Riders of Justice

Riders of Justice is a comedy about grief, and living in a universe devoid of meaning. Plus also a revenge action flick.

Mads Mikkelsen heads an amazing cast including previous Men and Chicken castmates Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Nicolas Bro, Lars Brygmann from Good Favour and Across The Water, and Roland Moller from Land of Mine. Men and Chicken director Anders Thomas Jensen works the magic once more to create a strange world that draws you in.

Mikkelsen plays Markus, a soldier who loses his wife in a train crash. Kaas plays Otto, the man who offers up his seat to her on the train, thus swapping her life for his in the turn of fate. Unfortunately Otto, along with his pal Lennart (Brygmann), are working on an algorithm to map the statistical probability of real world events, and in the wake of the crash, become convinced it was no accident, but a carefully disguised hit against another crash victim who was going to testify against the criminal biker gang, Riders of Justice. They team up with Markus and hacker Emmenthaler (Bro) to take revenge.

Each of the characters is an eccentric marked by trauma or abuse. Each has their shades of vulnerability, endearment, annoyance and irritability. And at heart, what they are all grappling with is what a headfuck it is to live in this world.

Markus is unable to console his teenage daughter. She cries over the death of her mother and asks him if she is in Heaven now. No, he tells her, believing in all that stuff with souls and angels will drive you crazy. As if you won’t go crazy anyway.

He trusts to the science of an algorithm to provide the reason why his wife is dead. Assign the blame. Redress the wrong. But in the end, whether science or religion, none of it changes that we are hopelessly at sea in a universe beyond our comprehension, in a state of existence we don’t understand and disappearing into a state of existence we don’t understand, and all we hold dearest is fragile and temporary in an utterly indifferent universe.

Very funny.

If you like that…

Out Stealing Horses

Out Stealing Horses is just beautiful. Stellan Scarsgard plays an old man remembering a summer of his youth, where he developed a crush on his father’s mistress, as her family imploded. It’s a coming-of-age story, but through the melancholy gaze of age. The whole tone is of an old man’s whispers into the black night.

This film is music. And I don’t just mean the score – which is incredible – but this film communicates by weaving a textured soundscape which speaks when the characters cannot. The boy is spending a summer in 1948 at his father’s cabin, felling trees, and is surrounded by the sound of the nearly wild countryside. And because everyone is an insular Scandinavian in the reserved 1940s, what has to speak for the emotional drama is the cut of the saw, the peeling of bark, the spearing of lumber, the clatter of logs into the river. It becomes the melody of the heart of the main character.

A movie that really invites you into the experience, recommend!

Loro

Is Loro a biopic or a satire? The trouble is Silvio Berlusconi is such a mad, revolting bastard that it’s hard to tell what elements are fictionalised and what are just the truth presented so grotesquely that it seems unbelievable.

The film follows Berlusconi pouting after he goes into opposition in the late 2000s and pouting after he regains power and it cuts into his whoring/partying time.

If it wasn’t an Italian movie, you’d almost think it was anti-Italian propaganda. Every man is an old, fat, greasy, repulsive leche. Every woman is essentially just a series of shots of tits, ass and vag – utterly interchangeable and utterly disposable. Everyone has a grift, everyone has an angle.

The films covers Berlusconi in his own style – it is gratuitous, garish and repulsive. It’s shot like a music video for some banging beach beats. All gyrating women, cool locations and shagging. Yet it allows him to be the smiling calm at the eye of the storm. No mean feat when you look like a gonk troll with shoe polish for hair. And weirdly, in a world as grotesque as him, the humour he brings is oddly humanising.

Not that he would be pleased with the depiction. He is clearly painted as a grinning second-hand car salesman, shaking your hand as he steals your watch. And beneath, an immature little boy who desperately needs people to like him, who wants only to be the centre of attention so as to never be alone. The actor who plays him is amazing and all the best things about this movie.

It was such an O-T-T start I didn’t think I would like it, but by the time I was watching Berlusconi standing in a tornado of butterflies in his backdoor butterfly garden like a ludicrous goon, I found myself endeared to it.

Unfortunately I now have stuck in my head the really catchy campaign song he makes them all sing in the scud. Skip to 1 min in to hear.

Zama

A film which starts out a Kafkaesque drama about an early coloniser of South America trying to get sent back home to Spain, and then descends into the Heart of Darkness, searching for a mythical Kurtz figure called Vicuna Porto. The sound and visuals in this film are great, really giving off a sweat and a smell. There is a mix of dreaminess and absurdity that turns from ludicrous and amusing to a horrifying nightmare.

Paradise

Still shaking and crying from Paradise. Had to go wash my face. It’s the story of a Russian princess who is sent to the concentration camps for hiding Jewish children from the Nazis. It’s about how she manages to keep her strength of spirit throughout her ordeal, and the impact that has on the lives of others around her. Powerful.

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