Tag: Mads Mikkelsen

At Eternity’s Gate

aegThe Diving Bell and the Butterfly director Julian Schnabel’s take on Van Gogh’s life places us deep inside the disquieting mind of the Dutch genius in this film which is part biopic, part fever dream, part expressionist cinema.  It’s mesmerising, if somewhat nauseating stuff; a rich tapestry of movement and colour that feels as painterly as cinema gets.  Attempts to capture Van Gogh’s work through cinema is nothing new, most notably the recent effort, Loving Vincent, which literally painted each frame of his story. But where that film seemed gimmicky (albeit painstaking) here Schnabel’s vision feels authentic and true to Van Gogh’s pursuit to capture light on canvas. 

A word of warning, though, to those who suffer the uneasy effects of a shaky handheld camera; this film is constantly on the move, and following Vincent’s crazed exploits through the rural French town of Arles might be a bit much for some. I was both wowed and sweating with motion sickness; a strangely uncomfortable but rewarding experience.

The film traces Van Gogh’s most prolific period but tends to gloss over many of his more infamous exploits, focussing instead on his relationship to his art. Rather than ply us with a forensic understanding of the Dutch master, the film concerns itself more with the world of experience. 

Willem Dafoe’s turn as Vincent is spell-binding. His face, itself a richly creased canvas, delightfully communes with the world around him capturing Van Gogh’s’ array of anguish and wonderment with an impassioned depth. The excellent supporting cast are worth noting too with Oscar Isaac (as Paul Gauguin) and Mads Mikkelsen (as a consulting priest) bringing two memorable performances.

Ultimately though, the main star is Benoit Delhomme’s (The Theory of Everything) deeply rich cinematography. Undoubtedly, some will find his bold camera work a distracting annoyance and might consider At Eternity’s Gate to be a victim of its own style. Depending on your tolerance, At Eternity’s Gate will linger in your mind or uneasily in your tummy long after viewing.

At Eternity’s Gate opens in theatres 20th December.

See my reviews for the NZ Herald here and for Witchdoctor here.

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Coraline and The Hunt

Wow! Been a while since my last post. Truth is that I haven’t seen many films of late. Hopefully that’ll change with the NZ Film Festival looming. Here are two films that I did see recently that are excellent:

Coraline (2009) is an excellent stop motion animated fantastical thriller along the lines of Pan’s Labyrinth … but animated and more accessible for children. Directed by Henry Selick, (A Nightmare Before Christmas, and James and the Giant Peach) this is, however, so much more than just a kids film. An adventurous girl finds another world that is a strangely idealised version of her frustrating home, but it has sinister secrets. It explores the deep recesses of the subconscious and is populated with rich characters, stunning visuals, and an intriguing narrative. I highly recommend Coraline.20120101-230515.jpg

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Coraline

The Hunt (2013). Mads Mikkelsen plays a teacher who lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son’s custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie. Mads Mikkelsen has a huge supply of screen presence but manages to keep this in check to give a superb performance in this tour de force of Danish film-making. Thomas Vinterberg delivers a captivating film.

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The Hunt