Fantasia: July 24-25

Norwegian crime flick Jackpot and British comedy Black Pond our latest picks.

by Brenden Fletcher
and Alex Rose



Noted Norwegian crime novelist Jo Nesbø is on a roll! Having just celebrated the release of the art-heist film Headhunters (directed by Morten Tyldum), based on his book of the same name, the author is now set to unleash a second salvo of Scandanvian cinematic skullduggery into theatres. This time, it’s an original work Frankensteined for the big screen out of the juiciest bits and pieces of Coen brothers and Quentin Tarantino flicks.

Police are investigating a massacre at a sex shop/strip club when Oscar Svendson (Kyrre Hellum), the only survivor, emerges from under the corpse of a hefty half-naked lady, shotgun in hand. As detectives piece together what really happened, Oscar’s interrogation unveils a sordid tale of ex-cons and lottery winnings, mob loans and murders, a misplaced severed head, a bone-piercing nail gun and gobs of red paint.

Jackpot wears its influences proudly on its blood-soaked sleeve. For every clever narrative shift pulled from Pulp Fiction and bullet-slinging montage from Reservoir Dogs, there’s an off-kilter character or wood chipper from Fargo (well, it’s more of a plastics-recycling machine, but it’s a wood chipper for all intents and purposes.)

Nesbø and writer/director Magnus Martens clearly have great affection for the best and goriest of modern Hollywood crime cinema and, like any master of the macabre, delight in every severed limb and blood splattered wall. It’s the kind of gleeful murder-on-film that’s rarely well handled but, in this case, a dash of Norwegian quirk goes a long way toward keeping the proceedings from being too noticeably derivative. (BF) Tuesday, July 24, 9:30 p.m., Hall Theatre (1455 Maisonneuve W.)


Black Pond
It appears there’s still juice left in the middle-aged suburban black comedy. Believed dead after a rough couple of years being beaten into the ground by American Beauty knockoffs, it proves to be alive and well; Tom Kingsley and Will Sharpe’s Black Pond is a sharp and hilarious take on white-picket-fence alienation through acidic, vigorously British humour.

Structured around talking-head interviews, the film tells the story of the Thompson family and their much-mediatized arrest for murdering a man they had befriended just days before. Gregarious father Tom (Chris Langham) meets Blake (Colin Hurley), a friendly yet socially awkward man, while looking for his dog in the woods. He takes a shine to this meek neighbour and the two strike up a friendship that temporarily brings Tom’s depressed wife Sophie (Amanda Hadingue) back into their dying marriage. But as we find out from the very beginning, things will eventually get darker.

Even though the setup makes it sound like a Shallow Grave knockoff, Black Pond has a lot more in common with the acidic wit of luminaries of the British comedy world like Armando Iannucci, Martin McDonagh and Ricky Gervais. Buoyed by fantastic performances from its cast, Black Pond doesn’t waste a second and proves to be one of the first genuine surprises of this year’s fest. It’s tight, it’s funny, it’s beautifully shot and it may well be one of my favourites of the year. (AR) Wednesday, July 25, 3:15 p.m., J.A. De Sève Theatre (1400 Maisonneuve W.)

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