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The Northman Review | Alexandar Skarsgård is Vengeance in Robert Eggers’ Nordic Revenge Epic



What else can be said about Robert Eggers — who has created two of the finest examples of “elevated horror” — other than that the man is a genius? Eggers has gone from the A24 indie horror scene with The Witch and The Lighthouse to the quote-unquote big leagues with The Northman. Despite upping the scope and scale, Eggers still retains his auteur stylistic personality; which is saying far more than some filmmakers that make this type of leap. The Northman is similar to The Green Knight in that it tells a relatively simplistic story (and they both have beautiful cinematography) — the story is the same found in Hamlet — yet it’s likely impossible to fully comprehend what you have watched for the last two and a half hours when the title card hits. Be that as it may, The Northman is still a brilliant showcase and another strong output from Eggers.

In 895 A.D., Amleth (played by Oscar Novak in the beginning), witnesses his father, King Aurvandil (Ethan Hawke) get murdered at the hands of his uncle, Fjölnir (Claes Bang). Fjölnir also takes Amelth’s mother, Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman), captive. Amleth flees the scene, rowing away while reciting a simple vow: “I will avenge you, father; I will save you, mother; I will kill you, Fjölnir.”

4179_D049_00102_RC Ethan Hawke stars as King Aurvandil in director Robert Eggers’ Viking epic THE NORTHMAN, a Focus Features release. Credit: Aidan Monaghan / © 2022 Focus Features, LLC

As the film so kindly provides, the film jumps “years later” and Amleth, now played by Alexandar Skarsgård, spends his days raiding villages like a complete badass — he literally catches an incoming arrow and throws it back — and pretending he’s a wolf a la George MacKay in Wolf; a habit he picked up from his late father. Amelth is still pursuing his destiny but is still a ways off from getting there. Eventually, he learns that his uncle now owns a farm and becomes a slave on the farm to infiltrate and eventually get his revenge. Along the way, he meets Olga (Anya Taylor-Joy), a sorceress and also enslaved, and the two work together and also find love along the way.

Director Robert Eggers and crew members on the set of his film, THE NORTHMAN, a Focus Features release. Credit: Aidan Monaghan / © 2022 Focus Features, LLC

From the opening shots of King Aurvandil’s village, The Northman makes it very clear that Eggers still has his hands all over the film. It very well may be the most artistic “bigger” budget film (reported $70 million budget) in recent memory — save for Blade Runner 2049 — and is all the more impressive when the budgets of Eggers’ previous films, The Witch ($4 million) and The Lighthouse ($11 million), are taken into account. And for as simple as the premise of the film sounds, Eggers throws enough curveballs in that can really only be seen to understand. There are spells, weird visions, and plenty of violence that are all wonderfully in line with Eggers’ previous works.

Alexander Skarsgård gives a rugged performance; a broken man tortured by his own fate. There are little nuances in his performance that are also worth noting: At one point, Amleth hesitates when he sees a young child in a village that he is raiding, perhaps thinking about his own past. The heartbreak that Skarsgård displayed in this scene did feel good in the AMC where my screening took place. Oh, and Nicole Kidman is also great and far better than her performance in Being the Ricardos. Anya Taylor-Joy is an amazing actress, and her resumé only continues to grow more impressive with every performance. I overheard someone saying that she had reportedly wanted to be in The Lighthouse as a mermaid after starring in The Witch. Perhaps she made the right call with her second collaboration with Eggers as she gets several moments to shine sharing the screen with Skarsgård.

Alexander Skarsgård stars as Amleth and Anya Taylor-Joy as Olga in director Robert Eggers’ Viking epic THE NORTHMAN, a Focus Features release. Credit: Aidan Monaghan / © 2021 Focus Features, LLC

Some legendary actors get less screen time but still make their presence known. Ethan Hawke plays Amleth’s father, King Aurvandil. It goes without saying that he doesn’t make it very far into the film, yet the scenes he shares with Oscar Novak will remain on your mind after the credits roll. Willem Dafoe, fresh off of an unhinged performance in Eggers’ The Lighthouse, gives another eery performance that will linger with you far beyond his limited screentime as Heimer the Fool.

