It is winter in Saint Petersburg and the streets of the former capital are teeming. Half naked sunbathers stand in the snow; fledgeling dancers watched by throngs of teens are an explosion of underground fashion; a therapist who cannot afford an office sees clients in his car; immigrant street cleaners wander estates in orange vests, hoping they won’t be mistaken for terrorists. Saint Petersburg makes do with what it has. Continue reading
Evening Land presents fictitious events in the Europe of those days. It opens in a Copenhagen shipyard with a strike due to the construction of four submarines, potential carriers of nuclear weapons for the French Navy, beside the salary freeze that the deal has entailed, and as an anti-nuclear protest. In parallel with this, a group of radical demonstrators kidnaps the Danish minister of the EC during a summit, as a token of support with the strikers. The Danish police brutally repress the demo and crush the “terrorists”. Evening Land was released to both a hostile left and right wing, and the few film critics who valued it pointed out that it strayed from the style that Watkins had developed in his previous films. Danmarks Radio refused to broadcast it, and Watkins decided it was high time to leave Scandinavia and start what would be a new period of voluntary exile. Continue reading
An enigmatic and decadent white diplomat arrives in central Africa sporting dark glasses, riding boots, and a cigarette holder. He has recently bought an ambassadorship and claims to be a do-good rich businessman spearheading a diplomatic mission. Officially, he is there to start a factory that will employ locals to produce matches. Unofficially, he has really come to gain access to the area’s vast reserves of diamonds. It soon becomes apparent that, in this postcolonial economy, nearly everyone is out to rip off everyone else, and the dangers become all too real. Continue reading
Just Another Love Story is about Jonas (Anders W. Berthelsen), a likeable but world-weary husband with a wife and two kids who lives in a leafy suburb and whose life takes an unexpected twist when he inadvertently if at all causes Julia (Rebecka Hemse) to crash her car and go into a coma. When Julia comes out of her coma her memory has vanished. Via a grotesque mix-up she and her nearest and dearest believe that when Jonas pops into the hospital to see how she is, he is in fact Sebastian (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), her exotic new boyfriend, whom they had all been expecting to fly in from abroad. Jonas assumes Sebastians identity and pretends to be the man Julia believes is the love of her life: a brand new identity, a brand new life, and an untrammeled existence full of promise opens up to Jonas. But real life cant be lived on fantasy and exotic dreams, and one day the truth comes knocking at the door. Continue reading
The newest Ole Bornedal film is a continued exploration of styles, themes and content not normally associated with Danish cinema. Following the awesome meta-film noir ‘Just Another Love Story’ and the great children’s horror/sci-fi ‘The Substitute’, ‘Deliver Us from Evil’ is like no Scandinavian film you’ve ever seen before. Not to say that this is a wholly original work of art, it’s not, however, the combination of all the elements makes it unique as a Danish movie.
In the story, not too dissimilar to Straw dogs, we’re in hillbilly territory, where one man tries to do the right thing and has to defend himself and his family against outsiders. Everyone accept the main family acts extremely over the top in a wonderful dramatic way but still strangely rooted in Danish society. You are in disbelief but still you feel that these obnoxious, unpleasant characters could be quite real.
Though Denmark isn’t generally known for turning out horror films, director Ole Bornedal created a minor splash throughout Europe with Nightwatch, an efficient, atmospheric, and occasionally striking mixture of whodunit and Grand Guignol. Unfortunately American audiences were deprived of the opportunity to see it when Miramax picked up U.S. distribution rights, only to promptly lock the film away while director Ole Bornedal helmed a remake starring Ewan McGregor, Nick Nolte, and Patricia Arquette. After sitting on the shelf for over a year, the remake was drastically watered down, barely released, and tanked. Now years later, viewers can finally see what all the shouting was about. Continue reading
A modern fable about an invisible man who gets the chance to become a real human being. He has to learn to be brave, honest and conscientious. ‘P’ is a fantasy figure, living behind the wallpaper in seven year-old Lisa’s bedroom. Due to the destruction of the building in which Lisa lives, P leaves Lisa and her fantasy world. He ends up at a refugee center, where he learns Danish and becomes an integrated member of society. An apartment is assigned to P and he gets a job in a shoe store. P’s naiveté and good will makes him an easy prey. Without being guilty, he becomes under suspicion of being a wanted child molester. This is the story of P’s dramatic journey through the Fall of Man in an attempt to become a good citizen.