Tag Archives: sweden

THE SQUARE

Three and a half Star Rating

“…The Square subtly lampoons and pricks the pomposity of the world of contemporary arts.” – Wayward Wolf.

Having lived in Sweden for a certain period of time I fully recognise the quietly unassuming nature of its humble, confrontation-shy people, for whom crowing about personal achievement is considered somewhat uncouth and unnecessary.

And having attended a college of the arts over-run with wannabe Marxists, I feel that I’m also relatively well placed to recognise insufferable bullshit too.

I have attended modules in which we have been encouraged to consider ways of talking about talking about the arts. And I have shuffled in bemused confusion around blue cotton sheets – strewn randomly in cow-filled Devonshire fields – each of which having been covered with bric-a-brac and obscure objects. And I have mused over said objects and their placement on said sheet, as I have been asked to do.

And I have thus questioned my sanity and what the flying fekk I am actually doing there in the first place, and how indeed it all came to this?

Not a million miles removed from this, Ruben Östlund’s satirical send-up of the art world, The Square, is a deviously comical film that makes a lot of societal assumptions, yet one that asks a lot of questions of its viewers too.

Christian (Claes Bang), is the chief curator of the X-Royal Contemporary Art Museum, preparing for the launch of its latest exhibit, The Square; an illuminated ‘safe space’ designed to represent an area in which our human rights, freedom of thought, speech and action are all absolutely sacrosanct.

Having had his mobile phone stolen one day in the streets of Stockholm, Christian traces the phone to a high rise building in something of a suspect neighbourhood. Here, he and a colleague gingerly distribute a number of stern worded leaflets to each and every apartment demanding the return of his mobile device, believing this ‘catch-all’ method to be the most effective one if he is to have any hope of its safe return.

Christian feels emboldened by his actions, but unfortunately for him, this will prove to be just one of a catalogue of poor decisions he will make, ultimately triggering a personal multi-layered existential crisis from which there is little hope of escape, especially given the innate Swedish guilt complex with which he – and the softly spoken Swedes in general – seem to be terminally afflicted.

Östlund’s film focuses on some of the current moral and ethical issues and dilemmas affecting the peoples of Europe, particularly in relation to European attitudes towards the integration and subsequent treatment of minorities, as well as examining the impact of sensationalism within the so often truly vacuous industry of marketing, and its widespread affect upon the psyche and herd mentality of populations.

All the while, The Square subtly and brilliantly lampoons and pricks the pomposity of the world of contemporary arts.

Be it Christian attempting to dismiss as unimportant a well-intentioned cleaner having accidentally hoovered up part of a new exhibit of piles of gravel strategically positioned around a room, or the reaction to a man imitating a chimpanzee causing untold carnage in the process as he jumps from table to table at a black tie ‘performance’ event, The Square is at times wickedly funny, pushing numerous boundaries and frequently bordering on the wholly inappropriate.

There are an awful lot of positives to focus upon. Indeed there’s an awful lot – full stop – to take from Östlund’s film. Arguably – in the name of clarity – perhaps a bit too much, in fact. But as entertaining and thought-provoking as The Square undoubtedly is, to the hyper critical, there’s also a bit of a sense of a lack of cohesion about the film’s numerous constituent acts and themes.

Regardless, it’s a fine piece, make no mistake about that, and a more than worthy follow up to Östlund’s indisputably wonderful, Force Majeure.

The Square provokes, challenges and entertains, much in the way good art – pretentious or otherwise – always really should.

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EN MAN SOM HETER OVE (A Man Called Ove)

“…just how did he become this petty harbinger of headaches, and what does the future hold for this archetypal grumpy old man?”

Wayward Wolf.

If Peter Bradshaw’s rather dismissive review in the Guardian is anything to go by, A Man Called Ove is, and I quote: “…not very funny, not very sad, not very believable, and not very interesting.”

That’s not very favourable really, now is it, Peter?

More pertinently, it’s a truly baffling point of view that’s had me scratching my head.

Fortunately, I was not party to Mr Bradshaw’s peculiar conclusions prior to viewing this particular piece of Swedish cinema – conclusions that appear to have been arrived at whilst simultaneously tumbling down Alice’s rabbit hole, I should add.

Obviously it’s all subjective and there are no right or wrong answers here, but far from being the poor excuse for a film that Mr Bradshaw insinuates, Academy Award-nominated A Man Called Ove – based upon Fredrik Backman’s novel of the same name – is in fact, I’m delighted to inform you, a soulful, witty, wonderfully engaging piece. And whilst we’re in the business of overdosing on superlatives, let’s throw warm-hearted and life-affirming into the mix, too.