The Northman is also a very, very violent film. Noted above (and can be seen below) was the rad moment where Amleth catches an arrow and throws it back at his opposition. Proceeding this is a long take that follows Amleth as he slays damn near an entire village. He brutally hacks and slashes his way through villages without a lot of remorse. The final showdown between Amleth and Fjölnir resembles Revenge of the Sith as the two make dancing shadows in the midst of a volcano. It’s an epic battle and unlike some professional fights that build themselves up — looking at you, Mayweather vs. Pacquiao — this climax was a satisfying payoff to what the film had previously set up for two hours.

Like Eggers’ previous two films, The Northman will likely be divisive. It’s certainly Eggers’ most mainstream film — void of the same level of weird that his previous two films reached — but it’s still a two-and-a-half-hour revenge story that takes its time to get to the actual revenge. But the cinematography (which includes some gorgeous shots of Iceland), acting, set and costume designs, and Eggers’ direction will all make the film more than worth your time. The Northman is the closest thing you have seen to a smooth transition from indie to tentpole filmmaking in a long time and is one of the best films of the year. Even if the experience of doing a “big” movie is a one-time thing for Eggers, The Northman is about as good as it can get.

Focus Features will release The Northman on April 22.


Andrew is an entertainment journalist and film "critic" who has written for the likes of Above the Line, Below the Line, Collider, Film Focus Online, /Film and The Hollywood Handle among others. Leader of the Kaitlyn Dever Fanclub.

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Disney’s Latest Star “Wish”



Ariana DeBose as Asha in Wish (Disney)


Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Wish” is an all-new musical-comedy welcoming audiences to the magical kingdom of Rosas, where Asha, a sharp-witted idealist, makes a wish so powerful that it is answered by a cosmic force—a little ball of boundless energy called Star. Together, Asha and Star confront a most formidable foe—the ruler of Rosas, King Magnifico—to save her community and prove that when the will of one courageous human connects with the magic of the stars, wondrous things can happen.

Ariana Debose as Asha in Wish (Disney)

Movie Review (no spoilers)

The film is inspired by Disney’s centennial, which ties together a central theme across most of the Disney-related stories — of wishes and dreams coming true. One can view it as the origin story for the wishing star, albeit a funny star. Disney delivers a feel good story filled with humor and the occasional teases and links to other Disney-related works. Ariana DeBose braces the big screen as the hero, Asha who discovers a sinister secret about King Magnifico and his use of the wishes.

Ariana’s performance performance is amazing and I enjoyed listening to the songs she performed. I foresee “This Wish” topping the charts at Spotify soon.

This Wish by Ariana DeBose (Spotify)

Chris Pine plays the part of King Magnifico and delivers a good performance as the villain. We hear him sing a song alongside Ariana, At All Costs.

At All Costs by Chris Pine & Ariana DeBose (Spotify)

The story delivers the usual fun characters that Disney brings along in all stories, amazing graphics of a magical world, and an amazing song library for everyone to listen to. This movie is excellent for young and old, delivering a feel-good movie for all. Wish is yet another treasure in the world of Disney.

I’m really excited for the next 100 years of Disney magic. The movie Wish has the potential to become a sequel, or even provide potential spin-offs exploring the wishes and dreams of others in the magical Disney Universe.

My wish is for more many more years of movie magic from Disney. What is yours?

My rating is a 4 out of 5 for Disney’s Wish. Watch at a cinema near you and join in the Disney centennial celebrations!

Wish Official Trailer (Disney)

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‘The Holdovers’ Review | Paul Giamatti, Alexander Payne Reunite For This Year’s Most Beautiful and Poignant Comedy



Paul Giamatti and Dominic Sessa in 'The Holdovers' (Focus Features)

“They don’t make them like that anymore” is one sentence that we hear a lot when it comes to cinematic brilliance. Most of the times, it is used for titles that might be considered a classic. Sadly, this sentence is being used too often these days and even for those projects, that might not even qualify. However, Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers is undoubtedly one of the movies that deserves to be called an instant classic and I can wholeheartedly say: “They don’t make them like that anymore.”

The holiday season has arrived and audiences want to see movies that makes them feel that holiday spirit. Although it is very rare to see both these qualities in the movies these days, ‘The Holdovers’ has quietly gained popularity among cinephiles this holiday season, emerging as one of the year’s best films among audiences.

