fredag 29 april 2016

JOHAN FALK SERIES PART 15: CODE NAME LISA





Previously on Johan Falk:

The events in Organizatsija Karayan has opened up suspicions on the way the drug trafficking/white slavery trading or whatever these scumbags are up to have been constantly intercepted by Swedish Police. We got introduced to a shady mob guy named Dudajev, that runs the Karayan organization.

Another shady guy,scumbag lawyer Fredrixson who´ve we have seen before exactly as a scumbag lawyer to Nicolas Lehman in Executive Protection, has come across some information that Dudajev would possibly be interested in. About a certain informer

Frank Wagner and family is temporarily in Gothenburg to resolve some final issues before starting a new life in France. With them they have a shitton of money.

Stuff gets real.

Plot:

The cat is out of the bag or something like that. Frank Wagners secret identity as informer/infiltrator is now known to the crimnal underworld.

Asshole  assailants attack Frank Wagners family at their apartment. Frank shoots one of them point blank in the head,they flee, leave all their money and possessions behind. They seek shelter at Johan Falks house. Now they need for the GSI to live up to their promise and give them new identities.

Also, Sophie gets shot by unknown men in masks. What is going on?

But the leadership, the higherups do not believe that Frank should get away from what he has done, despite the blessings and the silent approval. They want to indict him. Ungrateful bastards.So Frank says fuck y´all and escapes. Now desperate, seperated from his family, hunted like an animal. What can he do?

Johan Falk and the GSI are figuring out how that information can have come into the wrong hands.
And it is not only Franks identity. the identities and personal information of GSI are out. That is why they attacked Sophie. And now target the families to get to Frank.

Jibber jabber:

This one feels more cinematic. It played theatrically in Sweden, which I can understand. It has more production values over it. The opening credits are more elaborate than usual, with close ups on Dudajev and flashes on case file reports in which Lisa ( Frank Wagners code name in the reports) has been part of accompanied by Bengt Nilssons  as usual great music that weaves different themes from the past harking back to Executive Protections haunting Oh crisuts valgus with the more recent ones.

It works also as a collage, a resumé of what has happened before. Remember Sam Raimis Spider-Man intros that had these animated events from previous films? This is kind of similar. I guess Frank Wagner is kind of a super hero, leading double lives :he  is Infiltrator-Man. That actually sounds horrible. I am glad he is not called that.

Speaking of production values ,there are some gorgeous shots  in Codename Lisa of Gothenburg:
If you stare to deeply into Gothenburg, then Gothenburg stares back at you

This is from the climax in which Wagner and GSI has setup a trap with him as bait. Here he prepares for walking into the criminal underbelly, into a gauntlet of sorts to lure out the foreign gangsters that are targeting Frank and GSI in order to get to them

This is the second movie (The Outlawed was the first) in which everything built up culminates in a confrontation. Both with the criminals but also with the law on the opposing side. Both targets the GSI and their methods. The consequences are now apparent. Like in The Outlawed, the bosses are not prepared to go the distance to stand up for something that was silently approved. But here it is less about hanging out GSI to dry for the media and more about not acceppting a civilian infiltrator that has killed people. they feel not obligated to live up to any deal that has been made. A Catch 22 situation here. The problem is, the reason why Frank has been so successful infiltrating is because he made those choices, did some awful stuff that solidified him as a believable hard ass in the eyes of the criminal underworld. GSI would not have gotten that type of information otherwise. It is a bit of a moral conundrum, but if you are dealing with  infiltartors you need to go all the way in order to be successful. And it does not exactly fit in in a modern democratic society. Is it really possible for a government to officially approve those methods without endangering democracy? 

As a result, when the heat starts to get turned up, the higher ups bail like chicken shits. Now, Franks position is so extraordinary, he is caught between two worlds, often opposed one another, but not always. He is the result of that. Caught in the middle of the acceptable society and the shady underworld that does not abide to some codes or laws other than the cheap value of human life. And in the eyes of the law it seem certain human life is not worth much either.

As I have written before, great crime dramas always show the more murky real life aspects of cops vs robbers. They may be two sides of the same coin in reality, and sometimes depending of how the coins is flipped it can come up either way depending of the circumstances. Johan Falks actions in the past has been highly questionable, now he stands up for an outlaw.

And in the end when they´ve caught Dudajev, Dudajev threatens to kill Frank and his family when he gets out. Frank prepares to shoot him, but Johan straight up executes Dudajev in his place. Making sure Frank can get away. Johan has done some questionable stuff in the past, but never executed someone before. We will see the consequences in later films.

Code name Lisa is one of the best entries in the series up until this point in the series. If not the best. It is highly exciting and thrilling as everything  in the bigger narrative  has been built up and explodes into a very enjoyable thriller. Rivaling Zero Tolerance and Executve Protection. It has some of the production values of Zero Tolerance, with great visuals of Gothenburg and the relentless suspense from Executive Protection.

