Two guys who use their heads for very different things are the stars of Headhunters and Aardvark, another pair of films playing at Fantastic Fest 2011. Headhunters is about a job recruiter who also steals art on the side. He is forced to use all his wit and skill to compete against his latest mark, played by the man best known as Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. As for Aardvark, Larry Lewis Jr. is a real-life blind man who plays himself in a movie that combines his aptitude for jiujitsu, inability to see and a murder mystery. Read about each after the jump.

If you’re a fan of twisty, turn-y heist movies that make you laugh, cringe, sit on the edge of your seat and drop your jaw to the floor, then you are going to love the Norwegian film Headhunters directed by Morten Tyldum. It centers on Roger Brown, a job recruiter (also known as a headhunter) played by Aksel Hennie, who looks like a cross between Christopher Walken and Steve Buscemi. In addition to placing people in jobs, Roger also steals priceless art to maintain his posh lifestyle. When he decides to steal from the wrong guy, played by Game of ThronesNikolaj C0ster-Waldau, Roger ends up in an almost unfair game of cat and mouse that’ll change his world forever. There are huge laughs, big action scenes, charming performances and even some surprises that you won’t see coming. It’s a heist movie akin to the new Ocean’s Eleven, and there are some plot holes to overlook, but you’re having so much fun, it doesn’t really matter. Headhunters is insanely commercial and got picked up by Magnolia months ago. When it comes out, check it out.

/Film rating: 8.5 out of 10

Larry Lewis Jr., a real-life Cleveland man who was born blind, plays an exaggerated version of himself in the abstract, simple, but too middle-of-the-road film Aardvark, directed by Kitao Sakurai. We see him do a very impressive job of living despite his handicap, heading out into the world, talking to people, even attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. But things really change when he meets Darren, a jiujitsu instructor who befriends Larry and begins to train him. Darren isn’t all he seems though and, through him, Larry gets drawn into a  underground side of the city.

Aardvark is filled with some impressive first time performances, skillful filmmaking techniques and pensive shot compositions but it all feels for naught. There are certain scenes where those things help put the audience in Larry’s head but more often than not they feel extraneous, like Sakurai was just trying to extend the experience. The film is a very interesting exercise with a compelling lead and story but the style doesn’t quite let the audience feel as much as you’d hope.

/Film Rating: 6 out of 10

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About the Author

Germain graduated NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Cinema Studies program in 2002 and won back to back First Place awards for film criticism from the New York State Associated Press in 2006 and 2007.

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