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TIFF13: Nordic Observations ( Concrete Night, Heart of a Lion, Hotell, Sex Drugs & Taxation)

Okay, so how are my Nordic films faring at TIFF? I haven't had a chance to see them all, and my schedule is full, so I can only share quick thoughts now about the ones I've seen.

CONCRETE NIGHT. What happens when a boy on the cusp of manhood cloaks himself in the mantle of adulthood? Remember in a previous post I said I wasn't sure I would be able to handle the devastation of Pirjo Honkasalo's Concrete Night? Well, I am thankful that I sucked it up and went to see this Master's brilliant silver screen work of sight, sound and story. For those who were at the Chuck Workman What is Cinema? Maverick session, here is one answer to add to the list of definitions; for those who were not there, this film is a piece of art worth investing in.

Well, I've seen four of the films on my list, and the frontrunner for an audience pleaser with a solid contemplative plot is  HEART OF A LION. If you haven't bought your ticket yet, then do it now! Can a skinhead in love with a woman with a Black child forge an independent future or will he succumb to the "White Finland" dictates of his compatriots? A delicate balance of drama and comedy, well-controlled by director, Dome Karukoski (Lapland Odyssey).

HOTELL After seeing her in A Royal Affair with Mads, it was my first time seeing Alicia Vikander carry a film and does she ever do it well. I love watching actresses that could have reigned in the Silent Film era, because they know how to communicate emotions with their faces. After watching Vikander play a woman whose early delivery of a brain damaged son leaves her emotionallyy absent, I can definitely say that she would have given Garbo a run for her money! This is the second time that Vikander has worked with director Lisa Langseth and after seeing Hotell, I am now determined to see their previous collaboration, Pure. Langseth has also managed to create a real team out of the actors playing roles as support group members. It was easy to buy into the non-traditional manner in which they decide to combat their respective mental health issues.

SEX, DRUGS & TAXATION You get everything the English title spells out in this film of truth and fiction: a boozing womanizer whose fortune leaves him searching for the meaning of life in meditation and drug experimentation, and a sad sack tax attorney obsessed with revenge and extreme social politics.  The Swedish title of this film is Spies & Glistrup, and loosely documents their swinging 60's rise as economy airline moguls and the taxation scandal that made their names household fodder through Swedish headlines. Since this scandal is not common knowledge outside of Sweden, the English title makes the most sense to us, however, once you have observed the work of actors, Pilou Asbæk (Spies) and Nicolas Bro (Glisrup), you realize that this is a true symbiotic partnership in character development and acting. The film drags in the beginning, but what plays out in the remaining two-thirds of the film makes this a noteworthy study. Watch for a young actress named Camilla Cornelia Lehmann (Inger) whose luminous beauty and unaffected acting is captivating.

Toronto International Film Festival
September 5 - 15, 2013
Get Tickets: 
416.599.TIFF | 1.888.599.8433 |


Hayward Sirk said…

Loved,LOVED,LOVED...Heart of a Lion, by far my favourite TIFF film this year, thank you Steve Gravestock for programming tjis film.

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