I still feel that Falk has been for the most part of the series left a bit on the side.. He has not punched telephones into peoples faces, nor has he pistol whipped them into broken windowframes. But I guess I can´t get everything in life. What we have gotten so far is  a great infusion of crime drama meld with the action films aestethic from the first three outings.

Frank Wagner and family says bye bye.

But what happened to Frank really? Well I figured he settled down in France, but I found this image. What the hell is this:

That guy looks suspiciously like Frank Wagner. Playing videogames with President Frank Underwood? On further invetigations on the matter it turns out his name is Will Conway, a republican candidate for the Presidency of the United States. Does this mean Frank Wagner pulled a fast one on the American people? Are they going to vote for a former police informant from Sweden? I am curious how he has managed to keep this under the wraps. Not to mention what an idiot he must have been as he has a  pricetag on his life. .But it could also be a masterstroke on his part. Nobody fucks with a President or even a Presidential Candidate. He has more protection now than ever. I´ll take Secret Service over that shit that was the Swedish Police.They took care of him badly considering what he´d done for them.  It would be pretty funny if he´d won the election and he could come back to Sweden on a visit and push around the Swedish security as he saw fit.

I am curious to Seth Rydells reaction as he switch on the morning news and see this guys face on the telly. From Vice President in Rydells "Kalasklubb" to  Presidential Candidate of the goddamn United States of America.

That is quite  a success story.

Next time on Johan Falk:  Some sort of retrospective  of the series so far which delves more into "Falkology"






tisdag 26 april 2016

Small ramblings: BOUND from 1996

Bound is a real interesting piece of art. It is a clear genre piece. It is film noir. But also neo noir as it breaks the mould. Deconstructs the genre. It elevates itself by breaking genre conventions, making them stand on their head .It  breaks the mould a bit from conventions in terms of the femme fatale archetype being reused here for a different purpose. 

Lesbians have been dealt a pretty rough hand by Hollywood. Depicted as manipulative and devious in films like Basic Instinct, the femme fatale in that one was just an updated version., seemingly meant to accomodate modern viewers, but it failed in one particual aspect; treating the archetype as just the same. It was nothing new or groundbreaking. It just came out as mean spirited towards the lesbian or bisexual community.


But a  few years later came Bound.



The brainchild of Andy and Larry (later to become Lana) Wachowski, they crafted a clever genre piece to stand conventions on their head in a smart and new way especially dealing with the femme fatale.  Making the new modern version of the femme fatale that Basic Instinct never could or was smart enough to conceive.

Plot:

Corky (Gina Gershon) is just out of jail and in an elevator she comes across her new neighbour Violet (Jennifer Tilly) a gangsters moll who then proceeds seducing  Corky to concoct a scheme to steal money from Violets husband Ceasar (Joe Pantoliano) and run away from him.

Stuff to talk about:

At my newest viewing I feel Bound might be the most progressive, at least at the time, deptiction of lesbians. They are not portrayed as evil, Having girl-to-girl sex is not shameful, the film revels in the scenes like it should. It is okey for girls to have sexual experiences with each other if they so please. It never feels exploitative. In fact I get the feeling the scenes are liberating more than anything. And as they are only a small part of the movie in the beginning it sets up these two women as unapologetically attracted to each other. They are not portrayed as  decadent. Just two women really liking each other.

Lines like: " I am not apologizing to what I did to you. I am apologizing to what I did not do to you" after being abrupted by Violets husband Ceasar. If that is not unapologetic towards her sexuality I do not know what is.

But it is also about a women trying to free herself from a male oriented world. Violet, as the typical femme fatale is the real hero, or protagonist here. She is the more resourceful character of the two. Corky spends a large time behind the scenes waiting to see how things are played out.

I think Bound plays a lot of genre conventions and expectations. Tweaking the femme fatale character into a more likeable character by presenting us with the despicable world she is trapped within and the incredibly possessive nature of Ceasar makes the viewer feel empathy for her. It is not like in The Last Seduction, another great 90´s neo noir classic, that shows instead how fucking lame and dumb the male lead is,getting snared into the sexy smart ladys trap. It was a great neo noir and deconstruction. But I think this one is perhaps more relevant.

And though the "lesbian couple"  are indeed manipulative, as Basic Instinct "taught " us about lesbians, they are clearly the less of evils here. The macho bullshit patriarchy of the Mob is confronted here. nd we are presnted with two much more likeable characters as opposed to the others.

Violet  the femme fetale. Dressed in black, with black hair, is the one who sets everything up. Seduces Corky into her world. She motivates Corky. Corky is also the "masculine" female, the male equilaent of this movie. With tattoos and attitudes she is different from Violet. But they like leather jackets both.Good to have things in common.

Here is their introduction. It is cinematic as fuck.Words are not needed:





And here we see "masculine" Corky in a male tank top (wife beater shirt):



The person who thinks lesbian living being deviant or sickening is the alphamale part of a patriarchal socirty in which deviant sexual orientations are not even on the map. Ceasar., the possessive fuck who will not let Violet out of his sight. And  maybe that is why he is so surprised at the revelation? What a dumbass.

