Simian Substitute Site For July 2016: Gibraltar Monkey
...which could be quite graphic...

MOSTLYFILM: The Mexican Scand-off

I gave you a wee heads-up at the beginning of the month, but this is where it all officially starts. To whit: the next batch of posts here will all be covering the Nordic Expedition undertaken by The Belated Birthday Girl and myself in June 2016. Over a packed fortnight, we covered five cities in three countries - Norway, Sweden, and Finland - as the nights got longer and longer with the approach of Midsummer. And it all climaxed with the slightly peculiar scenes you can see in the video over there. It will get explained eventually, promise.

But in the meantime, let's get the inevitable out of the way first. We've been in three separate countries, each with their own film industry: surely there must be some Monoglot Movie Club possibilities in there? Of course there are. So over on MostlyFilm you can now read The Mexican Scand-off, the 26th MMC piece, taking the films we saw in each country and ruthlessly pitting them against each other.

Meanwhile, in this Red Button Bonus Content piece... well, I can't give you any travel tips about the cities we visited, because that's basically what the next five posts are going to be about. So we'll keep it simple with a bit about the films themselves and the cinemas where we saw them.

Here's a thing that Norway, Sweden and Finland all have in common - film exhibition is largely a monopoly in each country, with one major chain running the vast majority of the picturehouses (and generally hogging all the distribution as well). In Norway, that chain is Nordisk Film Kino. On previous visits to Oslo, I've generally caught films at the Colosseum, Nordisk's flagship cinema in the city: although I've always been frustrated at how I've never managed to catch a movie at its legendary screen 1, the largest THX cinema in the whole damn world. It's taken me a ridiculously long time to realise why that is - it's because I only ever go there to see Norwegian films, and who's going to waste their biggest screen on those?

There are other smaller cinemas on the circuit that tend to have a higher number of local movies on display, and we ended up seeing Pyromanen at the Vika. It's a decent enough four-screen multiplex located close to the National Theatre, although be warned that heavy roadworks in the area may stop you from finding the place as quickly as you'd like. (That's our excuse, anyway.) Here's a trailer for you.

Actually, here's a thing worth mentioning. When I first visited Oslo in 2012 and saw Kon-Tiki, I noted that the print had Norwegian subtitles on it, and wondered why that was when the dialogue was already in Norwegian. It was The Belated Birthday Girl who solved this for me eventually: during her pre-holiday research, she discovered there are effectively two forms of the Norwegian language, Bokmål ("book tongue") and Nynorsk ("new Norwegian"), which means that local movies have to be subtitled to cover all possible bases. It doesn't hurt for Monoglot Movie Club purposes to have subtitles on screen for all the dialogue, even if they're in a second language that you can't understand.

And here's the dirty little secret behind this particular set of reviews: all three of the films we watched had some form of subtitling attached, just not in English. In the case of Finland, because both Finnish and Swedish are official national languages, any Finnish dialogue tends to be accompanied with Swedish subtitles, as previously noted here. Curiously, when we saw Onnenonkija at the Finnkino Turku (another standard multiplex from another national cinema chain), the title screen didn't bother with a Swedish translation of the title and just went for Golddigger. That seems a little harsh, if you ask me: it seems to me that Marja is a lot more interested in the lifestyle than in the cash needed to achieve it. Anyhoo, here's another trailer for you.

One local oddity that may be of interest here. Like pretty much every other cinema chain in the world, Finnkino is using 'event cinema' as a way to lure in punters for one-off broadcasts at premium prices. On the afternoon we visited, they were promising all the usual theatre and opera relays you'd expect - in fact, that very evening we could have caught an encore presentation of the London production of One Man, Two Guvnors. (You could see the real thing in Gothenburg, but that's another story.) But at the same time, they were also offering you the chance to spend all day in a cinema watching a live stream of Nordic Business Forum 2016. And yes, it's true, for some reason Tony Hawk is one of the keynote speakers. Don't ask me.

If Norway has Nordisk and Finland has Finnkino, then Sweden has Svensk Filmindustri - the owners of the national distribution network as well as a huge chain of cinemas, all easily spottable from a mile off thanks to their distinctive use of red neon signage. But in this particular set of reviews, Sweden - or more specifically, Gothenburg - is the odd one out, because we had to go to a non-SF cinema to see our Swedish film. There's actually a small network of proudly independent cinemas in the city, who share space on a single promotional leaflet proclaiming themselves as Göteborgs Innerstads Alternativa Biografer: Bio Roy on Kungsportsavenyn, Capitol on Skanstorget and Haga Bion on Linnégatan. Haga Bion is where we saw Sophelikoptern, and it's the archetypal small indie cinema: a three screen affair run by movie fans rather than people on work schemes, with a lively cafe bar that we unfortunately didn't have enough time to explore properly. It definitely focusses on the less commercial end of the movie market, with its six daily screening slots typically being shared between five separate films that you probably won't see elsewhere in town.

And so we wrap up with Sophelikoptern. The full trailer for the movie is at the end of the MostlyFilm piece: this is the international teaser, which we watched before the film in an attempt to understand why they were showing it with Swedish subtitles. (As noted in the review, it's mostly Roma dialogue with Swedish subs, but we didn't work that out until reading the screening notes afterwards.) Incredibly, I think they've managed to construct this teaser without using a single shot from the finished film - it still gets across the feel of the movie quite nicely, though. If it ever gets a release in your town, you should go: it's all played at this level of breakneck speed.


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)