Review: The Chestnut Man

By John Ruberry

Late last month a Nordic noir six-episode series, The Chestnut Man, a Danish production began streaming on Netflix. It’s based on the novel of the same name by Søren Sveistrup. It’s an ideal autumn offering on many levels. The Chestnut Man is set in Denmark in October with fall colors at their peak. Halloween–the celebration of it has been spreading in Europe–plays a part in the story, and oh yeah, it’s a compelling crime drama centered on a serial killer who leaves stick chestnut figures, chestnut men, at the scene of each murder. Just as the carving of pumpkins is an old tradition in North America the building of chestnut men is similar a tradition in Scandinavia.

Naia Thulin (Danica Curcic) is a police detective and a single mother whose work keeps her away from her daughter, Le (Liva Forsberg), so the girl spends more time with her quasi-grandfather, Aksel (Anders Hove). By the way Hove was a regular on the ABC soap opera General Hospital.

Thulin is assigned a new partner, Mark Hess (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard). Their first investigation is a chestnut man murder. Hess has a troubled past–he was recently fired from his job in the Hague. The chestnut man case is quickly tied to the disappearance of the daughter of a politician, Rosa Hartung (Iben Dorner), who is the minister of social affairs. Her position puts in charge of foster care and child custody cases.

Obviously I don’t want to give up much of the plot because it will introduce spoilers. Let’s just say viewers will be confronted with twists and turns in the story line. The scars of unhappy childhoods figure in to the plot as well.

I also recently watched two other new Netflix series that I believe any level-headed person should avoid. 

Brand New Cherry Flavor is set in Hollywood in the 1990s and centers on a young Brazilian director (Rosa Salazar) who sees her first movie project stolen by a scumbag Hollywood producer. (Aren’t they all scumbags?) Inexplicably the director consistently barfs up large-eared kittens. Except for the negative portrayal of Hollywood I detested this series. And with a couple of exceptions I hated the characters. Even the kittens disturbed me. And there is a disgusting sex scene I won’t even describe here.

You can judge a book–and a TV series–by its cover. The Netflix graphic promoting Midnight Mass is centered on a main character, a Catholic priest, who has a sinister look on his face. The plot driver of this series is that priest (Hamish Linklater), a mysterious young pastor who arrives at an island parish that serves a tiny fishing community. Let’s just say Midnight Mass has about the same amount of respect for the Catholic Church as The Da Vinci Code, only with tons of gore and blood thrown into the mess. Although to be honest I did enjoy Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code book. The movie? Not so much.

The island’s sheriff, a Muslim, Rahul Kohli, is quite good in Midnight Mass however.

In Midnight Mass the cinematography is beautiful–but The Chestnut Man has that and so much more–I believe you’ll enjoy that series.

The Chestnut Man is rated TV-MA as it contains graphic violence and crime scene photos, foul language, sex, and brief nudity. It is available streaming on Netflix in English, English with subtitles, Danish with subtitles, Spanish, as well as simplified and traditional Chinese. There are bits of dialogue in The Chestnut Man in English and German–with subtitles. I watched it in Danish.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Five Chappelle Thoughts, Vulgarity, Python, Rickles, Privilege and Irony Under the Fedora

Yesterday I had some time on my hands and watched the Dave Chappelle special and came away thinking these things:

If this had been the days of my youth this special would never had made it on the air, not because of the Transgender jokes but because the absolutely vulgar sexual humor all over the place. It was about as gross and disgusting as you can get and it really says something about how our society has changed that I seem to be the only person who has pointed this out.


What really gets me about the gross stuff is that like Monty Python Chappelle’s humor is actually very intelligent humor and he doesn’t need to go with the gross stuff to be funny. Furthermore a lot of the gross humor wasn’t all that good in the sense that it couldn’t have been more telegraphed if he had been sitting behind a desk in a Western Union office in 1877.

That being said his audience liked it and I’m remined of Eddie Murphy’s famous bit about Bill Cosby calling him on being vulgar and Richard Pryor’s response.

For those who don’t want to hear the whole clip here is what Murphy said Pryor said to him about Bill Cosby chastising him over the dirty humor:

I don’t give give a f*** what every the f*** makes people laugh say that shit. Do the people laugh when you say what you say?

I said Yes

Do you get paid?

I said Yes

Well tell Bill I said have a Coke and smile and shut the f*** up. That Jello pudding eating M*****f*****..

Given what we now know about Bill Cosby this Eddie Murphy clip is a lot funnier and highly ironic, but Bill would answer that he never drugged a woman on stage in front of an audience.

Dave Chapple’s job is to make people laugh and he is very good at it and if people are laughing at the jokes and he’s getting paid millions then he’s doing his job even if he gets too gross for me. As for anything else, that’s between him and Christ and I wish him the best of luck there.


That brings up another thing about Chappelle that reminds me of Monty Python and Don Rickles, he hits everybody and makes fun of Everybody and is gross about EVERYBODY. There were no sacred cows to Monty Python and Don Rickles hit people, including the autocancel to their faces. Chappelle takes this to the Nth degree I mean he was making glory hole jokes about Martin Luther King. MARTIN LUTHER KING!

Can you imagine any other comedian making glory hole jokes about Martin Luther King on a stage? Can you imagine what would happen if I got up on a stage on a comedy night and tried to make a joke about Martin Luther King concerning sleeping around let alone glory holes. I’d be up against a wall.

And you think the transgender stuff is over the line?


One of the reasons why he does these things and also breaks all the other rules (for example smoking in places where I would be fined for doing so) is to distract people as he delivers his message, and his message seems to be:

Don’t be telling black people about how oppressed you are when we were friggin slaves and went through all we went through to get where we are now.

His answer to the Trans community claiming oppression reminds me of a story Tip O’Neill told about a group of black activists who came to congress and was berating a white congressman who had grown up poor in during the Great Depression in the era before government safety nets and answered: “Don’t come to my office and talk down it me. I was poor when poor was POOR!” Go deep into these specials and that, in my opinion is pretty much what Chappelle’s entire standup humor is about, but the bottom line is it’s still humor that makes you laugh and makes him money.

His answer to Trans activists talking about the oppression of their people was to ask if they kidnapped them and dragged them here from Transylvania.


Ironically Chappelle uses his status as one of the richest and most popular living comics to exercise privilege not only do do or say things that others can’t say without being hit by society but to flaunt said privilege, the privilege of wealth, the privilege of celerity and the privilege of race to advance pretty much a left liberal/radical worldview with a streak of libertarianism and a commitment to the 1st amendment . Even more ironically he does this while living in what would be considered a conservative leaning lifestyle in a white small town.

Dave Chappelle is actually is the personification of privilege he knows he has it and intends to make you know he has it and is going to use it. The reason why this said privilege doesn’t get me all that riled up is he earned said privilege with decades of hard work and a lot of nights in small clubs busting his ass to make people laugh and he does it as well if not better than any current living comedian. That is in fact the American dream.

The final irony is the the reason why he has this dream is that hundreds of years ago a black slaver caught one of his ancestors and sold said ancestor to a ship master headed for the new world allowing him the ultimate privilege that the decedents of that slaver can only dream of, growing up in America.