As for believable? Well, yes and no, but that’s hardly a critical factor when one considers that cinema is by its very nature a means of escape, frequently calling upon us to suspend our collective sense of disbelief. But let’s be clear here, A Man Called Ove is not in any way shape or form a film whose content defies belief in such a manner as to ultimately risk spoiling our enjoyment of it.

But enough with the tub-thumping and attempts at balance redressing.

Hannes Holm’s film – originally released in Sweden at the tail end of 2015, but only given its limited UK release this year – tells the story of Ove (a wonderful turn by Rolf Lassgård), a man who has always been socially awkward, bordering on the autistic in some ways. But over the years, owing to tragic circumstances, that awkwardness has since morphed into unconfined anger and misery.

Adhering to a strict daily routine, he patrols the grounds of the gated neighbourhood in which he lives, making note of any fool-hardy transgressors of the community regulations that he had helped to initiate during his time as Chairman of the neighbourhood committee. The fact that he no longer holds such a prestigious title and that the community tends to unwittingly flout his rules, is just one more trigger for multiple bouts of po-faced bitterness on his part. Regardless, Ove remains resolute, and continues to rigorously enforce ‘the law’ for what he perceives to be the good of the community.

But just how did he become this petty harbinger of headaches, and what does the future hold for this archetypal grumpy old man?

Ove’s back story is gradually revealed by way of a meandering narrative, initially through the series of flash-backs that he experiences during each of a number of unsuccessful suicide attempts, but latterly through the unlikely friendship that he develops with his Iranian-Swedish pregnant neighbour, Parvaneh (Bahar Pars). She, together with her boisterous family, are unknowingly the sole reason that Ove has yet to shuffle off this mortal coil, unable as he is to complete the ‘simple’ process of taking his own life without their unwelcome yet timely interruptions.

It is true that Hannes Holm’s touching tale, when broken down into its constituent parts, is probably a fairly routine and familiar one. A man, unable to cope with the accumulated sadness in his life and seeing little or no reason to go on, gradually, through a varied set of circumstances, manages to come to terms with the prospect of actually ‘living’ once again, thanks principally to the kindness of people that are able to recognise a good man with a good heart, even when it’s obscured by a particularly miserable demeanour.

For want of a better term, you would probably classify A Man Called Ove as something of a feel-good movie with stylistic parallels and general inspiration drawn from the sort of sentimental – bordering on slightly schmaltzy – Hollywood formulas that have unearthed such big screen favourites as Forest Gump; films that, if we’re deeply honest with ourselves, we probably love all the more for that very reason.

Rest assured though, Hannes Holm’s film, whilst certainly guilty of being whimsical at times, never comes close to achieving any sort of off-putting saccharine-overload.

Genuinely touching in places, A Man Called Ove is a witty, poignant and effortlessly charming tale.

One of the hidden gems of 2017 in fact.

 

 

 

THE RITUAL

“…going with the concept of it’s not what you see, it’s what you don’t see, [The Ritual] sustains a fairly decent level of suspense for the most part.”

Wayward Wolf.

The Ritual tells the tale of four close friends who find themselves hiking through the hills of Sweden.

Curiously, this is not actually even their idea – far from it in fact – but a trip organised in memoriam, Robert (Paul Reid), a recently departed friend, tragically killed when caught up in the middle of a violent robbery.

Amsterdam, Ibiza and Berlin. These were the more realistic ideas mooted by the collective on an evening when Robert’s suggestion of hiking had gone down like a lead balloon.

Still, here they are, traipsing across the Swedish countryside on a trip that is particularly poignant for Luke (Rafe Spall). He too had been caught up in the robbery, but hidden behind a stack of shelves and frozen with fear, he had failed to summon up the courage to intervene. Consequently, Luke had watched his friend be bludgeoned to death by an assailant armed with a baseball bat.

This level of guilt, and an inner paranoia that his close friends all blame him for Robert’s demise, play heavily upon Luke’s mind.

It’s an interesting back story, and offers The Ritual a little more depth than your average horror / thriller. That said, if this initial premise had in any way mislead you into believing that what was to follow would be high on originality, you are sadly mistaken.

When you boil it all down, The Ritual is a fairly formulaic piece, and it’s therefore no surprise when Dom (Sam Troughton) – the slightly portly moaning one – having twisted his knee during the hike, forces the group to re-think their plans and take a shortcut through rather ominous looking dense woodland.

