Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Hunt

2012, 15, Directed by Thomas Vinterberg
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp, Lasse Fogelstrøm

It has almost been two decades since Thomas Vinterberg's Dogme-entry Festen was unveiled upon an unsuspecting world. But now with the Danish director returning to the radar in the UK (for the first time since 2004's Dear Wendy), he has recaptured his directorial flair through crafting another genuinely mesmerising picture about the issue of child abuse. The Hunt is little-less than flawless in its abilities at depicting what occurs when a popular male nursery school teacher is falsely accused of sexual misconduct due to one little girl's casual accusation. Making an impossible situation all the more worse, that same girl is the daughter of his best pal. Casino Royale’s Mads Mikkelsen takes this challenging role, delivering a Cannes-winning performance that deserves every future accolade laid upon him. As Lucas, he manages to deeply solidify his innocence to such an extent that the close-knit town's reactionary ambush of someone they once loved makes for painful viewing; initially surprised at hearing the accusation has been made, the unjust actions that follow prove to Lucas that this isn't something that can simply be brushed under the table in time for tea. 

Once you are invested into what The Hunt is all about, the way is paved for certain standout scenes to stop the heart - most notably, scenes in which Lucas visits the local supermarket, or attends Christmas Eve mass. Not only do these scenes stop the heart, they come close to breaking it. Cards are laid on the table from the offset - there is no doubt, no twists, no rug-pulling; this is a likable guy who has fallen victim to a false accusation that cannot be ignored and, as enduring time proves, will never be forgotten. The Hunt, hugely relevant due to recent news, is terrifying. Raising questions that will linger in your memory for some time after, the way in which Vinterberg depicts these gruelling events to a backdrop of autumnal bleakness is just one of the countless reasons you should hunt down this immersive character study. 



Rise of the Guardians

2012, PG, Directed by Peter Ramsey
Starring: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, Jude Law

Just when you thought there was to be no annual festive cinema trips to be had, Dreamworks Animations’ adaptation ofWilliam Joyce's Rise of the Guardians arrives just in time to salvage the imminent disappointment families the world round would feel if there had been none. Although not the Christmas film one might have hoped for, a central figure is the big guy himself, Santa (here inconspicuously named North,) who we are led to believe is in cahoots with fellow 'Guardians,’ - innately-believed-in figures including the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman and the Easter Bunny. These Guardians must not only Rise (apologies,) but enlist fresh meat in Jack Frost, when Jude Law's hammy, slightly annoying and oh-so very British Bogeyman Pitch aims to stamp out all children's innocent beliefs in these loved icons. Kidnapping tooth fairies, removing Easter eggs; Pitch could quite potentially be the most evil villain committed to animation in quite some time. How could he not be?
Where Rise peaks is in the charming characterisation and assumed relationships between these figures - Hugh Jackman's Aussie twang brings countless chuckles to almost all of Bunnymund's dialogue, and his one-upmanship with Chris Pine's Frost leads to entertainingly well-captured set-pieces. Alec Baldwin's Russian Santa is a grandiose, loveable yet authoritative leader with the words 'naughty' and 'nice' tattooed on each arm. Top marks for fresh incarnations. Isla Fisher rounds out the voicing talent, making her fairy Tooth, a sweet one. Opting to leave the Sandman voiceless - a figure arguably not as etched out as the rest - proves to be a credible decision; it's left to the animators to provide him more character as a silent, cuddly presence. 

Strangely lacking in Christmas cheer (lots of snow, but set at Easter,) this is stellar franchise-fodder by Dreamworks to deliver Shrek and Kung Fu Panda levels of family fun, proving themselves as reliable as...well, as reliable as our gift-delivering Guardians. Who you all believe in...right?