Anders Thomas Jensen

Anders Thomas Jensen

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The Salvation Review


Excellent

Just when you thought no one could come up with a fresh take on the Western, the Danes arrive with this astonishingly earthy and inventive film, shot in South Africa no less. Director Kristian Levring uses all of the usual elements without ever resorting to cliches, which makes the film strikingly involving. Not only are the characters people we can identify with, but their moral dilemmas are strikingly provocative. Especially as the violence escalates.

The story opens in 1871, as Danish immigrant Jon (Mads Mikkelsen) welcomes his wife (Nanna Oland Fabricius) and young son to the American prairie where he has worked for seven years. But on the way home from the station, they are ambushed by outlaws. After a desperate struggle, Jon manages to kill them, but this puts him on the wrong side of the local boss Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who enforces cooperation from the town's mayor-undertaker (Jonathan Pryce) and sheriff-priest (Douglas Hensall). So aside from his brother Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), Jon has nowhere to turn. His only hope of justice is to deliver it himself.

Adding an intriguing layer is the fact that Jon and Peter are veterans of Denmark's civil war, just as the locals are survivors of America's. So everyone has war in their blood. The Danish brothers have vowed to turn their backs on violence and build a lawful society, so the flurry of clashes, kidnappings and killings with Delarue's goons (including Eric Cantona) are tinged with regretfulness. And the script never lets the audience off lightly: in the Wild West, no one is safe. Civilisation has only begun to arrive in this isolated place, but the discovery of oil has replaced old world values with pure, unfiltered greed. Yes, there's a lot more going on here than the usual swaggering Western machismo. And the casting has as much to do with that as the script.

Continue reading: The Salvation Review

A Second Chance Review


Good

From Denmark, this morally complex drama is urgent and provocative even if the story is full of lapses that make it feel oddly implausible. It's a reteaming of director Susanne Bier and screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen, whose breakout 2004 film Brothers (remade in 2009 with Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire) had similar problems: a high-concept premise that makes the dilemma more important than plot coherence.

Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau returns home to Denmark to star in the film. He plays Andreas, a detective who is horrified when he and his partner Simon (Ulrich Thomsen) find badly neglected infant Sofus in the home of lowlife ex-con Tristan (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and his junkie girlfriend Sanne (Lykke May Anderson). But there's no legal way to remove the baby from his parents. This hits Andreas especially hard since his son Alexander is the same age and his wife Anna (Maria Bonnevie) is struggling emotionally with motherhood. Then Alexander dies unexpectedly and Andreas hatches a plan: he swaps the dead Alexander for the abused Sofus. Obviously both of the mothers notice this immediately, but Anna accepts it and no one will listen to Sanne's outcry. And Tristan is preoccupied with trying to cover up what he thinks is his son's death.

Bier and Jensen work diligently to set up this premise, with details that try to address each aspect of the story, but it simply never holds water. For example, we never believe that Andreas' action is something any caring husband would do, especially one who works for the police. Or that Anna and Simon would go along with it. So as the story becomes increasingly entangled, everything begins to feel like it's heading for the only conclusion possible. Thankfully, Bier and Jensen are skilled enough to make all of this compelling, challenging the audience to confront each decision the characters make and consider the moral repercussions of everything they do.

Continue reading: A Second Chance Review

Douglas Henshall, Kristian Levring, Nanna Oland Fabricius, Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Sisse Graum Jorgensen and Anders Thomas Jensen - The 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival - 'The Salvation' - Photocall - Cannes, France - Saturday 17th May 2014

Douglas Henshall, Kristian Levring, Nanna Oland Fabricius, Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Sisse Graum Jorgensen and Anders Thomas Jensen
Douglas Henshall, Kristian Levring, Nanna Oland Fabricius, Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Sisse Graum Jorgensen and Anders Thomas Jensen
Douglas Henshall, Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Nanna Oland Fabricius
Douglas Henshall, Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Nanna Oland Fabricius
Douglas Henshall, Kristian Levring, Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Nanna Oland Fabricius
Douglas Henshall, Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Nanna Oland Fabricius

Love Is All You Need Review


Very Good

It's rare to find a romance that's actually based on such vivid characters as these, but then this is from Oscar-winning filmmaker Susanne Bier (In a Better World), who knows how to root films in people rather than plot structure. And even more important: this is a romance about middle-aged people we can genuinely engage with, as they have been beaten down by life and are in need of a fresh start.