Now that’s just asking for trouble.

And so it proves to be.

Stumbling upon a freshly gutted moose carcass suspended high up in a tree, and hopelessly lost with no chance of reaching their target destination, the pioneering foursome take refuge from a particularly heavy rainy deluge, in an apparently abandoned wooden hut. Discovering a part moose, part human straw effigy erected in the hut’s loft space does nothing to put anyone’s mind at ease. Regardless, in this instance, in is better than out, and the lads hunker down for the night around the security of a lit stove, vowing to push on out first thing in the morning.

That’s the plan at least, but the morning is going offer all manner of unwelcome surprises…

With obvious influence taken from some of the better horror films of the not so distant past – think Blair Witch, Wrong Turn, The Witch, and The Whicker Man – The Ritual does at least approach things from a cinematically successful angle, and going with the concept of it’s not what you see, it’s what you don’t see, sustains a fairly decent level of suspense for the most part.

However, once the gang finally realise exactly what they’re up against, this tale of hunter and hunted fast descends into an all too familiar state of predictability, and sadly succumbs to the temptation for ‘the big reveal’, diffusing most of the tension that’s been carefully nurtured to this point.

Whilst Hutch (Robert James-Collier), and Phil (Arsher Ali), are portrayed well enough, they are in many ways fairly dispensable characters, and it’s Sam Troughton and in particular, Rafe Spall, that really steal the show, dragging this OK-ish piece through to its conclusion thanks to their all-round Englishness, a generous smattering of dry humour, and a petty disrespect for one another.

At times witty and irreverent, and always leaning heavily on the use of metaphors, it’s hard to dislike this David Bruckner horror, and it’s only fair to say that through excellent casting and some occasionally disturbing set pieces, he’s created a film that’s certainly very watchable; it might even get under your skin a bit, but more likely, will leave its audience just a little underwhelmed.

BORG vs MCENROE

 

“…don’t let Metz’s propensity for the obvious and the unashamedly Hollywood deter you. Borg vs McEnroe is most certainly a terrifically entertaining film.”

Wayward Wolf.

One of the many great things about the innocence of youth is that you create your own narrative to play alongside landmark events, even if it flies somewhat in the face of popular opinion or indeed what actually happened; a prime example of which being the Borg vs McEnroe Wimbledon final of 1980.

I was aware that my dad was vehemently siding with the ice-cool Swede and that “McEnroe” was to him and many others, essentially a dirty word.

I suppose that John McEnroe and his propensity for ‘ripe’ language and poor sportsmanship wouldn’t have placed him particularly high in any well-meaning parent’s list of ideal role models for their kids.

In my mind, though, I somehow managed to position Mr McEnroe as the poor, misunderstood, put-upon underdog, up against the machine-like oppressor, Björn Borg. Even then, I was distrustful of ‘the man’ and of popular opinion, and never having been adverse to adopting a contrary stance, watching Janus Metz’ thoroughly entertaining (if rather titularly-uninspired) Borg vs McEnroe, it really brought into sharp focus just how contrary and potentially inaccurate in fact my particular take on events had been.

Borg was a hugely successful and universally loved tennis player whose cool exterior, it would seem, belied his true personality. Borg, unbeknownst to most, was in fact prone to histrionics, explosive outbursts and tantrums, ironically the same character traits that had earned John McEnroe (initially at least) the moniker of world’s most universally reviled sports personality – or words to that effect.

Of course, to the world of professional tennis, Borg was unrecognisable from this former volatile incarnation of himself. His coach and mentor, Lennart Bergelin (Stellan Skarsgård), had seen to that, ensuring that Björn would internalise all of this rage and release it only through his tennis. This Borg did of course, to devastating effect, resulting in four straight Wimbledon titles, and the opportunity to notch up an unprecedented fifth against the fast-rising American star, John McEnroe.

Janus Metz’s film not only tracks the build up to this epic encounter, detailing the two players’ massively different approaches to big match preparation, but delves back in time by way of a number of flashback scenes, demonstrating how the players had made their way in the game and came to be two of sport’s most prominent characters of the 1980’s.

Sverrir Gudnason does a good job in demonstrating the cool, calm and collected nature of Borg, a perception that was only true, it seems, on a rather superficial level, masking well a man increasingly uncomfortable and at odds with his fame.

