Movie Review: The Wedding Photographer (2009)

I enjoy a bit of photography. I may not own an actual camera (though I’d really like to), but if I see potential in a spot or situation then I whip out my phone and snap a pic. Even during the Summer, this Swede takes some pictures. Wow, that was a clumsy tie-in to this series of mine… fuck it, it works.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Wedding Photographer” (Original title: Bröllopsfotografen).

After the place he works at shuts down, Robin (Björn A. Ling) decides to take this new opportunity to move to Stockholm and pursue his dream of becoming a wedding photographer. And as he starts acquiring work and nestling himself in with some of the finer folks of the city, his life starts changing quite a bit. What at the start just seems like a romantic comedy with a poor goofball in a rich man’s world spin soon turns into more of a satire of class divide and how people might change if they try to look good for the allegedly “fine” people out there. And I found myself very entertained by the narrative. Sure, it’s not the most original premise, I could probably even think of a few films with similar setups, but as per usual it’s the execution that matters. And the execution of the story here is fun and entertaining, with a few decent nuances on occasion. The pacing does drag a little in a few parts, but for the most part I found myself just having a good time with the story here.

The characters in this are colorful, charming, and overall just entertaining. Björn A. Lind (credited here as Björn Starrin) plays Robin, a likable and somewhat ambitious young man hailing from the boonies in the northwest of Sweden. He has a bit of an interesting arc here that I found surprisingly engaging. And Lind is really good in the role. Next we have Kjell Bergqvist as Jonny Björk, a former comedian trying to make it as a more serious actor. He’s the one helping Robin get his foot in the door, and their bond is one of the best parts of the movie. And Bergqvist is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Tuva Novotny, Johannes Brost, Lotta Tejle, Johan Östling, Anastasios Soulis, and many more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the film was composed by Jimmy Lagnefors, and it was okay. A bit charming, a bit dramatic, a bit eclectic. It works for the most part within the various scenes, even if it feels a little weird or eclectic at times.

“The Wedding Photographer” was written, edited, and directed by Ulf Malmros, and I think he did a really good job with it. He has a good way of keeping energy up in scenes without making anything feel rushed, creating a vibe that made me really feel part of the experience. I also have to mention the cinematography by Mats Olofsson, because it’s great. A lot of fun long takes, some clever camera movements, it just adds another layer of quality to the storytelling and overall enjoyment.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 48% audience score. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.9/10.

While I think some of the humor will get lost in translation, I highly enjoyed “The Wedding Photographer”. It has a fun plot, good characters, great performances, okay music, and great directing/editing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Wedding Photographer” is an 8,44/10. So I’d argue that it can be worth buying.

My review of “The Wedding Photographer” is now completed.

Say cheese.

Movie Review: Borg vs. McEnroe (2017)

I took a break from Swedish films for a bit, but now I’m back, ready to continue this Summer of the Swedes thing I’m doing. So let’s go.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gents… “Borg vs. McEnroe”.

Famous tennis players Björn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) and John McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf) have a bit of an ongoing rivalry, both at the top of their game, both well known. And soon this rivalry might come to a head in the 1980 Wimbledon tournament. However, the movie is not just one long tennis match. It jumps back and forth in time a lot, showing us the upbringing of these men, as well as giving us a lot of their issues relating to their present situation. It’s very much a character study of these two complex and honestly fucked up individuals. And for the most part I found myself quite engaged by it, as the writing does give a lot of nuance to proceedings. It’s not a pure “hero/villain” or “adoration of giants” narrative, this shows that none of these guys are perfect. The story does step into a fair bit of the trappings that can be found within the biopic genre, and the pacing can be a little wonky in the first half, but overall I do still think the story works here thanks to some of the nuances within the writing.

