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Headhunters (Hodejegerne): a professional headhunter, and art thief, risks everything he has to steal a Peter Paul Rubens painting from an ex-mercenary. The central story is absolutely brilliant, and it feels surprisingly fresh given the setup. It’s plot and character driven in equal measures and it doesn’t stop once it gets rolling. The film’s punctuated with brutal graphic violence, although it’s most often used as comedy (!!) to break the unbearable tension built up in pivotal chase / confrontational scenes; I never thought I’d laugh at a smashed up skull, dog abuse, or poop – but if you didn’t laugh, you’d break down. Askel Hennie (a Christopher Walken lookalike) leads a great bunch of actors, and memorable but believable characters. Other than above, you can’t really mention much more without risking spoilers. The film didn’t need the quirky voiceover setup and wrap up – flat-out drama / thriller would have been sufficient – and some parts start to flirt with surrealism, but those are very minor niggles. Headhunters is well-directed, well acted, well written, funny, serious and dramatic crime caper… you couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s an absolute must see; European cinema at its best, and film of the year so far.

Score: 9/10

Slumdog Millionaire: modern twist on the rags to riches tale as an Indian kid from the slums lands up on a game-show. There’s a lot of stock themes throughout the film; good cop / bad cop, sensible sibling / criminal sibling, life-long obsession with girl etc. Despite this Slumdog’s an entertaining story – handling and highlighting some of the best and worst aspects of growing up in India effectively. The characters are all quite memorable and it although it gets a bit far-fetched in parts it still works pretty well. For me, the growing-up section of the film was great to watch (the child actors were fantastic), but the latter part  – love story – was insipid and seemed to take forever to finish. Somehow everyone looks cross-eyed, the English-Indian accents were bizarre and I couldn’t believe I made it through an Indian film without a ridiculous dance scene – never mind. Secretly wished it would have been an ‘Unusual Suspects’ ending, and he was cheating all along… no such luck. Decent film, but don’t believe the rave reviews, or that this is the ‘real’ Mumbai. Escapism!

Score: 6.5/10