Movie Star, Movie Star

I hadn’t unpacked from my trip over New Year’s at my parents when I already packed again last Friday. Given my travel-averse personality, you can tell there must have been some serious incentive waiting for me. And you’re right. The ‘incentives’ had big eyes, contagious giggles, a princess dress and endearing declarations of affection for me. I visited my niece, princess dress and declarations, and nephew, big eyes and giggles, and seven hours of travelling seldom felt so worth it for 23 hours together.


Yesterday marked a milestone for my niece and me because not only did we go on an adventure only we two for the first time, that adventure led us to her very first visit to the cinema. I love the movies and so I felt especially privileged to be the one to introduce her to motion pictures. Sometimes you’d think young children might not remember everything you do with them, but when we went to town, she told me again how she still thinks about “how when I visited you, we went to see the penguins and that was my favorite thing!”

Going to the cinema all the time myself, I would say I still appreciate the special atmosphere there, but it is nothing like seeing this environment through a child’s eyes for the first time. I explained how the ticket purchase works (“and here it says where we get to sit”), I helped select snacks (“let’s take the small bag of chips”) and I held her hand when walking in (“Helen, why is everything so dark in the cinema!”). I watched her as she sat on the edge of her seat with her mouth open in concentration during the film, and I explained to her the concept of the credits (“these are the names of the people who made the coffee for the actors”). The whole experience made such an impression that I climbed in rank so much, my niece asked me on the way back, “Can I sleep in your bed tonight? I really want to sleep in your bed tonight.”


After the cinema, we went into the small town and looked at shops.


The reason I am able to write this blog post is that A gave me a new laptop (!) for Christmas. It is wonderfully light (lighter than a MacBook Air which had previously always been my point of reference) and it boots up so quickly I can’t keep up. (Another reason I can write this blog post is that A is cooking dinner tonight.)


Supply and demand


I like abundance. Scarcity is not really my thing. That’s why I keep wondering if I live in the right country or the right part of the country because battles for space, a scarce ressource, seem to regularily occur in my life. On the train. At restaurants. In the streets. Or, like last Friday, at the movies.

I had already attempted to attend the local open air cinema two weeks ago. We arrived 5 minutes after they had opened the doors, just to find there was no way on earth we would get in. 90 seats, 200 people in line.  And that was half an hour before the movie even started. So I still have not seen “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri”. In a way, it feels like back when I lived in a small town and had to wait for films to come out on DVD.

So this time, I was prepared. I told my friend Maike we had to be there early. We walked briskly to the venue, and I was in high spirits. Twenty minutes before the doors opened – surely we’d be among the first 90 ones. We arrived and the line was long, long. But I kept up my courage. Five minutes after admission started, two hipsters walked up to our part of the queue. The hipster girl, wearing a swimsuit and pants with dreadlocks, told us, “We counted and there is 90 people up to here”, pointing to seven people before us. “So I am sorry but you won’t get in. Anyone beyond that point won’t get in”.

The reactions to this verdict would have made great movie material themselves. The ladies behind us were certain that this was a joke and kept questioning the two hipsters in charge. “Are you saying this to make us leave so you two get a seat?” they even wondered, challenging their status as official admission staff. “No, we work here and the regulartory authorities are strict on this”, the male admission hipsters assured them. But to no avail – the 100 people still in line had formed a community of fate. We were not giving up our spots in the line.

As soon as people emerged from the building, voices asked “Are they leaving, are they?” The admission hipsters answered, sighing, “No, they are going to – the – bathroom! The space really is full already”. A man poked his head out from the theatre. “There is a free seat next to me!” he announced. “Someone can sit next to me!” This is pretty much like the lifeboats on the Titanic, I thought. Better get that last seat. Children and women first! The admission hipsters were not having any of it though. “If the seat is still free when the movie starts, we can talk about it. Maybe someone just went to – the – bathroom!” The lady who had already gotten her hopes up for the seat called after the man, “Put your hat on the seat!” Titanic. Lifeboats.

