THE CELEBRATION (1998)

A film by  Thomas Vinterberg

Cast:  Ulrich Thomsen, Henning Moritzen, Thomas Bo Larsen 

Patriarch Helge Klingenfelt has a big party ready for his 60th birthday. Among the guests, Christian, the eldest son, is instructed by Helge to say a few words over dinner about his twin sister Linda, who died a year earlier. No one doubts that Christian will take advantage of this little speech to reveal terrible secrets …

A dogme-film is the sweep of the hand-held video camera was to endure no lighting except natural lighting, no sound intrusions except the hum and thump of natural sound. The actors wear their own clothes, and the only props they may use are “natural” to the set. Finally, the director may not even credit his own name to the picture – as if the paw prints of a presiding genius would further sully the purity of the film. And that is what Vinterberg has done on his first film. Famously known as the first movie of the Dogme 95 movement.

The film opens with a family in turmoil. The drunk and furious Michael The film opens with a family in turmoil, who blames his wife for everything. He even stop driving when he saw his brother on the road walking and told his wife and kids to get out and walk the rest of the way. At the birthday banquet, Christian raps his spoon against a glass and start to toast his father for being alive for 60 years and a shocking secret is revealed. The insults, the alcohol flowing into their veins and the drunken chef who says “I have been waiting for this for a long time”, and the party is going to go out of hand. The script is well planned, the actors are skilled at deploying their emotions. And may the insults, the alcohol and the drunken chef who says “I have been waiting for this for a long time”, and the party is going to go out of hand. The script is well planned, the actors are skilled at showing their emotions and the film is a bit like a farce at times. Funny part is the end or is it? The Dogme 95 film type died out later in the years to come because I thinks for some films it does not work out well. I so love this cult film. I saw it on the big screen not long ago again.

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ARCTIC (2019)

A film by  Joe Penna

Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Maria Thelma Smáradóttir

In the Arctic, the temperature can go down to -70 ° C. In this hostile, icy desert far from everything, a man struggles for survival.

Here is a man who is struggling to survive. His plane crashed in the arctic all he can see is this icy landscape and the mountains. The biggest asset here is the actor Mads mikkelsen who does a great performance here. Food is on his mind at all the time and how is he going to survive for one more day. His crashed plane is now his home. He knows they are looking for him but are they going to find him?  Arctic relies on visuals of white snow and vast landscapes to lure us into the reality in which Mads Mikkelsen is stranded. It is a realistic look of one man’s survival. Not too much dialogue here just the expression on Mikkelsen should tell you what he is thinking. The man has to rely on himself and has to be resourceful. What will he do next? What can he do? It is cold as hell and there no city in sight. Snow and mountains. Is the weather going to hold? and when is the next big storm is going to get there? However not the great film that is supposed to be? one thing smart about it Penna does not offer us the flashback of what happen to the other pilot and what was the cause of the plane crash. Not too bad but could of been better.

BORG / MCENROE (2017)

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A film by Janus Metz

Cast: Sverrir Gudnason, Shia LaBeouf, Stellan Skarsgård

The story in 1980 rivalry between Borg and McEnroe. McEnroe the rebellious bad boy of tennis and Borg the god of tennis.

Here is the thing I am a big fan of Tennis so I decided to see this film right away. My mom was working in this sport company they gave her box seat (Front row seat) to see all the matches at Roland Garros back in the 70’s. I saw Borg, Connors, Stanislas, Ivan Lendl, Rob laver etc…is a matter a fact Connors was on the court and running to hit the ball kept running was right in the front of me looked at me and said “man this guy is killing me” Connors was the cool dude who was joking around once in a while. So When it came around 1980 I was in the US and I saw that match Borg / McEnroe.

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The Real McEnroe and Borg 

For borg the pressure is on he has everything to lose he has 4 Wimbledon championships under his belt as for McEnroe he had nothing to lose, he was the underdog. I remember seeing him on the court getting pissed of pulling his hair out and the press had a field day. The film show the 3 days before the march, the preparation, the games, how the player prepares themselves mentally and so forth. Then there are the occasional flash back when they were teenagers. McEnroe the party boy and Borg was like a robot focused, nothing gets to him. Amazing! Shia leboeuf delivers an outstaying McEnroe and was trained by professional tennis players so they do not look like he is the actor playing tennis But McEnroe playing tennis. As for Sverrir Gudnason who even looks like Borg has incarnated Borg extremely well. By the way the young Björn Borg is played by Björn’s real son Leo Borg. Director Janus Metz lets the action flows as the drama goes back and forth like a tennis ball. The film was watchable you could feel the tension rising, I remember watching the match and was on the edge of my seat. Unfortunately we all know what happen the next year and I think that is why Borg retire at 26 years old as he said I have done it all in tennis.  Better retire on top I guess.

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THE NILE HILTON INCIDENT (2017)

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A film by Tarik Saleh

Cast: Fares Fares, Mari Malek, Yasser Ali Maher

Two days before the  Egyptian Revolution, this thriller features a police officer who investigates the murder of a woman who is a popular singer but turn out she is also a call girl.

