REVIEW: Far from the Madding Crowd

28 06 2015

All period films should feel as urgent as Thomas Vinterberg’s “Far from the Madding Crowd.”  Though the story might take place in Victorian England, none of the characters ever feel preserved in amber.  This adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel illuminates present-day issues faced by women as they seek agency and independence through a heroine, Carey Mulligan’s Batsheba Everdene, who bristles with the norms of her time.

You would think, in the 140 years since the novel’s publication, that the world has progressed some in respecting the dignity of women.  But alas, two chauvinists sitting next to me served as a potent reminder of just how necessary this story continues to be.  In their eyes, any decision Batsheba made that did not lead her down a path of submission or domesticity evinced that she was a reckless whore.

Bathsheba never aligns herself as opposed to the institution of marriage; at one point, she memorably remarks that she would be a bride if she didn’t have to get a husband.  Her needs are rather peculiar due to a unique set of circumstances that grants her ownership of a sizable portion of land in the English countryside.  Rather than surrender the property to an able-bodied man, Bathsheba possesses enough self-confidence to run the farm herself.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements




REVIEW: The Hunt

30 05 2012

Cannes Film Festival

I wasn’t invited to serve on Nanni Moretti’s jury this year, but if I had been, my vote for the Palme D’Or would have gone to Thomas Vinterberg’s “The Hunt” without question or hesitation.  More than any of the twelve competition films I saw, it captivated me from the outset and proceeded to shake me to my core all the way to its jarring ending.  Much like “In a Better World” or “The Class,” this film has the ability to play well in any country and in any language due to the universality of its story.

I quickly forgot I was reading subtitles as I got drawn into the film’s narrative.  Vinterberg’s film, which he also co-wrote with Tobias Lindholm, has echoes of Arthur Miller, one of the biggest compliments I can provide to a piece of writing.  This contemporary “Crucible” follows Mads Mikkelsen as Lucas, a Danish kindergarten teacher, as he must fend off accusations of indecent exposure to a young child and the ensuing social stigmatization.  While Lucas is reserved, Mikkelsen never lets us doubt for a second that his character is an upright man who is merely the victim of a child’s curiosity being spun into something untrue.

And Mikkelsen, rightful and deserving winner of the Best Actor prize at Cannes, keeps our eyes glued to the screen as we watch the harrowing toll of these false charges on his psyche as well as his estranged son.  The story unfolds rather predictably for the first two acts (no thanks to Arthur Miller), but Mikkelsen really goes unhinged in the film’s finale and absolutely kills it.  As the metaphorically hunted of the film’s title, he begins to strike back against those who defiled his reputation based on baseless and circumstantial evidence.

Read the rest of this entry »





Marshall Takes Cannes: Day 6

23 05 2012

Sorry for the delay, Internet woes abound in France. Monday was another uneventful rainy day – bad for you to read, but good for me to write.

Day 6 – Monday, May 21

I left my apartment for Cannes today at 12:15 P.M., which felt SO NICE. I got about nine or ten hours of sleep last night, and it turns out that was just what the doctor ordered. I hit my wall on Sunday, so I was glad to be really alive and experiencing Cannes again.

However, Mother Nature did not reward me with a bright, sunny day with my new found eagerness. Instead, it drizzled sporadically and the sky was gray. That is, on the other hand, the perfect environment to watch a movie and not feel guilty about sitting indoors for two hours.

20120523-102906.jpg

And today, I watched my first movie of the festival in which I did not fall asleep or drift off even for a moment. That could be due to the fact that the film, Thomas Vinterberg’s “The Hunt,” was truly remarkable and easily the best moie have seen over the course of Cannes. It doesn’t have US distribution yet, but it really should. This movie needs to be seen.

Struggling to find something else to write about this day …. um, let’s see, I had a banana and Nutella panini? I bought a donut from a kiosk? I saw no celebrities? Hopefully there will be something more than a beautiful landscape in my next post.