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In Order of Disappearance Review

This Norwegian revenge thriller may move at a steady, meandering pace, but it has such a sharp sense of pitch-black Scandinavian humour that it's never dull. As events spiral wildly out of control, the vivid characters are thoroughly entertaining in their misguided attempts at vengeance. And the snow-covered rural community offers an offbeat setting that's refreshingly bright and sunny rather than the usual gloomy grit.

At the centre of the story, Nils (Stellan Skarsgard) is a soft-spoken snowplow driver who keeps the country roads in Norway clear and quietly endures abuse over the fact that he's Swedish. When his grown son is found dead, he refuses to believe it was a drug overdose. Abandoned by his grieving wife, he launches his own investigation, following the trail and quietly killing each thug up the chain as he tracks down the swaggering hothead mob boss who calls himself The Count (Pal Sverre Hagen). Along the way, he gets help from his ex-gangster brother (Peter Andersson), inadvertently re-igniting the war between The Count and rival Serbian mobster Papa (Bruno Ganz), whose own son has been caught in the crossfire. And the body count grows exponentially.

The title refers to on-screen captions that offer a brief moment of respect for each person who dies along the way, which intriguingly puts every act of violence in perspective. This is mainly because the film's central theme is fathers and sons. The Count may be a racist/sexist monster who despises his trophy ex-wife (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen), but he also has an eerily warm bond with his own son. And as these three fathers - Nils, The Count and Papa - circle each other, this paternal theme adds some unexpected resonance to the comical nastiness. All three actors are terrific, combining tenacity and emotion with riotously incorrect actions and attitudes. But of course it's the superb Skarsgard we are rooting for.

Continue reading: In Order of Disappearance Review

In Order Of Disappearance


Jackpot Review

Like Headhunters, which was also based on a Jo Nesbo story, this Norwegian thriller almost plays more like a black comedy than an action movie. It's packed with hilarious characters and situations, but is also rather intensely gripping and gleefully violent.Detective Solor (Mestad) is investigating the discovery of seven dead bodies in Pink Heaven strip club on the Norway-Sweden border. He arrests the one survivor, Oscar (Hellum), who's caught holding a gun. But Oscar explains by telling a story about a football pool that he won with his roughneck employees Tor, Dan and Billy (Ousdal, Cappelen and Berning), leading to a series of hapless incidents on the way to the club. But Solor's sure he's stumbled onto the crime of the century. And clearly there's a lot more going on here than meets the eye.The events unfold in flashback as Solor interrogates Oscar about the bloodbath.

As he recounts the story, Solor keeps stopping him when things begin to sound fishy, such as the involvement of a local gangster (Andersson). But the more we get to know the characters, the funnier the film gets. These guys are such chuckleheads that it's not surprising when things start to go downhill very quickly. And following Oscar into the increasing chaos is both amusing and outrageously nasty.

Hellum is terrific as a nice guy caught up in an unimaginable series of events that take one surreal twist after another. And writer-director Martens packs the film with continual sight gags and comical character details that make these guys both likeable and terrifying. Oscar's three colleagues are simply hilarious, as greed makes them turn on each other in random ways. And the script is especially well constructed, cleverly keeping us guessing about what might happen next.There are a couple of plot points that stretch credibility to the breaking point, but then this is a story about the way pure chance can change your life in ways you could never begin to expect. It's also an entertaining combination of comedy and thriller that makes us laugh one instant and cringe the next. And right to the very end, the story keeps twisting and turning, leading to a conclusion that's both corny and hugely satisfying.PICS:

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