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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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Love Is All You Need Trailer


When Ida, a Danish hairdresser who is recuperating after a series of chemotherapy treatments walks in on her husband cheating on her with a very young colleague from the accounts department at work, she finds her life in tatters. She resolves to travel alone to Italy where her daughter Astrid is set to wed her fiancé Patrick but on the way she meets the angry and aloof Philip who is also living in Denmark and who has become more and more annoyed at the world since his wife passed away. He turns out to be the father of the groom and they are forced to spend time together despite meeting on bad terms. Philip is humbled when he returns to the Italian villa in which he used to live with his wife but other conflicts are cropping up elsewhere even between the bride and groom. However, it isn't long before Philip and Ida start enjoying each other's company and they start to contemplate moving on with their lives.

Continue: Love Is All You Need Trailer

Keep The Lights On Review


Excellent

Director-cowriter Sachs takes an unusually intimate look at a 10-year relationship in this beautifully shot and performed New York drama. The film has been compared to 2011's British break-out hit Weekend, but only partly because it centres on a gay couple. What makes both films notable is the way they tackle serious issues in the context of a relationship, keeping the focus tightly on complex characters who behave like real people we can identify with.

The story starts in 1998 New York, as aspiring Danish documentary filmmaker Erik (Lindhardt) fails to overcome his loneliness by using chat-lines to meet random strangers for sex. Then he meets the lawyer Paul (Booth), and their encounter evolves into a relationship. Over the next decade, Paul is frustrated by Erik's casual approach to his slow-developing career, while Erik becomes increasingly worried about Paul's casual drug use. As this boils over into full-on addiction, Erik turns to his sister (Steen) and his close friend Claire (Nicholson) for help with an intervention. But are drugs the real problem? And even if Paul goes through rehab, can their relationship survive?

Intriguingly, Sachs never lets this turn into a drug-addiction drama, carefully exploring much deeper issues without ever being preachy about it. Everything is presented as matter-of-fact, just part of life, and even the addiction problem is only an obstacle for Erik and Paul to deal with in their life together. Both Lindhardt and Booth bring a stunning transparency to their roles, keeping the characters likeable even when they do awful things to each other. Since we see everything through Erik's eyes, Lindhardt's role is much beefier, and it's also infused with his European sense of humour.

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Skeletons Review


Very Good
This surreal and quirky British comedy-drama benefits from strongly resonant performances that help us go along with the absurdist plot. It also has an intriguingly emotional tone that catches us off guard.

Davis and Bennett (Gaughan and Buckley) work for Veridical, a company that will perform "the procedure" to clean the skeletons from your closet. With access to a sort of parallel dimension, Davis and Bennett travel the country helping people expose their pasts. But while Bennett is looking forward to a promotion from their boss (Isaacs), Davis is indulging in illicit "glow-chasing", which could have serious repercussions on his life and work. When they're sent to help a woman (Steen) find her lost husband, things don't quite go to plan.

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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

Open Hearts Review


Excellent
Anyone who has suffered the pain in the gut after the loss of a loved one will have a special connection to this story coming to us from Denmark. Loss can have many meanings and here it's a matter of a sudden change of destiny and the disappearance of emotional fulfillment as a result of an accident. Moreover, it's a story that evolves as life does. A horror occurs, the people involved react, the change in situation produces new needs which lead to changes and consequences.

The relationship between beautiful, sexy Cecilie (Sonja Richter) and her lover Joachim (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) is fun and endearing and we soon care about these people whose bond is expressed by the playful manner in which Joachim asks Cecilie to marry him and how she responds in the affirmative. The following morning, Cecilie drops Joachim off for a planned trip and, as he springs from the car on the traffic side, is hit by a car. Suddenly, what seemed so sure and positive is wrenched into another dimension.

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Forty Shades Of Blue Review


Excellent
"I think you hate women," a trusted colleague recently told me. She went on to say something along the lines of, "OK, maybe you don't hate women, but you certainly don't trust them." Weeks later, still considering those heavy words so lightly thrown, I thought of Ira Sachs's remarkable and challenging new film Forty Shades of Blue. The central character is the woman hanging onto the arm of her rich, older boyfriend. It's a woman's role usually subordinated while the hell-raising man gets all the laughs, glory, and screen time.

As played by Dina Korzun, I didn't understand this woman character at all. She's closed off, remote, seems not to use the mind that is her own, and puts up with all sorts of horseshit from her boorish man, Memphis music producer Alan James (Rip Torn, who tears up the screen with his raging bull persona). She looks like a fashion model, a slender little slip of a thing dressed in wonderful clothes. We learn that she is originally from Russia, and has a three-year-old child. She appears somewhat bored with her wealthy lifestyle and mansion, and -- here's the thing... she's either completely inaccessible or she doesn't use the brains in her head.

Continue reading: Forty Shades Of Blue Review

The Celebration Review


Extraordinary
Does anything come out of Denmark these days that's not disturbing?

A grand experiment that is a smashing success, The Celebration adheres to the principles of "Dogme 95," a collective of filmmakers who swear to adhere to certain rules in filmmaking: no studio shooting, location sound only, no music, hand-held camera only, natural light only, etc. The full manifesto has ten rules, none of which are commonly adhered to in Hollywood. It's a real surprise to see how magnificent these rules can be when put into the context of a good script and good acting.

Continue reading: The Celebration 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

Open Hearts Review


Good

Newly engaged and adorably adoring of her rock-climber beau, a pretty young Copenhagen woman's life is thrown into despair and chaos when her lover is crushed under a speeding Volvo just as she kisses him goodbye for a weekend climbing expedition.

Emotionally bewildered in a way that transcends the screen (through director Susanne Bier's penetrating, low-key, handheld photography), Cecilie (Sonja Richter) sits all alone in the hospital waiting to hear if and how her man will survive. But her aching disorientation really takes hold in this Danish minimalist film "Open Hearts" after Cecilie finds herself spurned by the now-paralyzed Joachim (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) -- who is lashing out at the world in anger and bitterness.

Soon she falls into an affair with a doctor (Mads Mikkelsen) at the hospital -- a doctor who feels responsible for her well-being because it had been his wife (Paprika Steen) behind the wheel of the Volvo.

Continue reading: Open Hearts Review

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Paprika Steen Movies

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,...

Love Is All You Need Trailer

Love Is All You Need Trailer

When Ida, a Danish hairdresser who is recuperating after a series of chemotherapy treatments walks...

Keep the Lights On Movie Review

Keep the Lights On Movie Review

Director-cowriter Sachs takes an unusually intimate look at a 10-year relationship in this beautifully shot...

Skeletons Movie Review

Skeletons Movie Review

This surreal and quirky British comedy-drama benefits from strongly resonant performances that help us go...

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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Forty Shades of Blue Movie Review

Forty Shades of Blue Movie Review

"I think you hate women," a trusted colleague recently told me. She went on to...

Mifune Movie Review

Mifune Movie Review

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

Open Hearts Movie Review

Open Hearts Movie Review

Newly engaged and adorably adoring of her rock-climber beau, a pretty young Copenhagen woman's life...

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