Not a Standard Night at the Movies:

the Októberbíó Iceland Film Festival
2.10.2005
Words by Þórdís E. Þorvaldsdóttir Bachmann
The Danish film Solkongen, directed by Academy Award Nominee Thomas Villum Jensen, is a bittersweet comedy about a young, hopeless nerd (think Napoleon Dynamite with dyslexia) who starts working for a rich, aging beauty queen. In spite of troubles such as suspected impotence, a complete lack of flirtation skills and friends who’re incapable of giving good advice, the nerd somehow steals the heart of the aging trophy wife, and falls in love with her as well. The movie, which may suffer from imperfect editing, is a good way to pass time, and the acting of Nikolas Lie Kaas, Birthe Neumann and Thomas Bo Larsen is outstanding. The movie isn’t subtitled though, so brush up on your Danish before the film.
Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride was in some ways a disappointment. The movie is delightfully macabre, telling the story of a young, timid man who marries a corpse by mistake. The musical score and the juicy visuals are quite breathtaking and succeed in creating a rich atmosphere reminiscent of Burton’s film The Nightmare Before Christmas. However, Corpse Bride suffers from a predictable script and one-dimensional characters. If it weren’t for the wonderful visuals and catchy tunes, this movie wouldn’t charm anybody but die-hard Burton fans.
In the documentary category, David LaChapelle’s Rize is a movie Icelanders should see. Seeing the African American youngsters from the ghettos of LA break it down in their “krump” style of dancing should teach Icelanders a thing or two about interaction and how to let go.
The movie follows Tommy the Clown, founder of the “krump” wave of hip-hop dancing, and his efforts to keep kids out of crime by teaching them a healthy outlet for their emotions. Noble as the cause may be, Rize reinforces the Hollywood notion that young African Americans, unless they have a hobby to immerse themselves in, will end up dealing drugs and shooting someone.
Quotes such as “You’re either in a gang or a clown” underlined this matter. However, seeing the birth of a movement that is owned and judged by the people was delightful. The dance battle scenes in Rize proved that it doesn’t matter how old or what size you are, you can still get down and dance like it’s nobody’s business.
Tommy the Clown himself had a Q&A session with an appreciative crowd at Háskólabíó movie theater. He explained in a relaxed, humorous way what clowning and krumping are about, which is positive energy.
“The music we dance to has no cussing, no downgrading women, no disrespecting,” he said. “And you Icelanders could use some hot dance to melt some of this ice!” (Because it is icy in Iceland, you see.)
After begging the audience to ask him more questions because he had “nothin’ better to do” in Iceland, Tommy challenged a member of the audience to battle one of his posse. Local break-dancer Natasha took the challenge and the audience clapped and cheered as a live dance battle took place on the stage of Háskólabíó. A refreshingly unconventional night at the movies.
The IFF is the second major international film festival in as many months, and it brings a slew of critically-acclaimed, unconventional films to Reykjavík’s downtown theatres. Many screenings include Q&A sessions with directors and actors. The IFF runs from October 26 to November 12. For more information, log on to www.icelandfilmfestival.is.

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