A Taste Of Hunger: Making Delicious Food Isn’t Enough To Save Your Failing Marriage

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A couple, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Katrine Gries-Rosenthal, try desperately to achieve a Michelin Star.

I thought this film had it all, charm, character and drama. The more I explore Danish cinema the more I am starting to become enamoured with it.

I thought both Coster-Waldau and Gries-Rosenthal brought a lot to the film and each gave strong performances. Moreover, I also thought their relationship and its various woes were also conveyed very realistically and in a way that affected you watching. Whilst watching you were never quite sure who was in the wrong in the relationship or whether the relationship should even continue on, but by the end you learn it is far more complex and nuanced than that. Much like life.

I thought the non-linear structure of the narrative became a bit confusing at times, though after watching it I can see why they went for it. I liked the mystery around who was writing the notes and thought the reveal was clever and well set-up.

My main issue with the film would be that the pacing didn’t work. Frequently scenes either needed longer, when trying to convey an important event, or less time, when trying to convey an unimportant one: better editing was needed.

Overall, an intriguing drama film with a compelling relationship at the centre.

Pros.

Coster-Waldau

Gries-Rosenthal

The drama

The mystery

Cons.

The pacing

The non-liner narrative wasn’t always clear       

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Pusher III: Hosting A Party Is More Stressful Than Running A Drug Empire

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Refn concludes his Pusher trilogy with a day in the life of Milo, played by Zlatko Buric, the drug lord from the first film.

Though I still enjoyed this film I thought it was the most needless of the trilogy and could see why Refn didn’t really want to make sequels, this one felt the most stagnate and time killy. Whilst the other films had an ever increasing sense of tension and claustrophobia this film feels decidedly smaller in scale and in stakes. Though for the most part this leads the film to feel less enthralling it also gives us a more intimate look at this character and their mentality which is nice and leads to a number of good character moments.

I think Buric does a good job here and keeps the film trucking along nicely, of the series characters I feel like he was the only one other than the two already used interesting enough to justify there own film and it was intriguing to see his own little slice of the underworld.

I would say this film struggled with its pace as unlike the others it did have moments that drastically slowed down and in doing so lost your attention.

Overall, a good but not great ending to the trilogy.

Pros.

Buric

The intimacy

A deeper look at Milo’s slice of the underworld

Cons.

Pacing issues

Weaker stakes

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Pusher II: Sometimes One Just Needs To Run Away

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The second film in the Pusher series follows Tonny, played by Mads Mikkelsen, as he gets out of prison and tries to return to his former life of crime.

Mikkelsen is magnificent here as always, as we see his Tonny grow over the course of the film, and feel  the claustrophobic metaphorical walls of Tonny’s life closing in around him trapping him into a cycle of criminality and abuse. Honestly, the final sequence of the film when Tonny finally turns on his gangster father, played by Leif Sylvester, and runs away with his baby is incredibly powerful and a lot of the sequence is incredibly reminiscent of Refn’s later film Drive.

I enjoyed the return to the Danish underworld and thought there was still a lot here to be mined and explored. I liked the juxtaposition of having Tonny not fit into this world at all, though not through a lack of wanting to. Though in many ways the character is morally repugnant Mikkelsen plays him with such a sense of weary charm and desperation that you can’t help but like him. The supporting cast all have moments to shine here, but this is very much Mikkelsen’s film.

Overall, an incredibly strong film.

Pros.

Mikkelsen

The world

The ending

The emotion and the stakes

Cons.

It feels a little rushed at times

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Wildland: What Would You Do For Your Family

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

An orphan, played by Sandra Guldberg Kampp, moves in with her aunt, played by Sidse Babett Knudsen, and her sons only to later find out that they are a crime family and that she is now in over her head.

For the most part I enjoyed this film. I thought the film plays with the meaning of family in an interesting way, dissecting the ideas around how far you would go for them and what would you do if the threat came from within the family unit? I found multiple scenes to be incredibly tense and I think that is one of the film’s great strengths, it can turn fairly innocuous dialogue scenes into uneasy experiences where you know something bad is just about to happen and you’re on edge waiting for it.

