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Your Post-Collapse Guide to the Movies

Published September 18, 2009

It is a sad fact of life that outside the glorious ten days of the Reykjavík International Film Festival, almost everything being served in the cinemas here is standard Hollywood fare. So, being forced to choose between shit and dirt, let us rummage through the droppings in search of nutrition.
Drag Me to Hell is a horror film set in an investment bank. No, not actually a zombie film, we have to wait until the film festival’s wonderful Nazi flick Död Snö for that. DMTH starts out as homage to rampant capitalism. A pretty young girl turns an elderly woman out of her home in hope of promotion. This is the setting for a series of fight scenes between young and old, beautiful and ugly, rich and poor, where we are supposed to root for the former in every case. The movie redeems itself by a last minute twist. A barely passable horror flick, but it is interesting to see how the banking collapse is infiltrating popular culture.
Although lacking Nazi zombies, Inglorious Basterds has just about everything else. One might be forgiven for coming to a Tarantino film set in the Second World War with certain preconceived notions. And we do get a more up-to-date Dirty Dozen, with scalping and a figure called “The Bear Jew” who likes to execute POW’s with a baseball bat. This is the film that we expect, but it is just Tarantino toying with us. For as the movie moves on, one can’t be sure of anything anymore. Almost every WWII movie cliché is exploded. The Brits Plot to kill Hitler is reneged to sub-plot and summarily taken care of. The far-fetched plan of getting into the building using a ruse is met with laughter from the Nazis who are not taken in. And then there is the glorious alternate history ending. Everywhere, Tarantino’s love of cinema shines through in a Hollywood movie that is surprisingly non-Hollywood, and, dare we say it, at times European.
For those who like their Hollywood straight up, with lots of explosions and little plot, GI Joe should get the job done. When all else fails, they just muddle through. Less visually impressive than Transformers, one is left with the nagging feeling that Hollywood peaked with the original Star Wars trilogy and has been remaking it ever since.
The Time-Traveller’s Wife is, at least, an interesting idea. Using a sci-fi notion as the basis for a love story is promising, but its possibilities are left largely unexplored. The idea of competing with yourself at various ages is particularly intriguing for a writer. The heroine cheats on her hubby with a younger him, but this is as profound is it gets. Nevertheless, a superior chick-flick that it inevitably inferior to the book.
One could do worse on a Sunday afternoon than Ice Age 3. Adding dinosaurs to the mix, while offending to palaeontology, promises to be pleasing to the eye. One the whole, though, we wind up with something that is more a cartoon version of Jurassic Park 3 than anything else. If that is good or bad is up to your tastes, but original it is not.
Not all is gloom, however, as RWWM is the first in a slew of Icelandic films to be released before the end of the year. Until then.



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Microphonic Body Machine

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Ekeberg Park, Oslo: The September sun reflects in yellow leaves. Angela Rawlings and her colleagues reach the centre of the posh sculpture-park: a forest of glass. The walls capture, care for, and feed back the voice of Angela and a partner in crime, Elfi Sverdrup, transforming a gentle acoustic test into what Angela herself calls “an unanticipated partnership.” And what a partner Angela makes; the 2001 recipient of the bpNichol Award for Distinction in Writing, an award winning poet, a much sought after arts educator; of creative writing, ballroom-, swing-, and salsa dancing—and a producer of festivals, magazines, magical soundworks, plus so

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Dancers In The Dark

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A funky bassline is bumping out of KEX Hostel as I walk up to its patio. As I pass the window, I hear the horns and lyrics of Janelle Monáe’s “Tightrope.” I picture her smooth moves in the song’s music video and I already feel like dancing. Once inside, I duck quickly through the door into Gym & Tonic, trying to let in as little light as possible in the process. No lights, no lycra, no lies: it is pitch black when the door closes. (I can’t actually confirm that there is no spandex, but I certainly can’t see any.)

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Breathing Life Into Arts Education

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With university becoming more expensive in many parts of the world, mainstream education tends to lean towards the former, feeding the idea that higher qualifications should serve first and foremost as a path to economic security rather than to an enlightened viewpoint. The “university experience” has come to mean both a kind of holiday camp for young adults to begin establishing themselves away from their family, and a programme of economically motivated and vocational-minded learning. Education, cast in such stark terms, can be seen as an investment to be weighed against future earning potential. Of course, not everyone sees it

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Pop Vomit

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On the wall of a dark room in Reykjavík’s Hafnarhusið art museum, a stream of brightly coloured icons is fizzing out of the ground. Triggered by the tiniest sound, they erupt onto the wall at every footstep or word, tumbling into a huge pile and bobbing around like Pop Art Cheerios. Some are familiar, some are less so–classic cartoon characters wobble around alongside unfamiliar product logos and Chinese lettering. “This idea originated in Singapore,” says Mojoko, a.k.a. Steve Lawler, who works with programmer Shang Liang on the project. “It was designed for a children’s exhibition at a museum. We were

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Banksy In Iceland?

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Banksy may have been to Iceland. A while ago. And he may have left a mark or two. This has not been verified, but whoever did the stencil accompanying this article would in any case surely acknowledge being under the distinguished anonymous British street-artist’s influence. We will leave it up to readers to figure out exactly where this is. The photo was taken by Claudia Regina, in 2012. Apparently, one Graham Lloyd also spotted the piece in 2012. Locals seem to have discovered the artwork more recently, as images shot this summer have started circulating on social media. Also in

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Urbanization On Paper: A European Narrative

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Spark Design Space has a clean minimalist facade, a welcome place to rest your eyes next to the garishly painted corrugated tin front of its neighbour Kiki. The large glass windows show the dozens of posters tiled on the back walls of the building, each in a different colour and arranged to make a gradient from purple to red to orange to green in more subtle counterpoint to Kiki’s unsubtle rainbow. The posters are Paolo Gianfrancesco’s print show `Urban Shape,’ up now until September 26. Each one is a map of a different European capital, derived from the open source

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