Mads Mikkelsen

Hannibal Face Eating

At the PGA-sponsored Produced By Conference, Hannibal show runner Bryan Fuller offered some straightforward advice to aspiring filmmakers: make what you’d want to see. That’s something a lot of filmmakers say, and for good reason. At a panel focused on genre television, Fuller discussed how Hannibal, Pushing Daisies and his more unconventional shows aren’t the most mainstream pieces of entertainment. What’s hip and cool and now at any given moment is never what should dictate the creative process, and Fuller won’t let it. If what’s trending puts him to work, though, there’s nothing wrong with that. “Nobody wanted to do horror,” Fuller told a packed theater on the Warner Bros. lot. “I had been trying to do a horror show for the last ten years. Everyone says it doesn’t work on television, because people do not want to be exposed to that for a prolonged period of time.” That all changed when The Walking Dead came along. When AMC’s comic book adaptation became a hit, that’s when NBC and a lot of other networks came calling for horror.

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review the hunt

When Lucas’ (Mads Mikkelsen) job as a high school teacher ends abruptly with the school’s closing he secures a position at the local kindergarten helping out around the place and entertaining the children. His off hours are spent hanging out with his drinking buddies on hunting weekends or arguing with his ex-wife over the shared custody of their teenage son, Markus (Lasse Fogelstrøm). He’s even taken the tentative step of beginning a romance with a young woman named Nadja (Alexandre Rapaport) who reminds him of the joys of physical contact. But it’s physical contact of another kind that shatters his existence and sends his life into a tailspin. His best friend’s daughter, Klara (Annika Wedderkopp), develops a crush on him thanks to his kind smile, and time spent with him at school and home, but when he wisely and gently deflects her affection she strikes out with unintentional force. An accidental accusation catches a teacher’s ear, and soon a two person game of telephone has become a list of supposed atrocities committed by Lucas against nearly the entire kindergarten class. What follows in Thomas Vinterberg‘s alternately entertaining and terrifying The Hunt is the disintegration of rational thought beneath the wildly spinning wheels of hysteria. The accusation and facts of the case are dealt with in a timely manner, but the repercussions of mistrust, hatred and fear have a much longer shelf life.

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michael-kohlhaas

Arnaud des Pallieres’ take on Heinrich von Kleist’s novella, Michael Kohlhaas, has all the makings of a riveting, party-crashing entry into the Cannes Film Festival’s In Competition banner, what with its focus on adventure and righteous vengeance. Disappointing it is, then, that while it features Mads Mikkelsen in as game a mode as ever, and the landscapes are sumptuously shot, the soporific narrative pulse has kept this oddly forgettable film clear of festival discussion pretty much altogether, which many could argue is even worse than it being an alright flop. The story begins as the titular character (Mikkelsen), a merchant, is forced by a local Baron (Swann Arlaud) to relinquish two of his prized horses as collateral on the way to the market due to him not having the proper documentation. When Kohlhaas returns to discover that the steeds are of ill health and Cesar (David Bennent), the man he left behind to tend for them, has been attacked by the Baron’s guard dogs, he seeks reparations from the courts. However, given the Baron’s social stature, Kohlhaas loses the case immediately. Devastatingly, his wife, Judith (Delphine Chuillot), also winds up murdered while travelling to plea the case, and so Michael teams up with the local social outcasts to launch an attack against the Baron and his army.

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slade 2

After five episodes of NBC’s Hannibal, it’s already fair to say creator Bryan Fuller‘s horror drama is one of the most atmospheric series on television. From the mood to the show’s bold textures, each episode leaves a cinematic impression — an impact director David Slade (Hard Candy) had a hand in sculpting. According to Slade, production in the often chilly Toronto weather and fast-paced production is no cakewalk — which you can read more about in a production blog he wrote — but the final reward is worth it. Speaking with the show’s executive producer for well over an hour, it’s obvious Hannibal encapsulates the genre work Slade wants to see more of on television, and he’s proud to be a part of Fuller’s new show. The two men have different sensibilities, but Slade those two distinct outlooks fused together rather nicely. Here’s what else Slade had to say in part two of our massive discussion with him (you can read part one here), where he touched upon the show’s striking atmosphere, the long-gone music video industry, and how the film business is not one to inspire noble actions:

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BryanFuller-Fox(crop)-1

For a television show, NBC’s Hannibal goes to some fairly dark and bloody places. Sticking to the nature of Thomas Harris’s “Red Dragon,” television honcho Bryan Fuller has made a series faithful to the mood of the writing. Will Graham is no longer the smooth and reliable Edward Norton we saw in Brett Ratner’s movie, but rather a damaged man whose own genius eats away at him. Giving Harris’s fans that version of Graham was important to Fuller, as well as turning Hannibal into a “psychological and kinky” program, not another procedural with Hannibal thrown in. While many would wager some of the suspense behind Will Graham and Hannibal’s relationship is weakened by the fact we know the psychiatrist likes him some Ray Liotta brain, Fuller cautioned that isn’t the case. This isn’t the Hannibal we know from movies and pop culture. Here’s what else the man behind Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me had to say about showing the bomb under the table, carnage on network television, and more:

