Film Review: Jackpot

Jackpot is a fun Norwegian crime caper that works because of its macabre humour. Not quite as good as Jo Nesbø’s Headhunters, Jackpot is entertaining nevertheless.

When Oscar awakens clutching a shotgun at the scene of a bloody crime, police arrest him and take him in for questioning. As police try to ascertain his guilt, Oscar explains to them that it all started when he and three others won the lottery jackpot…

The blend of humour works well with the violent crime backdrop in Jackpot. Based on Jo Nesbø’s novel, the film carries similar hallmarks to Headhunters, also based on the author’s work. Most notable of these is the combination of violent crime with macabre humour.

The plot of Jackpot is a bit predictable. This does not diminish to greatly from the overall enjoyment factor however. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously; the gore is quickly placated by something oddly humorous. The emphasis is on caper rather than serious and authentic crime.

Perhaps the one drawback of Jackpot is the central character. Oscar is not as engaging as a protagonist should be. There is little to root for, despite the dilemma he finds himself in. Elsewhere, characters are not developed sufficiently. If more effort had gone into this, Jackpot would have been a great film.

The style of the film is reminiscent of other recent mainstream Scandinavian films. Director Magnus Martens brings a light touch, and the film does not feel longer than its brief run time. The use of music is a plus. Given the Christmas setting, a winter release would have been more fitting for the film.

Henrik Mestad performs best as police detective Solør. Mestad is suitably overblown as the detective struggling to figure out the truth. Kyrre Hellum is well cast as Oscar, looking every inch the normal guy stuck in an abnormal situation.

Definitely a fun watch, Jackpot is unlikely to face strong opposition. Nonetheless, it is not a particularly memorable film.

London Film Festival Debriefing

So the BFI London Film Festival is over for another year. I managed to catch thirty-five films this year, as well as a smattering of press conferences and a round table interview. Having seen less than a quarter of the films shown throughout the festival, I have undoubtedly missed some gems. With this in mind, the following is a very brief appraisal of the festival.

The Best Films I Saw: The Artist, Shame, The Ides of March

The Films That Were As Good As Expected: This Must Be the Place, Headhunters, Martha Marcy May Marlene

The Unexpected Gem: The Monk

The Films I Wish I Had Seen: 50/50, Nobody Else But You

The Film I Wish I Could Unsee: Shock Head Soul

London Film Festival – One Week In

It has been a busy week since the BFI London Film Festival began on the 12th October. There have been some fantastic films screened so far. Of these, The Artist tops the list. The film is simply wonderful, and heartily recommended. The video above features clips from the film, as well as brief interviews. Shame last week was also excellent. Tuesday evening also saw a screening of Headhunters, a thriller which was fantastic fun and a pleasant antidote to some of the more serious films. We Need To Talk About Kevin was shown on Monday evening. The powerful film is discussed in the video below. George Clooney strolled into town on Wednesday for The Ides of March screening. Clooney was keen to answer questions at the press conference in the afternoon. Also screening on Wednesday evening was Miss Bala, a sombre but effective Mexican film.

Film Review: Headhunters

Based on Jo Nesbø’s novel, Headhunters is implausible but tremendous fun. Morten Tyldum’s crime thriller is highly recommended.

Roger Brown is a successful headhunter who lives in a swish apartment with his beautiful wife. In order to afford their extravagant lifestyle, Roger steals valuable portraits from clients, replacing them with forgeries. When he meets ex-mercenary Clas Greve at his wife’s art gallery, Roger thinks he has found his next target…

Morten Tyldum directs Headhunters with deftness. Action scenes are suitably frantic, and the film maintains a steady pace throughout. Although Headhunters can be tense at times, there is an underlying irreverence to the film. The action sequences never lose their sense of frivolity, despite a certain brutality to them.

Headhunters is a heady mix of creativity and predictability. There are some highly amusing moments in the film. Most will pick up the clues to see where the ending is going. This is not too much of a detraction, as Tyldum retains the fun factor. The central character Roger is fallible in his insecurities. He appears inferior to nemesis Clas in terms of looks and success; in this way he is more of an every man despite his questionable morals.

Headhunters offers sleek production values and cinematography. Performances are decent all around Aksel Hennie and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau are well cast as Roger and Clas; both are sufficiently believable in the roles. Headhunters is recommended fro those who like their thrillers tinged with humour.

Headhunters is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2011.

London Film Festival 2011 Launch

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Well ok, it isn’t quite Christmas yet, but it is almost time for the BFI London Film Festival! Today was the launch of the festival in a heavily-gridlocked Leicester Square. BFI chief executive Amanda Nevill took the stage first to introduce this year’s event, and to say thanks to the numerous parties involved. Following this, the festival’s artistic director Sandra Hebron spoke, mentioning with sadness that this was her last LFF. A reel of clips and trailers from selected films due to be screened at the October festival was then shown.

The range of films being shown at the London Film Festival is as diverse as ever. Some of the big films have already been screened at Venice, even so there are some interesting prospects such us A Dangerous Method and Madonna’s W.E. Also being shown are Coriolanus, Shame, Anonymous and The Ides of March. Other films which peaked my interest included Let the Bullets Fly (currently China’s highest grossing film), Nick Broomfield’s Sarah Palin – You Betcha!, Norwegian film Headhunters and Tales of the Night, which is the Family Gala screening. Perhaps the film I am most looking forward is The Artist, a French homage to the silent movie era.

To see the full programme and find out more about the London Film Festival 2011 click here.