The situation was hopeless, we could have left. It was less our belief to obtain a seat than the highly entertaining scenes in the queue that kept us waiting. In lieu of popcorn, we began eating our melon snack. “Are you a press represenative?” we heard the admission hipster ask a woman. I stole a glance at my friend and said conspiratorial to Maike, “You’re a journalist! Maybe if you get out your press card…” But then the unexpected happened. The swimsuit girl appeared, informing the waiting crowd that it seemed there were four seats left. There was a couple before us and a Japanese girl. But we were two. The suspense was unbearable – how would this play out? Would the girl give up her seat? (After all this waiting, unlikely.) Would Maike sit on my lap? (For the entire 2 hours and 5 minutes? Not feasible.) It felt like a dream, like a very unlikely fantasy when the male hipster reappeared and announced the happy ending of this scarcity ordeal: “There are exactly five seats left now. Get in”.

Oh, and by the way, the movie was great, too.


What you get



#Vafanfårjag is this week’s most popular hashtag in Sweden. Meaning “what the hell do I get”, it refers to a quote by Leif Östling, chairman of Sweden’s largest business federation. Östling was among those mentioned in the Paradise Papers and when interviewed about tax evasion, he critized the Swedish tax system, asking, “If you pay 20-30 million kronor a year – what the hell do I get for the money?” Swedes are now twittering away about benefits of the tax-financed welfare state (of course intertwined with many critical tweets as well) and I have an item to add to the list: public film funding.

Tonight, I went to see a screening of “Sami Blood”, a film nominated for the LUX Prize. Since 2007, the award is given to a European film each year by the European Parliament. The objective of the LUX Prize is to facilitate the diffusion of European films in the union. The winning film is subtitled in all 23 official EU languages, making it available to all Europeans. Last year, the German movie “Toni Erdmann” won the prize. This year, I place all my bets on “Sami Blood” which I have just seen.

The film is a touching portrayal of 14-year-old Elle Marja, a Sámi girl, in the 1930s. Race biology was a big thing in Sweden then and the Sámi were heavily discriminated against. The amazingly headstrong Elle Marja tries to break with her family and heritage to become someone else, a Swede. Impressively showing the pain of cutting off your culture and home, the lead actress, as well as the supporting actors, deliver an exceptional performance. A nuanced story with lots of mood shifts in intense pictures lets the viewer partake in the struggle of Sweden’s indigenous people.

Adding to the appeal for me was that part of the movie is set in the stunning nature of Northern Sweden, the other part in Uppsala, my beautiful student town, where I can identify a place in a scene by only seeing a wall.

Oh, and I got to see it for free. I assume the screening was financed with tax money.




La La – seriously?

Go see La La Land, they wrote. It’ll be fun, they wrote. This year has started as my cinema year, I’ve managed to check off “Sing” (great soundtrack, fun movie), “Arrival” (watch-worthy and puzzling), “Passengers” (Jennifer Lawrence alone would be a reason to watch but the film is actually pleasantly thought-provoking) and now we went to see “La La Land”. I am still trying to remember what the last film was I disliked this much. The script is amazingly bad (at times, I thought maybe they were being ironic by using such worn-out movie lines), the plot terribly boring (follow your dream. don’t give up on your dream. make your dream happen. Oh and also, here’s some cheesy love story. Don’t forget to follow your dream.), the songs mediocre at best (and to make us all understand which one the theme song is they played it five times throughout the movie) and the actors – I’m sorry I know everyone is crazy about Ryan Gosling but I really, really don’t understand why. He’s not even that good-looking! As you can see, I am shocked by how far the Golden Globe jury, the movie critics and I differ.

Anyway. My co-workers nevertheless think I should make some extra money in exactly that industry. My reading voice has been commented on several times now and when I was to demonstrate to my newly returned co-worker what my old co-worker meant with “When Helen reads food descriptions aloud, it always sounds so…different”, she established I should definitely sign up for some voice audition for commercials. Food commercials, I assume. Golden Blossom: Low in moisture so that it is thick and rich – more honey for your money.


I interviewed an opera singer for our magazine today. Very fascinating. Did you know Swedes and Germans place the same voice in different voice categories? You’ll read all about in when the magazine comes out.

Citatsamlingen del 25

Men vad ska jag berätta om min helg då, att jag kommer sitta och prata Hitler? – Ja! Då kanske han säger, Vad kul med Hitler, kan inte vi prata lite Hitler när vi ses nästa gång?

Igår kom nya deklarationsblanketten ut! Jag kanske ska ändra mina planer och inte gå på bio och istället sätta mig och deklarera!

