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Magnolia's on a Roll, from 'Jiro Dreams of Sushi' and 'Marley' to Twisty Stylish Thriller 'Headhunters'

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood May 13, 2012 at 10:41PM

"Headhunters" is a smart pick-up. It's basically the most commercial movie Norway has to offer, based on Joe Nesbo's global detective bestseller, starring rising star Aksel Hennie ("Max Manus") and Danish "Game of Thrones" baddie Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and directed with style by top commercial director Morten Tyldum.
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'Headhunters'
'Headhunters'

Magnolia Pictures is the new model indie distributor. They acquire a lot of movies and throw them into the marketplace--five are making their way to theaters around the country--some go early on VOD (music doc "Marley"), some eke out a living in theaters (sushi chef doc "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" has earned $2 million over three months). Some go theatrical first and then get branded (stylish Norwegian detective hit "Headhunters").

"Headhunters" is a smart pick-up from Scandinavia's "The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo" producers Yellow Bird and Nordisk as well as Norway's Friland. It's basically the most commercial movie Norway has to offer, based on Joe Nesbo's global detective bestseller, starring rising star Aksel Hennie ("Max Manus") and Danish "Game of Thrones" baddie Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and directed with style by top commercial director Morten Tyldum.

But while the thriller is good-looking, accessible and entertaining, it twists and turns and keeps its characters guessing. It's not formulaic, and while there are face-offs, guns and mayhem, the film is driven by Hennie's performance as flawed and insecure Roger, an executive headhunter who steals art to finance his unaffordable life style and gorgeous wife (journalist Synnove Macody Lund). When things go wrong, he doesn't know who to trust.

Yet again, when in doubt I find myself seeking solace from slim American pickings by going foreign. On to the embarrassment of riches at Cannes!

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Magnolia Pictures, Magnolia


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.