THERE WAS NO WAY YOU WOULD not notice him if he was within your eyesight. Even if you were in a crowded store, you still would have picked him out in the crowd. I know because I used to work with him. We worked at the same company; he and I both had desks set up in the back of the warehouse. I did customer service and he was involved with shipping and receiving. My first day on the job, I remember it clearly, he was sitting at his desk wearing black and white patterned slacks with a matching vest. Not to be judgmental, but I did think the attire was a bit much; if nothing else, I knew wearing white in a warehouse setting was never a good idea. Everyday he wore what I considered to be elaborate outfits; I had never seen such clothing hanging on a rack at any store. It turned out he wanted to be a fashion designer. At least that explained the clothing he wore; all his outfits were made by him. After a while, there was nothing that he wore that surprised me. Sometimes he included a big hat with his outfits; the hats would have either big feathers or different charms sticking out of the hat band. The one thing I did not know until much later was the fact he was a functioning alcoholic. BECAUSE I AM NOT A DRINKER, I have little experience or patience with those who drink to excess. I have only been drunk twice in my life; my first time was in college when I turned 18 years old and the other was when I was 24 years old on a date that lasted late into the night. After that, I vowed I would never drink again except for the occasional toast or the tasting of a drink. With my decision, I also took on the role of being everyone’s designated driver whenever I was out with friends. It was amusing to sit back and take in the changes people would go through after they had started drinking alcohol. There were some folk who felt it was their job to make me take a drink. They had decided I could not have a good time unless I had a few drinks inside of me. Others would find or think they found some hidden new courage inside of themselves, where they would act out by performing different stunts that I thought were not safe. One person I remember broke a bathroom urinal off the wall. I never understood the connection between creativity and courage with the amount of alcohol consumed; this is why I found the story in this Oscar nominated film captivating. FOUR HIGH SCHOOL TEACHERS DECIDE TO experiment with the consumption of alcohol to see how it expands their teaching abilities. Evidently, they did not realize how it would affect their lives outside of the school as well. With Mads Mikkelsen (Doctor Strange, At Eternity’s Gate) as Martin, Thomas Bo Larsen (The Hunt, The Celebration) as Tommy, Magnus Millang (Heavy Load, The Command) as Nikolaj, Lars Ranthe (The Hunt, Adam’s Apples) as Peter and Maria Bonnevie (The 13thWarrior, Insomnia) as Anika; this comedic, film festival winning drama provided an interesting premise in its story. I appreciated the way the writers presented a midlife crisis scenario without making a judgment. The acting was excellent, and I thoroughly enjoyed the way Mads disappeared into his role. He was the main focus for me. And without giving away anything, I loved the ending to this movie. As for the topic of alcohol consumption based on the study they talked about in the story, I do not know if it is a real study or not. If not, then it was a brilliant way to introduce the story to the viewers. Danish and Swedish was spoken through the film with English subtitles.
3 ½ stars
We were sitting around talking about our ideal place to live when we all reach retirement age. The answers went from coast to coast, with the majority set in warmer regions. But even with an ideal location there was a caveat to each of our answers, the fear of a natural catastrophe taking place. For those who chose the California area there was the fear of earthquakes. Going to the opposite coast of the United States the concerns were hurricanes or rising sea levels. I already have enough to worry about on a daily basis, besides the violent storms that take place in my area. The idea of living in an area prone to devastating events would put me on edge to say the least. I guess it is a trade-off for those who want to live in a beautiful if not exotic area. What I am curious about is how the people who live in such places where earthquakes or flooding occur handle it all. The pictures I have seen of homeowners returning to their flooded and broken homes, even demolished ones, are just heartbreaking. I do not know what I would do if I came home one day and saw my house destroyed by fire or tornadoes. One of the reasons I am not a fan of July 4th celebrations is because of all the people in my neighborhood who shoot off fireworks. Many homes are made of wood products besides all the trees; it does not make sense to me, but then again not many things these days make sense to me. Though the area looked unbelievable to me, I do not know how the people in this dramatic thriller could live there knowing what could happen one day. LIVING in the area by the Geiranger Fjord was idyllic for geologist Kristian, played by Kristoffer Joner (The Revenant, The Monitor), whose job was to monitor for seismic activity. One day he noticed something different. This film festival winning action movie had some of the most beautiful outdoor scenes I have ever seen in a movie, possibly because the area is so foreign to me. I was grateful the subtitles were not distracting so I could really watch the story unfold. With Ane Dahl Torp (Dead Snow, Cold Lunch) as Idun and Thomas Bo Larsen (The Hunt, The Celebration) as Phillip, I thought the acting was pretty good, considering the script was somewhat weak in parts. One of the things I liked about this picture was its old fashioned feel; it reminded me of those disaster films from the 1980s. The story was simple and despite it being a bit predictable I really did not mind. This may sound weird to say about this disaster movie but I found it fun to watch with the dramatic harrowing scenes shot in a retro low budget way. I would have said I wanted to vacation here someday but after seeing this film I think I would be afraid the whole time. Norwegian language was spoken with English subtitles.
2 ½ stars
It may have only been a snippet of a conversation or a brief moment seeing someone in the middle of an activity, but it was all you needed to make an assumption. With all the ways humans now can communicate with each other, I feel we lost the most important part: face to face. For me face to face provides the adjectives or better yet the emotions, the intentions to a person’s conversations. However, there is a pitfall embedded in this way of communicating. Have you noticed how people tend to believe someone if they talk louder or give an impassioned speech? I abhor talking or mentioning politics, but I have only recently noticed that after politicians debate or give speeches, the news services provide a fact check on the politicians’ claims. It is amazing to me how many falsehoods these news sources reveal. The scary part about this is how some people do not care if things are true or not, they just want to be part of a group or majority. I still remember a fight that took place after school hours. One of the combatants had spread a rumor about the other; so there was a small crowd circling the two fighters, cheering and yelling. They believed the rumor was true. It looked like a school of piranha for the scene turned into a feeding frenzy, where bystanders were adding punches and kicks when the opportunity presented itself. You know it only takes one person to plant a seed of an idea into people’s minds before that group mentality mindset takes over to motivate individuals to become joiners. As adults we should know better, but what if that seed came out of a child’s mouth? STRUGGLING to get back on his feet after a bitter divorce Lucas, played by Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, Hannibal-TV), had a steady teaching job and was fighting for equal visitation rights for his son Marcus, played by relative newcomer Lasse Fogelstrom. Plans changed when the principal of the school heard what one of the students named Klara, played by newcomer Annika Wedderkopp, said about Lucas. This Oscar nominated and film festival winning movie was an intense, thought provoking drama. With Thomas Bo Larsen (The Celebration, Pusher) playing Theo as part of the cast, the acting was outstanding. The actors were so good that they kept me glued to the TV screen, tensely wondering what was going to happen next. I can see why this picture was nominated for best foreign movie by the academy. Even the newcomers of the cast were just as convincing as the adults in this story. I have been a fan of Mads for some time and after you see him in this role I believe you will feel the same way. After the movie was over I stayed seated, going over the story in my head. Do not be surprised if you too mull over the story in your head. Danish was spoken with English subtitles.
4 stars — DVD