Occupy Carnegie Hall – “Sound of Noise” Review

After a brief prologue made up of childhood photos, Sound of Noise kicks into high gear with a unique police chase. Sanna (Sanna Persson Halapi), is driving a van while Magnus (Magnus Borjeson) is in the back playing a full sized drum kit. Why they’re speeding, and why they’re speeding whilst providing their own soundtrack is never fully explained. But the scene is boisterous and fun with an anarchic spirit. Which you could say is pretty much an encapsulation of the whole movie.

Soon after the joyride, we are introduced to Amadeus Warnebring (Bengt Nilsson). He’s a cop from a family of musical prodigies, but alas he is tone deaf (and he looks like a Swedish Agent Coulson). As such, he has developed an aversion to music. So when Sanna and Magnus recruit 4 more expert drummers to stage various musical attacks on the city, Amadeus is ironically put on the case. The purpose of their art project isn’t discussed and everyone seems to be going along just for the hell of it. Things get decidedly weirder when Warnebring discovers he can no longer hear any of the objects (or people) these rogue musicians have performed on.

The concept of musical terrorism is hard to explain but really the best thing about the movie. If you’ve seen writer/director Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjarne Nilsson’s award-winning short Music for One Apartment and Six Drummers then you have some idea what it entails. Basically, these musicians go somewhere unexpected, like a hospital, hijack a space and perform their opus using random items found therein. The items range from heart monitors to rubber stamps to power lines. The music and the performances are brilliantly choreographed mini-chapters and I really wish there were many more of them.

Warnebring’s arc is a little on the weak side but solid enough to overcome the feeling that the movie exists solely to showcase the performance scenes. It struggles to justify the feature-length but succeeds just barely. It’s hard not to enjoy yourself when the deadpan drum crew enter a bank wearing masks and declare, “This is a gig!”

The first half of the film is like a crazy musical Ocean’s 11. The latter section doesn’t have quite the same rebellious tone and ditches the intriguing procedural elements. It also doesn’t help that the final “movement” is the least attention-grabbing. Still, it’s a highly original piece of work from a very unorthodox group of filmmakers. It’ll be interesting to see if they can make a picture that works without using their musical acumen.

Grade: B

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