HOT DOCS 2022 review: ‘Images Of A Nordic Drama’ pits art lovers against the art world.


Who would have ever guessed that the discovery of paintings by an unknown Norwegian artist would cause such upheaval in the art world? When art collector Haakon Mehren was led to a barn filled with oversized canvases, his jaw immediately hit the floor. Who was this artist? After some sleuthing, Mehren introduces the world to Aksel Waldemar Johannessen, an unapologetic alcoholic who did the unthinkable. Johannessen painted the poor, often using his image mixed with dark and twisted imagery of inner turmoil.

Self-portrait painted by Aksel Waldemar Johannessen

Art is subjective, but there is undoubtedly a most elite shroud in curating. Norway’s most coveted paintings never before depicted the lower class. Their claim to fame was Edvard Munch. If you know even a sliver about art, you can immediately conjure the image of “The Scream.” The curatorial staff at the National Museum and gatekeepers of the Munch Museum immediately pushed back on adding the works to Norway’s collective narrative. Mehren made it his life’s mission to share Johannessen’s artistic contributions, scheduling exhibitions throughout Europe. The public’s reaction was overwhelmingly delightful. That only fueled the fire from Norway’s elite.

Director Nils Gaup uses a gorgeous score while repeatedly showcasing Johannessen’s paintings. This distinctive choice brings due awe to each piece. There’s no denying that some of the work is frightening, while others are simply breathtaking. The variety of subjects is astounding. You will find yourself lost in them. IMAGES OF A NORDIC DRAMA is the perfect addition to this year’s HOT DOCS 2022 lineup. If you weren’t an art lover before, get ready for your world is about to change.

The painting “Man on a diving board” by Aksel Waldemar Johannessen. This painting was exhibited at The Met.

HOT DOCS 2022 Link to buy tickets:

@hotdocs #HotDocs22


Saturday, April 30 at 11:30 am
Location: Varsity 8 (55 Bloor Street West)

Thursday, May 5 at 8:45 pm
Location: Varsity 8 (55 Bloor Street West)

Running Time: 71 minutes

Language: English, German, Norwegian

Country: Norway, Germany (Feature Documentary)

Review: Norwegian disaster film, THE WAVE, hits you like a ton of bricks… or a giant ass tsunami.

The wave posterMother Nature is not one to be trifled with. The Earth is going to do as it sees fit, no matter what our plans may be as humans. THE WAVE is based on a very real “what-if” scenario. Not all too different from the horrors that will most certainly be coming our way in the future, if we don’t get out proverbial shit together. And very much like The Wave, this is not a matter of if, but whenThe wave cast still

The Wave is an epic thriller that takes place in the majestic village of Geiranger, one of the most spectacular tourist locations on the planet. There are more than 300 unstable mountainsides in Norway, one of the largest being “Åkerneset.” When – not if – the mountain collapses due to widening cracks, the rock will crash into the fjord below, creating a massive tsunami that will hit the community. All inhabitants will have just 10 minutes to reach higher ground before tragedy strikes.

The wave mom, son, extra stillThe film centers around geologist, Kristian and his family. Leaving his current position as safety gatekeeper for the village, Kristian has a tough time letting go on his final day on the job, and for good reason. Testing fate is not something that comes easily when an entire population is at stake. When the alarms sound and the what-if becomes a reality, Kristian will do whatever it takes to save anyone he can from impending doom.
The wave still
The film has incredible effects. This is Norway’s Deep Impact. If you replaced the cast with big budget Hollywood A-listers, this could have easily been a film made in the US. THE WAVE is Scandinavia’s first-ever disaster movie. It has broken box office records in Norway and was their official entry for the Academy Awards. Hollywood is taking notice of director Roar Uthaug (Cold Prey). He just signed on to direct the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot. The cast is incredibly solid, especially our leading man, Kristoffer Joner (The Revenant). I came to care deeply for each character. The script makes an interesting statement about survival and the human condition. If you had only minutes to escape a fire, flood, or tornado, who/what would you take with you? Do you lend a hand to those outside your intimate circle? I was truly impressed with The Wave. Don’t let the language barrier stop you from checking out this well made film. (There are English subtitles) THE WAVE will bowl you over with action and remind you to respect the hell out of the environment.

THE WAVE comes to theaters and VOD today, March 4th.

