Tag Archives: Gustav Lindh

REVIEW: “THE NORTHMAN” (2022) Focus Features

As I struggled writing my initial mini-review of this film, at the same time, trying to convey what is to be said about director Robert Eggers upcoming film, “THE NORTHMAN”. The same way I’m struggling to put down in words here in my full review – to talk about this film as a whole.

So many are calling it so many things. With words floating about such as “masterpiece” it’s difficult to come out and say you don’t feel the same way as then there is wrath to face. Almost like the wrath brought down in the Hamlet-like version of a revenge story told here starring Alexander Skarsgård, Anna Taylor-Joy, Nicole Kidman, Bill Skarsgård, Willem Dafoe and yes, even Björk makes an appearance as a Seeress.

Alexander Skarsgård stars as Amleth in director Robert Eggers’ Viking epic THE NORTHMAN, a Focus Features release. Credit: Aidan Monaghan / © 2021 Focus Features, LLC

As it goes, Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård), is a Viking prince that as a young boy, saw his father King Aurvandil War-Raven (Ethan Hawke), murdered and his future crown taken, though he was able to escape before they could get their hands to murder him as well. Amleth then turns around and becomes one of the warriors fighting for the Vikings destroying village, possibly being one of the most berserkers of all the warriors in the group killing endlessly and mindlessly. Once he learns that his Uncle, Fjölnir the Brotherless (Claes Bang), i.e., the one who killed his father, he decides to leave and head off to make point of his childhood promise of “I will avenge you, Father. I will save you, Mother. I will kill you, Fjölnir.” This sends him to a new kingdom where he can come face to face with his Uncle to exact these words of revenge. Even though he is just a measly slave, he is patient in his ways, waiting for the right chance to make this happen, during this time meeting Olga of the Birch Forest (Anna Taylor-Joy), with whom he wants to make a life, but only once his revenge is enacted. Once there, Amleth is in for more than one surprise as while Fjolnir is still ruling over people, it is not the reign one would be expecting him to have. Queen Gudrun (Nicole Kidman), the mother of Amleth, with whom he thought was taken by force, might not be so upset after all. It’s a not a simple story to tell, watch or understand and it skips across years like the flight of the crow it presents in its myths.

The story told of Viking life in Iceland is not a light affair nor is it for the feint of heart. It’s a savage brutal affair full of mud, guts and one can guess glory at the end – if one can call what happens a victory, then by all means do. Raging full with a testosterone score-fest of blood, death and gore not seen since the days of Braveheart, the films fills the screen with toxic masculinity, myths, sorcery, rage, much to much grunting, and oddly, romance. While the film takes turns with itself, taking itself much too seriously at times, and at others the few spoken one liners are delivered so absurdly that the audience laughs, where it’s not meant to do so.

Claes Bang stars as Fjölnir in director Robert Eggers’ Viking epic THE NORTHMAN, a Focus Features release. Credit: Aidan Monaghan / © 2022 Focus Features, LLC

While one can see just by budget alone there was much thought and effort put into this, and some parts work better than others, but it never really comes together as a whole – most especially the last act which slogs it’s way through a sort of poetic refrain that just didn’t fit with the whole slash ‘n gore look of the beginning and the middle.

This movie is definitely an exercise, whether it’s a workout to watch for all whom aim to look like Alexander Skarsgård at the end will be a challenge for some as it was for me. That being said, I think many will attempt the feat and enjoy it much more than myself and how can one not be happy for that..

Grade: D

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Review screening: Friday, April 8, 2022 courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

Focus Features ‘The Northman’ will be out in theaters Friday, April 22, 2022

REVIEW: “RIDERS OF JUSTICE” (2021) Magnolia Pictures

It all starts with a stolen bicycle. Something taken from someone that usually might not have much merit to it, yet here in ‘RIDERS OF JUSTICE’, it has everything to do with what happens next in director Anders Thomas Jensen’s latest foray into a wonderful film that gives us drama, dark comedy, action and explores just how far someone can go to justify their anger and avoid facing their grief.