Here we are presented with a different  depiction and attitude towards the femme fatale archetype rather than the victims of her actions. The dumbass in this one is caught up in a macho bullshit discourse and as a result he is helpless to counter it until it is too late. Not the one trapped in the web of a treacheous woman, really. He only has himself to blame. Which is what also the previously mentioned neo noir classic The Last Seduction taught us.

Bound is a real fucking great movie. Twenty years on this year. it still remains a piece of my heart as a thrilling ,suspenseful genre movie. But also deals in sexual politics in more clever ways than most people would expect which make sthis movie even more relevant and intelligent. If people just could see past the tits....

This is one of the great ones in my opinion. One that is both subversive but also a helluva lot of fun. Blue is the warmest color is apparantly a great movie depicting the topic but here we have an entertainng genre piece that deals with similir topics, is subversive and it totally works. Which is the winner here?


lördag 23 april 2016

JOHAN FALK SERIES PART 14: THE CHILD INFILTRATOR


Previously on Johan Falk:

A much larger organization shows its face. No, it is not SPECTRE. Johan Falks family gets involved leading to Falk taking matters in his own hands, defending his family.

Seth Rydell and his handler Sophie is on a collision course as he pulled a fast one on her, making her responsible for getting a criminal killed.

Plot:
It starts off in medias res, or at the end of the story. Johan Falk gets shot in the neck by Simon. Then back to the beginning of the story. (Way to  spoil a movie.  What if M Night Shyamalan did that with his movies...?)

Someone is selling pre-prepped robberings. Someone from Seths past. A gang of youths pulls off a heist but fails to get rid of the ink in the moneybags. Now they need someone to wash the papers free from any of that particular Color of Incrimination. And one of those people is a fifteen year old kid named Simon

This story is about how juvenile delinquents are being used on both sides as robbers or as infiltrators or undercover informants. It is as questionable as it can get. And it creates a rift between the members of GSI.

A lot of the small time criminals in this one comes from white trash families without any real future. Especially a boy who has to suffer the acts of his parents,

Jibber jabber:

GSI involves one of their new guys into the way a handler manages an informer . Like an observer. Watch and learn. His name is Vidar (Mårten Svedberg) and has been like the moral voice of the series, questioning the tactics of GSI. I don´t know, for the most part he has been a whiny bitch. Instead of contributing with constructive feedback he has only been grumpy about the culture. And to be honest a bit of a nay-sayer. His partner Niklas ( Alexander Karim) actually tells him if he does not like it here he can leave. Which is a good response. Vidar whines a bit.

I mean, I don´t blame Vidar really. It is perfectly natural to look at GSI and what they are doing and have been doing as non-constitutional and highly questionable. I think in this movie, Vidar draws a line that I think most of us agree with. It is not ok using kids like Simon. Someone who has had shitty parents should not suffer the consequences . Johan is also kind of on board with this. He does not care for using minors. Although technically as Simon is fifteen he is legally responsible, the real world does not deal in numbers. It is muddy to say the least

If you are not uneasy about this, you should think twice what this can do in the long run. As soon as something becomes acceptable there is no way turning back,

Simons parents pulled an insurance fraud scheme leaving him taking the shit storm.an original sin if you will, hence he has to do all this stuff as he is more or less ostracized from society as he is up to his neck with debts.

This is a nice  different take on the depiction of criminality. The type of white trash parents a kid cannot be blamed for having, neither can he be blamed for their short comings as he is getting the short end of the stick from society.

Some backstory to Seths past is revealed as he confronts the person behind selling the robbery plans. A finnish jerkoff named Heiki. Old conflicts lead to tragedy as Heiki kills Seths younger brother in the climax. We also get more of Sophies and Seth relationship deepening. She has been duped by him in previous film, but now she needs to set things straight and actually starts to manage the situation

At the end of the film, when the obligatory shootout happens Simon flees from the scene, Johan follows him. Simon shoots Falk because he is scared. And who wouldn´t be in his situation?

When Falk gets shot he also ends up lying on his back shooting the bad guy .This reminds me of the end toThe Thrid Wave. But that time he was shot in the head with rubber bullets (oww...) and now in the neck with a real bullet (argh...), but like real movie cops he takes it like a man, gets some bandages and walk it off. Well, sort of.

Here is a comparison




The shooting takes place in a dark basement rather than a open street of turmoil in Germany. He is not saving Europe or his family, but rather perhaps more importantly, a child put into a life situation he has had no choice of. By saving this kid, he sorts of redeems himself with all the shit he put Frank Wagner through. It is less selfish and more about sacrifice for greater things.

I like to see recurring stuff in a series and compare them. Falk at the end of Third Wave protected his family  by shooting the bad guy as he promised in the first act of that movie in a monologue.. Here, with all the murky, shady GSI bullshit going on  he seem to come through a bit here. Some light in the shadows of this underworld is trickling through. Kind of nice. 

Patrik Agrell , his boss, asks Johan Falk why he never pulled the trigger at Simon as he clearly threatened a police officer. Falk responds with  just because the police fuck up, shouldn´t mean someone else should lose their life.  In The Third Wave he protected his own self interests, now he protects the integrity of the police force. Funny how things work out. Maybe it is a maturity thing , I don´t know.

