REVIEW: Speak No Evil (2022)

Christian Tafdrup’s SPEAK NO EVIL is much more than just an unsettling culture clash – PHOTO: Nordisk Film.

Directed by Christian Tafdrup – Screenplay by Christian Tafdrup & Mads Tafdrup.

At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, critics and festivalgoers alike were introduced to one of Denmark’s latest filmmaking provocateurs, Christian Tafdrup. The actor-turned-director got his career as a filmmaker started with his first two feature-length efforts Forældre (int. title: Parents) and En Frygtelig Kvinde (int. title: A Terrible Woman), the latter of which starred Amanda Collin (who you may have seen in HBO Max’s Raised by Wolves) and was a relative hit that provoked some audience-members. Speak No Evil — Tafdrup’s latest feature film — was received fairly well at the festival, and is, reportedly, one of the best films that actor Robert Pattinson has seen in many years. I won’t go that far, but I will say that I think this very unsettling Danish thriller is Tafdrup’s best film yet.

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REVIEW: FRESH (2022)

Noa (right, played by Daisy Edgar-Jones) falls for ‘Steve’ (left, played by Sebastian Stan) in the comedy-thriller FRESH — Photo: Searchlight Pictures.

Directed by Mimi Cave – Screenplay by Lauryn Kahn.

Modern dating can be difficult. We all like to think that we can have a grand love story and just meet someone out of the blue, but, nowadays, many people find their eventual partners through online dating. In Mimi Cave’s FRESH — her feature debut as a director – Noa (played by Daisy Edgar-Jones) is tired of spending so much time finding potential suitors on the online ‘meat market.’ Her online dating usually ends with disappointing dates with rude men or with men sending inappropriate images that she never once asked for. So, it is understandable that she excitedly chases romance when she meets and flirts with the undeniable charming ‘Steve’ (played by Sebastian Stan) in a local supermarket. In spite of obvious red flags (he has no Instagram account!), she decides to go away with him on a weekend vacation, where she will soon find out that he has an uncommon ‘hobby’ — to say the least — and that his intentions aren’t good.

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REVIEW: Kimi (2022)

Zoë Kravitz as Angela Childs in Steven Soderbergh’s KIMI — Photo: Claudette Barius / Warner Bros.

Directed by Steven Soderbergh — Screenplay by David Koepp.

Steven Soderbergh’s Kimi takes place around the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, at which point our protagonist (Angela Childs, played by Zoë Kravitz), an agoraphobic tech worker, is struggling to even set foot outside of her apartment door. However, while reviewing the data stream of the titular virtual assistant Kimi (a la Alexa or Siri), Angela discovers evidence of what may have been a violent crime. But to get the evidence to the proper authorities she realizes that she will have to go outside. What she doesn’t know is that by reporting the recording to her company’s higher-ups she has effectively put a target on her back.

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REVIEW: Shorta (2020)

“Shorta,” Still Image — Photo: Tine Harden / Jacob Møller / Scanbox.

Directed by Anders Ølholm & Frederik Louis Hviid — Screenplay by Anders Ølholm & Frederik Louis Hviid.

Shorta (which is apparently an Arabic word for ‘police’) is a Danish action-thriller about the so-called blue wall of silence, i.e. a tendency for police officers to withhold information and not report on their colleagues’ misconduct. The film follows two police officers — Jens (played by Simon Sears) and Mike (played by Jacob Lohmann) — who are on patrol. In the film, law enforcement has been asked not to go into the fictionalized ghetto ‘Svalegården’ since the last significant encounter between police officers and the inhabitants of Svalegården led to officers kneeling on the back of the neck of a young man, Talib Ben Hassi, who is, at the beginning of the film, in a coma. Continue reading “REVIEW: Shorta (2020)”

REVIEW: The Devil All The Time (2020)

Film Poster
Release Poster — Netflix

Directed by Antonio Campos (Christine) — Screenplay by Antonio & Paul Campos.

In a year such as 2020, where a global pandemic has changed our lifestyle drastically and paralyzed the entertainment industry, major new releases from streaming services such as Netflix end up meaning quite a lot. The release of The Devil All the Time is one that I have been looking forward to for quite some time, as it is an adaptation of a popular novel by a relatively seasoned filmmaker and since it features an absolutely incredible and star-studded ensemble cast. It is a dark, bleak, and depressing film that will likely divide audiences, but I have to say that it had my complete interest for the entire run-time. It isn’t necessarily a film that will be remembered years from now, but it is a dark and gripping slow-paced drama about violence, religion, and America. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Devil All The Time (2020)”

RETRO REVIEW: The Ninth Gate (1999)

Theatrical Release Poster – Artisan Entertainment

The following is a retro review of The Ninth Gate (the review includes some story spoilers) — Directed by Roman Polanski.

