Currently browsing the "Scandinavian" category.

Review: The Guilty

This Danish thriller aka Den skyldige is simply amazing. There is just one man on camera through almost all the film’s 85 minutes, and you can’t look away for a second. Asger (Jakob Cedergren) is a cop who’s been put on desk duty. Tomorrow is a trial and its outcome will decide if he’s back out with his partner. In the meantime, he’s answering the phone at 211 (Danish 911) and counting the minutes until he’s gone. That is until he answers a call and it’s a woman who’s being kidnapped.

Review: Under the Tree (Undir trénu)

There are actually two storylines running concurrently in this very dark dramedy from Iceland. In one, everyman Atli is caught by his wife watching a sex tape in which she is not a participant, is kicked out of the house, and has to go live with his parents. In the other, Atli’s parents Baldvin and Inga are in an ever escalating fight with their neighbors Konrad and Eybjorg over a tree in the backyard. And while Atli tries to make amends with his wife and get to see his cute little daughter, he’s living with a mother who doesn’t have a firm grasp on reality and a father who is taking his cues from her in the battle over the tree’s future. The theme that runs through both stories is how easily people think the worst and act on their assumptions. And how nothing good ever comes from it.

Review: The Square

Winner of the 2017 Cannes Film Festival’s Palme D’Or, The Square is a darkly funny satire set in the art world. Christian (Claes Bang) is the head curator at a prestigious Swedish modern art museum staging an exhibition calling for a trusting and compassionate society, who realizes how hard that actually is to accomplish. The film has less a story line than a series of tableaux one walks through ending up with an impression. It opens with an unseen artist building a square of brick right in from of the museum and laying a plaque in it saying,”The Square is a sanctuary of trust and caring. Within it we all share equal rights and obligations.” And everything that happens afterwards refers back to that statement, revealing modern society’s greatest failing.

Arty Chick’s Middleburg Festival Download

What a great festival! It’s my first year at Middleburg, now in its 5th year, but I was truly impressed by their  selections. It’s a small festival, as yet pretty unknown, but not for long, I suspect. In all I went to 14 films in just over 3 days. It was exhausting, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Films included here are: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri ; Mudbound; Last Flag Flying; Faces/Places; I, Tonya; In the Fade; The Divine Order; Lady Bird; Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold; Meltdown; Loveless; Darkest Hour; The Other Side of Hope; and Hostiles.

Mainstream Chick’s Top Picks of 2016

It’s that time of year – when friends, family, and strangers in the elevator ask, “Hey, Did you see [fill in the blank]? Is it any good? What’s your favorite movie of 2016?” Well, here I attempt to answer those questions as succinctly as possible — with a countdown of my top ten movies of the year (12 if you count the ties), as well as a bunch of honorable mentions. They are films that resonated for one (positive) reason or another and represent a broad range of genres. Check ’em out!

A Man Called Ove (En man som heter Ove)

This adaptation of Fredrik Backman’s bestselling novel is one of my favorite films of the year. Written and directed by Hannes Holm it’s a Swedish curmudgeon finds his humanity story that could easily have been sappy and cliched, but balances the mean and the sweet just right for a totally enjoyable ride.

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Adapted from the best-selling novel by Jonas Jonasson, which I thoroughly enjoyed, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is a fun little Swedish flick about an old man who, just before his nursing home keepers can sing him happy 100th, climbs out the window and has a big adventure. It is in Swedish, feels kind of Forrest Gumpish, and it involves a biker gang and an elephant.

Force Majeure

There is a lot of buzz around Force Majeure, a Swedish relationship drama. They LOVED it at Cannes, it is Sweden’s Oscar entry, and the Foreign Press has just nominated it as best foreign language film. But the question to me is, does it appeal more to European audiences than Americans? I liked it and I think it is a well-done film with a compelling question at its center, but best film?

The Hunt (Jagten)

The Hunt is not a happy movie. And it is a story I feel like I have seen before, though it is all in the telling. The draw here is Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, Hannibal), frequently cast as the cold Scandinavian killer. He took home the best actor award at last year’s Cannes for his portrayal of this film’s lead character, Lucas, a divorced father and kindergarten teacher who is trying to connect with his teenage son and adjust to single life. And it is going pretty well, that is until he suddenly finds himself accused of molesting a little girl.

Headhunters (Hodejegerne)

Headhunters is one of those movies that grows on you. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it when it was over, but then days after, I kept thinking about it. It is a twisty Norwegian crime thriller about an insecure though powerful headhunter (of the executive search variety) who has overextended himself financially in order to take care of his tall blond super-modelish wife, who he is sure would leave him except for the lavish lifestyle he provides. And so he supplements his income by stealing art. His decision to steal one particular piece puts him in the sites of a very dangerous man.