The movie is set in a boy’s boarding school in New England in 1970. Paul Hunham is a stern yet brilliant professor who refuses to give passing grades to rich students just because their parents are some of the school’s biggest donors. He is firm and doesn’t let these brats take advantage of him. On the other hand, we have Angus Tully, who is the son of wealthy parents attending the school who tends to ready the students for top universities. It’s Christmas time and everyone is going home, but things take a wild turn for Hunham when he is forced to babysit for children whose parents are unable to let them return home for the holidays. Eventually, Tully ends up being the only child in Hunham’s supervision. As the two begin to spend time with each other, they slowly begin to know much more about each other and understand why they are how they are.

Dominic Sessa, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Paul Giamatti in ‘The Holdovers’ (Focus Features)

There is no doubt that Paul Giamatti’s role as Paul Hunham is one of his most compelling roles. Make no mistake, Giamatti has given several amazing performances, but Hunham turns out to be a role that makes audiences realise how truly amazing he is as an actor. The way he insults people in this movie is hilariously brilliant. It seems Giamatti had a lot of fun while shooting this film and went down the memory lane to prepare for the role. Giamatti is just breath-taking in this role. On the other hand, Dominic Sessa is truly a revelation here and delivers a performance that touches everyone’s heart. In the beginning, you might not like his character but as the story moves forward, you understand why he is like this and Sessa completely nails it.

Da’Vine Joy Randolph delivers a deeply heartbreaking performance as a grieving mother in the film. Randolph gives a detailed performance showing both deep sadness and moments of happiness. It’s a portrayal of grief that feels very genuine and touching.

Even though there are moments that makes the film touching, ‘The Holdovers’ is hardly a serious drama. It’s a very welcoming holiday movie that doesn’t shy away from being funny and absurd. These characters have faced sadness, loss, and pain. However, the movie bravely allows us to laugh alongside them, as their humorous shortcomings transform a typical holiday stay at home into unexpected hospital visits and adventurous trips spanning multiple cities. For many people, it will be nostalgic to see this old-school sweet holiday movie that they must have seen in their youth and takes them to a time where people cared about feelings.

All in all, THE HOLDOVERS is a moving, bittersweet comedy drama that instantly becomes a Holiday classic. A story where you’d think how emotions don’t change even though life has.

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‘Nightingales In The Cocoon’ Review | A Captivating Tale Celebrating Hope and Joyous Shared Moments



Official poster of 'Nightingales in the Cocoon' (Unchained Pictures)

Nightingales in the Cocoon is a vivid and heartwarming portrait of transformation and connection in a bustling city. The short beautifully captures the essence of hope, resilience, and the power of shared experiences. In just five minutes, this story carries a profound message that transcends its simplicity. Dharavi, often characterized by its challenging environment, serves as the backdrop for the story’s beginning. It sets the stage for two children’s life-altering decision to break free from their past. This decision, in itself, is a testament to the human spirit’s resilience and the pursuit of a better life.

The symbolism of leaving behind what is perceived as “trash” is a powerful metaphor for shedding the burdens of the past. The discarded keyboard, seemingly insignificant, becomes a symbol of forgotten dreams and overlooked opportunities. As fate would have it, two young kids in Navi Mumbai stumble upon this abandoned keyboard, which becomes the catalyst for a heartwarming journey. The excitement and curiosity the keyboard sparks in them are relatable and heartening. It reminds us of the pure joy that simple discoveries can bring, especially to young minds eager for new experiences.

A still from ‘Nightingales in the Cocoon’ (MUBI)

The act of acquiring batteries to breathe new life into the neglected instrument is a moment of resourcefulness and determination. It’s a reminder that even in the face of challenges, a little effort can rekindle lost passions and unlock new possibilities. The transformation of the once-silent keys into a source of melodies that fill the air is a beautiful metaphor for the transformative power of art and creativity. The kids’ dance to these newfound tunes is a celebration of life’s simple pleasures and the joy of shared experiences.

This story serves as a reminder that shared moments of happiness can bridge the gaps between individuals and communities. In the bustling city where stark contrasts exist, the shared joy and rekindled dreams bring people together. It’s a testament to the universal language of music and the ability of the human spirit to find connections even in the most unexpected places.

Nightingales in the Cocoon beautifully captures the essence of hope, resilience, and the universal desire for connection and joy. It’s a brilliant and simple narrative that reminds us of the beauty in the everyday moments of life and the power of transformation and human connection.

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