I am just guessing here. But I feel we have met a different Falk now in some ways. He is more protective of his surroundings and has saved his family more than once, He saved Nina in the previous film as well he got married. Now he has responsibilities and perhaps now he can see beyond his tunnel vision that he had in the past. I like that. I am not sure the old Johan of Zero Tolerance or Executive Protection would be so aware of other people or their predicaments. It seems like his tunnel vision has extended a bit, looking past the blinders  into the deep blue eyes of life.

Jesus that last part was such horse hit. Do not read that!!

Great crime dramas always explore the thin line between cops and bad guys. Here we clearly see people being taken advantage of on both sides. 

My big compaint is there should have been more shootings. There, I said it. 

Next Time on Johan Falk: Shit gets real in one of the finest installments in the series.

From a Punisher game. Fucking hilarious!



tisdag 19 april 2016

THIEF (1981)






Thief is a story about a man wanting to be his own. Not letting someone else tell him what to do. Frank is a professional thief, working completely solo, until one day he gets an offer of joining a bigger organization that can make his life much more comfortable and easier than his current living.

But it is a Faustian falseness. The devil comes with a seductive propostition. Lurng Frank into  a part of a large crime organization. A sort of mafia opertaion led by Leo ( Robert Prosky)

I can relate to Frank. For five years I worked on a small industrial laundromat, getting treated like dirt. I felt suffocated,trapped, my life belonged to that place. I realized too late after I signed the employment contracty that the place was wrong for me.

This is similar to what whappens to Frank ( James Caan). But Frank has been in jail and doesn´t give a fuck anymore. That is where we both seperate. I´ve never been in jail, I´ve been fined once, that is it. I am not a nihilist, like Frank is. And I don´t kill people

Thoughts:

The visuals are breath taking.





Tangerine Dreams scores a real dreamy landscape of athmosphere. the whole thing just oozes mood and style because of it.

Here is a link to a soundtrack version:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srVzEMM9d0U

Drive by Nicolas Winding Refn seem heavily influenced by the  mood of this piece in terms of visuals and sound. The neon drenched world is told through the same type of electronic beats.

They also kind of share  a similar  main protagonist. They both lead a normal day-to-day life but at night they become someone else,Like Batman, but instead a thief or a getaway driver.

The heist parts are real fucking good. Like Rififi, the french crime classic, it is reliant on visuals and sounds and has no dialogue in them. Very stylishly directed and to the point. We are dealing with professionals, knowing what to do., What the fuck would they talk about during a heist? They are one hundred percent focused on the task at hand whn they need to. I enoy watching  this kind of criminal professionals in films.


I can relate pretty heavily to a guy trapped in a way of life he realizes too late. But instead of leaving that shitty awful place that strangled the life out of me to go study like I did, Frank kills the people that put him in that situation. As I said, we kind of differ in cerrtain places in the way we deal with things. I think the comparison may be more metaphorical.

But that is what is great about Thief. Even if it is about a thief, the point is; it is about a character that stands outside of society, someone that is bound by no family, no greater moral standards, and most likely never will. he do what he wishes, have full control of his destiny. It is pure individualism. And for people who never felt truly to belong to society they are like Frank. And Leo is the type of corrupt society that wants to snare Frank, use his abilities but also trap him in conformity, hence kill his individual streak for his own society of which he is king over.

There is a great  piece of dialogue in which Frank calls Leo out on his corporate bullshit, that he is entitled to make money of his own sweat and  blood. Amidst all of this individualism, some Marxism arises.

This is truly a remarkable film. That there is so much in it, it is so rich but at the same time be the type of no nonsense tough guy cinema is a true testiment to Michale Manns skills as a filmmaker.

måndag 18 april 2016

Short ramblings: SINNERS AND SAINTS.






This is one I started to watch late at  night. I was in no mood for sleep and  I had this one lying on the floor for months. Lying there, waiting to be played, waiting to get my attention away  from rewatching Johan Falk-movies and other important shit.

It has lied there silently. Not making any ruccus. Just patiently abiding its time. Knowingly that I love the kind of shit it promise me to deliver.

And I watched it. And it wasn´t bad. I kinda liked it. But no more

The story might be seen as cliched, but it does the job, and the plot is not bad. It is actually kind of good.  But there are some snags that I found to be, not poorly handled, but just kind of meh.

Flanerys character goes on and on about the terrible shit he has done. And when we see what everything is about, it just wasn´t what I expected. He never does anything bad, but his unit does, so I just don´t  feel his guilt tripping.

The action is good. But consists mostly of  people ducking and shooting.with variations. Some good fist fights and wrestling like moves like body slams are satisfying enough. Some kifing and punching combines it to make quite a satisfying package.

I just don´t think the shootouts are all that great. As they are the meat and the potatoes of the film, I was hoping for something with a bit more oomph!  But maybe it was me lying there on my ass on the couch playing the grumpy asshole

The actors do a serviceable job. Johnny Strong especially. he makes for a convincing tough guy. Someone who is rough around the edges.

