Blu-ray: ‘The Hunt’

Thomas Vinterberg not only spearheaded the Dogme 95 movement with Lars von Trier, he made people pay attention to it with his 1998 feature The Celebration (aka Festen), a searing family drama of raw emotion, primal rage, and healing solidarity strewn with dark humor and discomforting situations. The Hunt is not bound to the self-imposed restrictions of the Dogme movement but otherwise it returns to the same intensity of volatile emotions and social transgressions. It’s uncompromising and uncomfortable, a film that had me knotted up in anxiety yet unable to turn away, and it’s Vinterberg’s best film since The Celebration.

Mads Mikkelsen stars as Lucas, a dedicated teaching assistant at a pre-school in a small town in Denmark, and Annika Wedderkopp is Klara, the pre-school-age girl who adores this gentle man, a family friend whose warm presence is an escape from the tension at home. In a moment of childish pique after he admonishes her for kissing him on the lips (“That’s reserved for Mom and Dad,” he insists), she spits out some angry comments mixed with sexually-suggestive phrases overheard from her brother and his porn-obsessed buddies. She clearly has no idea what these words actually mean and there is no malicious intent, merely a child blowing off steam, but the ambiguous comments quite rightly lead to an investigation of possible child sexual abuse.

Continue reading at Turner Classic Movies

DVDs for 11/30/10 – Knight and Day and the Sicilian Girl Rise in Valhalla

This is the week of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (Summit), which is such an event that it gets its own release date: Saturday, December 4, with discs going on sale at 12:01am at select retailers. Expect Friday midnight release parties. I’m pretty cool to the cult of Twilight but this entry is an improvement over the insufferable second film. I reviewed it for MSN here. My colleagues at MSN reviewed Going the Distance (Warner) and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Disney) so I didn’t have to, and I review Lisandro Alonso’s Liverpool on my blog here.

Just another day in the life of a super spy

Knight and Day (Fox) – Tom Cruise plays to his strengths in this colorful spy fantasy, bouncing through as an unfailingly polite boy scout of a covert agent with a smooth-talking charm and ninja spy skills, and Cameron Diaz is the beautiful civilian who gets tangled up in his latest mission. Cruise’s Miller is a rogue CIA operative on a mission of honor, but his quest to rid the agency of the rot of corruption comes with a pretty high body count and the viewer just has to accept that every guy following orders to take him down is infected by the same rot to roll with the moral imperative that makes his actions all right.

Continue reading “DVDs for 11/30/10 – Knight and Day and the Sicilian Girl Rise in Valhalla”