Thursday, January 30, 2014

There is something fishy going on here.

At the dawn of my teaching career, I was in intern for an entire academic year. I would report to the same elementary school every single day, not knowing my fate. Maybe I'd sub in 4th grade, or maybe help the gym teacher. Maybe I'd observe Mrs. Szwed in her third grade class, or possibly attend the 1st grade team meeting. But in the middle of that year, all the maybes took a two-week vacation. One of the teachers had been in a car accident, and I was going to cover her class for ten consecutive days. Morning and afternoons. Fifteen children in each section.

I was going to teach kindergarten.

Teaching kindergarten, as a man, is dangerous business. Most people, when you tell them that's what you're doing, will smile and make a Kindergarten Cop reference and not give it a second thought. But let me assure you, having a kid stand up and say 'boys have a penis, girls have a vagina' is funny and not all that serious. But what little Karla says, is the direct opposite.

The Hunt, nominated this year for Best Foreign Picture, is the best movie I will never watch again. In fact, I hated almost every f--king minute of it. It's not that it's bad, actually, it's impossibly compelling. But it's also as frustrating and upsetting as anything I've ever seen. And for me, all too possible.

Mads Mikkelsen, an ass-kicking Dane, plays the quietly charming Lucas. This guy, by all accounts (minus his ex-wife's, perhaps), is kind and good-natured dude. Loved by his friends and adored by the children he works with, Lucas appears to be someone on the cusp of having it all finally come together, after going through a recent rough patch. Unfortunately, after a confused (and scorned) little girl wrongly accuses him of sexual abuse, everything he knows comes crashing down around him.

Saying Lucas's life goes to shit, is a gigantic understatement. In cinematic terms, it's like saying the Titanic took some damage, or that Only God Forgives[reviewkinda dragged. Those films featured (or simply were) grand-scale disasters, sure, but what happens to Lucas is even worse. Everything he knew, every truth he had, is needlessly destroyed. The only thing worse than how bad things are, is how fast they got that way.

The town, as in every single person not in his family, not only abandons Lucas instantaneously, but they actually go out of their way to make his life a living Hell. And while this vile and despicable treatment may be understandable with say...oh, I don't know, actual proof, the residents simply become consumed with fear and mass hysteria. His alleged actions have provoked a complete lack of humanity.

The words of a kindergartner, as horrible and awful as they are to hear, instead of being considered, are taken as indisputable truth. In the frenzied minds of the townspeople, Lucas is a monster, and immediately condemned to an inescapable fate falling just short of sure death. People who have known him his entire life, are too scared, too stupid (or an unholy mix of both) to think for themselves. I'm not sure if it's that they won't listen to him, or that they can't. Either way, it's absolutely terrifying to witness. And something, I don't think I'll be able to soon forget.

My kids are currently too young to have been afforded the opportunity to really screw up, but I've been on the other side of the table. I've been the teacher sitting across from the parent and I've lost count of how many times I've watched an adult wrongly (and perhaps blindly) support their kid. It's scary that people exist who don't need evidence because they know their child, but it's a truth that exists in every school on the planet. Maybe admitting their son or daughter is lying reflects poorly on their ability as a parent. Either way, I get it. Something we just need to believe, truth be damned. The Hunt depicts this with startling realism. Karla's parents know with their hearts that she's telling the truth about this awful crime committed against her. If only they knew with their heads.

The Hunt should be required viewing for anyone that has a kid, knows a kid or ever was a kid. The film shows, without any flair or sensationalism, humanity at its worst. We see, up close, what the power of a child's words can do to smart, rational adults. We see ordinary people, like either of us here, succumbing to fear and hatred. And once it gets rolling, it's almost impossible to stop. I know that most of you don't watch a movie to be overcome by helplessness, but this film is truly captivating and a must-see.

Certainly not required, and altogether helpless, are the Yays and Boos. We haven't seen any of the other Best Foreign Picture nominees, but clearly The Hunt has our vote. Apparently, we've learned nothing about blind loyalty.


