Danish selection

Posted: July 22, 2010 in Nordic Feel
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Vredens dag (Day of Wrath) – Carl Th. Dreyer, 1943

Carl Th. Dreyer is an often misregarded genius of cinema, who inspired many generations of filmmakers to come after him with his unique film language and his focus on a good story and bringing out the maximum from his actors. This is his early masterpiece about the beautiful young wife of an aging pastor. She falls in love with her husband’s son, confesses and causes her husband’s death, which leads to her trial as a witch.

Ordet (The Word) – Carl Th. Dreyer, 1955

A dreamlike athmoshpere that would have Tarkovskij twist and turn of envy, and a powerful film about the faith of the simple man and the possibility of miracles through love. It also features a character who has lost his mind studying Kierkegaard and has come to beliee that he is the reincarnation of Jesus.

Gertrud – Carl Th. Dreyer, 1964

Sensitive portrait of a woman with such a high ideal of love that no man can live up to it, ever. Sad and beautiful.

Du er ikke alene (You Are Not Alone) – Ernst Johansen, 1978

Young boys at a boarding school explore their sexuality and unite against the prejudices of the grown-up world.

Nocturne – Lars von Trier, 1980

Trier’s early short form his surrealist period.

Forbrydelsens element (The Element of Crime) – Lars von Trier, 1984

A detective pursues a serial killer with highly unortodox methods taken from a book (the Element of Crime), which involves hypnosis and complete identification with the killer. The first film of Trier’s E trilogy.

Epidemic – Lars von Trier, 1987

Brilliant exploration of the relationship between film, fiction and reality and the role of the artist (filmmaker).

Medea – Lars von Trier, 1988

Trier’s haunting adaptation of the legend of Medea based on Carl Th. Dreyet’s script.

Europa – Lars von Trier, 1991

Arguably the best of the E trilogy (although I tend to like Epidemic more) about complex human dramas in the aftermath of World War Two.

Riget (The Kingdom – miniseries) – Lars von Trier, 1994

The most original film series ever made, about a haunted hospital built on a cemetary and the weird people inhabiting it. Some of the scariest and funniest moments of Trier magic.

Breaking the Waves – Lars von Trier, 1996

The second film of the trilogy about female sacrifice about Bess (Emily Watson’s greatest performance), the slighty too simple minded but very much in love young wife who prays hard to bring her husband home and suffers unimaginable pain and humiliation when her wish is fulfilled.

Pusher I – Nicolas Winding Refn, 1996

Refn is the resident action thriller director of danish cinema. This is the first film of the trilogy, featuring a very young Mads Mikkelsen in his first big role.

Riget II (The Kingdom II – miniseries) – Lars von Trier, 1997

If the first series had some equilibrium between the different story lines, this second one is, in my oppinion, completely stolen by Udo Kier and the monstruous baby.

Smilla’s Sense of Snow – Bille August, 1997

Insightfull thriller about a woman from Greenland now living in Copenhagen who suspect that a little boy was murdered.

Idioterne – Lars von Trier (not credited), 1998

The dogma film about idiots and dogma film.

Festen (The Celebration) – Thomas Vinterberg (not credited), 1998

The first dogma and dark family secrets.

Mifunes Sidste Sang (Mifune’s Last Song) – Soren Kragh-Jakobsen (not credited), 1999

A man hires a young girl to take care of his mentally ill brother but gets a bit more than he expected.

I Kina spiser de hunde (In China They Eat Dogs) – Lasse Spang Olsen, 1999

Combination of action film and comedy about two brothers who could not be any different.

Bleeder – Nicolas Winding Refn, 1999

The touching and disturbing drama of a man sick of his life and afraid of parenthood who gradually loses his grip and allows himself to be seduced by violence.

Den eneste ene (The One and Only) – Susanne Bier, 1999

Not the best romantic comedy you will see, but not the worst either.