Shia LaBeouf, on the other hand – all punk rock, head bands and resplendent in a Ramones T-shirt – is superb as the hyper-active, twitchy, McEnroe; the Alex Higgins of the tennis world, if you will. His portrayal is that of a man on the defensive. Quick-to-anger, this coiled spring of a character, much like Borg, used his explosive tendencies for the benefit of his (if no-one else’s) tennis performances. Unlike Borg, however, McEnroe was obviously not one for internalising anything!

Metz’s film is not without its faults. One of a few particularly clunky moments occurs during the film’s re-enactment of the classic final. A cigar-smoking Swedish commentator up in the Centre Court’s gantry, enthuses about one of the sets going into a tie-break, and then proceeds to spell out to the watching / listening millions, kindergarten-style, exactly what a tie-break is, and how its point scoring system works. Whilst it’s of course important to acknowledge that not every one of your target audience is all-knowledgable with regards to the rules of the game, it’s this kind of pandering to an audience’s lowest common denominator that does tend to cheapen any claim that Borg Vs McEnroe may have to be anything other than a superficial glossy, token overview of the game of tennis.

Perhaps that was in fact the director’s intentions?

Either way, don’t let Metz’s propensity for the obvious and the unashamedly Hollywood deter you. Borg vs McEnroe is most certainly a terrifically entertaining film.

Living in an age as we do now in which sport is increasingly about the big business angle – and being happy to acknowledge that the 1980’s was far from a time of purity and innocence – Borg vs McEnroe nevertheless whisks its audience along on a refreshingly rose-tinted trip down memory lane, to a time when not just tennis, but sport in general, was inundated with engaging characters, and the notion of sport for sport’s sake was very much alive and well.

Film Review: Force Majeure

The admittedly very little Swedish cinema that I have seen over the years seems to share a similar approach in its direction; a rather cold, aloof, yet intense style.

‘Force Majeure’ is no exception.

I say cold and aloof as a good thing in this instance and a refreshing antidote to the plethora of overblown CGi-fests that come spewing from the Hollywood machine with such depressing regularity.

Ironically, Force Majeure actually sounds like it should be a big budget, Hollywood action flick but the truth is far from this.

It’s a film stripped back to the bare essentials, exposing characters and their intensifying troubles, warts and all.

Tomas, Ebba and their family are taking a luxurious ski trip in the French Alps. Importantly, it’s a rare opportunity for hard-working Father Tomas, to spend some quality time with his two children, Harry and Vera.

Things don’t turn out quite as relaxing as they might have hoped for though. An apparently close brush with death in the form of an on-rushing avalanche, shakes them all up considerably, but it’s in the wake of this incident that the story starts to unfurl.

Tomas’ gut reaction in the face of this impending snowy doom is to flee rather than staying put to protect his family and it is this that plants the seeds of trouble, upheaval and doubt within the family unit.

Ebba’s faith in Tomas is potentially,  irrevocably affected, as she finds it increasingly difficult to live with this memory and stand by her man.

Tomas is insistant that the truth has simply been lost in the understandable confusion of fear and adrenalin, but with first the children’s demonstrable disapproval and then Ebba’s reluctance to simply brush events under the carpet, things are always likely to unravel… and how!

Force Majeure is expertly directed by Ruben Östlund. It’s refreshingly open and uncluttered and in Johannes Kuhnke and Lisa Loven Kingsli, there are performances of subtlety yet great conviction.

The luxurious Alpine ski resort is the perfect setting, for there is a lingering sense that whilst it’s a welcome, cosy and relaxing retreat, there is, much in the sense of Kubrik’s ”The Shining,’ also no place to go; certainly no place to which Tomas can escape, away from the festering circumstances that increasingly plague him and place him in ‘relationship dock.’

It’s a challenging piece; a film that, within the bounds of the family dynamic, investigates gender roles and more importantly gender ‘expectations’ in a world of increasingly blurred lines between the two.

It’s also a film of subtle optimism with a reassuring message that no matter how much we mess up, there’s always tomorrow and the chance that life will throw us an olive branch when we least expect it.

It’s important that we grab it and tread that unexpected yet very welcome path to salvation.

Force Majeure: Highly recommended.

GIG REVIEW: David Icke – Wembley Arena, 2014.

In rooting around the internet, hoping to unearth a mainstream review of the aforementioned gig, I happened upon a piece by Will Self relating, to some extent at least, to David Icke. It was from back in 2012 from Self’s Madness of Crowds column for the New Statesman magazine, in which Self, a confessed non-Icke type, suggests that through meeting someone who did believe in Icke’s theories and by whose own personal story of sufferance yet selfless caring, Self was suitably touched, he not only gained a deep respect for this someone, but in some ways a sort of small respect by proxy for David Icke himself.