Its contemporary backdrop is both convincing and a bit scary. the locations are gritty and believable and lends a sort of authenticity to the disparity of the place.

I think I prefer James Lee Burkes take on the Katrina and what it did to New Orleans and to the residents. . Read Tin roof blowdown  as it is both a hard edged crime novel and  existential piece at the same time. A hard book to get through.

The blu-ray looks back at me disappointed that it could not convince me of its greatness. That it never quite fulfilled my appettite for hard boiled crime drama/action.

But I paid attention to it. Not bad, so it have no reason feeling guilty for what it has done to me. It was ok.

söndag 17 april 2016

Short Ramblings: CLOSE RANGE



CLOSE RANGE, directed by Isaac Florentine ( Undisputed 2-4, Ninja 1-2) and starring brit-kicker Scott Adkins (Undisputed 2-4, Ninja 1-2. The Expendables 2) is a short but sweet exercise in ass kicking. It has a nice  mix of martial arts and shootouts in a Western setting ; the Mexican border.

The plot is there to string the set pieces together no question about that. But it is refresheingly honest about itself. You may go "That´s it?! THAT is the plot?! Jesus, that is thin!"

But if you do, this is most likely not for you. It is almost non-stop action. It barely set up a conflict then it is a go. It starts off great, with a long take of Scott Adkins kicking ass in close quarters, giving us a taste of  what Mr John  St Close-Range can do. He works best around people when they are close and when they are in range for his kicks or guns.

Yeah, you may say you like martial arts as you´ve enjoyed Daredevil. And there is plenty of good things to say about that show,, but this one, this Close Range is all about the action. The bland stereotype mexican gangsters that are cannon fodder here is nothing new. And it does not matter.

I don´t think most people who enjoy Daredevil would enjoy this. This does not shy away from being as blunt and direct about things as a kick to the head. And sometimes that is all you need. A good kick to the head. Some people actually do.

Sure some of the gunfights drag on a bit. An endless shooting at a house might not always be the most dynamic action sequence in the world. But would really a dialogue scene of the quality as they appear in this film be better? Fuck no.

Adkins carry himself well when he is a minimalistic stoic motherfucker, like when he plays Boyka in the Undisputeds and it works well here. He mostly get to kill and punch and kick the daylights out of people which is a great way of using Adkins.

What is a bad way of using Adkins, you might ask? The Bourne Ultimatum and fucking Zero Dark Thirty. There is a reason you don´t even remember him from either of those films.

Close Range is a pretty good showreel of Adkins talents.  Nuff said.


JOHAN FALK SERIES: PART 13: ORGANIZATSIJA KARAYAN



Previously on Johan Falk:

Helens ex-husband Örjan appears and wants to spend more time with his family. That does not go well with Johan as it is his family as well.

Meanwhile the fragile and uneasy alliance between GSI cop Sophie and gang leader Seth is still an uphill struggle for Sophie.

Plot:

A couple of movies back, we got introduced to Örjan ( Johan Hedenberg)  who all of a sudden wants to spend time with Nina and Helen, now Johan’s family and his responsibilities. Johan does not like this at all. Also Örjan as a property developer is not as clean-living as he seems. Unbeknownst to everyone else Örjan has brought some shady people to their front door. People that are a small part of something much larger. 

Örjan owes some Estonian gangsters a lot of money and when he fails to come up with the cash, they kidnap Örjans daughter Nina, Johan’s step-daughter in this case.

Now, Johan goes Liam Neeson and starts to go after the bad guys.

Jibber jabber:

Finally we get to see Johan go rogue again. That hasn´t really happened since The third wave and for some of these films Falk has kind of disappeared in favor of other characters. If I have to be critical, there has not been as much of him as the lone wolf super cop.  In Rules of the Game he got to do some shooting and punching. And now "The Falk" finally gets into some serious action. And we all love to see him kicking ass and taking names. 

I think it works having someone like Falk in a position in which his methods do not stick out like they used to. The action set pieces that the first and second series has surrounded him with other officers, very rarely has he been doing some awesome shit by himself.

But once in a while you want to see him going off on some bad ass mission of his own.
And now that it has become personal, the situation is perfect for that.

You could also say this is the movie in which the Eastern European mob has started to take notice of him. Which will in the next series play a central role.

Also we get to see Johan at the cemetery where his girlfriend Maria is buried. We haven´t seen this since Executive Protection so it is nice to see him as he is about to get married to Helen that he is about to let go off his past. Just like Martin Riggs does at the end of Lethal Weapon 4.

Johan Falk buries the past to lay foundation for the future. And makes him even more involved to what happens to Nina. It is not like he needed prior motivation to go after the bad guys. But as they kidnapped his future, he digs up his old self and does what used to do to get results.

(Wow, that is some nice bullshit I wrote right there.) 


