved in the story and make a closer connection with the protagonist.

This happened earlier in the year with Salvo Montalbano in Andrea Camilleri’s The Track of Sand...

He got into bed and started reading one of the Swedish books he had bought. Its protagonist was a colleague of his Martin Beck, whose manner of investigation he found very appealing.

And it happened again recently reading the excellent Blood Sisters by Alessandro Perissinotto

I saw his face in my mind:the large nose, the slightly bovine eyes, the offbeat charm. Yes, it was Jean Reno, and the other one, the younger man, was Vincent Cassel. Jean Reno and Vincent Cassel, together in a thriller. At last, I had it:The Crimson Rivers. A weird, dark atmospheric thriller.

I must have watched The Crimson Rivers about four times, and it helps my enjoyment that each time I forget what happens at the end. One advantage of an elderly memory, and my struggle to read sub-titles at the same time as following the action.

A fantastic crime thriller for most of its length, it decides to get a bit weird at the end, breaking a rule devised by Father Ronald Knox and the Detection Club, although I can’t recall any Chinamen in the story. 


Posted: October 15, 2006 in films

I have just come back from our local Picture House’s free member’s preview of Romanzo Criminale.

Move over The Godfather, and as for Goodfellas, well that was Serie B compared to this brilliant film.
The story has been done before, and we know the plot inside out, but nevertheless the film is stunning.

Three young criminals Lebanese [Pierfrancesco Favino], Ice [Kim Rossi Stuart], and Dandi [Claudio Santamaria] begin with a kidnapping and go on to form a crime organization that dominates the drug trade, with links to terroroists, the Mafia, and sinister governmental agencies. The film is cut with some interesting real news coverage of major events of the period, the Moro murder, the Bologna train station outrage and Italy winning the 1982 World Cup.
Overall the cinematography is superb, the action tense, and the cast brilliant especially Stefano Accorsi as Officer Scialoja who struggles over the years both to investigate the case, and also to control his own desires and emotions.

Rome provides a the scenic background to the tale, and Anna Mougalis and Jasmine Trinca provide the luscious Roman femininity.
Anna Mougalis as Patrizia the very high class prostitute is quite magnificent, but I think she would have terrified Inspector Morse.

Highly recommended. 153 minutes but it does not seem that long. [Italian with English subtitles]