Perhaps that’s stretching the truth a little, but in Self’s own words, “I don’t believe in Icke for a second – but I do believe in Raj (Self’s friend), fervently. And if great crowds of Raj-a-likes believe Icke speaks sense then it’s a mistake to dismiss their belief as mere ignorance and credulousness.”

It’s refreshing to hear. Self is clearly not sold on the Icke, dot-connecting view of life, the universe and everything – fair enough – but when the world is seemingly awash with academics and folk at the so called ‘pinnacle’ of their respective fields who are quick to dismiss, out-of-hand, any other possibility of ‘how it is,’ Self at least is big enough to admit that there can potentially be, given the right set of aligning circumstances, more than one way of looking at things. Life and ‘how it is’ is not necessarily a fait accompli.

Indeed, to the vast majority, the world is ‘what we know’ and any other possibilities therefore are not truly infinite, but instead finite, made up only from within the  boundaries of our imaginations, which of course are dictated by what we already have come to know and accept could be possible – It’s the trapped, bubble mindset view of mankind and one that polices itself, chastising and ridiculing those that dare venture out from its safe, yet limited visual range.

It’s good therefore to know that there are people out there that are willing not just to pin-prick that bubble, but to attempt to remove it entirely, sticking their heads above the parapet, fully aware of the implications that could follow.

This of course leads us nicely on to the man himself, Mr David Icke; a man that’s been exploring the nature of the world and reality for a cool quarter of a century now, ever since his ‘eureka moment’ back in 1989; a man who was ready and willing to impart his findings to a gathered throng on an overcast, Autumnal day in North London.

It’s fair to say that Wembley was a home crowd for Icke on this occasion, supportive and providing the kind of arena (excuse the pun) in which David Icke thrives these days; indeed the sort of setting that is actually essential for Icke’s views to be allowed to come across unencumbered by the inevitable interruption and censorship that the vast majority of mainstream media outlets can’t help themselves but provide.

I’ve actually been to Icke’s marathon day seminar events on two prior occasions to this. Once back in 2009 in Gothenburg in an event that really wrong-footed me. An incredibly emotional and even overwhelming experience at times, something I simply wasn’t expecting. The time prior to that was at London’s Brixton Academy.

Both of these events had felt quite dry and functional (not a bad thing); but definitely events more tailored to the die-hard ‘fan’ (for want of a better word), although saying that, it really opened my eyes as to what a David Icke ‘fan’ actually is. The sheer variety and wide spectrum of people that felt compelled to listen for a whole nine hours, on both occasions, to the middle-aged man with the big ideas, from the little old Isle of Wight, was heartening. No right wing, fascist, jew haters here; the type that lazy media hacks would have you believe follow Icke into and around his nut house; just a collection of open-minded, inquisitive people of all types and persuasions.

October 2014 Wembley Arena felt like a slightly different beast, not least in that it was punctuated occasionally by music from bands and some tremendous African-influenced drumming with ‘free’ dance to accompany, even provoking the arthritic sixty-two year old himself to shuffle about on stage in the sort of joyous, contented abandon that could bring a smile to anyone’s face. Certainly, when one is fully aware of Icke’s story and the kind of ridicule, persecution and back-stabbing that the man has endured at times over the last twenty-five years, it’s truly uplifting to see him, no matter your feelings or convictions about his output, in such a good place in his life now, surrounded by so many people that care and believe in him or even just those that were curious enough to turn up and actually find out a little of what he’s really about. Both of Icke’s sons were in attendance too; both contributing here in different, very positive ways.

Jaymie Icke (his youngest) has by all accounts, spent the entire year leading up to the day, organising the entire event, whilst eldest son and musician Gareth provided, with his band, excellent musical respite from the seminar sessions, fitting of the big Arena they were playing in.

Interestingly, Gareth had by all accounts been offered a handsome contract from one of the major record labels with two stipulations; disown your father and change your name. Needless to say, neither happened and the label reps were told where to shove their contract.

Good.

But what of the day’s content? Afterall, that’s what everyone came for.

