I could write about the new Tarantino but why bother? Everybody knows about it and almost everyone is going to see it. Yes, have no doubt heard, Christoph Waltz is incredible; one of the most disturbing scenes in the movie involves watching this man eat a strudel…the movie is worth it just for him. Brad Pitt is good too but overall it is not quite the masterpiece some are saying it is. It is not even a very good Tarantino film. What it is is a number of great scenes, and they are truly great, but they exist as islands surrounded by choppy water. The film, as a whole, just isn’t. (Pulp Fiction still reigns the roost).
So if you want to get out of the mainstream cinema head over to Denmark.
A few days ago I ran across Adam’s Apples starring two of Denmark’s best and most prolific actors Mad Mikkelson and Ulrich Thomson.
Mads is best known in the West for his turn as the Bond villain Le Chiffre of the bisected blood tearing eye. And oddly enough in this film as well, his eyes bleed at one point.
Thomson plays a neo-Nazi convict who comes to a halfway house run by a priest played by Mads. At first it looks like a typical indie type quirky collection of misfits film but in no time that cliche is put to rest in a beautiful variation on the trials of Job.
The priest is a man who interprets all bad things as evil workings of the devil, and the neo-Nazi is just the latest of these. He is convinced that good will win and is so convinced that it radically skews his perception of reality. Thomson sees it as his quest to bring down the priest, to use his secular evil to make the priest confront reality. All in all, the film has a certain Scandinavian austerity crossed with a Latin magical realism and with gothic underpinnings.
Mads looks like himself in this film but Thomson, also usually somewhat handsome manages to appear crude and lurching and heavy. I guess that’s called acting.
The writing in this film is so good (writer and director are the same, one Anders Thomas Jensen), that I had to see something else. And so I found Green Butchers.
And in this one Mads is almost unrecognizable. He is physically repulsive as a sweaty butcher, and if you have seen films like Delicatessen I don’t have to say much about this but it does take the whole humans wandering into the food chain motif in a fresher direction.
One wonderfully passage from this is as a butcher tells a customer inquiring about the secret behind his tasty sausages,
“there is something mythological about killing an animal and then mocking it by sticking it up its own intestine. Could anything be more humiliating than being put up your own ass?”
Other Danish films worth a look are Celebration, Italian for Beginners, The Inheritance, and Five Obstructions; all quite different but good. And I am on the hunt for more Danish film..small industry but big talent.