Each month, the Indie Prof reviews a current film in the theater and a second film that is available on DVD or an instant-streaming service.
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Okay, so I might be a bit obsessed with Danish film. This will be the third Danish film I’ve reviewed in as many months. But I promise it’s worth it—of all the films I reviewed this month (about 20), The Hunt was by far the best. It tells the story of Lucas (a wonderful Mads Mikkelsen), a kindergarten assistant in a small Danish town whose life is torn apart by a simple lie.
Lucas is a lonely man when we first meet him: he lives alone in a big house, his ex-wife refuses to talk about sharing custody of their son, and his former school was shuttered, forcing him to take a job as a kindergarten helper. He has bawdy and beer-filled fun with his friends, and he spends much of his time walking his dog. But suddenly his life improves: he begins an affair with a sweet co-worker, the kids adore him, and his son asks to live with him full-time. Because of Mikkelsen’s wonderful and touching performance, we root for Lucas from the very start. Mikkelsen is the rare actor who can play a Bond villain and then a small, emotional part, such as Lucas. His performance is worth the price of admission.
Life turns sour, however, on the thinnest of threads. How it all goes down is frightening, but even more frightening is the realization that he may never get his life back (even if the lie is revealed). Some things, especially when said by certain people, can never be retracted. Once a deer becomes the object of the hunt, it will always be the object of the hunt. Lucas is the deer.
Director Thomas Vinterberg lays bare the human condition: how we love, how we hate, and how we judge. Once we make a determination about something, it is nearly impossible to undo it. How the story plays out is sad, brilliant, and honest. And most of all, human. This is a melancholy and poignant film, and one of the best I’ve seen in a while.
Starts August 2 at the Sie Film Center. You will like this film if you enjoyed A Hijacking, In a Better World and Doubt.
It is hard to stare at a glacier. You can watch it for hours, days, weeks, and it doesn’t do a thing. But every once in a while, patience and intuition pays off, and a chunk the size of Manhattan breaks apart in front of your eyes. This very scene in Chasing Ice (2012), a documentary directed by Jeff Orlowski and featuring Extreme Ice Survey founder James Balog, can change the way you think about the world.
An Inconvenient Truth succeeded in opening our eyes to the urgency of global warming, but it lacked something. That “something” shows up in Chasing Ice: video documentation of receding glaciers around the world. We don’t just get the still pictures of then and now; we get real, live video of massive ice sheets breaking apart. The cinematography is not only beautiful, it is breathtaking. The overall effect is staggering—a testament to the power of the moving image.
James Balog, a Boulder resident, started the Extreme Ice Survey in 2007 to give a “visual voice” to our changing world. He deployed cameras on glaciers scattered around the globe to document changes in the glaciers, in real time. The film itself is a story about not only the Extreme Ice Survey, but a story about Balog himself. We follow him as he experiences devastating physical and professional difficulties, we root for him to succeed, and we root for his colleagues to get the footage they desire. Ultimately, the team gets the footage they covet, and in just a few short minutes of film our collective hearts sink as we truly understand the magnitude of the problem.
At a screening of the film back in February at the Museum of Nature and Science, Balog addressed what other people can do. “I’ve devoted my life to this project,” he said, “Now it’s time for you to figure out what to do.” And there it is for us: What will you do? Sit around and wait for someone to tell you what to do? Or just DO SOMETHING?
Available on Netflix instant queue or at the Sam Gary Library. You will like this film if you enjoyed An Inconvenient Truth, Food Inc. and The Cove.
Vincent Piturro, PhD, teaches Cinema Studies at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.