Egypt’s 2011 revolution provides the backdrop for Tarik Saleh’s  political thriller. In order to do this type of penetrating film making the Danish Director has to know the Egyptian culture. The film opens with the corrupt police officer Noredin  (Fares Fares) doing his round to get his money from business owners. Noredin a chain-smoking cop who is called on a scene of a murder of a singer. The atmosphere of this film is like a smoked, perfumed street with corruption of all sort where there is no justice. Plus the fact that the internal affair are investigating the precinct of Noredin. As Noredin is trying to find the only possible witness he discovers more dead bodies and possible a suspect the son of the President of Egypt. You actually try to investigate with him. The more he investigate the more corruption he finds and he puts his life in danger as well. Even though Saleh was  forced to shooting in Casablanca after the production was shut down by the Egyptian state security service. I wonder why? You can smell though the screen the smoking, dust, perfume, food, and the heat that add to the Neo-Noir film. Yes there are twists and turns in this story that is tastefully told by Saleh. Do not miss this one. 

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LAND OF MINE (2015)

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A film by Martin Zandvliet

Cast: Roland Møller, Louis Hofmann, Joel Basman

Keep in mind that this film as just came in at the theatre in France. 1945. Denmark. End of the Second World War. Several German soldiers, barely out of their teens, were taken prisoner by the Danish army and sent to the front line to defuse the mines buried along the coast. For them, the war is far from over. Inspired by real events, {Land of mine} recounts this tragic episode of History.

The film open with a long line of ragged soldiers walked down the street. A Danish soldier knocked one of them to the ground, for the sole reason that he is German. The war has just ended, but the hatred of the danish soldier is still fresh.The victims of yesterday will become the executioners of today. Following the proposal of the British, the one that freed the Denmark from this hell  use young German prisoners of war to defuse the mines that are buried along the coast mine flouting the agreements of the Geneva Convention of 1929 which forbid to compel prisoners of war to carry out dangerous work.

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Opting for a refined style, the director avoids any heaviness of the war. He sets up his decor on an idyllic beach with white sand lit by a permanent sun that contrasts with the darkness of the subject. The camera focuses on the beauty and vulnerability of these young boys. You well see how scared they are  without hiding any details but also conveys the strength of their dreams and their struggle for survival. Little by little we are interested about those characters where they are from and what they will do when they come back home. The sergeant who is pissed about the german taking his country has no remorse for those kids that are from the age 15 to 18. It is as real as it gets It is based on real events here and the director has done a great job to film that. There is a real tension here that will rise until it blows up. Land of mine tells a human story that explores tactfully the beauty of the hidden face of humans.

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KOLLEKTIVET (2017)

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A film by Thomas Vinterberg   

Cast: Fares Fares, Ulrich Thomsen, Trine Dyrholm

English Title: The commune 

Thomas Vinterberg returns to home soil with his latest picture The Commune. In is set in the 70’s and yes I did love the 70’s this is far from the free sex and drug use environment you may have thought it has a naturalist environment with sensible adults with different walks of life and different jobs.

Married couple Erik (Ulrich Thomsen) and Anna (Trine Dyrholm) seek something new in their life, and following a 25 year relationship, which has given  their teenage daughter Freja (Martha Sofie Wallstrom Hansen), they decide to open up a commune, at the former home of Erik’s recently deceased father. You see the have this big mansion but it is too expensive to maintain. So they round-up some friends so the share the expanse that goes with a big mansion, basically they charge them rent. Everything is in place they even have rules and they have to respect each other. And may the emotional roller coaster beginning.

It has realism here a surrealistic approach to the comedy, having said that some of you will laugh nervously. It’s actually a nightmarish ideal, that have some intimacy issues. There is the question why didn’t Anna (Trine Dyrholm) leave Erik. You will feel the uncomfortable  at times with some serious uneasiness. Once The Commune gets off the ground it is going to be an emotional melt down and many of you will feel that they should be more and has questions that was not answered but I still like the film. It is not his master piece , his master piece as we all know is Festen which I will review soon and no I have not seen it yet, on  my list. Have fun.

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BLEEDER (1999)

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A film by Nicolas Winding Refn

Cast: Kim Bodnia, Mads Mikkelsen, Rikke Louise Andersson

Leo (Kim Bodnia) drift ever further out of society following the news that his girlfriend, Louise (Rikke Louise Andersson), is expecting their first child, something she is rather more enthusiastic about that he. His friends are  Lenny (Mads Mikkelsen), who works at a video store, and Louise’s brother Louis (Levino Jensen), a small-time gangster. Lenny’s friends meet to watch violent horror films and pornography, freely and knowledgeably discussing films and filmmakers.

Here is a dude who got his girlfriend pregnant and does not know what to make of it. So he goes out to clear his head and make sense of it all. Lenny however is shy and is trying for weeks now to ask this girl who works in this restaurant. The thing is that Leo is going to set a chain of event that will sets off in a bad way. This film just got here in France but was released  in 1999. The scene that you will see in the video store influenced Tarantino in Pulp fiction big time. Seriously , Bleeder is a straightforward enough story, opening in  with four of the main characters strolling through downtown Copenhagen. Refn develops four strong leads with only the use of music and the mannerisms of each actor to highlight the drama that is about to unfold before your eyes. You see how the 4 characters interacts with each other and how leo is still thinking if it is a good idea to have a child or not, he is distracted by it when his girlfriend wants to keep it and getting pissed off which build the tension in the story. The story takes a detour it is not predictable as I thought it was going to be. The casting is terrific here, the actor capable of expressing the emotions felt by their character without the need for a significant amount of dialogue.

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