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Monster Thursday (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 18, 2010 by  



A dramatic surfing film that manages to have some soul and also entertaining.  A solid Film Movement release!

Images courtesy of © 2006 Film Movement. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Monster Thursday

DURATION: 103 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Color, 16:9, Aspect Ratio: 1:85:1, NTSC, Closed Captions, Norwegian Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with English Subtitles

RATED: N/A

COMPANY: Film Movement

Released Dated: 2006

Directed by Arild Østin Ommundsen

Written by Gro Elin Hjelle and Arild Østin Ommundsen

Producer: Ingrid Festøy Ottesen

Music by Nils Erga

Cinematography by Trond Høines

Edited by Eric Andersson

Costume Design by Jeanette Hoff

Starring:

Vegar Hoel as Even

Silje Salomonsen as Karen

Andreas Cappelen as Beckstrøm

Kim Bodnia as Skip

Christian Skolmen as Tord

Iben Hjejle as Sara

Marko IVersen Kanic as Markodude

Gaute Garlid as Gauadude

Lasse August Dorum Backer as Lille-Even

Even leads a directionless life. Tord, his best friend, is the opposite: a great surfer with a prestigious job and beautiful Karen as his bride. The last part is especially hard on Even, who is not-so-secretly in love with Karen. When Tord asks him to look after Karen while he is out of town, Even decides to clean up his act and master the waves to impress her. At first he’s a prime candidate for drowning, but a local surfing legend becomes his mentor, and Even, Tord and Karen end up on a collision course with the monster wave.

An entertaining surfing film from Norway, “Monster Thursday” is a cinema with a soul but also managing to balance that feeling of being stoked for the search for the big wave.

No, this is not an American film, nor is it an Australian film, “Monster Thursday” is a Norwegian film that is directed by Arild Østin Ommundsen and is one of the selection by Film Movement.  According to the company, they are a full service North American distributor of award-winning independent and foreign film. From traditional film distribution methods like the theatrical release, DVD sales, DVD rentals, and television to new and unique film distribution techniques like our Film Festival On Demand channel and our first of its kind film-of-the-month-club, Film Movement is making it easier for independent and international movie lovers from Alaska to Florida to see some of the world’s award-winning cinema.

Although the DVD doesn’t have to be obtained by subscription (you can find it on Amazon.com or eBay), the fact that Film Movement is bringing independent and foreign films to the American public is fantastic.

“Monster Thursday” revolves around two best friends Even (played by Vegar Hoel) and Tord (played by Christian Skolmen).  Even is a man who is not fully depended on and doesn’t really have many ambitions but if there is one thing that he is sure of, it’s that he loves a woman named Karen.

The problem is that Karen, despite being with Even first…she ends up falling for Tord, getting pregnant and now getting married.  And for Even, the fact that his best friend is marrying the woman of his dreams hurts him emotionally but he also knows that his friend Tord is like the perfect guy.  From being a very good surfer, good businessman and also having a great body, things that Even is jealous of.

As Tord is expecting to be away for business and away from his pregnant wife, Tord is depending on his buddy to watch over Karen.  Although it may be quite awkward for these two to be together in the same room, Even has made the decision that the only way he can prove to Karen that he loves her and hopes she loves him is if he follows through with a goal and that goal is for him to learn how to surf, take place in a competition and to learn how to surf and go after the perfect wave.

And in Norway, there have been rumors about a killer wave known as the “Monster”.   Will Even be able to win Karen’s heart and surf the killer wave?

VIDEO:

“Monster Thursday” is presented in 1:85:1 Letterboxed and for a 2006 film, “Monster Thursday” tends to utilized different film stock at times.  Sometimes one scene can be very grainy and some which look natural and showcase the beauty of Norway’s west coast.

I will say that I was glad that the picture quality of the film was much better than the trailers.  The trailers were picture-boxed and included a lot of compression artifacts but “Monster Thursday” was not that bad.  I am not too familiar of how the picture quality of the majority of Film Movement DVD’s are but “Monster Thursday” was quite fine.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Monster Thursday” is presented in Norwegian Dolby Digital 2.0 with English subtitles.  Dialogue is clear and understandable through the stereo channels.  Subtitles tend to have some aliasing but can easily be read.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Monster Thursday” or most Film Movement DVD releases contain a short film for the month.  For this release, a short titled “Youngster” directed by Will Canon is included.  The eight minute American short film revolves around a 12-year-old drug pusher who sells drugs to an addict and follows him to his home to get his money.  But this decision by the 12-year-old might prove to not be a good idea at all.

There is also information on the film by Director Ommundsen inside the cover.

Rarely do you see surfing films with a deep story.  Aside from the really good ones that showcase the talents of real surfers (and are released by the surfing companies), Hollywood surfing films created for the public usually have a skewed outlook on surfing.

With the release of “Monster Thursday”, I was quite pleased to see a story that included humor, drama but also an interesting take of one person determined of wanting to take on a monster wave.  But where the soul of this film lies is in its characters, of how one with no ambition or goals, looks to surfing and learning how to surf and eventually hoping that his former girlfriend will recognize him and eventually fall back in love with him.  Sure, this film is definitely a love triangle style of film combining surfing elements but it’s a film that surfers and surfing fans can easily understand (especially the discussion of Miki Dora and the surf-related lessons).

In ways, surfing fans can see a little “North Shore”, “Big Wednesday” and “Riding Giants” in “Monster Thursday”.  With the main character Even willing to learn lessons to learn how to surf from the best surfer (and shaper) from the area, hanging out with his jobless buddy (who provides the comedy relief) Beckstrom (played by Andreas Cappelen) and of course, the concept of a big wave that no one has surfed but many who are passionate about surfing, learning about surf reports and knowing the weather conditions and more.

We also get to see grommet-based errors from wearing a wet suit wrong to one not knowing how to ride a wave and thus Even learns from a former well-known surfer named Skip (played by Kim Bodnia) who teaches him how to watch the waves and eventually how to surf.

As for Even’s buddy Tord, for some unknown reason, after his wedding, he goes on business trip and never comes back until late into the film.  If anything, I was expecting some major pow-wow between Even and his best friend for neglecting a pregnant Karen.  And through this time of a Tord-less storyline, this is where Even thinks he can learn how to surf and get her attention.  In some ways, this is immature thinking for a man but if anything, it was pretty cool to see a man find purpose in life by surfing and in some ways, there is a karma will get you in the end style of storyline between Even and Tord.

And the way the film ends definitely was no surprise for me because for many surfers, many dream of trying to surf that big monster wave.  But the ending may not what be what one expects and that is the surprise that I enjoyed.  It doesn’t end in a kitschy way but an appropriate way that I was genuinely stoked about.   There is a sequence that happens at the beginning of the film which ties in to the end, so I won’t bring it up as it would spoil the film.

As for the DVD, I hope that Film Movement considers releasing the films on Blu-ray.  It would be great to see these films in HD as I would imagine “Monster Thursday” and the view of Norway’s west coast would look great on Blu.  But I really dig the fact that Film Movement also includes short films in their monthly DVD selections as well.

Overall, “Monster Thursday” was a pretty cool film and the overall performance by the talent was well done.  Definitely a DVD worth checking out!

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