Tag Archives: Mads Mikkelsen

Chaos Talking

11 Mar

‘Chaos Walking’: On this sci-fi New World, displays of masculinity are clear, dangerous

By Tom Meek Thursday, March 4, 2021

On a far distant planet two centuries into the future, a colony of humans lives in what feels like a Western frontier town atop a forested hilltop. Verdant and inviting like the Adirondacks or British Columbia’s Northwest Pacifica, this is some great outdoor space. The humans in “Chaos Walking,” however, are at war with the planet’s indigenous species, known as the Spackle. It’s an interesting, and I guess, apt name, as the tar-textured, obsidian-colored humanoids look something like sculpture park art more than anything threatening – I feel like I’ve seen them around the grounds of the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum.

Throughout the film we hardly ever see any of the wall patch-named menace, besides one or two encounters. No, the evil here comes in the form of other humans. David Prentiss (Mads Mikkelsen) – make that Mayor Prentiss – presides over Prentisstown, seemingly the only outpost on the planet. The main things to note about Prentisstown is there are no women, and all the men have digital Pig-Pen dust clouds over their heads called “The Noise,” which basically is whatever’s going on in their mind. What’s that, you say? Imagine going to your boss to ask for a raise and the request is promptly denied due to “tough times,” so you politely say, “Thanks for hearing me out, maybe next year?” as your Noise blurts, “Bastard, you knew I just had a kid, you told me you would bump me up two years ago and you just got a 20 percent bonus for holding down costs? Such a liar!” Awkward and dicey moments happen. (So what of the title? Would not “Chaos Talking” make more sense?) Some of the men can mute their Noise, though; others, including the mayor, can turn it into a sonic shockwave of sorts or project doppelgängers.

“Chaos Walking” is very much a Western in construct, a sci-fi crossover like “Cowboys & Aliens” (2011). The men have blasters, ride horses and are draped in Viking fur dusters, if ever such a thing existed. The reason there are no women, we’re told (like much in Prentisstown, it comes from the lips of the mayor), is that they couldn’t handle The Noise and that the Spackle targeted them. There’s also, across a valley dell, a husk of a gigantic space ship that holds some answers. No one seems curious enough to seek them, and of course, the mayor doesn’t want anyone to go looking.

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Another Round

7 Dec

‘Another Round’: Four stifled schoolteachers plunge into alcohol as a lifestyle, sink or swim

By Tom Meek
Thursday, December 3, 2020

Thomas Vinterberg’s “Another Round” is a dark contemplation flipping between the glorification and pitfalls of routine alcohol consumption. The film begins with teens partaking in a keg relay race around a lake and, later, in their buzzed post-race state, making something of a nuisance of themselves on the subway. The matter is subsequently taken up by the faculty at the intimate Danish academy they attend. Martin (Mads Mikkelsen), one of those teachers, listens intently, as he has teenagers at home as well. But one night, out for dinner and drinks with three fellow faculty to celebrate a 40th birthday, , there’s a moment of pause over Norwegian psychologist Finn Skårderund’s obscure hypothesis that humans need booze to thrive. Intoxicated by the idea, the four make a pact to nip at school to see how Skårderund’s suggestion changes their lives, amended by the caveat that, like Hemingway, there will be no late-night boozing or weekend benders. As a result, Martin becomes increasingly distant from his family, especially his wife (Maria Bonnevie) who works at night; but in the classroom, his lack of inhibition allows him to break out and connect with youthful charges who revel in raucous history lessons focusing on notorious suds-sucking world leaders such as Winston Churchill and FDR taking on a, he notes, a teetotaling Adolf Hitler.

As you can guess, there’s a buoyant swell of wins before some major downs. One of the four gets so knackered he wets the bed and blames it on his 2-year-old, let alone not being able to find his legs to get off the floor and to go to school. In another scene, another of the four give emboldening nips of vodka to a nervous student on the verge of failing an oral exam. Vinterberg, who teamed up with Mikkelsen for “The Hunt” in 2012 – something akin to a Danish “Straw Dogs” (1974) – keeps much of the judgment off frame. Mikkelsen, whom most Americans probably know for his go as a Bond villain in “Casino Royale” (2006) or Hannibal Lecter in the underappreciated TV series “Hannibal,” gives his best performance to date, awards-worthy in Danish or English. Many might not know that Mikkelsen was a dancer by trade early on, and the skill is put to glorious use in the final scene, a surprise in its own right considering the nadir it springs from. The final 10 minutes of the film are unforgettable, uncannily ebullient and hauntingly disturbing.