The Moviesite Spotlight: MikesFilmTalk

The Moviesite Spotlight: MikesFilmTalk

Nostra over at myfilmviews.com has done a spotlight on my WordPress blog site. It’s very good and in appreciation I’m posting a link to his site and my “spot-light” here.

Jägarna aka The Hunters (1996) Swedish Straw Dogs

Directed and co-written by Kjell Sundvall, The Hunters proves that Thomas Wolfe was right; you can’t go home again. Or at least you probably shouldn’t as the main protagonist Erik Backstrom finds when he returns to his hometown of Norrbotten. Erik is a detective from Stockholm where he gained the status of hero after catching a criminal who also shot him.

He returns home to attend his father’s funeral and he tells his brother Leif that he is returning to Norrbotten now that his kids have all grown and left home. He puts in for a transfer to the local police station and as there is a vacancy it is approved. He soon finds that small town police have a very bad habit of turning a blind eye to what they consider “victimless crime.”

In this case the crime is reindeer poaching on a massive scale. No one really cares about the Laplander’s animal’s being slaughtered as they are reimbursed by the government. Erik goes to investigate the latest incident and finds that his new partner is less than eager to pursue the matter. Once they return to the station, he discovers that the killings have been going on for a long time and he starts to realize the size of the problem.

As Erik delves deeper into the poaching problem, the local populace start to turn against him and the group of hunters he suspects include his brother. After a day of fishing one of the group Tomme starts needling Erik and he goes out to Tomme’s truck and confiscates his rifles to see if they are licensed or not.

They are not and the guns are supposed to be destroyed. Unfortunately Erik’s partner is related to Tomme and the guns are given back to him. As the heat on the men increases with each investigative act by Erik, they fall behind in their meat supplies and go out hunting in a bit of a hurry.

Tomme a Swedish good old boy.

They spy a deer while driving through the woods and using the truck they chase it down. Tomme shoots from the moving vehicle and when the men go to find the body, they find that Tomme has shot and killed a Russian blackberry picker by mistake. The men decide to cover up the accidental shooting and things quickly turn murderous.

In The Hunters, Kjell Sunderland tells us that you don’t have to live in the backwoods of America to find rednecks or people who act like creepy “inbred” hillbillies. The feeling you get after meeting the local “boys” in Norrbotten is that they would not be out-of-place in John Boorman‘s Deliverance country or the fictional Cornwall village of Wakely in Sam Peckinpah‘s Strawdogs.

These locals are not friendly if you don’t agree with what they do. Outsiders are treated as second class citizens and they are not above ostracizing people they don’t like. When they were younger Erik moved away while Leif stayed in the village. Their father was a cruel and harsh father who beat Leif often. In a scene early on in the film, Erik says that he always felt guilty about leaving Leif behind and asks if the “old man” beat him often. Leif replies off-handily that the beatings did not hurt him and that he was okay.

The film then goes on to show that Leif is far from okay and as the two brothers begin to argue the cracks of Leif’s “good-old-boy” facade begin to show and we realise that he is in fact a pretty nasty bit of work; someone who flouts the law and is not above shooting his own dog dead for disobedience.

This Swedish film was one of the biggest hits at the box office in 1996. *Courtesy of Wikipedia.* After viewing it, you can see why. The movie has been put together extremely well and the suspense of this tight intricate thriller is almost unbearable at times. It can also be very uncomfortable to watch and not a little frustrating as we see Erik getting more caught up in the action.

As Erik uncovers more evidence that will catch the poachers, more evidence becomes hidden. When he decides to “go public” the entire town and the police department turn against him.

The film captures the small town xenophobic practice of closing in against “outsiders” and the awkwardness of returning to your childhood home and finding that things have changed and discovering that even your family has a few skeletons in the closet. The Hunters feels like a Swedish Strawdogs meets Deliverance with a dash of Walking Tall thrown in.

Not a group that you’d want to go out drinking with; or hunting.

Spiritually the film belongs in that same sort of genre that so put the average tourist off of visiting rural America’s back roads. In this case though, I do feel like if I ever had the opportunity to visit Sweden, I’d stay on the well beaten track and avoid small villages. I am sure that Sweden is a safe place to visit as long as you don’t go hunting with the locals or wander out to pick blackberries.

