1. The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)
It’s a testament to director Ingmar Bergman’s command as a filmmaker that, despite numerous loving pastiches (see Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey), The Seventh Seal remains an imposing, arresting drama flush with startling imagery. Bengt Ekerot as Death is truly something to behold.
2. Let The Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
In a cinematic environment rotten with rubbish vampire flicks, LTROI damn near revolutionised the genre. It may be bloody and savage (and at times downright weird), but it ebbs with an affecting melancholy that lingers long after that watery final scene has delivered its one-two pow-wow.
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It’s been six months since this involving Danish drama swung by the Oscars on its way to our shores, stopping to whisk away the Best Foreign Language statuette. On its journey it also nabbed a new English title – preferring In A Better World over the original translated Revenge – and scooped further accolades across the globe. So what’s all the fuss about?
Directed by Susanne Bier (whose Brothers was remade with Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal in 2009), A Better World follows Anton (Mikael Persbrandt), a Swedish doctor who travels between Denmark – where his ex-wife and two sons live – and a Sudanese refugee camp where he treats the victims of a demented war lord. Meanwhile, Anton’s 12-year-old son Elias (Markus Rygaard) befriends Christian (William Jøhnk Nielsen). Christian’s recently lost his mother to cancer, and ends up being a destructive, dangerous new force in Elias’ life.
Unflinchingly direct, A Better World wrestles expansive themes in a typically Scandinavian way – by confidently striking right at the heart of the matter. Certain things will always be lost in translation. English-speaking viewers, for example, will miss out on the fact that Anton only ever speaks Swedish while in Denmark, which only serves to maximise his dislocation from the condemning Danes around him.
However, A Better World remains heartbreakingly affecting because it grapples with universal themes that transcend language. What is it to be a man? A father? A worker? Bier dodges right and wrong in favour of searching questions – questions that Persbrandt tackles head on with a rough and ready performance. At times the director’s philosophical posturing leans a little too close to melodrama, but with its refusal of easy answers, A Better World remains a daringly robust drama. The kudos is well earned. 4/5
Via Out In The City.
“It’s daring, visceral and, hopefully, the last thing anyone expects,” raves Lost and Cowboys & Aliens writer Damon Lindelof. And rave he should; he’s just inked the script for Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s inscrutable new film and the director’s first sci-fi expedition since 1982’s Blade Runner. Originally set up as a prequel to Scott’s own genre-defining ’79 Alien, Prometheus has now (xeno)morphed into its own standalone beast. “While Alien was the jumping off point,” confides Scott, “out of the creative process evolved a new, grand mythology. The ideas tackled in this film are unique, large and provocative. I couldn’t be more pleased to finally return to this genre that’s so close to my heart.” Just what an Alien-inspired sci-fi has to do with the shamed Greek Titan Prometheus is anybody’s guess, though with original Swedish Girl With The Dragon Tattoo actress Noomi Rapace starring, we’re chomping at the bit to find out. Welcome back, Ridders.
Via Total Film