Jeremy’s Review: Marah Strauch’s ‘Sunshine Superman’ Is a Stunning and Defining Portrait of Base-Jumping Pioneer Carl Boenish

Sunshine Superman posterSome people have no fear and that has always amazed me. I guess I’ve been a fairly cautious fellow in my life so it’s easy to be in awe of someone like Carl Boenish, who threw caution literally to the wind for the bulk of his life. Who is Carl Boenish you ask? Well, he is the father of BASE jumping. What is BASE jumping you ask? Well, it is jumping with the aid of a parachute (or more recently a wing suit) from a fixed structure. When Boenish and his merry band of adrenaline junkies devised the term, it meant Buildings, Antenna towers, Spans and Earth – all of the different types of structures or formations from which one could jump.

Sunshine Superman-1Boenish was special person. He brought a certain energy that really permeated whatever group of people he was around. Once an engineer, he bailed on that profession after doing aerial cinematography for the film The Gypsy Moths directed by John Frankenheimer starring Hollywood heavyweights Gene Hackman, Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr (all Oscar nominees or winners) and never looked back. Filming his jumps and creating films from them now took all of the focus in his life. However, he wasn’t satisfied with diving out of planes, so he took to diving from whatever tall structures or formations he could find, from El Capitan in Yosemite National Park to unfinished buildings in downtown Los Angeles (still filming them). Of course, his new passion brought with it troubles, especially those of the legal kind. But Boenish and crew always found a way to get their jumps in, even if they had to do them guerrilla style.

Sunshine Superman-7

Over the first hour of the film, Strauch tells us these background details, all of which lead up to two of the most important moments in Boenish‘s life – his marriage to fellow BASE jumper Jean Boenish and their quest for immortality with their record setting jump from Trollveggen (Troll Wall) in Norway. He and Jean were like two peas in a pod and the sheer amount of archival footage that Strauch weaves into the film confirms this. She was never hesitant to do the crazy things he wanted to and for that, they were a perfect match. So, as part of That’s Incredible!, a television show hosted by David Frost and a young Kathy Lee Gifford, he and Jean jumped from nearly 6,000 and set the world record.

Sunshine Superman-8

But as I said above, Carl was never satisfied and not even 12 hours later, unable to sleep, he took another shot at Trollveggen from a different jump site. Defying the advice that it was too dangerous to jump from, Boenish did it his way and jumped. Unfortunately, he hit the wall during the freefall and didn’t survive and the BASE jumping community lost their leader, and Jean her husband. As stated before, Jean was very much like Carl and only two days after his death, she jumped from the same spot…and survived.

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This is hands down one of the top three documentaries I’ve seen so far this year. Strauch‘s approach handles the Boenish legacy with honesty and the same energy that Carl exhibited when he was alive. Filled with tons of archival footage and testimonies from his family and friends and much of it from Jean, we are really able to get a sense of who Carl was and why he loved doing what he did best. Strauch also takes a page out of Errol Morris‘ book using many re-enactments of scenes adding another layer to the depth of the film to great effect, placing the viewer in the shoes of Boenish himself. Perhaps the film’s greatest strength, however, is that Boenish‘s legacy is treated with such respect. Through all of the interviews with the many people he worked with and jumped alongside, including his wife, no tears were shed at the loss of his life or in their remembrance of Carl and the amazing amount of joy he was able to bring them all. This wasn’t because they haven’t mourned the loss of someone they respected and loved, but because they knew he died doing exactly what he was put on Earth for and who could begrudge him that? Expertly crafted with precision editing and great music to boot, Sunshine Superman really is an enduring portrait of a man most people American don’t know. To answer that, this is one hell of an introduction.

The film is brought to you by the good folks at Magnolia Pictures and it opens today in New York and Los Angeles but will gradually open wider in the coming weeks. Here is a list of venues and dates where it will play.

So if, in the middle of the summer blockbuster season, you find yourself looking for a film that lacks explosions, car chases and superheroes, look no further than this film. It will leave a lasting impression and hopefully inspire people to do what they love, what they feel they were born to do. Sunshine Superman takes on additional significance with the  deaths of Dean Potter and Graham Hunt last week during a wing suit jump in Yosemite.

Get there, people.

Here’s the trailer:

Liz’s Review: ‘PIONEER’ is a thriller based on true events.

PioneerposterSometimes reality is stranger than fiction. In Magnolia Pictures new release, PIONEER, we find a story based on true events that is both disturbing and heart-pounding. The film is based upon the scientific and political race to get a group of deep sea divers to 500 meters; a feet never even attempted prior. An American Team and a Norwegian team train side by side and the best men win, or so they think. Petter (Aksel Hennie) and his brother are part of the Norwegian team chosen to pursue the dive which would ultimately allow Norway to build an oil pipeline. After a tragedy during their first real attempt to dive, Petter is thrust into a conspiracy so deep, it is astounding to think that any of this actually happened. Though, if you know anything about international politics, you might think twice.

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