Mads Mikkelsen

Another Round


Cameo Cinema

Alcohol. It’s a curse, right? So many people depend upon it, so many have their lives completely destroyed by it – and yet it still gets bought by the gallon on a daily basis…

It would have been so easy for Thomas Vinterberg to produce a dour, finger-wagging condemnation of his chosen subject, but happily, Another Round is much more nuanced that that. This is a film that also highlights the powerful allure of alcohol, a film that makes you understand why so many of us can’t help but dance to its tune. Furthermore, it’s a story about male friendship that manages to avoid the usual clichés to deliver something genuinely heartfelt and realistic.

Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) is a history teacher at a Danish high school. He’s been in his job for years, he’s happily married to Anika (Maria Bonnevie) and he has two teenage sons. But somewhere along the way he’s lost his drive and now finds himself teaching on auto pilot, making evident mistakes as his students look on in dismay. His sons seem to be hardly aware of him and Anika, a nurse, is permanently on the night shift. In short, he’s looking for something to inspire him.

On a night out with fellow teachers, PE instructor,Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), chemistry teacher, Nikolaj (Magnus Millang), and music teacher, Peter (Lars Ranthe), Martin picks up on something that Nikolaj mentions over a boozy dinner – a theory put forward by psychiatrist Finn Skårderud, namely that maintaining a constant blood alcohol level of 0.05% will make a person more relaxed and creative.

Martin decides to put it to the test, only to find that it actually appears to work. His pupils are reinvigorated by the ‘new’ Martin. In class he’s assured, slick, entertaining, and, as his alcohol level rises, so does his students’ enthusiasm for his teaching. It isn’t long before his three friends want to get in on the act, with sometimes hilarious – but ultimately tragic – consequences.

Another Round steadfastly refuses to be maudlin, ensuring that many of the alcohol-fuelled antics are positive ones and pointing out that the consequences of being drunk vary from person to person. Indeed, a climactic scene where Martin – a jazz ballet dancer in his teens – is inspired to strut his moves again, once he’s suitably fuelled with champagne, is a joyful, exuberant celebration of being ‘under the influence.’

Little wonder that, after viewing this intoxicating film, we headed straight for the bar to discuss it in an appropriate setting…

4.6 stars

Philip Caveney

At Eternity’s Gate


Here’s one I missed at the cinema, but – as is increasingly the case these days – it’s right there on Netflix for anyone to see at the click of a button. While this would definitely benefit from the immersive qualities of a big screen, beggars can’t be choosers.

Julian Schnabel’s film of Vincent Van Gogh concentrates on his years in Arles and, later, at Auvers Sur Oise. Willem Dafoe stars in what is possibly the role he was born to play, so convincingly does he settle into the great man’s persona, and he greatly deserved his Oscar nomination.

This is far from a straightforward biopic, however. Indeed, anybody who prefers a clear narrative arc will probably have a tough time with this. There’s a lot of footage of the artist, easel strapped to his back, wandering for miles across the French countryside in search of the elusive ‘perfect light’ and the film takes its own sweet time over those sections. But there’s no doubting the power of the sumptuous cinematography of Benoit Delhomme, which really does capture the unique look of Van Gogh’s paintings.

A lot of big names pop up in cameo roles. Oscar Isaac is a suitably swashbuckling Paul Gaugin, Rupert Friend is Vincent’s endlessly patient brother, Theo, and Mads Mikkelsen gets the dubious honour of portraying the priest at an asylum, who unashamedly informs the artist that his work is ‘ugly and without merit.’ Dafoe, meanwhile, suffers for his art in utterly convincing style and generates pity for Vincent as well as anger at the horrible treatment he receives on an almost daily basis.

There’s a powerful payoff when, after his mysterious death (which is frustratingly skipped over), we witness Vincent lying in his coffin, surrounded by his paintings and we cannot help but see that the mourners are already taking more interest in his work than they ever did when he was alive.

An interesting effort, then, and – while it lacks the jaw-dropping power of Finding Vincent – it’s still essential viewing for fans of one of history’s greatest artists.

3.8 stars

Philip Caveney



Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


There are prequels and there are sequels – and then there are ‘inbetweenquals’ like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, helmed by brit director Gareth Edwards and starring Felicity Jones, making a surprisingly confident transition to action hero territory. But the ultimate question that must inevitably hang over this production is this: as a standalone, does its justify its place in the already extensive Star Wars canon? And the answer is… just about.

After JJ Abrams crowd-pleasing revamp (a film that even those who didn’t much care for Star Wars could easily enjoy), Rogue One is clearly aimed much more at the obsessive fans of the series – and it must be said that the must successful parts of this film really are the ones that recall classic moments from the original movies.

The events of this film take place sometime after the end of the clone wars and before those outlined in Episode IV – A New Hope. Young Jyn Erso (Jones) is the daughter of Death Star designer, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), now estranged from him because of his apparent return to the Empire after the murder of his wife at the hands of Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn). Captured by stormtroopers and on her way to prison, Jyn is rescued by members of the Rebel Alliance and made to accompany handsome young rebel Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) on a mission to find her father, in order to try to discover a way to defeat the terrifying weapon before it makes mincemeat of all who oppose it. We already know, of course, that the Death Star was destroyed at the end of Episode IV – this film, then,  seeks to explain how the information about a fatal flaw, planted in the Death Star’s workings gets into Princess Leia’s hands in the first place.

Edwards makes a reasonable attempt at this – there’s some convincing world-building going on and enough references to later films to keep all the fan boys and girls happy. However, there’s a seemingly endless series of battles and the film only really hits its stride in the final third. There’s also one gasp-out-loud moment when a character turns around to reveal the face of deceased actor Peter Cushing – or rather a walking, talking CGI recreation of him, testament to just how adept these special effects have become – but sadly there’s not an awful lot here in terms of character development and it says a lot when some of the strongest aspects of the script are the droll quips of the film’s main android character, K2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk), which lends some much-needed humour to what is a parade of rather po-faced antics.

Star Wars diehards will doubtless approve of this. It ticks enough boxes to earn its place in the pantheon, and there’s a cameo by classic character Darth Vader. Those like me, who enjoyed the first two films, hated the next four, but loved the relaunch, may simply find this a bit of a Star Bore. Choose wisely my young apprentices- and may the force be with you!

3.4 stars

Philip Caveney