Markus (Mads Mikkelsen), is a soldier who is called back home due to his family’s being in a bizarre train accident. His wife Emma (Anne Birgitte Lind) tragically dies in it, but their teen daughter, Mathilde (Andrea Heick Gadeberg), survives. While grieving, she seeks answers for what happened and why. She’s coping by questioning the universe and religion as well, but Markus tells her those are nothing but dead ends. There is nothing good that will come from trying to make sense of it. It was all just a tragic accident and coincidence — end of story. But then where would be the storyline in all this – because one crazy tale is about to be told.

Markus is a soldier, and he sees himself as a man’s man so to speak, so he does what most men do to process loss: he tries to drink and smoke his pain away. He knows no other way to process his grief. That is until one day a mathematics/statistician named Otto (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), and his colleague Lennart (Lars Brygmann), show up to tell him the accident wasn’t a coincidence. Now both of these characters have just lost their job, and because of this, they have time, time to research the statistics of this train accident. And in fact, all ‘stats’ show it was a planned murder by a local gang called Riders of Justice, and they can prove it. And so it begins – Operation ‘Make the Riders pay’ for what they have perceived to have done, is underway.

The team Otto and Markus assemble almost seem like a nerdy group of Avengers, as it’s essentially both of them, along with Lennart – who must be an absolute burden to psychiatrists round the world, and yet he fashions himself one as well, and Emmenthaler (Nicolas Bro), a extremely sensitive I.T. genius. They look like they are highly intelligent and they are, but they are also physically and emotionally damaged men as well. Markus on the other hand, just doesn’t care. He’s fueled by the notion they have planted him with and will stop at nothing for revenge, he’s like a human torpedo determined to blow everything up — and by everything, I mean the guys he believes are involved in this plot. Markus is the muscle, the executioner, and the rest of the team is the brains behind the operation.

Jensen’s not interested here in making a plain, basic revenge movie. No, he wants to explore what’s beneath these men’s grief, shame, and humiliation. He pits Markus’ masculinity and the others vulnerability, using it against each other to see what happens as this group has only one common goal — destroy the gang — but seemingly not much else. Markus only knows how to solve a problem if it involves violence and guns, as ‘feelings’ and ‘words’ are useless to him. He only knows and believes that there is only one way to handle things, with action i.e., ‘actions speak louder than words’, a prevalent use of the motto for this film. He can’t find a way to connect with his daughter, who’s desperately in need of parental support and guidance, as she wants him to see a therapist. Instead he mocks the quasi-diagnosis his daughter and her boyfriend Sirius (Albert Rudbeck Lindhardt) make, even though he knows he will have to confront his feelings at some point. Markus refuses it because he realizes he couldn’t be in control of the situation, which is the only thing he has on the battlefield — and, ultimately, in life.

The rest of the characters are vastly different from Markus, but they all have their suppressed emotions to face as well and it’s kind of fascinating to see how the film lays them out in the most unexpected ways. Sometimes it almost seems far-fetched how Jensen makes the men connect, but he is once again, so good at creating unlikely bonds between the men, that it works out ridiculously well as the balance between very dark comedy, drama and action is perfectly handled. But makes no bones about it, there is a ton of shooting, killing, and bone-breaking in Riders of Justice, but ultimately, all that is a distraction. To be honest, the experience here is something like none other and is absolutely superb. It is comedy, it is war, it is death, sadness and violence – all wrapped up in one, but one in which in a portion of your mind, you are rooting for it in the weirdest way possible, and then you get slammed with a twist that in the darkest recesses of your mind, you never saw coming. Plus, the whole mathematical statistics of how they explain things is so very real, it makes you really take a moment to stop and think as well.

Honestly, Mikkelson is like a well balanced glass of wine here. One thing that is made clear after watching – not only does Mikkelson have the uncanny ability to be able to pick these projects, as well as have co-stars that just might be the most unlikely group to put together, yet are perfectly adept at enhancing his story and his performance every time. It also makes me so happy he continues to make quality films like this one, in his own language, as a translation to English, would just not be workable with a film like this one.

And it might also just be the best film of the year so far.

A

Follow me on twitter: @pegsatthemovies or Instagram: Peggyatthemovies

Review Screening: Courtesy of ~ Ginsberg/Libby PR

“RIDERS OF JUSTICE” IS OUT IN SELECT THEATERS IN LA/NYC ON FRIDAY, MAY 14, 2021 // EVERYWHERE MAY 21, 2021