Friday, September 13, 2013

TIFF 2013: Sex, Drugs & Taxation

Sex, Drugs & Taxation (Denmark, 2013) directed by Christopher Boe, 110 minutes, Scotiabank, 12p

Based on true events in Denmark, I said to my film going friend K, whom I accompanied to this screening, that you really couldn't have made this story up.

In 1960s Denmark, playboy millionaire Simon Spies (Pilou Asbaek) and tax lawyer Mogens Glistrup (Nicolas Bro) conspire to "revolutionize" the travel industry where Spies has made his fortune. Glistrup has a wider agenda - a political and societal one - the virtual elimination of income tax.

Spies, whose beard and sexual antics remind one of a very unappealing combination of Howard Hughes and Hugh Hefner, was lauded as a sexual hedonist and travel innovator who created Denmark's first discount airline.

Glistrup who later went to prison for tax evasion, entered politics and faced charges of racism for his anti-immigration views paints a more complex and tragic figure.
TIFF describes this as "a tragedy with tax laws and copious amounts of booze and LSD". True. However, although this is a story worth telling, cinematically, these two present particularly repellent images – from Spies inviting the press to watch him grade potential girlfriends, have them strip and then promptly penetrate them before an oddly compliant crowd to Glistrup’s Ayn Rand-like fanaticism regarding the rights of the individual and disregard for the emotional welfare of his family.
As a film goer, there is little emotional resolution … not even the image of Spies warding off a gorilla with his mighty penis can assuage my critical assessment. And that’s saying something. 

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