Valhalla Rising (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2009). I’m not sure what the Danish word for “badass” is, but the first 20 minutes or so of this movie exemplify it, and a wordless Mads Mikkelsen is, duh, more than up to the requirements of being a super-warrior in the muck of Crusades-era Scandi-Vikingland. Then the movie turns toward the metaphysical, blithely ignoring the more commercial possibilities of its situation, and darned if it doesn’t pull that off pretty well too.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (David Yates, 2011). The saga certainly was well cast, and this chapter has a number of gears clicking nicely. Hard for me to imagine wanting to watch one of the movies again, so I obviously missed the allure of this giant cultural phenomenon. (full review 7/15)
Pianomania (Lilian Franck and Robert Cibis, 2009). You can make a documentary about any sort of maniac practitioner of a specialized vocation and probably get something good out of it, but this study of a Viennese guy who prepares Steinway pianos for the world’s greatest pianists is especially attractive. Who knew this much went into it? (full review 7/15)
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (Marshall Curry, 2011). Those crazy scamps from the ELF are profiled, coming across with the usual charm of single-minded fanatics. Along with other issues, the movie wants to raise the issue of how we define a terrorist, a worthy goal. (full review 7/22)
At What a Feeling!, the Eighties re-assert themselves with vintage reviews of the dismal Best Defense and the delightful Blood Simple; for the latter, the comments inform me that I’ve gotten my favorite line wrong all these years. Frick.