I thought the actors all gave good performances and you believed that they were indeed a family. Moreover, you also believed they were all gangsters as they carried the roles well and had the right level of menace and coldness to pull it off.

My only real complaint with this film would be that I didn’t like the ending, to me it felt rushed and out of place with the rest of the film. I was left at the end of the film thinking ‘wait what, is that it?’ as it just ends without a satisfying conclusion to the events of the film, but maybe that was the point?

Overall, an interesting crime film that digs a little deeper than most, however the ending could have been better structured and executed.

Pros.

Good performances

A strong sense of threat and tension

Trying to do something different with the gangster genre

Questions around the meaning of family

Cons.

The ending is weak

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Festen/ The Celebration: The Family Reunion From Hell

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

This film will not be to everyone’s taste, it’s sense of humour is incredibly dark, and some may even find it in bad taste: I however did not.

This is such a bizarre film tonally as you have these incredibly distressing scenes, of suicide and child abuse, cut with other far lighter and almost comedic scenes: both are existing along side the other and both have equal importance. Whilst one would assume this would not work and the two types of scenes would clash horribly, they actually don’t instead working well and nicely complimenting each other.

I found moments in this film to be funny, though the jokes were morbid and will almost certainly not be to everyone’s taste, as I often say comedy is subjective.

What I appreciate the most about this film is how it handles the abuse storyline; it treats it with sombre reverence and shows the often too common reaction to it; disbelief. I thought that the ending of the film where these matters were forced to a head felt strongly emotional and satisfying. Though I found myself depressed by the ending, I would not change it.

Overall, a bizarre film in a lot of ways but one that needs to be seen and experienced.

Pros.

The emotions

The bizarre meshing of dark and light

The dark comedy elements

The ending

Cons.

Some will find it very hard to watch

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Another Round/ Druk: Mads Mikkelsen Can Dance

5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

As I said recently in a tweet Mads Mikkelsen is a treasure. If you were not on the Mikkelsen train before, now you are.

There is something so fun and emotionally impactful about this film, yes dark things happen, but there is such an underlying sense of optimism to it that you can’t leave feeling anything other than happy. Honestly, this film made me feel better than any film has in a long time whilst watching it, and it has inspired me to watch more of Vinterberg’s work.

I thought the concept was fascinating, the idea of improving your life by keeping your blood alcohol content above a certain limit throughout the day is genius and is also executed incredibly well. Moreover, this is a beautiful film to look at, this can been seen especially with the final dance sequence that is by far the highlight of the film.

Though I wouldn’t call it a comedy, I thought this film had a number of funny moments scattered in throughout, and it made me smile consistently; it is probably more of a dramady.

Overall, one of the best films I have seen in a long time.

Pros.

The hopefulness

The final dance sequence

Mads Mikkelsen

The premise

The cinematography

Cons.

None

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Pusher: Do You Have My Money?

Pusher is a Danish crime thriller film directed by Nicolas Winding-Refn. The plot centres around Frank (Kim Bodina), a drug dealer who falls into desperation after a few of his deals go bad, and his growing debt put him on the wrong side of a local local drug lord.

This film oozes style, however, unlike some of Winding-Refn’s other films, this film manages to perfectly nail the balance between style and substance. The world of Danish crime this film sets up feels very visceral and real, it is also refreshing to watch a film about organised crime that exists outside of the North America (Mexico and The US for these purposes)/ Italy sector.
Bodina and a young Mads Mickelson are terrific in the lead roles and present their characters with hidden depths beyond just the usual thuggish stereotype. We see these characters as essentially desperate characters forced into a bleak and violent world by circumstances outside their control, and to a degree we sympathies with them.

The ending is incredibly bleak, but also open ended enough to not feel depressing, we are left to draw our own conclusions and reflect on the choices made.

Overall, one of the best crime film I have ever seen. Incredibly strong.

Pros.

Bodina

Mickelson

A new focus and perspective on organised crime

The ending

The style

Cons.

It may be a bit too bleak for some

4.5/5

Reviewed by Luke