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DVD Reviews - The Scandinavian Touch

21/05/2013 17:41 BST | Updated 21/07/2013 10:12 BST

Lars von Trier and the Cannes Film Festival need one another. He may have been persona non grata at Cannes last year and missed this years submission deadline for Nymphomaniac filmed as two full length features that follows Charlotte Gainsbourg as a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac from youth to middle age, but it's well and truly on the map. Production company Zentropa unveiled the first promotional photo, a visually captivating, tongue in cheek take on religious paintings from the High Renaissance. Nymphomaniac will bypass the festival circuit and premier in Copenhagen on 25th December. There's not even a rough cut for the 66th Cannes Film Festival but Lars von Trier, an annoying talent that can't be ignored pushes boundaries and has people talking.

The Boss of it All, a Lars von Trier comedy was released for DVD rental in April.

THE BOSS OF IT ALL

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Director : Lars von Trier Cast : Jens Albinus, Peter Gantzler, Friorik thor Frioriksson Genre: Comedy Country of Origin : Denmark 2006 Language : Danish, Icelandic, Swedish, Russian with English subtitles 125 mins. Rating : **

Ravn (Peter Gantzler) the MD of a Danish IT firm with an unspecified product wants to sell up and has always blamed unpopular managerial decisions on an absent non-existant Boss. With an Icelandic would be purchaser wanting face-to-face negotiations with the Boss, Ravn hires Kristoffer (Jens Albinus),a failed actor to be the absent Boss only to find himself conceding power to the "Boss of it All" who's swept along by the deception. Great 'Office' plot line which should leap from the humorous to the bizarre but in the hands of the Dogme guru...........

Lars von Trier's films can be over-rated. Yes, he's the Dogme guru, the fierce satarist of liberal values and he loves to pull your leg, but The Boss of it All is 25 minutes too long and shooting in the unique style called Automavision "inviting chance in from the cold and thus giving the work an idea less surface free of the force of habit and aesthetics" gives erratically disjointed frames, odd jump-cuts with missing heads and an annoyingly pretentious feel.

It's moderately amusing playing as a workplace farce with a series of misunderstandings and coincidences - a female employee's fear of the photocopier, Kristoffer's declaration that he's gay resulting in a female employee seducing him, his ex-wife played by Sophie Grabol turning out to be the Icelanders lawyer, the absent Boss emailing romantic intent to prevent an employee leaving the company but that's it - over rated.

FROM THE NOT TO DISTANT PAST - if you haven't seen this view it now.

A ROYAL AFFAIR

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Director: Nickolaj Arcel and written by Lars Von Trier. Two Silver Bears Berlin Film Festival 2012. Country of Origin: Denmark 2012 Genre: Historical drama, romance. Language: Danish, English, German and French with English subtitles. 137 mins. Rating: ****

A dazzling and sensuous factually based 18th Century drama. Princess Caroline Matilda sister of George II of England is married off to deranged King Christian VII of Denmark. A German doctor, Johan Friedrich Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen) who contributes to Enlightenment thinking that was percolating through Europe, becomes personal physician and mentor to King Christien (Mikkel Boes Folsgaard) They initiate a series of social reform programmes including taking power from the landed gentry and Johanne is drawn into an increasingly passionate affair with Queen Caroline (Alicia Vikander). This tale of power, corruption and censorship centres on this passionate affair and dazzles, holds, entertains and builds tension towards the final disasterous conclusion.

A Royal Affair is a beautiful and vigorous film and shows how cinema can dazzle the eye and entertain and there's wonderful performances from Mads Mikkelsen (no surprise) and Mikkel Boes Folsgaard. It shows how good the Danes are at making films that hold, entertain and inform.

FROM THE NOT TO DISTANT PAST - if you haven't seen this view it now.

KING OF DEVIL'S ISLAND

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Director: Marius Holst Winner Best Feature Film and Audience Award Nordic Film Days Lubeck 2011, Best Film and Best Supporting Actor Amansa Awards (Norwegian Oscars) 2011, Winner Best Newcomer Performance Edinburgh Film Festival 2011. Country of Origin: Norway 2010 Genre: Drama. Language: Norwegian and Swedish with English subtitles. 115mins. Rating: ****

Based on a true story and set in 1915, the infamous Bastoy Boys Home located on the Island of Bastoy in the Oslo fjord is run by Hakon (Stellan Skarsgard) the God-fearing Governor who believes that manual labour, rigid discipline and harsh punishment will turn the boys into honourable, noble christian citizens - a wonderful performance (no surprise) as a man struggling with his conscience. Hakon struggles to subdue the rebellious Erling (Benjamin Helstad), a new arrival who is determined to escape and the weak willed Ivar (Magnus Langlete) is abused by the predatory house father Brathan (Kristoffer Joner). Strong performances are seen all round but it's Trond Langlete as Olave who has conformed and is shortly due for release who stands out and brilliantly conveys his personal turmoil in this struggle. Filmed in Estonia and Norway, John Andreus Andersen's stunning wide screen cinematography conveys scenic isolation, beauty and harshness in hypnotic dull blues and greys - the opening almost motionless sequence on board the ship taking Erling and Ivar to Bastoy sets a 'Nordic' standard. Like many foreign language subtitled films with film festival awards, critical and audience acclaim but limited UK cinema release, King of Devil's Island will have limited viewing. Marius Holst directs a quality piece of cinema that's visually rich, holds you with a strong story line and great performances and leaves you with a sense that 'that was worth watching'.

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