The characters in this are layered, and overall just quite interesting. Sverrir Gudnason plays Björn Borg, a seasoned tennis player with multiple world titles under his belt. However, while this skill and fame is something people look up to, he is a much more tragic and meticulous individual, his mind isn’t all joy and tennis wins. I don’t know how else to explain it, the dude’s a fascinating person. And Gudnason is great in the role, giving a very reserved but still nuanced performance. Next is Shia LaBeouf as John McEnroe, Borg’s rival. He too carries a lot of emotional baggage, which we do find out about through the movie. And he is quite a compelling character, with LaBeouf giving what might be a career best performance. We also get supporting work from people like Stellan Skarsgård, Tuva Novotny, Scott Arthur, Ian Blackman, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

Unlike most movies, which have one composer, this one has four. Vladislav Delay, Jon Ekstrand, Carl-John Sevedag, and Johan Struck all contributed in some way to the score here. And despite there being so many names attached to it, the music is surprisingly coherent, giving us an intriguing blend of traditional orchestral elements with some electronic mixing to give it an intriguing and emotionally resonant sound that works pretty well within the movie. There’s also a few licensed tunes used throughout, and they work alright too.

“Borg vs. McEnroe” was directed by Janus Metz, who I think did a really good job with it. He knows how to really get you in the minds of the characters, all without losing the wider scope of the scene around them, giving us a good look at the full situation. This is further helped out by Niels Thastum’s slick cinematography, along with the spectacular editing from Per Kirkegaard and Per Sandholt. In terms of the technical craft, this movie is terrific.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 84% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 63/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.9/10.

While it does fall into some biopic trappings at times, “Borg vs. McEnroe” is still a damn fine character drama. It has a pretty good story, really good characters, great performances, good music, and fantastic directing/cinematography/editing. Time for my final score. *Smacks ball*. My final score for “Borg vs. McEnroe” is an 8,77/10. So it’s certainly worth buying.

My review of “Borg vs. McEnroe” is now completed.

SPORTSBALL, WOO!

Movie Review: Annihilation (2018)

As much as I like big, action-packed, sci-fi movies, I do admit that I could take less of it in exchange for sci-fi flicks on the brainier side. Luckily for me, it seems like Alex Garland will be the one to provide those types of movies. So let’s talk about his latest.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Annihilation”.

After he husband seemingly goes missing, a biologist (Natalie Portman) signs on to a mission to explore this strange zone where everything has mutated. And as the biologist and her team goes into this zone, they soon experience a journey that is as scary as it is fascinating. So now we have our sci-fi plot. But it’s not just a “go and look at weird mutations” type story, as it’s a deep and layered exploration of a lot of mature themes. It’s difficult to talk about this plot without accidentally spoiling it, so I’m gonna stop explaining the plot here. But let’s just say that I found it all to be quite riveting. The only flaw I have is that it starts out quite slow. But it doesn’t really take anything away from the plot, at least not in the grand scheme of things, especially since it gets going soon enough. Sure, the entire thing is fairly slow-paced, but aside from the start, I don’t mind this slower pace. So overall I think this is a great plot.

The characters in this I will not go too in-depth with, as their development is best left experienced. But I do think most of them get really good development, whether it’s through what we see, or through a piece of dialog. In the core team we have Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, and Tuva Novotny. And they all deliver really good performances. We also get Oscar Isaac in a supporting role as Natalie Portman’s husband, and Isaac is of course damn good in the role. Everyone’s good. ’tis a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow, and they did a really good job with it. The score here is very dreamlike, adding to the strange and uneasy feeling of the environment that the team are exploring. It also helps in building tension and emotion throughout. There’s also a few licensed tracks used throughout, and they work pretty well within their scenes.

Based on a novel by Jeff VanderMeer, this movie was written and directed by Alex Garland (as mentioned in the beginning of the post). And while I can’t compare how accurately Garland captures VanderMeer’s novel, due to not having read said novel, I can give my thoughts on Garland’s overall direction. And it’s really good. Like with the music, Garland gives the movie a very dreamlike feeling throughout, which helps give it a very unique mood that we almost never see in movies. It really helps this strange place feel even more realized and interesting. There’s also a lot of tension in Garland’s direction, both in normal walking scenes, and in scenes where things do happen. Rob Hardy’s cinematography is also really good, this place looks fantastic. And for any sensitive viewers out there, “Annihilation” has some really gruesome imagery in it. The only reason why I’m mentioning this is because I can stomach blood/gore in movies, but the shit you see in this movie somehow got to me. So there’s your warning.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 87% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 79/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10.

“Annihilation” isn’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for a slow and brainy science fiction movie, then I highly recommend it. It has a great plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography/effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Annihilation” is a 9,62/10. Even though the start is a little slow, it still gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Annihilation” is now completed.

To quote Winnie the Pooh: Think, think, think…