Thomas Vinterberg

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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Vinterberg and Far From the Madding Crowd

Seeing as his work was published back in the 1800′s, Thomas Hardy probably isn’t much of a household name these days. But people who were English majors in college still know him, due to the class or two where they were likely assigned works like “The Return of the Native” or “Jude the Obscure.” He’s like Wordsworth, just a little less famous. Thomas Vinterberg, similarly, isn’t much of a household name. But he’s a name that film students probably recognize, due to his being one of the co-founders of the Dogma 95 movement of minimalist filmmaking. Also, several of his works, like The Celebration or, more recently, The Hunt, have made decent waves in the insular worlds of film festivals and awards shows. Basically he’s like Lars Von Trier, just a little less famous. We’re discussing these two Thomases because their work is about to collide in an interesting way. According to a report from The Wrap, the Danish director is currently in talks to adapt one of Hardy’s classic novels, “Far From the Madding Crowd,” for the big screen. If a deal is struck, the script Vinterberg would be working with comes from a fellow named David Nicholls, who’s been something of an adaptation machine lately, as he’s already adapted another of Hardy’s works, “Tess of the D’Urbervilles,” into a BBC miniseries, he wrote the new Mike Newell-directed adaptation of “Great Expectations” that just debuted at TIFF, and he’s also got a version of “Tender is the Night” currently […]

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Last year, I kicked off the FSR Cannes Awards by taking the opportunity to give three awards to The Artist (three of the Oscars it won actually, if you’re interested in just how much of a boss I am), and though there isn’t quite the same standout type of film at this year’s festival, there were some notable highlights. The rain was not one of them. This year, I saw 21 of the hundreds of films available to see, so these awards obviously only take in those that I deemed worthy of my attention (or which were possible to see given the intense mathematical equations required to see everything and write reviews of them all in timely enough fashion that all of the key information doesn’t bugger off out of your head). Here are my own highlights of the 65th annual Cannes Film Festival:

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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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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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For 36 days straight, we’ll be exploring the famous 36 Dramatic Situations by examining a film that exemplifies each one. From family killing family to prisoners in need of asylum, we brush off the 19th century list in order to remember that it’s still incredibly relevant today. Whether you’re seeking a degree in Literature, love movies, or just love seeing things explode, our feature should have something for everyone. If it doesn’t, please don’t make us confront our abusive Danish father. Part 24 of the 36-part series takes a look at “Discovery of the Dishonor of a Loved One” with Thomas Vinterberg’s Festen (aka The Celebration).

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