2 new films, from Denmark and Harlem, and a short from Belfast

Movie poster for Another Round.
Anoth­er Round.

Anoth­er Round is the lat­est film from Dan­ish film mak­er Thomas Vin­ter­berg. Vin­ter­berg was, togeth­er with the more com­bustible Lars von Tri­er, one of the co-founders of the Dog­ma 95 col­lec­tive, a ‘move­ment’ that man­aged to be at once fecund and puerile in equal mea­sure. His 1998 film, Fes­ten was by far and away its most suc­cess­ful production.

Anoth­er Round is a rel­a­tive­ly high con­cept film and chal­lenges you, know­ing­ly, with what seems to be a per­fect­ly rea­son­able, indeed a log­i­cal idea. Four male, provin­cial teach­ers fac­ing up to their fast-approach­ing mid-life crises decide to con­duct an exper­i­ment. They’ll spend every day mod­er­ate­ly ine­bri­at­ed to see what effect it has on them. 

After all, drink­ing is only bad for you in excess. And every­one knows how much more con­fi­dent, loqua­cious and amus­ing we all become after those first few swift ones. All one need do, sure­ly, is drink for­ev­er in care­ful moderation.

The film engages win­ning­ly for the first hour or so, not least because of Mads Mikkelsen’s pow­er­ful cen­tral per­for­mance. But inevitably, the film runs out of steam in its final third when Vit­ten­berg opts for both a moral and an anti-moral end­ing, that is to say an end­ing that is both Hol­ly­wood and anti-Hol­ly­wood. Which, nec­es­sar­i­ly, ends up being neither.

It’s a film you’ll not be sor­ry to have tak­en the time to watch. But nei­ther is it one you’re like­ly to sit down and view again in, say, 5 or 10 year’s time.

Sum­mer of Soul

Sum­mer of Soul, on the oth­er hand, is a film you’ll joy­ful­ly revis­it every sin­gle time you’re offered the oppor­tu­ni­ty. Over the course of half a dozen week­ends in the sum­mer of 1969 a park in Harlem host­ed what amount­ed to a black Woodstock. 

30–40,000 almost exclu­sive­ly black New York­ers were treat­ed to a dizzy­ing spec­ta­cle of out­landish sar­to­r­i­al exu­ber­ance and effort­less musi­cal sophis­ti­ca­tion by the likes of a teenage Ste­vie Won­der, the 5th Dimen­sion, The Sta­ple Singers, Mahalia Jack­son, Nina Simone and the per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of peer­less cool, Sly with his Fam­i­ly Stone.

It would have been nice to have been sur­prised to learn that this footage had lain around ignored for the last 50 years. But that of course is very much part of the sto­ry that the film tells. Now re-dis­cov­ered thanks to the dili­gence of The Roots’ Quest­love, he and his edit­ing team have pro­duced what is quite sim­ply one of the great music docs. Nev­er have two hours flown by so quick­ly nor quite so pleasurably. 

Nina and Sly in Harlem.

Short films are so reli­ably dis­ap­point­ing that I only very reluc­tant­ly sat down to watch Rough because of the word of mouth that pre­ced­ed it. How refresh­ing occa­sion­al­ly to be proven wrong. 

Immac­u­late­ly script­ed, impec­ca­bly per­formed, it’s every­thing that a short should be, and deliv­ers an end­ing that is both deft and qui­et­ly mov­ing. Writ­ten and direct­ed by Adam Pat­ter­son and Declan Lawn you can (for the moment at least) see it on the RTE Player.

You can see the trail­er for Sum­mer of Soul here:

And the trail­er for Anoth­er Round here:

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