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Hannibal TV Show

Admittedly, the prospect of a TV show following Hannibal Lecter is a bit cringeworthy. It reeks of the kind of corporate thinking that co-opted Sherlock Holmes for television after a successful movie franchise (and another successful television program) proved that the character had some life in him with modern audiences. It also, of course, taps into the same ease of movie remakes and has the same kind of name-recognition packaging that proves short cuts are always easier to take but don’t always bring you to where you want to go. Then again, hiring the man who cried blood in Casino Royale and owned every minute of Valhalla Rising to play one of the most famous fictional serial killers of all time is a hell of a good start. We’ll get to see how it fares in April when Hannibal comes to NBC, but the first teaser trailer for the show is enticingly dark and promises frantic performances from Hugh Dancy as Special Agent Will Graham and Mads Mikkelsen as the greatest foe fava beans have ever known. Check it out for yourself:

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And you thought we were done with James Bond articles for a while, didn’t you? Not so. With Skyfall continuing to tear up the box office in both North America and overseas, and with it officially becoming the highest-grossing Bond film in the domestic market, it’s not going away. Add to this the fact that MGM is giving the film a push for award consideration (a long shot, sure, but that theme song by Adele certainly has a chance to win something), and you’ve still got Bond on the brain a month after the film opened. It’s time to look back to one of Bond’s beginnings. Not the books, and not the start of the film franchise in the 1960s. Instead, let’s crack open the DVD of Casino Royale, which rebooted the franchise from the rocky path it was on behind frontman Pierce Brosnan. For the Collector’s Edition of the Casino Royale DVD and Blu-ray, which came out in 2008, director Martin Campbell explains in the then-new how the series was given a new start. He is joined by the film’s producer. There will, of course, be spoilers for Casino Royale below, but you might also want to make sure you see Skyfall before reading this in its entirety, considering there are one or two interesting connections between the films. And on to the commentary…

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George Clooney

What is Casting Couch? The day’s casting news, all in one place, because you’re a very busy person. At this point we don’t know anything concrete about the secret project Brad Bird is directing over at Disney. It’s largely being developed under the code name 1952, but for a minute it was being called Tesla. It’s rumored to be a science fiction film involving aliens, but in what regard isn’t clear. It’s said that Disney is thinking of it as a major tentpole release, but why it would have such mass appeal is being kept under wraps. All we have is rumors. And the latest rumor for the pile, courtesy of Variety, is that The Facts of Life star George Clooney is currently negotiating to star. If this proves to be true and Bird lands Clooney, that would be a pretty big step toward making this the blockbuster sort of feature that Disney wants it to be. And, generally, what Disney wants, Disney gets.

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The Paperboy John Cusack

Last year’s Cannes Film Festival featured this year’s Oscar winning Best Actor performance thanks to the inclusion of the wonderful The Artist in competition, and though the films seem to have been chosen for their artistry and provocative subtexts more than any really commercial pointers (as always happens the year after the festival is deemed “too commercial”), there have been some seriously fine performances this year as well. There wasn’t an Uggy this year, but there was a murdered pooch in Moonrise Kingdom, a bitey Killer Whale in Rust & Bone, and a striking performance from an armadillo in Bernardo Bertolucci’s Me and You, so we’ll have to wait and see who emerges with the best animal performance. Probably won’t come from Madagascar 3 though…so for the time being, let’s stick to the humans.

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We haven’t reported much yet on The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, which is a shame, because it’s a promising sounding project. So, seeing as there’s a new bit of casting news regarding the film, let’s use that as an excuse to cover all the basics, shall we? The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman started off as a Black List script by a screenwriter named Matt Drake (Project X) that was eventually picked up by Voltage Pictures and given to Fredrik Bond to direct. A studio synopsis for the film explains it by saying, “Charlie Countryman was just a normal guy…until he fell in love with the one girl who will probably get him killed. When Charlie meets the absolutely irresistible Gabi she’s already been claimed by Nigel, an insanely violent crime boss with a gang of thugs at his disposal. Armed with little more than his wit and naïve charm, Charlie endures one bruising beat down after another to woo Gabi and keep her out of harm’s way. Finally his exploits of blind valor create such a mess that he’s left with only one way out; to save the girl of his dreams, must Charlie Countryman die?” These aren’t the truly exciting aspects of the film, however. The real appeal of this project is the cast that Bond has assembled. He’s got Shia LaBeouf in the title role, Evan Rachel Wood playing Gabi, Mads Mikklesen on board as the Nigel character, and names like Rupert Grint and Melissa Leo […]

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Michael Haneke on set of Amour (Love)

