Archive for the ‘Filmed in Denmark’ Category

In A Better World

14 Sep

In A Better World — directed by Susanne Bier. Family drama. Treating bullies is the theme, and two eleven year old boys take matters into their hands, as does the father of one of them, a doctor in Africa. 118 minutes Color 2010.

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One thing I love about doing this job is discovering the number of wonderful actors there are in the world. Of course, “a wonderful actor” also means the actor is also cast in the right role. Mikael Persbrandt is particularly interesting in the part of the Doctors Without Borders surgeon working in desert desolate Africa sewing up the stomachs of pregnant women a local warlord has been cutting up on a bet as to the gender of the child within. Back home in Denmark his estranged wife lives with his 11-year-old son as he enters a new school and makes friends with a brilliant, hate-ridden boy. The two boys enter into a fearful partnership in fearsome locales, for both boys are bullied badly. One of them is capable of murder, and he is right. The bully in Africa and the bully at home, and the bully in the acts designed to wreck the bully – these are themes which fascinate. But the film lets us in to the inner and secret workings of all these males, and each one of them is perfectly cast. Without William Johnk Juels Nielsen as Chris, the hater, the film is unthinkable. He’s an actor who sticks to his guns playing a character who will not give up. You want to kill him yourself. Markus Rygaard as Elias, his dupe, you want to shake into consciousness, but the young actor makes the character’s acts perfectly understandable. Trine Dyrholm as his mother won many acting awards in this role. But Mikael Persbrandt is the moral pivot of the film. He chooses his moment and it’s not the moment you thought it would be. His face is a field of subtle and selective response. He is always surprising; he is always right. And he suits the director’s bent to a T, for the taste for the director lies towards emotion, but emotion refrained, except when it is revealed as a defect of character. Then it is given full vent. In A Better World is a beautifully written and filmed and won many awards, including the US and Italian Golden Globe Awards and the Oscar of 2011 as the Best Foreign Film of the year. See it.



Day Of Wrath

13 Nov

Day Of Wrath –– Carl Dryer –– a young bride, a young son in law, an old preacher husband –– 1943 black and white.

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Another version of Desire Under The Elms, aka Phaedra, aka Hippolytus, and so forth. In this version we have a powerful puritanical early 17th Century village minister and his good looking young wife and grown son back from college. Watch out! Here the chorus is supplied by the old minister’s mean even older mother very ably played by Sigrid Neiiendaman. As in The Passion of Joan Of Arc, Dryer offers up immolation as the fear point of it all. And that immediately gets the ball rolling, as a stout old lady is condemned, tracked down, tortured, tried, and burned to death as a witch by the corrupt minister. A very great actress plays this part, Anna Svierkkier, and it is delightful to realize that an artist of completely modern temperament, skill, talent, and urge was already an old woman in Denmark; I thought we’d have to wait for Geraldine Page and Kim Stanley for the naturalness of this level of approach. Dryer’s layout in the piece is curious, as all the men suffer the torments of the damned and are weakened by it, while all the women are completely without conscience or guilt of any kind, and are strengthened by it. The Day Of Wrath when it comes sure aint going to bother these dames. Made in Nazi-occupied Denmark in 1944, the Teutonic (puritanical) brutality is shrouded in the severe ruffs of the age of Rembrandt. But what we are drawn to here is Dryer’s various story-telling manias, the long, long tracking shot, the devastating close-up, the molded lighting, the leisure he afford his actors and the tale, the dire solemnity of treatment, and the sense you are watching a silent picture when you are not. Do not, I say do not, lest you suffer That Wrath When The Day Comes, buy a bag of popcorn to eat this one by.


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