It starts in Copenhagen, where hairdresser Ida (Dyrholm) has just finished cancer treatment when she discovers that her husband Leif (Bodnia) is sleeping with a young airhead (Schaumburg-Miller). Now she has to pack her son (Hansen) off to war before heading to Italy for the marriage of daughter Astrid (Egelind) to her boyfriend Patrick (Jessen). Then at the airport, Ida has an unlucky run-in with Patrick's tetchy father Philip (Brosnan), who has focussed only on his work since his wife died. And even as Ida catches his eye, he has to fend off the advances of his lovelorn sister-in-law Benedikte (Steen).

With a group of people gathering for a wedding on an idyllic Mediterranean island, the plot may seem like Mamma Mia without the music. But there are surprising details in the characters as the farce develops, and only a couple of the plot-lines get silly. The central love story is actually remarkably sweet, using Ida's and Philip's troubled histories to make their interaction both snappier and more deeply emotional than we expect. And Bier, working with her usual screenwriter Jensen, are free to let other narrative strands come and go around them.

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In A Better World Review


Extraordinary
This gorgeously assembled Oscar-winning Danish drama explores the nature of violence in a deeply unsettling way. Watching the events unfold is often painfully intense, as we see through the eyes of a variety of conflicted characters.

After his mother dies, 12-year-old Christian (Nielsen) and his father Claus (Thomsen) move from London back to Denmark. Christian is angry at the world, and lashes out at the bully (Holm) in his new school. He befriends the bullied Elias (Rygaard), whose parents Marianne and Anton (Dyrholm and Persbrandt) are splitting up, partly because Anton spends large periods of time working as a doctor in rural Africa. Then after a local bigot (Bodnia) slaps Anton, Christian hatches a plan to get revenge in a very violent way.

Continue reading: In A Better World Review

The Duchess Review


Excellent
The Duchess is an Oscar-worthy film.

Now, they may be technical Oscars. It's too soon to catapult Saul Dibb's exquisite period biopic into the Best Picture race, what with 20 or 30 award-hungry competitors left to screen over the next three months. But you can book Dibb's handsome picture for the craft categories -- costume, art direction, makeup, and set design. And if there's any justice in this industry, Duchess will score nods for Rachel Portman's elegant score and for leading lady Keira Knightley, who delivers the most mature, versatile, and devastating performance of her young career (can you believe she's only 23?)

Continue reading: The Duchess Review

Brothers (2004) Review


Excellent
In an intelligent psychological drama, director/co-writer Susanne Bier shows us some sure-footedness in developing a complex story and engaging us with characters that make the traumatic stress disorder resulting from war revealing. Though her film doesn't entirely avoid some clichés and borders on melodrama, it doesn't spoil the timely interest of its core subject and the level of tension that it generates.

Add to that a fine ensemble cast to bring us into it. The two brothers of the title are Michael (Ulrich Thomsen), a career military man who seems to excel at everything, and his no-good brother Jannik (Nikolai Lie Kaas, Reconstruction), for whom Michael is both a role model and an impossible standard to live up to. Jannik's love and respect for Michael, on the other hand, is intertwined with the rebelliousness that comes of this inadequacy. To make the point and to make the relationships clear, the film starts with Michael picking Jannik up when he's released from prison and suggesting, on the ride home, that he should apologize to the victim of his crime. Such propriety. Jannik's prison time wasn't adequate punishment for Michael's high standards.

Continue reading: Brothers (2004) Review

After The Wedding Review


OK
Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier's After the Wedding is about orphans, literally and figuratively, for every character in it has been orphaned in one way or other from their proper lives. In bringing her themes to life, Bier follows inauspiciously in the footsteps of Jean Renoir, Louis Malle, and, more recently, Jane Campion, among other Western filmmakers, in using India as a pat, easily available symbol of misery and moral courage.

Bier stakes out the slum warrens of Mumbai to get our attention where we find Jacob (Mads Mikkelsen), a Danish expatriate, running what the press notes called a "woefully under-financed" orphanage. (Honestly, isn't everything in India, depicted in Western cinema, "woeful" and "under-financed"?) Jacob is surrogate daddy to one of the orphans, Pramod (Neeral Mulchandani), whom he's raised since infancy, and who represents his only vital and most human relationship.

Continue reading: After The Wedding Review

Mifune Review


Excellent
In 1995, Danish directors Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg established a code of ethics for an alternative form of filmmaking. The two directors were fed up by the way in which movie making was "raped" by technology such as special effects, expensive gear, cranes, filters, dollies, and spotlights. They wisely knew that they could never measure up to the Americans in that area, so they decided that European filmmaking should head in an all-together different direction. The result was a vow of chastity complete with the ten commandments of what they called Dogme filmmaking. Some of these groundbreaking rules included: on location shooting without the ability to bring in props, the rule that music will not be used unless it occurs where the scene is being shot, the camera must be hand-held, optical work and filters are forbidden, and the films must not contain superficial action such as murders, weapons, etc. The purpose was to force a director to think along unconventional and imaginative lines in order to create a Dogme film, and the first two attempts, Vinterberg's The Celebration, and Von Trier's The Idiots, were both successful.