Also, Seth manipulates Sophie for his own monetary gain. He is about to lose his house to executive auction, so he needs some dough. He gives this bullshit speak about living elsewhere and asks of Sophie of giving him a list of convicted child molesters to a particular neighborhood he is thinking of moving to. 

She wants information of him of the Estonians gangsters that have kidnapped Nina, so she gives into his demands, unknowingly that what she is doing is handling him a specific target that Seth wants to get money from and as a result the guy ends up dead. More GSI shady shenanigans. This will also come back later in the next series.

It feels like a lot of chess pieces are put on a board in this film. Stuff that will be important or referenced to later. In a lot of these films we get taught time and time again of how GSIs work has real consequences. But a larger plot is at work here

I like the scene in which Johan is interrogating a  bad guy next to a this disgusting looking pool of non-healthy looking water. He convinces the bad guy that it contains toxic waste.







The water was merely real dirty.  Nice to see renegade cops only bullshit enough to get the information, not torture the shit out of them like Neeson does in  Taken

I´ve read a complaint on the imdb page of this movie from an Estonian viewer about the depiction of eastern europeans accents and that they are all over the place 

Here is a quote:

the choice of actors depicting non-Swedes and their character names are a real mess: an Estonian in Sweden is performed by a Bulgarian, a Lithuanian Russian has completely Estonian name and is played by a Finnish Swede, a Russian from Estonia has Yugoslav name and is played by a Finnish Swede etc. The outcome is communication in horrible Russian which was really difficult and annoying to listen. 


  
I can understand if this can be a problem with foreign viewers  if they see a language discrepancy. Also, reading and trying to seperate which one is from what country is a bit confusing as the mob depicted in the film transcends borders.  

If the complaint is accurate it is a shame that a series  taking pride in realism don´t go to the effort of recreating the accents and dialects or names that are accurately depict the demographic of the eastern european countries. 

I am not sure how much I actually care of the absolute accuracy of this. For me as a Swedish viewer I never pay attention to accents, the demographics and such that are foreign to me in these films, but I can understand how other audiences  can find it irritating. I know, because when sometimes American movies try to depict the Swedish language they almost always do a pisspoor job of it. Unless they hire Swedish actors, like in Kingsman or Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.

Last remaining thoughts:

One thing I found particularly enjoyable in this movie was the scene in which Falk is determined to go after the kidnappers. His boss Patrik calmly says that as he is a relative Falk can´t work the case. But he also knows he can´t hold hem back. So he says to Johan that he will put him on  period planning for vacation. Meaning what he does on his spare time is his own private matter. Only a real super-cop takes out the criminal garbage his way on his own time. Hell,yes!


"As a relative the rules state you can´t work on this"

"But fuck it. Let just say you have gone fishing on vacation"
That is awesome.  In action films, when the rogue cop wants to take things into his own hands  getting scolded by the captain and then takes sick leave or vacation days in spite so he can do what needs to be done. That is a trope of action cinema. here it is the chief that suggest vacation leave as to get around the system. That is GSI for you.


I love that. In fact it inspired me to write a poem. And it would be fitting to end this post with it.

Ode to Johan Falk

When Falk goes after the bad guys he will not stop
Shoot every one of them til they drop
To the chiefs in charge he will not cater
As he probably will lose his job sooner rather than later
But the chiefs only care for nothing but result
For due process and democratic law that is a big insult

Next time on Johan Falk: Johan Falk gets shot ...by a damn kid.


fredag 15 april 2016

JOHAN FALK SERIES PART 12- ALLA RÅNS MODER (MOTHER OF ALL ROBBERIES)




Previously on Johan Falk:

Shit, I forgot to mention an important plot point in previous post; Seth Rydell being stuck in the middle of a neonazi weapon exchange. At the end Sophie confronts Seth with evidence that can really fuck him over...un less....he can become an important ...in filtrator.

Also, Frank Wagner and family has broken with his gang and their old life. Now on their way to France. Bye bye!

From the end of 107 patriots we have a beginning of a relationship between two people from different sides of the law, That starts of opposites but later warm up. I love the idea of two opposite sides come together at last. It is like out of a John Woo movie or something. Because there is belief that mankind can overcome differences.

Jesus I sound like a hippie. But here are some  shots from 107 patriots that sets them up as both friends and foes:

Oh wait, I have this first, I forgot;
"The dead one is a nazi right?"

"The technicians want to examine him"
Johan wants to get ahead of the technicians to get the wire of  the poor dead nazi they fooled into working with the cops.  Otherwise ....jesus. You guys at GSI...

Now, finally I can get to my goddamn point  from the last movie:
Seth is in a jam
This is the moment Sophie tries to coerce Seth into working for GSI as an informant/infiltrator ( who gives a fuck what it is called by now?) SHe threatens to plant dna  from an old robbery unless he cooperates.


Plot:

A team of robbers is planning one helluva heist and GSI is triyng to get ahead, by using an informant. And now that Frank is gone, they have a new recruit; Seth Rydell. A somewhat reluctant sociopath of a recruit.  But Johan is not the handler. GSI´s sole female officer Sophie Nord is on the case.And they have a bit of a power struggle. Something that makes everything a bit more interesting.