To be honest and without deliberately avoiding the question, trying to summarise eleven hours or so of information into one, media-friendly paragraph, phrase or soundbite, or even to create what I believe would be termed a David Icke ‘elevator pitch’ (in business circles), would be to do the man a massive discredit and thoroughly under-sell his life’s work. The world is an impatient place and everyone seemingly needs everything in double-quick time; to be fed information in easy-to-digest, bite-sized, dumbed-down chunks and quite simply, it doesn’t work that way. You simply have to put in the hours. Pick up one of Icke’s books and read it, cover to cover or maybe attend one of these seminars if you get the chance and thereby get a good overview. Anything less is denying yourself the more complete and revealing picture and the opportunity to fashion an informed, personal opinion, rather than the fallback of borrowing someone else’s.

There’s certainly some weird and wonderful stuff that’s covered and things that I myself don’t fully buy into, but as I’m quick to point out to both myself and others, there’s as much chance of that being down to my own limitations in what I perceive to be possible, as to what actually is possible, yet lies outside the boundaries of my own, restricted knowledge base.

All we know is that none of us know everything. That really is the bottom line. Once we accept that, we can set about opening our minds and I, for one, like to keep an open mind.

At 9pm or so, along with a number of other suitably enlightened souls, I finally departed the venue with a tired brain and aching back. Watching for eleven hours from the flanks, with a twisted torso, is not something I whole-heartedly recommend, although Danny, (the physics major and self-confessed ‘truth investigator’ sat to my right for the day; all dreadlocks, wide-eyed enthusiasm and rainbow rhythm dance moves – think Jez and Mark in Peep Show), entertained me suitably throughout, making the physical aches and pains a little more bearable!

Above all though, I left with a feeling that the trappings of mainstream media just cannot provide; a feeling that I’d not been treated like an idiot.

I should add here that Icke was still going strong at this point, introducing enthusiastically yet another band, as the final, truly uplifting segment of his show continued, unabated. Impressive and inspiring in equal measures, so much so that I felt a little guilty for sneaking out half an hour before the event finally wrapped up for the day. Still, I’d racked up ten and a half hours of credit. I think I can be forgiven.

You take away what you will from a David Icke gig. As the man himself has said in the past, “The last thing the world needs is another bloody prophet telling you what to do, so here’s some information, it’s up to you what you do with it.” Quite right too.

David Icke is an information gatherer and dot connector. Much of ‘his’ information is not his at all but gleaned from a multitude of other sources, always however researched to a particularly thorough degree.

You may not buy into Icke’s view of things or the outcomes that he derives, but if people are to discredit him, then they owe it to themselves to thoroughly investigate what he actually represents before they do so, rather than taking the easy route that so many do,  passing the ‘David Icke’s a conspiracy theorist nutter’ lazy, media opinion off as their own.  Failing this, one really does forgo the right to an opinion; not just on this, but on any subject at all.

I like the man. I like his contrary stance on things, it sits well with me and my own particular views and leanings that I’ve adopted over the years and having monitored Icke’s output closely since the turn of the century, I don’t really need any convincing that the man speaks more sense than potentially not; certainly more sense than any political figure, past or present, that I can think of, in my lifetime.

Twenty-five years of travelling the planet, researching the madness of the world we live in and the nature of reality – all in search of the truth; that, in my eyes, if nothing else, deserves a bit of respect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FILM REVIEW: Vi är bäst! (We are the best)

Well, well, well. Some of life’s little treats sometimes come from the most unexpected of sources and a Sunday morning, free viewing of this Swedish offering, thanks to the ever excellent Greenwich Picture House Cinema, was just precisely that.

Aside from testing my poor Swedish language skills, it was an opportunity to reminisce a little following my relatively recent time spent in the wonderful land of Sweden.

‘Vi är bäst’ is a delightful, gem of a film, acted out by a young, ever so naturally talented cast that had me hooked from start to finish.

On a personal note, a particular highlight was the amusing Västerås lampooning. Västerås is a Swedish town in the province of Dalarna that I’m rather familiar with (and have absolutely no problem or axe to grind with at all, I should add).

The all girl, punk outfit improvise on the night of ‘Tomta Rock’ and re-write their ‘Hate the Sport’ anthem to instead ‘Hate the Västerås’ thus getting under the skin of some irate locals and earning the unenviable moniker of ‘Communist Cunts’ in the process! Only a dutiful Santa Claus is on hand to avert much ensuing carnage.

It’s all most amusing, but I suspect it will be lost on those unfamiliar with the territory.

“They say that punk rock is dead, well it isn’t” – and that’s the premise of this innocent, coming of age tale that’s touching, charming and amusing in equal measure.

Highly enjoyable, early 80s, Swedish fun.

Mycket bra!