Actor Rolf Lassgård plays Erik and he is an excellent actor. Well known in Sweden, he made me think (for some odd reason) of John Goodman. All the actors really sold the film with special kudos going to Jarmo Mäkinen as Tomme and Tomas Norström as the mentally challenged dog breeder Ove. I also fell in love with Helena Bergström as the Prosecuting Attorney and who has actually worked with Rolf before.

Another great “Scandi-crime” film and one well worth the effort involved to track it down. My final verdict is 4 and a half stars.

*Warning: this film contains scenes of animal dismemberment and a lot of blood and literal guts. If you are offended by seeing what appears to be real butchery of animals do not watch the first moments of this film.*

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If animal bloodshed makes you feel like this, avoid the film. (actor Rolf Lassgård as Erik)

Super Sweet Blogger Award…Sweeeeet!

I’ve got to thank Rich over at Sunday Night Blog for nominating me for the Super Sweet Blogger Award…formally. I have thanked him informally via another post My Life in 2012: Rock on 2013 but I promised to do it properly later and later is today.

Firstly I’d like to take a minute to address these awards that we so frequently award one another. Are they just thinly disguised self promotion? After all the first of any rule dealing with the acceptance of any award is always to thank the person nominating you and to link back to their site.

So perhaps they are. But, is that a bad thing? In my honest opinion no, we all need to support the blogging community and in doing so elevate our own blog in the process. Almost all the rules for these awards include telling your readers interesting (hopefully) things about you the blogger. Things that (again hopefully) will help the community understand you and your “style” a bit better. This is another way of self promoting, but as I have said before, it is not a bad thing.

If people like your blog, they want to see who you read and follow. This will not only introduce them to more bloggers, but it will also give them an idea of your interests which may, or may not, give them a better picture of you. I have always maintained that the award system is a bit of fun; a chance to “share the wealth” as it were.

Because blogging is not just about the writing, the pictures, the themes or the daily challenges; (which I do not do by the way as they feel too much like high school writing assignments and I hated high school academia) it is about community and sharing ideas. Meeting new folks and finding out new styles of writing or just plain interesting viewpoints. Sometimes it’s just about being pleasantly surprised that someone else out there shares your passions or ideas.

So blogging is not just sharing your ideas and thoughts and views it’s about connecting.

I read somewhere months ago that most of these awards were “developed” for bloggers who have less than 200 followers. I am lucky, between Tumblr and WordPress (and excluding those numbers set aside for publicize) my follower count is 210 (216 if you count publicize). I look at the number of people who follow my tiny effort at communication and I am awed. Do I consider myself above the award “threshold” or too big to play? No, of course not, because then I cannot go on to include other sites in the award process and spread the love.

So, to Rich over at Sunday Night Blog I say, again, thanks mate for thinking of me when you thought about passing around the award.

Now that I have taken the longest way around the barn possible, I’ll relay the rules of this prestigious award:

1. Give credit to the person who chooses to nominate you

2. Answer the “Super Sweet” questions.

3. Nominate a “Baker’s Dozen”

The super sweet questions are:

1. Cookies or cake? Cookies. Not just any old ordinary cookies either. The old-fashioned (as when I was a boy) Girl Scout Peanut Butter cookies. Oh man!

2. Chocolate or vanilla. Chocolate every time.

3. What is your favourite sweet treat, cheesecake or frozen yoghurt? That’s a toughie…frozen yoghurt.

4.When do you crave sweet things the most? I don’t as a rule crave sweet things, but I’d have to say probably after a meal.

5. If you had a sweet nickname what would it be? Of all the people who could have a “sweet” nickname, I would not be one of them. The only ‘handle’ I’ve ever had besides my own name was Texas Ted (don’t ask, it’s a boring story).

*I will admit to cheating here. I answered these questions not too long back and after reading them again, realized that my answers would not change so I did a “cut and paste.” Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa.*

Lastly, the list of the Dirty Bakers Dozen (sorry I could not resist): *I must confess to another “cheat” here, in an effort to be “fair” I am submitting the last thirteen folks who followed my little blog. Any other way would drive me to distraction.*

If you are on my list and you want to accept the award in the spirit in which it given, just follow the rules and you can then post the award to your site. Until we blog again…