8   +   9   =  

2016, what do you have in store for us? Well as ever, a succession of awards contenders start the year, though the shadow of Star Wars is still looming over cinemas. It’s not a packed week as January gets up to speed gradually, but there is Tarantino and there’s also more top quality Danish fare.

New Tarantino is always an event. Love him or hate him, and he does seems to provoke strong responses, he’s one of the most distinctive filmmakers currently active. Continuing his journey through genre, he combines western with a manic, psychological chamber piece to create The Hateful Eight. Eight strangers, played by the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bruce Dern, get stuck in a snowy cabin sometime after the American Civil War. There are bounty hunters, convicts, breakneck dialogue and evil tension galore. It promises to be, unsurprisingly, Tarantinoesque.

There’s a fire burning through Danish film and TV production right now so get in while it’s hot. The latest feature film, A War, is the third from writer-director Tobias Lindholm (who wrote and directed A Hijacking, wrote for Borgen, and co-writes with director Thomas Vinterberg including The Hunt), pairing him once more with actor Pilou Asbæk (Borgen, A Hijacking and soon Game of Thrones). Asbæk plays a military commander in Afghanistan who makes a decision with far reaching consequences. The film explores the grey areas of war brilliantly, showing what happens when people are left in a lose/lose situation.

Finally, there’s Partisan in cinemas, a promising idea that doesn’t quite deliver. The frequently excellent Vincent Cassel plays a cult leader in a burnt out Eastern European wasteland. He’s set up a little commune of women and children, running every element. But while he seems benevolent on the surface, he’s also training the children for terrible acts. It falls away at the half-way point, floundering as it tries to leave an impact, but there’s no denying Ariel Kleiman’s feature debut is an intriguing beast.

Out on DVD there’s a film that is just plain terrible, but I include it because it’s such an oddity. At first glance, the sheer awfulness of The Cobbler will surprise no one. It stars Adam Sandler as a lonely shoe fixer who finds he can literally step into people’s shoes when he puts them on. A series of risible gags and a terrible crime sub-plot follow, and a horrible almost-rape scene. And yet it comes from writer-director Thomas McCarthy who made three very good films, including the brilliant The Station Agent, before this. Just how he went so wrong makes it almost watchable. Luckily, it’s a one-off so far as his upcoming film Spotlight is fantastic.

I’ll leave you there for now. See you next week for Leo in the wilderness.

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