From the Video Shop: Danish Cinema

Neil Turner

I have become a real fan of Danish cinema. The Danes seem to have a way of making every character in their films a fascination - and it doesn't seem to matter whether the character is boring, evil, sexy, dull, straight, gay - murderer or saint. Sitting down to write a comment about Chinaman - the latest Danish film I greatly enjoyed - I decided, instead, to write about nine - eight of which, for me, were viewing pleasures.

Brothers [Brødre]  -  2004  -  117 minutes

This excellent film is a dark but insightful snapshot of an all too common trauma of today's times. It is a look at the tragic effects upon a family man when he is taken prisoner in Afghanistan.

  • My rating  -  4 of 5 stars

The Celebration [Festen]  -  1998  -  105 minutes

In this film, the family gathers to celebrate the father's sixtieth birthday, but shocking facts are exposed. Some very strange and out-of-context behavior of the characters makes this film somewhat difficult to understand, but the viewer is fascinated from beginning to end.

  • My rating  -  3 of 5 stars

Chinaman [Kinamand]  -  2005  -  88 minutes

This beautiful, low-keyed film is the poignant tale of a middle-aged man who is deserted by his wife but then finds a new life at a local Chinese restaurant.

  • My rating  -  5 of 5 stars

The Green Butchers [De Grønne slagtere]  -  2003  -  100 minutes

This is a very dark comedy about two butcher's assistants - one with emotional control issues and the other clinically depressed - who open their own shop. Extremely strange but loads of fun for those without weak stomachs.

  • My rating  -  4 of 5 stars

Italian for Beginners [Italiensk for begyndere]  -  2000  -  118 minutes

This is an interesting character study of a group of lonely people who have a language class in common. Once again, it is hard to comprehend some of the motives of the characters but the film in still enthralling.

  • My rating  -  4 of 5 stars

Open Hearts [Elsker dig for evigt]  -  2002  -  113 minutes

In this film, the lives of two couples are changed as a result of an accident. There is no uplifting, happy ending but this is an insightful look at real life.

  • My rating  -  4 of 5 stars

Pretty Boy [Smukke dreng]  -  1994  -  86 minutes

This is a dark tale of a young teenager hustling on the streets and those who influence him. Stark images and situations make this film hard to watch but still compelling.

  • My rating  -  3 of 5 stars

Reconstruction  -  2003  -  90 minutes

I found this to be a muddled mess about a love affair - hard to understand and boring - but you might enjoy a look at these characters far more than I.

  • My rating  -  1 of 5 stars

Shake It All About [En Kort en lang]  -  2001  -  98 minutes

A romantic farce about a gay man who has an affair with a woman right before he is supposed to marry his partner. This is a basically silly - and certainly politically incorrect - film, but it's a bit of fun with interesting, likable characters.

  • My rating  -  3 of 5 stars

If you haven't had the chance to experience some examples of Danish cinema, you might consider one or more of the above. And if you know of others that are as entertaining, please let us know.

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