April was admittedly a little quiet on the Nordic front – there were no TV shows released in the UK and only a handful of films – but that didn’t stop us from discovering some top picks to share with you! Get ready for May and June because there are lots of exciting movies coming our way, and we have some amazing interviews to share!
Compartment No 6 | CURZON Home Cinema
Curzon Cinema made us very happy here at Nordic Watchlist as they released the much anticipated Juho Kuosmanen’s Compartment No 6. Adapted from Rosa Likom’s novel, this is a beautiful movie that sees Laura (played by the excellent Seidi Haarla) head off on a train journey across Russia where she has to share her compartment with a complete stranger, the boisterous Ljoha (Yuriy Borisov). The pair clash heads, but what might they learn from each other?
This is a truly wonderful ride and its stars put in a fantastic performance that is both comical and heart-breaking. The film picked up a lot of accolades and only just missed out on getting selected as Finland’s entry for the Academy Award.
EXIT PLAN | Amazon Prime
Once again we had to burrow deep into Amazon Prime’s bundle of films to discover some hidden Nordic surprises – Exit Plan being one of those. It was originally released in 2019 but it has taken some time getting a UK release after the pandemic.
But finally you can get to watch the excellent Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in this very mysterious thriller by Danish director Jonas Alexander Arnby.
The story follows Max Isaksen, an insurance detective, who investigates a case which leads him to checking into the mysterious Hotel Aurora that helps its clients with their suicide fantasies. It is a quiet film that movies at a gentle pace but packs in some great performances and stunning scenery.
Marc talks us through which two books jumped out at him this month….
Reptile Memoirs by Silje Ulstein
Regular readers of our articles will know that this book has been on my radar for some time and was in fact featured in my 10 releases to look out for this year back in January . It’s fair to say it didn’t disappoint. It’s unique, it’s clever and wow, it’s dark!!
The book is set across two different timelines; one beginning in Alesund in 2003 and the other in Kristiansund in 2017. The first timeline follows Liv who, after getting high with her housemates becomes obsessed with, and soon after becomes the owner of, a snake; specifically a python. She names it Nero and it’s fair to say that they quickly develop what is a rather bizarre relationship. We even get to read about it from the snake’s viewpoint! The later timeline begins with Mariam and her daughter Iben out shopping. When Mariam refuses to buy Iben a magazine, the latter storms off. Mariam doesn’t follow and expects that Iben will simply make her way home. However, when Iben doesn’t make her way home, panic ensues and the police soon become involved.
As the reader you know full well that the timelines are all going to connect somehow but good luck guessing how! Comfortably one of my favourite books of the year so far.
Cigarettes by Per Hagman
It’s a rare non-noir pick for my second selection of the month and one that was in fact first published, at least in Sweden, back in 1991. It’s set in Stockholm and follows Johan, a young waiter at the Hard Rock Cafe who spends his time drinking, taking drugs, having sex and watching music videos. However, as it progresses you get a sense he’s not finding it all quite as fun as he used to. There’s an undercurrent of loneliness and a lack of purpose and you get a sense, as the story develops, that Johan is starting to long for something more out of life. It’s a really fascinating read and given it forms part of what’s described as a ‘loose trilogy’, I hope we see the remaining two published before long. Over to you Nordisk Books!
Look out for interviews with author Silje Ulstein and publisher Nordisk Books in the upcoming months!
Here are some of our other highlights from the month:
- We spoke to one of the young stars of the Icelandic film Beautiful Beings – Birgur Dagur Bjarkason
- Director Alexandra Therese Keining talked to us about her work on the new Swedish series Lea The Fighter
- Finnish author Antti Tuomainen talked to Marc about his book The Rabbit Factor
- Short film director Jeppe Lange discussed his fascinating film ‘Abyss’ which featured at CPH:DOX
- Aslaug Holm spoke to Alex about her work on Aha:The Movie and Generation Utoya
- Photographer Johan Tappert talked to Nordic Watchlist’s Marc about Stockholm street photography and working on The Last Marriage
Feature by Alex Minnis & Marc Harries