Italiensk for Begyndere (Italian for Beginners)– Lone Scherfig (not credited), 2000

Dogma meets comedy in this gem of Danish cinema.

Dancer in the Dark – Lars von Trier, 2000

Trier’s vision and Bjork’s music. What else could one ask for?

Von Trier’s 100 øjne (Von Trier’s 1OO Eyes) – Katia Forbert, 2000

Documentary about filming Dancer in the Dark. The title refers to the 100 cameras used to film the musical scenes, an attempt of Trier’s to balance the control he has when using the one handheld camera that he made such a big fuss about in the past.

Blinkende Lyghter (Flickering Lights) – Anders Thomas Jensen, 2000

This would have been just another bankrobers on the run story if it wasn’t for Jensen’s dark humor and incredibly insightful way of building characters. The great acting goes without saying.

Baenken (The Bench) – Per Fly, 2000

The story of a grumpy old alcoholic finding a reason to get back to life.

Et Rigtigt Menneske (Truly Human) – Ake Sandgren (not credited), 2001

Dogma about an imaginary boy who comes to life and tries to be human.

En Kaerlighedshistorie – Ole Cristian Madsen (not credited), 2001

Kira tries to be “normal” after two years in a mental institution.

En kort en lang (Shake it) – Hella Joof, 2001

Nice little comedy about a gay man (Mads Mikkelsen!),his illusions and his deep wish to become a father.

Elsker Dig for Evigt (Open Hearts) – Susanne Bier (not credited), 2002

Painfully sad drama about two lovers crushed by a terrible car accident.

I am Dina – Ole Bornedal, 2002

Gaemle mead i nye biler (Old Men in New Cars) – Lasse Spang Olsen, 2002

Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself – Lone Scherfig, 2002

The serial suicidal Wilbur falls in love with his sick brother’s wife.

Reconstruction – Christoffer Boe, 2003

Possibly my favourite love story, which is, of course, not even a love story, just an encounter shifting between fiction and reality.

Gronne Sligtere (The Green Butchers) – Anders Thomas Jensen, 2003

Leave it to the Danes and Jensen to make a comedy about canibalism.

Dogville – Lars von Trier, 2003

Trier’s anti-dogma about how to take advantage of people and how to abuse power. The first of his trilogy about America (the US, he means!).

De fem benspaend (The Five Obstructions) – Lars von Trier, Jorgen Leth, 2003

Experimental film about trier giving harder and harder directorial tasks to Leth and the way these are fulfilled. Interesting exercise to watch.

Arven (The Inheritance) – Per Fly, 2003

The drama of a man who cannot say no to his family duties even if this means complete loss of all his ties to others.

Se til venstre, der er en Svensker – Natasha Arthy (not credited), 2003

Silly little dogma comedy trying to turn into an AIDS drama.

Forbrydelser (In Your Hands) – Anette K. Olesen (not credited), 2004

A woman prison pastor and a murderous mother find that they have more in common than they initially thought.

Brødre – Susanne Bier, 2004

Bier’s second best film after Elsker dig for evigt, about two brothers, one believed to be dead in Afganistan, and the other “inhariting” his family. Good character development and dramatic on screen dynamics.

Kongekabale (King’s Game) – Nikolaj Arcel, 2004

Political thiller with the unfortunately mandator and universal themes of corruption and media manipulation.

Strings – Anders Rønnow Klarlund, 2004

Puppet show on film, a fairy tale for grown-ups, brilliant and unique.

Allegro – Christoffer Boe, 2005

Maybe it’s because I had such high expectation after Reconstruction that I resent this film so much. It’s not that bad, really. A pianist goes back to his hometown Copenhagen and his past catches up with him.

Pusher II – Nicolas Winding Refn, 2004

My favourite of the three, the most engading and suspenseful.

