REVIEW: “THE SNOWMAN” (2017) Universal Pictures

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“THE SNOWMAN” follows Norwegian detective, Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender). Harry has been struggling with drinking and is no longer given any cases when he reluctantly returns to the police force after receiving a note warning him that more women will end up dead. This all is stemming from an old serial killer case that still haunts him. Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson) is transferred from Bergen, has her own personal reasons for getting involved in the case, and Hole ends up helping her with the investigation into the sadistic serial killer.

It seems the women the killer targets kinda have a link that they all have children. Or so it first seems, but it is actually that they have children who they won’t tell or don’t know who the father is. Which all seems a little bit strange at times, but I guess links a little bit to a plot if you really think about it. You get bored with thinking about it though, as things just get messier and crazier. With so many different things going on in an attempt to confuse the viewer and make them unsure of well what is actually going on altogether to be honest. I guess that is just one of the many problems with the film as it just has to many to really count or try to filter through. Though the fact that everyone is speaking English in Norway without even a nod to note that this is a film totally and completely based and filmed in Norway, is blinding. Remember how they did this with the Americanized version of ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ – and while that was no winner of a film, it would win an Oscar up against this mess of a film.

I’m not sure what else there is to say on this review except to try to find out whom is responsible for this terribly done film version of one of the creepiest books I ever read. Is it Fassbender, whom for the most part I’m such a fan of but is dead of anything bearing performance here. Is it Rebecca Ferguson whom we had such high hope for after her fantastic performance in the Mission Impossible franchise, but here is just lacking any luster in her performance. Surely not J.K. Simmons as gazillionaire businessman Arve Stop, who seems to be doing some sort of attempt at a Scandinavian lilt-meets-evil-industrialist voice thing, or a lost-looking Val Kilmer wandering through a subplot as Rafto, Katrina’s father and ex-policeman who was murdered by the killer, as they are in it for two blink-and-you-missed-it scenes – though I will point out both are featured in a much larger way in the book. Or Chloe Sevigny as identical twins or Charlotte Gainsbourg as Harry’s ex-girlfriend Rakel who also has one of the most bizarrely bland love scenes ever filmed with Fassbender. Or is it simply the overly annoying roughly 600 shots of a snowman.

Again, I read the book some years back, and still with that, I could not figure out for the life of me what was happening in this film. No two scenes really connected with each other and I guess the topper would be my guest.. who at one point I heard a small snore come from. Yep, that about sums it up. I would truly give this film an F but for the fact it has some of the most beautiful scenery and roads filming I’ve seen in some time. Made me want to leave the theater immediately and go book a ticket to Norway.

What I do know is that Martin Scorsese’s name is on the film and so is director Tomas Alfredson and they both know better.

Grade: D
@pegsatthemovies

Media Review Screening: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 ~ Courtesy of Universal Pictures
“THE SNOWMAN” is now playing in theaters nationwide.

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REVIEW: “SAMBA” (2015) Q & A w/ Omar Sy – Broad Green Pictures

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As “Samba” – a Senegalese immigrant who has been illegally living in France for 10 years, is the wonderful French actor Omar Sy. For those of you unfamiliar with him, Sy had gotten his start as part of the French comedy duo of Omar & Fred and went on to films with his most prominent being “The Untouchables” for which he won the César Award – touted as the French Oscar – for Best Actor in 2011. In “Samba” he is on form here though possibly a bit more subdued and subtle, a likable guy who just wants to stay in the country (France) as he’s been employed and living with his “L’oncle (Uncle) Lamouna” (Youngar Fall) all that time.
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He strikes up a friendship with “Alice” (Charlotte Gainsbourg) a shy charity worker who is more or less volunteering at the immigration center and has some problems of her own which are quite hilariously explained during the film. She tries to help Samba with all his legal paperwork but he is still forced to adopt different names and work in different jobs under the radar of the authorities.
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This film is by all means not done as a documentary or political statement. The picture it paints of the French immigration system isn’t too bleak or depressing with some of the other co-workers there offering some of the best comedic outtakes of the film. The characters all have an agreeable warmth to them and as we watch the story patiently play out, you can’t help but feel more charmed by their dilemmas rather than disturbed. Gainsbourg is lovely as the depressed executive who slowly opens up to Samba’s easygoing nature, while Sy invests the character with just the right amount of persuasive nonchalance. Both performers are amusingly supported by Izia Higelin as “Manu” Alice’s colleague and Tahar Rahim as “Wilson aka Walid” Samba’s co-worker and our favourite Arab/Brazilian – who steals a high-rise window-washing, Coca-Cola strip off scene like no other!!!
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With Sy being reunited here with the team of Oliver Nakache and Eric Toledano from the 2011’s highly acclaimed The Untouchables who make an unappealing subject engaging and worthwhile that is what makes this completely worth the price of a ticket. One of the better films I’ve seen so far in 2015. Go out and support this film!!

Post Q & A with Omar Sy:
Sy charmingly engaged the audience entertaining us in both French and English – which he wants to learn better and gave far more than most do in these. Sy noted that even though he’s now been in a few big “Hollywood” films such as Jurassic World & X-Men Days of Future Past, he was attracted to the screenplay of this film and loved the way the story was told it being an interesting topic at this time not only in France but everywhere. With his family being from Senegal-though born in Paris himself-he met with a lot of immigrants in France who helped him shape his character here.
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Also something new to me at least is that Omar came from comedy background – talking about the excitement of dramatic challenges in addition to comedy.
Re: the challenges of learning English and working here vs France, he is still learning – he advises work hard and never get discouraged. On what he would like people to take away from seeing this film?
“It’s always difficult to say what people have to think, what people have to learn or what people have to see. The goal for us is to take a different look on these people. And if someone’s view is different after the movie, it’s a success.”

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Grade: B
@pegsatthemovies

Screening Wednesday, July 22, 2015 courtesy of LAFTV & Broad Green Pictures. Q & A: Friday, July 24, 2015 at Landmark Theaters, Westside
In limited release in theaters now.