The Swedish film program at Lincoln Center closed last night with a packed screening of The Girl Who Played with Fire. The movie is the second installment in the trilogy of movies based on Stieg Larsson’s Millennium books.
As it opens, Lisbeth Salander, played by the intense and physically spare Noomi Rapace, is in a luxury villa on the sea, recuperating from her previous ordeals. Then she returns to Stockholm, where she quietly buys herself a large turn-of-the-century apartment with all the trimmings.
(c) Yellow Bird Millennium Rights, Photo Knut Koivisto
This being an action movie Lisbeth doesn’t have much time to rest on her laurels. The Millennium editors are about to publish a story on trafficking victims and their Johns, which leads the perky young couple who have broken the story to an untimely demise. Lisbeth barely has time to reconnect with her old lover (in a scene that had people all around me squeezing their arm rests) before she’s in trouble again.
Lisbeth goes on the lam armed with a taser and a thirst for vengeance. There are car chases, beautifully choreographed boxing fights, even a scene reminiscent of Easy Rider. All performed by a star-studded cast of Swedish actors (Lena Endre! Per Oscarsson! and, uhm, Paolo Roberto!) and set among some really top-notch Stockholm real estate.
There is talk of a Hollywood remake, but really that seems redundant as director Daniel Alfredson has done a great job in a genre that traditionally has been hard to get right: Action in Swedish.
The sampling of recent shorts featured everything from brief animated sequences like Johannes Nyholm’s Dreams from the Woods, to Stig Björkman’s documentary and almost-to-long-to-be-a-short Images From the Playground.
The latter shows snippets of film shot by Ingmar Bergman (with his home camera). The outtakes and behind the scenes footage from sets and vacations is set to interviews with Bergman and his leading ladies. The film is centered around each of them: Harriet Andersson, Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann. Bergman says of his trinity of actresses, “We’ve had intense personal relationships, roles and films have been shaped by that.” Such revelations are more or less what one would expect. Others may surprise the audience, such as the tidbit that Bergman, master of severity, liked to ham it up to amuse his cast, among other things by imitating Groucho Marx.
Jonas Odell’s Lies (awarded at Sundance) a semi-animated short in three chapters in which three liars tell stories of big and small lies they’ve told in their lives is fascinating both to look at and listen to.
Good Advice by Andreas Tibblin is another poignant story: A chubby boy, Rasmus feels he falls short of his gym teacher father’s expectations. In the privacy of his room, where astronomy posters decorate the walls, he records a tape for his unborn brother, giving him advice for how to best live with his parents. Advice Rasmus wants to impart as he will not be there to give it in person; he is about to run away. The frantic search that follows and Rasmus’s advice in things big and small, is humorous as well as heart-wrenching.