Two great films about 1980's youth counter culture in Europe
January 17, 2015 11:10 AM   Subscribe

We are the best (2013) is a Swedish film set in 1980's Stockholm, about three young punk girls who form a band (mainly to play a song dedicated to their gym teacher called "Hate the Sport"). It's fairly lighthearted, but there are some deeply poignant moments that really capture what it's like to be that 13 year old girl with the short hair and all the usual insecurities, finding solace in friends, music, and giving the finger to mainstream society. This is England (2006) is another counter-culture-coming of age film, about a group of skinheads in England, c. 1983. This is a much heavier film, exploring serious issues of race, gender, social class, family relationships, and how these tensions eventually lead to the adoption of skinhead culture by white nationalists. All of this is set to an awesome soundtrack featuring the likes of Toots and the Maytals, The Specials, Jimmy Cliff, and Soft Cell.
posted by k8bot (23 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
We Are The Best looks amazing. Brings up memories of Ladies and Gentlemen The Fabulous Stains, one of my favorite movies. Thanks for the post, I really want to see this movie with my parents. As a 13 year old drummer I can promise we were the best.
posted by kittensofthenight at 11:31 AM on January 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

I should say someone who was once a 13 yr old drummer, ha.
posted by kittensofthenight at 11:34 AM on January 17, 2015

I watched We Are The Best a couple of nights ago (it's on Netflix at the moment) and I'm here to report that: Yes. They are. They are the best.

What an unbelievably poignant and charming movie. Moodysson got incredible performances out of his young actors, who are all utterly believable and charming. It's as if Hirokazu Koreeda were Swedish and, like, less of a downer.

I mean, Hedvig. And her amazing mother. Am I right?! Augh! I loved this movie so much.
posted by Sokka shot first at 11:40 AM on January 17, 2015 [5 favorites]

We Are the Best! is streaming on Netflix (at least in the U.S.) so everyone should watch it. It's so incredibly charming.

I'm still waiting for a translation of Coco Moodysson's comic that it was based on.
posted by darksong at 11:40 AM on January 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

Looking forward to checking out We are the Best. This is England is great!
posted by ill3 at 11:45 AM on January 17, 2015

It's as if Hirokazu Koreeda were Swedish and, like, less of a downer.

Lilya-4 Ever is incredibly bleak. There are few directors who portray children as honestly as Moodyson.
posted by cazoo at 11:50 AM on January 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

another vote for We Are The Best! But the One True Gem in Lucas Moodysson's filmography is Together. Don't let the Abba on the trailer soundtrack fool you, it goes deep.
posted by philip-random at 11:51 AM on January 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

I thought I would love We Are the Best but while it was sweet and really well observed, it didn't grab me in any real way. This Is England, on the other hand, I did love and I've rewatched it two or three times. I don't know that I'd set the movies against each other like this, though -- other than both having good soundtracks, they are such different movies, set in different times, and telling different stories.
posted by Dip Flash at 12:16 PM on January 17, 2015

We Are The Best! made me tear up several times, mostly because (regardless of the outcome) the awkward outsider protagonists actually managed to find each other, which I never did during that period in my own life. Plus, I love grrlpunk and it made me excited to go back and listen to my Slits and Kleenex/LiLiPut and Essential Logic and Delta 5 and Raincoats records over and over again.
posted by mykescipark at 12:23 PM on January 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

We Are The Best is great. Also last year We Are Mari Pepa.

Penelope Spheeris's classic Suburbia shouldn't go unmentioned in a punk rock movies thread.
posted by batfish at 12:31 PM on January 17, 2015

Today I learned that the sound of punk guitars in Swedish is BRÖL! BRÖÖL!

(Thanks, k8bot!)
posted by zompist at 1:04 PM on January 17, 2015

I saw We Are The Best! last year, and really enjoyed it. I recently rewatched it, and found myself impressed with the quality of acting on the part of the three girls. I wonder how hard it was to find actors in their early teens who could get into a role and play it so convincingly.
posted by acb at 3:13 PM on January 17, 2015

Also: surely there must be bands who have covered Hate The Sport (either in Swedish or in the English translation, which reads as workable) in their gigs and/or Bandcamp downloads. I can't imagine there not being any such covers at this stage.
posted by acb at 3:14 PM on January 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

We Are the Best is one of my favorite movies that I saw in 2014--but I guess it was actually released in 2013, and that's why it wasn't nominated for any Oscars this year. It was nice to see a movie about friendship among girls that felt like what friendship was actually like when I was that age. And the music was awesome.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:17 PM on January 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

I too went into We Are the Best thinking of the Fabulous Stains and found the two films had very little in common short of female punk bands. As much as I like Stains, We Are the Best is a far better movie, a much less contrived story and (for people of the era) a more honest portrayal. This is England is a bit more downbeat but that shouldn't stop anyone from giving it a watch. The "skinheads" label (in modern context -- see link in article) is a bit misleading as one of the kids is black and there is a subplot about racism in the post-punk/ska counterculture in the 80's that mirrored some of my own experiences state-side and really hit home.
posted by palindromeisnotapalindrome at 3:49 PM on January 17, 2015

Man I hope there's fewer gratuitous crotch shots and 14-year-old hot sex than Ladies And Gentlemen The Fabulous Stains. It's a good enough movie to rise above the director's jailbait fetish but it would be even better without that.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 4:07 PM on January 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Given that the teens would be in their 40s now, I'm kind of surprised there's not more movies about the 1980s going on these days. That seems just about the right age to be interested in "this is the way we were" films.
posted by happyroach at 4:19 PM on January 17, 2015

Can't wait to watch both of these movies this week. A movie that I believe might be in a similar vein is SLC Punk. Its not perfect and tries a little too hard at times but it really resonated with me when I was in my early
posted by photoslob at 5:10 PM on January 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

And please don't judge SLC from the really awful trailer.
posted by photoslob at 5:14 PM on January 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

We Are The Best also features one of my favorite movie dads EVER.

*clarinet solo*
posted by louche mustachio at 4:08 AM on January 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

I loved that movie so much and let out a little squeal of delight just thinking about it.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:10 AM on January 18, 2015

I saw We Are The Best! last year, and really enjoyed it.

My wife and daughter were watching We Are The Best earlier this week. Being the miserable grump I am, I stayed in the other room and watched something else.

By the time the movie had finished, the sound of their laughter made me really regret not having watched it with them.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:59 AM on January 18, 2015

The wife and I are about halfway through 'We Are The Best'. It's very good.

I have one other Moodysson film on the shelf, titled 'A Hole In My Heart'. I'm a bit afraid of watching it.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 12:07 PM on January 18, 2015

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