Now:

I love heist films. There is something about pulling of a caper that is fun as a concept.

Thief and Heat by Michael Mann are two of my absolute favourites. Charlie Verrick with Walter Mathaeu is another one. The friends of Eddie Coyle is a great movie with Robert Mitchum and also a real strong novel by George V Higgins. And not the least,  the fucking Parker novels by Richard Stark (a.k.a Donald Westlake), which features the biggest anti hero of them all. The template for pragmatic psychotics. 

Which leads us to Seth Rydell. This is his movie. Jens Hultén ( Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation). And for me turned him into a fucking beast of an actor. His performance and the way he plays Seth is more and more likeable, but also a pragmatic asshole , just like Parker from those wonderful novels by Stark. He thinks in terms of "what would this benefit me", but unlike Parker he is caught within the real world of bills and collectors. He also have a heart, unlike Parker.


But it is not all about Rydell. This is where the series gets interesting. Sophie as the single female in the GSI team wants to take him on in a handler/informant sort of way..  As a woman she has performance issues. The film does not gloss over that women has a harder part to play in a man s world. We get to see her struggle with the machismo world. And it is surprisingly earneast and good. We see her struggle with the relationship.It is not an easy relationship inany form. Seth is a manipulative bastard as we will  later  see. He knows how to use her and she is still  sometimes too easily convinced.. It is two wonderful performances and an wonderul dance between them and a great development on part of the writers. And a welcome addition to the series at this pint, creating that dynamic relationship.



Fast forward to the movie we are actually dealing with here. I have a tendancy to be sidetracked, forget bullshit and later need to refresh you guys on what is going on. I am a terrible narrator.

First time they meet inthis movie you can sense Sophie is a bit nervous. She yabbles about Seths outstanding parket tickets like it matters and as a lame joke. It is really uncomfortable to me as a viewer as I know she has no prior experience to this and now all of a sudden she confronts a hardened criminal


Seth calls her bluff surrounding the dna plant and she is exposed and vulnerable. She tries to play it up and match him, but it is clearly a shallow masquerade, but a perfect performance from the actress. A good scene to set up the beginning of a relationship that would last the rest of the series.

There are some things that just does not come across from still footage and that is a mistake Sophie does when Seth approaches her. She backs away. She should have stood her ground if she had more experience, I feel.



The biggest flaw of the last series was the fact that Frank was going to quit but it dragged out too far of the series. Johan kept pushing him and it became a convenient plot device to give Johan information ( kind of like how Jack Bauer tortures prisoners as a convenient plot device).  Now they actually have a real dynamic relationship to play of. None of them is in a position they want to be in. And as the criminal underworld is a very macho male dominated world, the women has to iceskate uphills ( as a great philosopher called Blade once said)

I have to give Sophie credit for trying to keep ahead in a mans world. She later confronts him in his own home and this time she nails it home, there is a lot of uncomfortable sexual threat inuendo comig from Seth, but she manages to reign him in, kind of...



But then there is the actual heist , which is a good one, Unbeknownst to Seth it takes place way ahead of schedule than planned, which meant that he could not have tipped Sophie off even if he would have wanted to. it is a great way to make the audience emphatize with him and also sow some seeds of distrust within the GSI


Unfortunatly this is also  one of those in which Johan Falk kind of disappears out of the movie  It may also feel a bit  light weight compared to other great  heist films if you only watch big budget Hollywood films, like aforementiond Heat. But it is very good by Swedish standards. It has grenade launchers and bigass machine guns and all sorts of awesome shit.

I  like to mention the part of the plot we get to spend time with Seth and the robbers that takes place in the arcepelago. There is some suspense as one of the robbers,Eloma, a complete psycho who is suspicious of Seth.
My name is Eloma I do not trust you.

Not to mention the great part in which Eloma pulls a big fucking gun when a police helicopter appears.




Pretty awesome. Too bad,Seth kills Eloma later in a cabin. Why? What do I know? He is a criminal!

Next time on Johan Falk: Johan Falk goes Liam Neeson. It´s Taken in Gothenburg



måndag 11 april 2016

JOHAN FALK-SERIES PART 11: 107 PATRIOTS


Previously on Johan Falk:

Frank Wagner continues in the service of GSI. A sting operation and spy shenanigans on a ferry leads to the same type of shit GSI has been up to in the past. History does repeat itself.

Plot and jibber jabber:

It starts of very promising; Not in the usual murky, dark ,shady areas of police undercover workings. It starts out in a beautiful park full of families enjoying the beautiful weather. It is wrong to assume this movie is a walk in the park. Because a shooting opens. And it is a gangbang shooting that ends in tragedy . 

This scene is particularly harrowing as it might stir up some nasty feelings in people. The shooters are a bunch of foreign looking individuals and the victim a white middle class girl. But then it turns out the father of the dead girl is a right wing extremist, using his grief to further his political plans. If that is not a fucking evil asshole, I don´t know what is.  But this is a great start to the film in my opinion,to build  a conflict, but I am conflicted as well.