As we all know, “Palme d’Or” is French for Feather Button Hand of Gold Achievement. Or something. Google Translate wasn’t loading this morning. Regardless, it’s as prestigious as awards get, although it hilariously almost never lines up with the Oscars (for good reason). Past winners include Barton Fink, Taxi Driver, MASH, The Third Man, Black Orpheus, La Dolce Vita, The Wind That Shakes the Barley and nearly one hundred other films that should be on a rental queue somewhere. That list also includes Michael Haneke‘s The White Ribbon which took the price in 2009 and, as of yesterday, his latest film Love (Amour). That’s 2 wins for the director in 4 competition years. It ties him for Most Palmes d’Or Ever (no director has won more than two), where he joins Alf Sjoberg (Iris and the Lieutenant, Miss Julie); Francis Ford Coppola (The Conversation, Apocalypse Now); Bille August (Pelle the Conqueror, The Best Intentions); Emir Kusturica (When Father Was Away on Business, Underground); Shohei Imamura (The Eel, The Ballad of Narayama); and The Dardenne Brothers (Rosetta, The Child). It’s a stellar achievement deserving of a long standing ovation than the one that The Paperboy got. The full list of winners (from the festival website) is as follows:

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Mads Mikkelsen in Casino Royale

Blood-crying Bond villain and skull crusher Mads Mikkelsen is in talks to play a villain in Thor 2 according to Variety. Great news or greatest news? The impeccable actor is fresh off of a strong showing at Cannes with The Hunt, which is another addition to a growing list of powerful roles he’s taken on. Now what kind of silly costume will he get? Citing rumors that The Enchantress will be in the film, Devin Faraci is opining that Mikkelsen may play the brutish Executioner. If all that comes to pass, Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster isn’t safe at all. However, I still hold out hope that he’ll play his character from Valhalla Rising, making this a sweet cross-over project.  

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The Hunt Movie (Jagten)

When a film’s pre-release marketing includes mention of false accusations of pedophilia, and the subsequently unraveling world of  the accused kindergarten assistant, and it has been included in Competition at Cannes, you could be forgiven for expecting an openly provocative project designed for no more than an Ulrich Seidl style rise from the audience. But unlike last year’s festival inclusion Michael, from Austrian director Markus Schleinzer, Jagten or The Hunt in my mother tongue, takes a more subtle approach to the considerably dangerous material, exploring lead character Lucas’ accusation as a harrowing situational horror that crawls under the audiences skin and which is profoundly successful as a slow-burning drama with a biting edge. While the horror of Michael was in the matter of fact way the film presented its protagonist – a pedophile who keeps his young victim captive in a basement prison – in perversely conventional terms, Jagten’s horror is far more artfully conceived, presenting an irresistible What If situation that quickly escalates because of the nature of an accusation and the dangers of gossip and presumption. In the hands of director Thomas Vinterberg, we watch with tangible horror as the cataclysmic waves blossom out from a malicious lie and threaten to swallow up Mads Mikkelsen‘s Lucas.

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Culture Warrior

Masculinity has always been the major topic of concern in the work of Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn. Just look at the series he made his name with, the Pusher trilogy, which in three installments provide three very different but equally compelling stories of occasionally brazen, often buffoonish masculinity within various facets of the Copenhagen illegal drug trade. So it is no surprise that the directors latest work (his ‘breakthrough’ years, if you will) are continuously concerned with the turbulent lives of men, culminating this weekend with his most ‘mainstream’ entry, Drive (in purely box-office terms, as Drive in its opening weekend made more than 84x what his previous two films made together, yet the film is still ripe with Refn’s eccentric signature). Refn’s thematic and narrative preoccupation with masculinity has produced three fascinating portraits in as many years. The temporal and social contexts of Bronson, Valhalla Rising, and Drive couldn’t be more disparate, but between them he’s produced an unofficial trilogy of sorts connected not only through his deliberate pacing and striking, almost invasive visual style, but more importantly through their shared concerns as portrayals of three aggressive men who wander their respective environments in solitude.

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Ambitious. Bold. Serious. Groundbreaking. None of these words can be sanely used to describe the vibe emanating from the trailer for Paul W.S. Anderson’s “adaptation” of The Three Musketeers. This a W.S. Anderson picture through and through. This trailer does a fantastic job at selling a future camp classic in the making, and I don’t even mean that in an ironic way, either.

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This week’s column recommends you import the latest movie from the director of Bronson. Before you do though, take a close look at the DVD cover within. Then put any thoughts of epic action or grand battle scenes out of your mind. The cover art lies.

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Judging by the list of names released today, Paul W.S. Anderson has never read The Three Musketeers.

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Gemma Arterton Cast in Clash of the Titans

Arterton, Mikkelsen and Davalos are all strapping on their togas for Leterrier’s remake of the classic stop-motion film. Plus, you’ll never guess who won’t be appearing in it.

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