Director Soren Kragh-Jacobsen's Mifune, is the third film from the Danish Dogme Collective. Subtitled in English, it is the story of Kresten (Anders W. Berhelsen) who has become an overnight sensation as a businessman in Copenhagen. The morning after his wedding to the boss' daughter, he receives a phone call that his estranged father has just died. He has trouble explaining this to his wife, since he has told everyone in the city that he has no living relatives, in attempt to disguise his humble origins. Now he must return to the family's run down farm to bury his father and make arrangements to hide the truth of his mentally retarded brother from his new family and friends.

Continue reading: Mifune Review

Old Men In New Cars Review


Very Good
I couldn't even get through In China They Eat Dogs, the film to which this serves as a prequel. But maybe I should have given it a bigger chance: Old Men in New Cars is a funny little thrill ride (despite the stupid title) that fans of that Guy Ritchie-fueled, ironic, post-Pulp Fiction action genre will probably get a kick out of.

Dave Attell lookalike Kim Bodnia is Harald, a Danish restaurateur who's fresh out of prison. He returns to his restaurant, which has been being run (sort of) by his inept assistants during his absence, and immediately demands they fry the sushi rolls they've been experimenting with. Harald's a no-nonsense kind of guy, and his abrupt decisions and absurd logic will drive the film forward. That includes a demand for 3.5 million kroner that he's previously borrowed, a jailbreak to help an old friend meet his son before the friend dies, a bank robbery to steal the money he owes the mob, and -- after that fails -- a plane hijacking designed to steal the 3.5 million plus money to buy the dying friend a new liver on the black market.

Continue reading: Old Men In New Cars Review

Flickering Lights Review


Excellent
Director Anders Thomas Jensen's previous credits includes Dogme 95 screenplays (The King is Alive, Mifune). He won an Academy Award in 1999 for his short film Election Night and has been nominated for two others. Jensen's impressive background translates into an equally impressive debut feature. Flickering Lights is dark and occasionally violent, but is a thoroughly enjoyable and often comic story of four childhood friends who confront their past and build a future together.

Flickering Lights boasts an impressive cast from a broad range of Danish films and television (Mifune, The Celebration, Pusher, The Kingdom), which is put to good use by Jensen's witty script and slow but deliberate direction. Torkild (Søren Pilmark) is the head of a small time gang, pulling small jobs for a gangster known only as the Eskimo. After his 40th birthday and a botched heist involving 4 million krones, Torkild and his gang are forced to hide out in an abandoned inn in the middle of nowhere. The gang has to wait only until Peter (Ulrich Thomsen), who was shot, is well enough to travel, so they can continue on to Barcelona. But after meeting some of the locals and finding moments of peace in this secluded hideaway, Torkild conveniences the rest of the gang that staying put may be the future for which they are all looking. The gang uses the money to buy the inn and renovate it, making it into quaint family restaurant that people drive for miles to visit, not because of the food (the boys apparently never learn to cook), but for the atmosphere.

Continue reading: Flickering Lights Review

Anders Thomas Jensen

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Anders Thomas Jensen Movies

The Salvation Movie Review

The Salvation Movie Review

Just when you thought no one could come up with a fresh take on the...

A Second Chance Movie Review

A Second Chance Movie Review

From Denmark, this morally complex drama is urgent and provocative even if the story is...

Love Is All You Need Movie Review

Love Is All You Need Movie Review

It's rare to find a romance that's actually based on such vivid characters as these,...

In a Better World Movie Review

In a Better World Movie Review

This gorgeously assembled Oscar-winning Danish drama explores the nature of violence in a deeply unsettling...

The Duchess Movie Review

The Duchess Movie Review

The Duchess is an Oscar-worthy film. Now, they may be technical Oscars. It's too soon...

After The Wedding Movie Review

After The Wedding Movie Review

Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier's After the Wedding is about orphans, literally and figuratively, for every...

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Mifune Movie Review

Mifune Movie Review

In 1995, Danish directors Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg established a code of ethics...

Wilbur Movie Review

Wilbur Movie Review

Wilbur is about suicide, but at the same time, it's nothing about suicide. Sure, the...

The Green Butchers Movie Review

The Green Butchers Movie Review

In the strange new Danish import, The Green Butchers, the porcine owner of a butcher...

Mifune Movie Review

Mifune Movie Review

In 1995, Danish directors Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg established a code of ethics...

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