The latest installment in the best films of 2012 that I failed to see…
Oh…you need more? Ok. Headhunters is a Norwegian film, based on the book of the same name by Jo Nesbo. Whilst the name perhaps brings to mind gruesome images of people with big spears, the “headhunters” in the title refer to the type that work in the murky field of recruitment. That is not to say, that this isn’t a film with extreme jeopardy and flashes of violence.
The headhunter in question is Roger Brown, a man who appears to have wealth beyond his obvious means. This is because he is funding his lavish lifestyle by moonlighting as an art thief. Roger’s motivation is clear. He is a deeply insecure man, who believes that the only way he can keep his young attractive wife is to shower her with expensive gifts.
Roger is not a character you immediately empathise with. However, as the film progresses and Rogers life unravels, you find yourself rooting for him, despite his obvious character flaws.
Its a terrific film, which keeps you guessing as to who is on who’s side and who Roger can trust. The film achieves this by keeping the other main protagonists motivations ambiguous. Its a clever trick.
The DVD gives you a choice of English subtitles or dubbed English. We went for the subtitles and didn’t regret our choice. The subtitles don’t take away from your attention on the events unfolding.
This is certainly one of the best movies I’ve seen in recent years, and deserves wider recognition.
The Hunger Games
This was a film that I was intrigued rather than excited about. The parallels with Battle Royale are obvious, and I wanted to see how it compared to the cult classic. I did also have concerns that this would be a “Twilight style” teen epic, that would leave me cold.
As it turned out, I would describe The Hunger Games as a half decent film, with disturbingly mixed moral messages.
The film has a strong female character as the lead, who early in the film she takes the heroic step of taking her younger sisters place in the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games are essentially a TV reality survival show, in which the participants compete to kill each other. Last man (or woman) standing. Funnily enough this seems less like science fiction, and more a bleak vision of our near future, than it did when Battle Royale first introduced this concept.
The film had the opportunity to harness the usual themes of teenage rebellion, and develop it into something noble. What it actually did was appear to advocate the “do what you need to do to survive, regardless” mentality. There were some clumsy attempts to show how working together was important, but ultimately it was really every man for himself. I guess you could say that the film wasn’t exactly morally bankrupt, but certainly morally ambiguous.
Morality aside, the film’s biggest flaw is that its pretty predictable. At no point during the film, did I feel surprised by what was happening. It seemed like a patchwork of scenes rather than a coherent narrative, and you are left wondering whether the parts they left out of the book would make the story hang together.
The main character also seemed to forget about the boyfriend she had left at home, within about ten minutes. From what my wife says the film is pretty true to the “original” book, so I guess I should be blaming the author rather than the filmmakers.
Part one of a trilogy, I have to say I’m not desperately waiting for the final two parts.