Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Film Pairing — Inner Directed, Outer Directed Movie Making

I grew up with adventure movies. The action was the plot.  The characters were essentially good or essentially bad.  We rooted for a good outcome. Good prevailed after a suitable period of doubt and fear.  This is the core of American movies in particular, which was all I saw before my teens and a little independence fueled by curiosity. The French not only introduced me to nudity, but to more complex characters.  Lately, American audiences have fallen in love with the cold, barren landscapes of Scandinavian countries and the complex emotions emanating from the darkness of the soul, sometimes ameliorating the significance, or enhancing the understanding of good and evil. Unlike the American products that focus on the external circumstances, the meat of many Scandinavian dramas comes from plunging into depth of character.

Point Break — This is an American film and surprisingly good, though relatively superficial.  I say surprisingly “good” because it is also a surfing and sky diving film with a series of powerful bank-robbing scenes.  Director Kathryn Bigelow makes the odd mix work, putting together an exciting couple of hours of adrenaline-infused sports adventure with Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves as criminal cat and FBI mouse on the thriller side.  The film, also featuring Gary Busey and Lori Petty, was released in 1991.  It was a major financial success and has evolved into a cult favorite. Ample male and female pulchritude. This is not to be confused with the remake.

The Absent One — Unlike the outer-directed Point Blank, this intense crime drama is focused on and propelled by investigating the depth of its characters, particularly a neurotic and obsessive cop brought in for cold case murders and a witness traumatized by the murder who is in hiding.  The film, released in 2014, is based on the novel by Jussi Adler-Olsen. It was directed by Mikkel Norgaard, and stars Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Fares Fares, Pilou Asbaek, David Dencik and Danica Curic, is set in Denmark. As we have come to suspect of Scandinavian crime films, the movement is slower, the screen is darker and the emotions richer than most of its American counterparts. Incidentally, there are three films in the Department Q series.

What to have while watching these two films: Akvavit or for something lighter, Carlsberg beer, which, very chilled, would also work for the beach scenes in Point Break. For the non-imbibers, we can always fall back on lemon and tonic water.

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