  • Marcus. I wasn't sure how Lucas' son was going to fit in to this whole mess, but I don't think I've ever been more proud of a character in a movie. This kid is the best, even when he loses his mind.
  • For a minute, this movie actually made me miss teaching little kids. Maybe even two minutes.
  • Lucas is seriously the nicest dude, even though he puts himself in some bad spots by doing so. Wiping a boy's ass? No. Walking a little girl home (by yourself)? No. Trusting people to have your back? No.
  • Smoothest way to return a compliment from a sexy co-worker? Just keep saying likewise. Probably helps if you a handsome Dane, but I say go for it regardless.
  • Speaking of that his girlfriend, she's pretty direct (which is a huge Yay). Lucas: Do you want some coffee? Her: No. [awesome] They approach the bed. Her: And where does the dog sleep? [even more awesome]
  • Even though I hated him, there's this giant of a man that always seems to be around when Lucas is in a spot. The dude was a f--ker, but I applaud how huge he was. Like a fat Thor or something.
  • Bearded Guy (aka Bruun). This guy was one of like, three characters we could unabashedly root for. 
  • There's this moment where Lucas, Marcus and Bruun are all talking in the kitchen. The conversation reveals something all the little kids have been saying about Lucas' basement. I actually threw my hands out like SEE!!! despite being alone. In my living room. With fictional characters.
  • One of the best lines ever: Don't stand there and fondle your boy!
  • And finally, the little girl who played Klara, young Annika Wedderkopp. This tiny actress is burdened with portraying one of the biggest movie villains ever, but she handles the awful responsibility like a pro. She drove me absolutely crazy, and at times I irrationally hated her, but those are both signs at how truly fantastic her performance is.
If can watch this movie and not hate the one one he left, I'll be amazed.
  • Even though it was somehow indicative of happy times, we are treated to a dick-shot mere minutes into the film.
  • Fanny, the dog. I'm not booing his dog at all. I'm just booing the fact that he has a dog in the first place.
  • You know, as much as Klara's accusation starts this whole shitstorm, her a-hole brother is primarily responsible. I don't trust this f--ker at all.
  • The one little secret we as the audience are privy to, made me extremely uncomfortable. The boys are playing a sweet game of Zombie and Klara comes in and ruins everything. I don't think this was ever known by anyone else...but it kind of loomed over everything.
  • The hunting metaphor. Not sure I fully understand it, but destroying something innocent and beautiful seems unnecessary. Even if apparently, it's in our nature to do so.
  • There are simply too many scenes to list where adults are ludicrously awful, but I'll mention the bottom three (in no particular order):
    • The scene where the school psychologist guy basically leads Klara into damning Lucas.
    • Klara tells her mom she made it up. Her mom's response is f--king maddening.
    • And just about any scene with Klara's dad, Theo. Though the initial visit was the worst of the bunch. I know my little girl! Yeah, okay, asshole. Sure you do.
  • This probably belongs up there, too, but everyone in and around the town's grocery store can rot in Hell for the rest of their lives. I'm actually still mad at these bastards and it has been three days.
  • The symptoms of sexual abuse. According to the school, if your young child has headaches and/or nightmares, it's very likely they've been sexually abused. What. The. F--k.
  • Even though I loved the sentiment of each scene, Lucas getting his groceries anyway and Marcus visiting Klara's house are excruciating to watch. Just awful....
  • And finally, the fact that we have to forgive. Ultimately, Lucas has to forgive all the people who tormented him, which is completely unfair. But as he once was looking for people to let go of their hatred and just think for a second, he must do the same. We all do, it's true. And that sucks.
Toward the end of my run in kindergarten, which was equally embarrassing and exhausting (there's a lot of singing in kindergarten), our principal paid my class an unexpected visit. I was getting the morning children ready to go home, when the principal asked this one little redheaded girl, how do you like Mr. Brown? Without hesitating, this chick turns around, sticks her little butt out and says, no - whispers, and I kid you not, she whispers...

He spanks my hiney. 

It was nearly the beginning of my career, and almost the end of my life. 


  1. Great review! I wanted to rage when I saw how Grethe handled Klara's 'confession' By randomly having that dude come in and ask all the wrong questions, it was so inappropriate. Don't even get me started on what happened to the dog. This movie is one of my favorite of the year, but I kind of want to burn the entire town to the ground after watching. Have you seen Tyrannosaur? That's another great movie I never want to see again.

    1. Thanks! Good Lord does she handle the 'confession' horribly. Sure, it's upsetting, but my God lady, keep your shit together. At least for a minute. And Psychologist Guy? What an ass. He almost seems to enjoy starting this fire.

      The dog. Let's just say it was a good thing I was alone.

      Haha...I couldn't agree more. I'll get the torches, you get the gasoline.

      Hmm. I'm always with you, but I need some soft shit before I crack open Tyrannosaur. I don't even want to know what it's about.

      (but yeah, I'll watch it)

  2. Yep. Yep, this film is so infuriating, no wonder you don't want to see it again. I only saw it once too, despite Mikkelsen looking gorgeous, this movie just made me wish for new plague on this Earth. That teacher was awful but the psychologist? I hoped Mikkelsen is gonna go all Casino Royale on his balls.

    1. Shiiiiiiit. I totally forgot Mads was the dude swinging the rope into Bond, James Bond's sack. Damn, I could have buried that reference in their easily. But....I'm still pretty glad you mentioned it. Definitely cracked me up for a minute.

      That wouldn't have really helped Lucas stance as a non-sex offender though, huh? Undressing the psychologist guy and just working over his ballsack? Might've raised an eyebrow or two.

  3. "The Hunt, nominated this year for Best Foreign Picture, is the best movie I will never watch again. In fact, I hated almost every f--king minute of it. It's not that it's bad, actually, it's impossibly compelling. But it's also as frustrating and upsetting as anything I've ever seen. And for me, all too possible." - this is EVERYTHING. Oh my fucking god how much I hated this movie, as brilliant as it was, and it's been weeks. Every time I see or even think of Danish film/Mikkelsen/kindergarten/a review, there's a lot of rage. And oh, yes, fuck everyone in and around the grocery store. I WANT TO PUNCH SOMEONE IN THE FACE. This fucking movie. Jesus.

    Awesome review, of course! And psst, my kindergarten fear/hatred was healed by much lovelier foreign Blue is the Warmest Colour - if you haven't seen it yet, it might help.

    1. That grocery store! F--k those guys. In fact, just f--k everyone in this movie. All of 'em. F--l 'em right in the ear.

      I will definitely check out Blue is the Warmest Colour. Definitely.

      (this has my vote for top 5 comment ever, by the way)

    2. Yeah, definitely - 10 minute long lesbian scene :P Good movie too.

    3. So.... what you're saying is... neglect kids, watch film immediately? Done.

  4. "The hunting metaphor. Not sure I fully understand it, but destroying something innocent and beautiful seems unnecessary. Even if apparently, it's in our nature to do so."

    I think you're spot on there. And I think that is, in part, why so many movies rely on the hunting metaphor to tell their stories. I'll admit, I was really curious to see what Boos you would list for this film, but I agree with a lot of those. Great catch with that zombie game.

    1. My Boos here are simply the things that I hated, but for this film, it speaks infinitely more to its effectiveness, than anything else. So many things I was shaking my head at, in addition to being overwhelmingly frustrated throughout.

      The zombie thing was really tricky, right? You're just waiting for that to come up and actually make Lucas something less than completely innocent, but it never did. That was a very curious thing to sit on, storytelling-wise.