The plot surrounds what becomes gang warfare. For the Neonazis it is a culmination that leads to execute a particular operation that they have built up through the years. It is a very uncomfortable plot these days with the immigrant crisis and I just hope people would look at this as a dramatic piece of work and nothing else.

Frank is at the same time trying to remove himself from his gang, but Seth Rydell wont give in to his demands. This goes back to Pacinos great line; " Just when I thought I was out...they pull me back in"

Another element of the movie shows up. Johan Falks wifes ex-husband Göran(Johan Hedenberg). A bit of  douchebag and unresponsible father/husband. He will play a bigger part as he is into some shady shit

It is also a movie in which a neonazi is being used by the cops and as a result gets killed. Should we be sorry for that? Every time a human being gets killed is tragic. This guy is clearly just wrapped up in something he don´t understand. In a few years he might have started thinking for himself and gotten out of this nazi nonsense. I just can´t truthfully think it is ok for the cops to let that happen. No matter what bullshit the kid has been pulled into, This shit right here. This is not the shit cops are supposed to be doing.

It is also the part I get a bit serious for a moment.

I have skimmed through an article by right wing neo nazis and they see a left wing conspiracy in this one. Which is interesting as  some people on political left accuse these films to be right wing fascism

It is very interesting that the one common complaint is the illegal methods conducted by GSI. There is no argument about that. But right wing  and left wing forces tend to take stuff at face value and use whatever political value they can from these films and use it for their own agendas. I find it uneasy to say the least.. Politicising films is one of my big pet peeves. I don´t think one should stay ignorant of the place images has in our society, how they circulate and become part of us.  But decent criticism is aschewed in favor of ideological subjective concerns that more often than not are blind to intepretations unlike their own. hence I feel a bit uneasy about this one. It is a good thriller, but it is also one easily highjacked for political purposes.

These films do not glorify  police brutality and never has. That is the point of them.

However, there are some excellent set pieces in this. One shootout/chase that takes place in an apartment building, having characters leaping between buildings.

I don´t know, I am a bit uncomfortable writing about this one. It is a good thriller, but the political context makes me weary to delve into it.

But just so this post does not become picture less, Here is Ola Falk scoring own goal in a non-related soccergame. Harmless and goofy. No nazis, not anything. Just nice to see Johan take his time with his son playing soccer. The trainer need to chill the fuck out and learn there are bigger ideas at stake than some stupid soccer game for kids, that is mostly for them to enjoy playing anyway. (...asshole...)

"Come on! Fifteen minutes left!"


"COME ON!"

"Chill the fuck out, dude."

"The goal is the other way, Ola"





That is pretty priceless in a dark movie like this. For Ola maybe not so much.  Afterwards there is a very nice scene between Johan and Ola. Johan tries to comfort him by saying that people always complain about him scoring own goals ( in a matter of way). It is a nice scene as it shows a more mature side of Johan. Now a parent, he seems to have mellowed a bit. Not too much or else we would not have had much of a movie.

Fuck. This entire excerise has made me gloomy. I needed that last bit to cheer me up. 107 patriots features some stuff that is a bit too close to home. I need to sheer myself up. Luckily the next one is a heist movie. And I love those! 

Next time on Johan Falk: A heist movie! And Archipelago-Rambo! I can really dig this! Fun is waiting again!


söndag 10 april 2016

Short ramblings; THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE





I really like crime thrillers and crime fiction. Among my favourte writers are Elmore Leonard, Richard Stark and Dennis Lehane.

Then there is that little book I got wind of after watching the very last episode of Justified in which U.S marshal Raylan Givens  hands over a copy of The friends of Eddie Coyle to his partner Tim.

As I´d never heard of it before I decided to check up on the book and see what is what.

Written by George V Higgins, the crime story is told mostly through dialogue and does a very good job of describing the inner workings, machinations and causalities of being a low life criminal. It is a terrible way of life. The "friends" you have can turn on you in just a moment to save their own skin.

I think this notion was what made Higgins novel resonate and become such an important canon of crime fiction. The no-nonsense, un sentimental depiction of crime as  how things can play out if you are unlucky.

For the protagonist, nothing goes as planned, he tries to get himself out of a situation he gotten himself into, but fail to see his own undoing. There is tragedy in that.
I think this was what inspired Elmore Leonard into creating his psychotic goofballs.That mentality of; "it´s not my fault" even though they clearly have only themselves to blame fo rthe shit they get tmemsleves into. A more psychologically believable portrayal  of small time criminals behaviour.

Eddie gets no sentimental empathy neither from its author (Higgins)  or the film´s director Peter Yates (Bullitt) and there lies both the tragedy. The objective portrayal of a criminal, that is easy to like and understand, but he only has himself to blame for his predicament.

I can´t recommend The friends of Eddie Coyle enough.  Whether you choose to read the novel or watch the film you are in for a treat. Written by an author at his peak and directed by a filmmaker at his peak makes for a tremendous work of crime fiction to digest either verbally or visually.