Niels Arestrup

Over Under - Large

What’s the one thing every rundown apartment that a college sophomore is sharing with his five best friends and every $30m mansion that a famous rapper lives in for five months out of the year have in common? The Scarface poster they have framed on the wall in the living room. There are a handful of gangster films that have become modern classics – The Godfather and Goodfellas being the other main two – but in recent years, Brian De Palma’s Scarface has really pulled ahead of the pack when it comes to pop culture relevance and awareness among a younger generation. Which kind of makes sense, seeing as The Godfather and Goodfellas are better-made films that deal with more mature themes and Scarface is the sort of empty, flashy nonsense that would appeal to young people and rappers. Really, at this point, should Scarface even be mentioned in the conversation of great modern gangster movies anymore? It’s got a lot of issues. Jacques Audiard’s 2009 prison epic, Un prophète, isn’t necessarily underrated in the sense that the people who saw it didn’t like it, but it’s underrated in the sense that not nearly enough people, at least in the United States, have seen it. Here we have one of those rare films that is just artsy enough to be respected by film snobs and just entertaining enough to be enjoyed by more casual audiences that it could conceivably become a perennial top contender when it comes to widely agreed […]

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“Bury them in Morocco.” Our Children opens with a scene of despair, a mother (Émilie Dequenne) on a hospital bed deliriously asking her nurse if the bodies of her own daughters can be laid to rest on the far side of the Mediterranean Sea. It is a moment of primal fear and desperation. It is not, however, a moment of clarity. There is no context to be had; only the image a woman on a bed and the following shot of Tahar Rahim and Niels Arestrup running down a hallway. It is director Joachim Lafosse’s opening salvo in a quietly violent film that will both assault and deeply move its audience. And then, just as quickly, there is tranquility. The film rewinds back to a simpler time in the lives of its characters, when Mounir (Rahim) and Murielle (Dequenne) had just begun their romance. She is a schoolteacher. He is a restless young Moroccan immigrant who will soon agree to a job in his adoptive father’s medical practice. Dr. André Pinget (Arestrup) not only looks out for his protégé, but lives with him. He has effectively adopted Mounir’s entire family, and is even married to Mounir’s sister so that she can legally live in Belgium. Pinget’s influence over Mounir is powerful, even a little unsettling.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr pulls out his screening schedule, which looks like a gambling addict’s racing form. He bounces from huge, mainstream releases to minor indie award contenders. Facing motion-capture CGI, tattooed bisexual investigators, cross-dressing waiters, silent film actors, and a lead star who is literally hung like a horse, Kevin tries to make sense of the seemingly countless releases this holiday week. Exhaustion from this process makes it impossible to buy a zoo or face the 3D end of the world, but his movie stocking is full, nonetheless.

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‘A Prophet,’ a nominee for best foreign language film, is a clichéd but effective prison drama that successfully gets you in its protagonist’s head.

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