Dag og nat (Day and Night) – Simon Staho, 2004

A man decides to kill himself and goes to say goodbye to all the people in his life, trying to talk to them, tell them about his troubles, but nobody listens. I still have no idea what exactly makes this film boring, but there’s definitely something missing from it…

Manderlay – Lars von Trier, 2005

Well, the problem is, that after Dogville,  this just seems utterly in vain. What I appreciate most about Trier is his ability to change and come up with something original for every film he makes…and Manderlay is the exception. It’s not a bad film, of course, it’s even good, just not good enough for Trier.

Dear Wendy – Thomas Vinterberg, 2005

Dissapointment, complete bore.

Adams Aebler (Adam’s Apples) – Anders Thomas Jensen, 2005

My favourite Jensen film about a delusionally good priest, a neo-nazi, a cleptomaniac and so on. Sounds like a joke, and it is funny, but it also so much more than that.

Voksne mennesker (Dark Horse) – Dagur Kári, 2005

Great, witty, original balck and white film about a dislexic graffiti artist and his best friend who desperately wants to become a football referee.

Nordkraft (Angels In Fast Motion) – Ole Cristian Madsen, 2005

Drug film, not that original, but worth watching.

Pusher III – Nicolas Winding Refn, 2005

The final film of the trilogy.

Kinamand – Henrik Ruben Genz, 2005

Gentle, funny love story between an unhappy, slightly overweight Danish plumber and the sister of Mr. Cheng from the Chinese restaurant across the street.

Drabet (Manslaughter) – Per Fly, 2005

A university professor abandones his family to help his student mistress, a radical leftist activist accused of killing a police officer.

Nynne – Jonas Elmer, 2005

The Danish Bridget Jones.

Efter Brylluppet (After the Wedding) – Susanne Bier, 2006

A man running an orphanage in India and struggling to keep the children safe, finds out something about his past that would completely change his life.

Direktøren for det hele (The Boss of it All) – Lars von Trier, 2006

Trier trying to make a comedy. Well, it’s not bad, but it’s basically the acting that saves it, not the story.

Kunsten at græde i kor (The Art of Crying) – Peter Schønau Fog, 2006

Disturbing film, at first glance a comedy but so, so far away from being funny. It’s an excellent story and a good film, though.

Prag (Prague) – Ole Christian Madsen, 2006

A couple goes to Prague to rediscover what makes them a couple in the first place. Excellent acting and sensitive storytelling.

Spraenfarlig bombe (Clash of egos) – Tomas Villum Jensen, 2006

The most brilliant parody about Danish filmmaking, exploring all the troubles with the hendheld camera and “too much art”.

Daisy Diamond – Simon Staho, 2007

The obsessive wish to make it as an actress drives a woman to unspeakable cruelty.

Hjemve (Just Like Home) – Lone Scherfig, 2007

Charming little comedy about a small town and the bizarre people who inhabit it.

Kaerlighed pa film (Just Another Love Story) – Ole Bornedal, 2007

The seeminlgy boring life of a crime-scene photographer turns upside down when he falls in love with a car crash victim.

Kandidaden – Kasper Barfoed, 2008

Dissapointing, full of cliches, boring.

Bronson – Nicolas Winding Refn, 2008

Possibly Refn’s most disturbing film about a violent and mentally instable character who is a big fan of Charles Bronson.

Flammen & Citronen – Ole Cristian Madsen, 2008

Solid World War Two drama about the Danish resistance.

Antichrist – Lars von Trier, 2009

The story of a couple trying to cope with the uncopable loss of their child, told in disturbinly beautiful images.

Flugten (The Escape) – Kathrine Windfeld, 2009

A Danish jurnalist abducted in Afganistan tries to protect the young boy who helped her escape and still gain fame by writing a book about her kidnapping.

Applause – Martin Zandvliet, 2009

A one woman show by Paprika Steen about an actress desperately seeking both a life less ordinary and an ordinary life with her children.

The Good Heart – Dagur Kari, 2009

A grumpy pub-owner with a heart condition decides to rescue a young bum but ends up being rescued himself.

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