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June 29, 2012

Movies You Missed 45: Sound of Noise

Sound-noiseThis week in movies you missed: Music terrorists battle a lover of silence in Sweden.

What You Missed

Amadeus Warnebring (Bengt Nilsson) was raised by musicians. His dad was a conductor, his mom a concert pianist, his brother a musical prodigy. He is tone-deaf.

As an adult, Warnebring heads an antiterrorism police unit and avoids music. But when he hears a suspicious ticking from inside a crashed van, he — unlike his fellow cops — knows it's not a bomb, but a metronome.

(Note: This detail is accurate to the experience of those who were raised by musicians. The metronome tick means that Mom or Dad is practicing and must not be disturbed. Warnebring's glower of revulsion every time he encounters a metronome also seems right.)

This metronome belongs to a pair of guerrilla percussionists (Sanna Persson and Magnus Börjeson) who make noise in unlikely places, such as while speeding down the freeway, to take a stand against the public dominance of "shitty music."  Magnus has just composed an ambitious work called "Music for Six Drummers and One City."

With the help of four more drummers, "We'll give this city a concert it'll never forget," the musicians gloat. Unless one silence-loving cop can stop them.

Why You Missed It

You may have caught Sound of Noise at last spring's Green Mountain Film Festival, but not in local theaters.

Should You Keep Missing It?

No! At the very least, check out "Music for One Apartment and Six Drummers." Also directed by Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjärne Nilsson, with the same "six drummers," this 2001 short seems to be a dry run for Sound of Noise.

The "six drummers'" shtik is that they make music with things that aren't supposed to make music. In the film, this means invading an operating theater and playing on a patient; staging a bank holdup that's actually a gig; and doing rude things with bulldozers outside a concert hall during a performance.

These musical set pieces alone make Sound of Noise worth watching. DVD special features explain in detail how one of them, called "Doctor, Doctor, Give Me Gas in My Ass," was staged. (It's so catchy, I may download it.)

The story of Warnebring is also compelling, if not always coherent. The writer-directors introduce a magic realism element: Instruments used by the Six Drummers no longer make sounds to Warnebring's ears. But it's not quite clear how this affects him as the entire city becomes their instrument. (Will he wind up permanently deaf? Does he want to be?)

Verdict: I'm still not sure what Sound of Noise is saying about music and noise, if anything, but it's a very cool film. One that will make it impossible for you to ignore the piped-in classical on the Marketplace ever again.

Other New Releases You May Have Missed

  • The Artist (you know, that one with all the Oscars...)
  • Breakaway (underdog Indian-American hockey team skates to glory)
  • Bullhead (violent crime film set in the world of ... illicit beef hormones)
  • The Hedgehog (An 11-year-old contemplates suicide in this French drama.)
  • Oranges and Sunshine (Emily Watson stars in a historical drama about the real-life forced deportation of poor English children to Australia.)
  • The Perfect Family (Kathleen Turner tries to hide the truth about her grown kids — one gay, one leaving his wife — as she competes for Catholic Woman of the Year.)

Each week in "Movies You Missed," I review a brand-new DVD release picked for me by Seth Jarvis, buyer for Burlington's Waterfront Video, where you can obtain these fine films. (In central Vermont, try Downstairs Video.)

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