APPLE TREE YARD, Jessica Hobbs, director/Arrow Blu-Ray When Louise Doughty’s novel first appeared, it was not treated as a study of mature female sexuality – but that has undoubtedly been the case with Amanda Coe’s well-crafted television adaptation with Emily Watson’s 50-ish scientist engaging in what turned out to be a dangerous affair with an enigmatic stranger. In fact, the erotic element of the drama is handled with some sensitivity (despite it being mostly hurried vertical encounters in public places), although it might be argued that there is a tacit assumption reminiscent of 1940s Hays-Code Hollywood movies: any sexual dalliances that leads a woman (or a man, for that matter) away from the marital bed is going to end badly. But thankfully, such tendentious morality is not stressed here, and we are invited to identify with the beleaguered Watson character (which we most certainly do, not least for Watson’s exemplary playing). The four episodes of the psychological thriller based on Doughty’s best-selling novel garnered 7 million viewers on BBC One, and the impressive cast also includes Ben Chaplin and Mark Bonnar.
THE IDEALIST, Christina Rosendahl, director/Arrow Films Over my years of writing about and talking to Danish writers, directors and actors in the Nordic Noir genre, I’ve encountered one recurrent theme: a certain wry attitude on the part of the Danes to the fact that they are often considered smug or regard themselves as ‘blessed’. It’s a theme that has surfaced in Danish fiction, and is given a thoroughgoing treatment here. In January 21st 1968, an American B-52 bomber carrying nuclear warheads crashed on the polar ice near the US military Air Base in Danish controlled Thule, Greenland. A few days later, responsible governments classified the crash as a ‘Broken Arrow’ scenario (i.e., a nuclear accident) but proclaimed the situation being under control. No cause for concern in relation to radioactive contamination or violation of foreign power’s sovereignty, nuclear policy. Hundreds of Thule workers are set to work, helping in the gigantic clean-up operation. After eight months, all traces of the crashed aircraft and the plutonium-contaminated snow are gone. The case is closed. But18 years later, while covering a local workers compensation story, reporter Poul Brink suddenly runs into suspicious circumstance linking back to the concealed 68′ nuclear accident. Apparently the full and true story about the crash lies under the Thule Bay’s ice cap and deep down in the classified archives in the US. The reporter launches an uncompromising investigation. Christina Rosendahl’s film stars Peter Plaugborg (with Søren Malling and Thomas Bo Larsen, among other familiar faces), and it’s very much territory that viewers have been taken to before, with the reporter characterised only economically. But the director marshals her material rigorously, carefully excluding any extraneous sentiment.
WE ARE THE FLESH, Emiliano Rocha Minter, director/Arrow Blu-Ray Not for every taste – and certainly not for the shockable — We Are the Flesh is a bizarre Mexican arthouse film which plunges the viewer into a surrealistic post-apocalyptic world. Although I’m not among the shockable, its indulgences didn’t work for me, but it’s a challenging film that will find an audience. Outrageous and explicit, it sees a brother and sister taken in by a strange hermit who uses them as he acts out his own depraved fantasies. The longer they stay, the more they find themselves slipping into the darkness, despite their better judgement. A visionary and bizarre slice of Mexican art house cinema, We Are The Flesh is an unsettling film experience, a sexually charged and nightmarish journey into an otherworldly dimension of carnal excess, as well as an allegory on the corrupting power of human desire.