Posted in: Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, DVD, Film Reviews

Blu-ray: ‘Vampyr’ on Criterion

An early sound film shot with a distinctive and evocative silent film aesthetic, Vampyr (Denmark, 1932) is a horror movie as tone poem. Dialogue is sparse and large blocks of text (either intertitles or pages from a book of vampire lore) provide the exposition. It’s an eerily abstract film of vague motivations and ethereal imagery (exaggerated by the worn state of the source prints) from the opening scenes.

Criterion Collection

Our hero, Allan Gray (Julian West), is a vaguely interested in the supernatural, according the titles, but he walks into this cursed village like a dazed innocent whose walking tour (or perhaps butterfly hunt? he’s hoisting a large net over his shoulder) of the familiar countryside takes him into unfamiliar terrain, a cursed village that is, for all intents and purposes, isolated from the world. A villager with a scythe rings a bell on a misty lake as he arrives, already conjuring a feeling of death and portents of supernatural things to come.

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Posted in: by Robert Horton, Contributors, Film Reviews

Review: A War

‘A War’

Much of the first half of A War takes place in the dust and blood of Afghanistan, as the members of a Danish platoon try to make sense of the chaos of battle. Much of the second half is set inside a military courtroom back in Copenhagen, where the clean lines and empty backgrounds call to mind an IKEA-only design concept. Director Tobias Lindholm makes his point: In the cold light of a military tribunal, things seem relatively clear-cut. In the middle of a firefight, it isn’t so easy to make the right call.

That contrast is typical of the film’s straightforward approach to dilemmas. A War, an Oscar nominee in the best foreign-language feature category (representing Denmark), doesn’t so much bring new ideas to light as confirm our worst suspicions.

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