Based on Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s novel The Club Dumas, Roman Polanski’s The Ninth Gate tells the story of an unscrupulous book dealer, Dean Corso (played by Johnny Depp), and his attempt to authenticate a mysterious book for a wealthy collector, Boris Balkan (played by Frank Langella). To properly authenticate the book, Corso has to bring it with him to Europe to compare it with the other two known editions of the book, but this isn’t just any book. Balkan’s book can supposedly summon the Devil, and, as Dean Corso soon finds out, crazed individuals are willing to go to great lengths to acquire it. Continue reading “RETRO REVIEW: The Ninth Gate (1999)”

REVIEW: Domino (2019)

Release Poster – Saban Films etc.

The following is a review of Domino — Directed by Brian De Palma.

Brian De Palma’s Domino is a crime-thriller that takes place all over Europe. The film follows Christian Toft (played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, “Game of Thrones”), a Danish police officer, as he tries to bring a criminal to justice. After forgetting his gun at home, Christian inadvertently puts his colleague and father-figure, Lars Hansen (played by Søren Malling, “Borgen”), in harm’s way. When, due to the fact that he has misplaced his own firearm, Christian borrows Lars’ gun to investigate a domestic disturbance, Lars is killed by a handcuffed assailant (played by Eriq Ebouaney, “Femme Fatale”). When the, as of yet unidentified, assailant appears to have escaped, Christian and Alex Boe (played by Carice Van Houten, “Game of Thrones”), Lars’ heartbroken and vengeful mistress, leave Denmark to find and apprehend the man responsible for Lars’ death. Continue reading “REVIEW: Domino (2019)”

REVIEW: Extraction (2020)

Release Poster – Netflix

The following is a review of Extraction — Directed by Sam Hargrave.

The straight-to-Netflix action thriller Extraction is based on the comic book Ciudad, which was written by Ande Parks (comic book writer), and the Russo brothers (the directors of Avengers: Endgame, one of whom also wrote Extraction). Extraction was even directed by a Marvel movie veteran. This is the directorial debut of Sam Hargrave, who has experience as a stunt double and stunt coordinator on multiple Marvel movies. Unlike Disney-Marvel movies, however, Extraction is filled to the brim with excessive violence. Hargrave’s debut, though not narratively challenging, is a thrilling exercise in hectic action set pieces. It’s not exactly John Wick-quality, but it is one of the best Netflix original action films to have been released thus far. Continue reading “REVIEW: Extraction (2020)”

REVIEW: A Fall From Grace (2020)

Release Poster

The following is a review of A Fall From Grace — Directed by Tyler Perry.

Tyler Perry is a prolific cinematic triple-threat. Perry often both writes, directs, and stars in his own films, which, at least in the US, are well-known. His claim to fame is a series of films that, for the uninitiated, look like nothing more than a rip-off of Big Momma’s House. I think it’s safe to say that while Perry may be well-known in America, Perry and his Madea-character have not made it big outside of North America. I have never seen any of those films, which Spike Lee has previously criticized profusely, and I don’t think anyone I know in Denmark has either. But, for cineastes, his reputation precedes him nonetheless. However, I think it is fair to say that Tyler Perry’s A Fall From Grace is one of the worst and most absurd original films that Netflix has released. Continue reading “REVIEW: A Fall From Grace (2020)”

REVIEW: Parasite (2019)

Korean Theatrical Release Poster – CJ Entertainment

The following is a review of Parasite (‘기생충‘) — Directed by Bong Joon-ho.

Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite is a South Korean drama about the class system. The film follows a very poor South Korean family who lives in an abandoned basement. The Kim-family spend their days searching for free WiFi, and they make a living folding pizza boxes. The parents — Ki-Taek (played by Song Kang-ho) and Chung-sook (played by Chang Hyae-jin) — hope that their children — Ki-woo (played by Choi Woo-shik) and Ki-jeong (played by Park So-dam) — can climb the social ladder and make a life for themselves that is prosperous. Ki-woo plans to go to college and make something of himself. However, as their father, Ki-Taek, later warns, plans are unreliable. Continue reading “REVIEW: Parasite (2019)”