Tag Archives: Kate Dickie

From the Land of the Ice and Snow

The Northman

by Hope Madden

Robert Eggers releases his third feature this week, a Viking adventure on an epic scale called The Northman.

You had me at Robert Eggers.

On display once again are the filmmaker’s aesthetic instincts, his mastery of framing, and his ability to squeeze every ounce of brutal beauty from a scene. This film is gorgeous, simultaneously broadcasting the wonder and unconquerable ruggedness of its Nordic land and seascapes.

There are also familiar faces. Anya-Taylor Joy plays Olga, a spoil of war too cunning to remain long in bonds. She’s joined in smaller roles by Eggers favorites Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, and Willem Dafoe as a wizened court jester.

Now, if you’re not a fan of the director’s two previous features, 2015’s The Witch and 2019’s The Lighthouse, that does not necessarily predict your feelings about his latest effort. Eggers is working in a different genre with a different, far larger cast and scope this time around.

Alexander Skarsgård is the film’s titular hero; Claes Bang, his uncle and foe.

What you have is a classic vengeance tale: prince witnesses royal betrayal and the murder of his father. He loses his mother and his crown and vows revenge. You’ve seen the trailer.

I will avenge you, father.

I will save you, mother.

I will kill you, Fjolnir.

Skarsgård is cut to play a Viking. His performance is primarily physical: blind rage looking for an outlet. He’s believably vicious, bloodthirsty, single-minded and, when necessary, vulnerable. The entire cast around him is equally convincing.

Nicole Kidman – who played Skarsgård’s wife in the HBO series Big Little Lies, graduates to mother here, while Ethan Hawke plays his father, King Aurvandil War-Raven.

That’s a good name.

Oh, plus Bjork because Iceland. In fact, Egger’s co-writer here, beloved Icelandic novelist and screenwriter Sjón, penned not only last year’s gorgeous folk horror The Lamb, but also Bjork’s early work with Lars von Trier, Dancer in the Dark.

Classic is exactly how The Northman feels. The story is gritty and grand, the action brutal and the storytelling majestic. As is the case with Eggers, expect a fair amount of the supernatural and surreal to seep in here and there, but not enough to outweigh the meticulously crafted period realism.

When I Say Get, You Say…

Get Duked!

by Hope Madden

What does one homeschooled teen and three high school ne’er do wells in trouble for blowing up a lavatory have in common? Impending doom.

The four boys are making the Duke of Edinburgh Award trek across the Scottish highlands. Dean (Rian Gordon), his daft mate Duncan (Lewis Gribben), and the future of hip hop DJ Beatroot (Viraj Juneja) have no choice after that lav incident, while Ian (Samuel Bottomley) just earnestly wants to complete the challenge and include the award on his college applications.

But it’s a long hike and a lot could go wrong, especially now that Dean’s used the map to roll a joint. Will Ian ever be able to check off the requirements of teamwork, foraging and orienteering?

Writer/director Ninian Doff showcases his background with music videos, infusing this often laugh-out-loud horror comedy with a remarkably catchy, high energy beat that fits no part of the surroundings, which is perfect.

Toss in the always welcome Eddie Izzard as both the informational video voiceover and the uptight, uppercust elitist with a shotgun and expect more laughs. More still from the hopelessly bumpkin police force (The Witch’s wonderful Kate Dickie and the grinningly hilarious Kevin Guthrie). They toss aside their ongoing investigation into the highland bread thief to look into suspicions of a Satan worshipping London gang of hip hop pedophiles.

Doff’s good natured script sometimes echoes of the Cornetto Trilogy in the way its jabs at society land without feeling cynical or bitter. The film is emotionally generous with its juvenile delinquents. The four leads share a lovely chemistry, each actor effortlessly carving out a unique character while developing a level of authenticity in the emotional bonds between them.

This is not the kind of thing you might expect from a comedy where characters routinely—sometimes accidentally, sometimes on purpose—chew on rabbit poo.

The horror is light, the comedy raucous, the fun explosive. Get Duked! may not change you, but it will brighten your mood.