Category: Film Reviews

“Who else would celebrate three assassinations in a liquor store with Germans… Then you’re cool.” -Bent

Flammen & Citronen is a movie that oozes style, is filmed with the cream of Danish actors, and is simply one of the best WW2 movies ever made. The large battles of WW2 have been done to death (no pun intended) and it’s refreshing to see a film take on the far less well known Danish resistance. Flammen & Citron follows two assassins in the resistance who kill high value Gestapo and German collaborators spreading fear among the German Army. They receive their orders from Aksel Winther, a police lawyer with connections to the English. After a hit gone bad, Flammen begins to question Winther’s loyalties and everything enters a world of murky grey. Unlike almost all WW2 films, there are no clear lines between good and evil. Have Flammen and Citronen been killing innocent Germans, is Winther using them to settle old scores, are the two assassin’s becoming corrupted by power? Flammen & Citronen explores all these issues with intelligent dialogue and an impeccable visual style.

Written and directed by Ole Christian Madsden, the film does an amazing job of setting the tone and atmosphere of 1940s Copenhagen. Classic cars drive on cobblestone streets through German checkpoints and the great visual quality of the BluRay makes the overall grey palette of the movie really pop. Don’t expect bright scenes with over-saturated colours, the video is film noir in the best sense: sharp and understated. The audio is a very solid Dolby 5.1 mix and uses the surrounds well when appropriate. Though overall the audio could have been a bit more immersive, the sharp retorts of gunfire come across very effectively in a movie that mainly relies on dialogue to build tension.

The acting of the eponymous title characters deserves special mention as Thure Lindehardt and Mads Mikkelsen completely take over their respective characters. Mikkelsen is especially convincing as the quiet and nervous Citronen, while Lindehardt successfully pulls off a very subtle performance as Flammen. Flammen & Citronen is certainly the best Danish film I’ve ever seen (short list though it may be) and is in all honesty one of my favourite films of all time. Taking a well known subject in WW2 and giving it a film noir twist works so well that I’m amazed more films of its kind don’t exist. Above all though, the twisting story and intelligent conversation lend an extra tension to the fantastic action sequences. This isn’t a WW2 movie that relies on million dollar action stunts to pull itself through. Instead, Flammen & Citronen relies on subtlety and its amazing cast to become one of the greatest examples of the genre.


The Sweet Smell of Success - 1957 - 96 Minutes - Criterion Edition BluRay

“Mr. Falco, let it be said at once, is a man of 40 faces, not one – none too pretty, and all deceptive.” -J.J. Hunsecker

When people talk about the golden age of cinema, it’s easy to dismiss as sentimentality for a bygone age that never existed, but then you see a film like The Sweet Smell of Success and realize they were right all along. Released in 1957, The Sweet Smell of Success is a movie that takes the sharp dialogue of classic film noirs like The Maltese Falcon (1941) and updates it with even sharper conversation , a more impressive cast, and a story that resonates over 40 years after its original release.

The film tells the story of Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis), a slimy press agent willing to do anything to earn a quick buck. His ‘friendship’ with all-powerful columnist J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) is on the ropes after his unsuccessful attempt to break up a relationship between Hunsecker’s 19 year-old sister and a jazz musician. Falco manages to hatch a plan that should see the couple split apart, but J.J.’s love for his sister borders on obsession and Falco finds himself in a moral minefield he cannot escape.

With dialogue you just don’t see in movies anymore and a sharp visual style that showcases the grandeur of New York City in the 50s, the film can’t be beat in the atmosphere and tone it sets from the opening frame. Hunsecker’s cry of “I love this dirty town” seems to come straight from the director’s lips. Curtis and Lancaster are impeccably cast and provide the perfect foils for each other. A film noir that doesn’t rely on violence or sex is rare and The Sweet Smell of Success is certainly for the thinking fan of the genre. But, that’s probably why the movie has aged so much better than other film noir classics.

The video quality is outstanding on this BluRay release with inky blacks and a perfect level of grain that provides authenticity without sacrificing sharpness. In fact, this release looks so good that if not for the lack of colour you might think you were watching a far more recent release. The audio is 2.0 mono as per the original, but despite the lack of surround, the dialogue comes through crisp and clear. In a movie that doesn’t rely on cheap sound effects, the surround is not missed too much and the audio serves more than adequately.

The Sweet Smell of Success is a rare breed of movie, one that you can’t imagine being made in this day and age. Containing some of the sharpest lines of dialogue in film noir history and offering an intriguing story that relies on morality and inner tension to develop the plot rather than violence or women, the film is certainly a rare breed. With two film legends taking the lead and a technically excellent BluRay release, film noir and classic cinema fans need not hesitate to pick this one up.