‘Hösten är min vår för då öppnar teatern’ är ett Strindbergcitat. – Men, åh. Lilla Strindis!



Offline o’ clock at Domizil Lux

Last night, I tested not engaging with any screens.  My friend Andrea recommended that for improved sleep and since I have not been able to sleep well for weeks on end now, I tried it. It seems to be a fashionable thing to do, too, because there is even a Swedish campaign about it called Offline O’ Clock.

I did sleep but I am not entirely sure if that was the reason. Still, it’s an interesting experiment which lead to me writing letters and listening to radio. Basically, doing what people did in the Fifties.

Before introducing skärmfritt (screenfree), I did however encounter a giant screen – the open air cinema screen at the Rhine. You know, in other places they just put up a medium-sized screen in a park and let people watch movies there on their own blankets for free. Not in Dizzle. In Little Paris, as I’ve learned people call this place (really?), this have to be grand. So they built a whole fricking village full of catering choices and it costs 13 euros just to see the movie. We saw “Spotlight” that I’d missed when it was first in the movies. I also missed it because I was sceptical to a film bashing the church but it turned out to be decent film even if it completely failed the Bechdel-test. I actually found most interesting about the whole story that a newspaper in Boston pays four full time position som only work investigatively. I thought that didn’t exist anymore so kudos to the Boston Globe.

A random dragon by the Rhine. During the movie, Rhine ferries calmly passed by behind the screen which was nice.

Getting the best gifts at work: My intern put a Marabou on my desk “just because” and someone sent me all the German President’s speeches.

192 hours

In Germany, when you can’t afford to travel during your vacation (or don’t want to, like my late Grandpa), you spend your holiday in Balkonia. What sounds like a previously undiscovered Balkan state is actually just your balcony. I am lucky to rent an apartment that has a balcony and despite the fact that I’ve planned to travel abroad as well, I want to enjoy my extra room which is eight metres long (yay!) and one meter wide (nay). Last weekend, I thought I’d get it all ready for spring, clean it, plant flowers and acquire furniture. Well, in the end I cleaned it, figured out it was not at all facing south but east and took an ugly but functional bench with me that I found abandoned in the street. (Balcony furniture is unaffordable.)


Now that the compass app told me my balcony faces east, it suddenly make sense that the sun usually wakes me.

The local art house cinemas (only meaning they show films that have not been made in Hollywood) had a Nordic Film Week last week that was opened by the Swedish film “En man som heter Ove”. I generally support these cinemas but if they give you free meatballs and wine before the movie, I am even happier to attend. The film was actually quite good, better than the average Swedish Sommaren-med-Göran-comedy. What I maybe liked most was the unproblematized existence of a non-ethnic Swede: Parvaneh was just there, spoke flawless Swedish and dealt with normal problems. The movie is out in Germany now, after taking Swedish audiences by storm, and if you want to see something that is not shallow but not so heart-wrenching you cannot sleep at night (unlike “Room” which is very good but hard to watch), you can go and see Ove.


I also went to look at a location for our junior organisation’s jubilee. I was lucky with that one, I’d heard of the location in connection to an event some years ago and took the chance to contact them. The place is right in the middle of Düsseldorf, but once you step onto their land, you feel like you’ve come to some oasis in the 1890s. I liked it so much I started to consider getting married there (but then I remembered by archipelago wedding plans.) The place has a park behind it in which you find interesting art, fountains with integrated rainbows and benches that have legs that look like twigs.


German employees pay a lot of money each month to their health insurance. I think I might be one of the people who has a good return on investment there. I had my aching pinky x-rayed and am sent to the MRI this week for reasons I won’t go into here as “part of the answer would only unsettle you”, as we say in Germany.

I also went to the dentist who broke the news to me that I apparently heavily grind my teeth at night. The dentist made a good impression on me otherwise but I still find their motto a bit too, ehm, screaming.


On the weekend, we were blessed with spring weather and I went to the People’s Park. A popular meeting point at the entrance is “the clocks”, an artwork I actually find very cool. After wandering through the park, we arrived at the petting zoo where some incredibly charming goats and a big pig called Doris lived.

I also saw a barefoot person in the local supermarkt, encountered a van owned by the family company “Low Butt” (Niedergesäss) several times and learned that something called trout pear exists. Now you know what I did in the last 192 hours. What did you do?