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Dead Girls in the Snow

Dead Girls in the Snow

Published September 28, 2009

Every film festival has one semi-pornographic film to generate debate. Last year it was Short Bus, this year it’s Lars von Trier’s Antichrist that gets the job done. Trier seems, like his compatriot Lukas Moodyson, to believe that the filmmaker’s task is to make his audience as uncomfortable as possible. This he succeeds in, admirably. But what is the point? For a while, it seems to be posing an interesting question. Satanists tend to believe that Satan is a metaphor for nature and hence good. But what if nature is, in fact, truly Satanic? Instead of dealing with this question, we get an orgy of genital mutilation which quickly becomes tiresome. Skip the movie, go look at the stills in the Reykjavík Art Museum instead.
At the other end of the spectrum is Patrik 1.5, as much of a feelgood movie as they come. A gay couple adopts a teenage problem child. It is enjoyable to watch, compare and contrast with similar scenes from TV show Six Feet Under.
It used to be that documentaries critiquing capitalism were only shown at underground gatherings where you would look both ways before entering. It says a lot about the changing mood of our times that they have now become a staple at film festivals. Food Inc, which includes Eric Schlosser, the man who gave us Fast Food Nation, is a decent stab at the meat industry. Really, why is a hamburger, which costs a lot to make, cheaper than a bag of carrots? Why do we subsidise junk food but not vegetables?
Another documentary that does a good job of enlightening the viewer on some of the issues of the day is Defamation, about how anti-Semitism is being used in Israel. The scenes of the students travelling to Auschwitz in a closed bus say more than many a news story about the problems in the Middle East. “I want to learn to have that look in my eye, which says ‘Never Forgive,’” says one of the children.
Being a Finnish drunk seems to be a pleasant prospect. Mika Kaurismäki steps out of big brother Aki’s shadow for Three Wise Men. The film takes place among three drunk men at a karaoke bar on Christmas Eve, all sharing their hard luck stories. It doesn’t come to much more than a mildly interesting evening at the bar, but at least you skip the hangover.
One of the festival’s more interesting experiences was the Norwegian art film Dead Snow, which poses the question: “What would happen if a group of teenagers ran into a group of Nazi zombies while hiking?” The film answers this question in considerable detail. Being able to see it in a swimming pool (one of the fest’s gimmicks) was fun, even if the sound was a bit off.
Storm is one of this festival’s pleasant surprises. One just doesn’t see enough of films about European bureaucrats who all speak English with various strange accents. In fact, it is a gripping story about a lawyer who tries to get a Serbian War Criminal convicted in spite of corruption and politics on her side. Perhaps they’ll soon make a similar movie about Eva Joly.
Franceska, however, is one of this year’s disappointments, despite having offended Alexandra Mussolini. A film about Romanian immigrants in Italy is promising. Sadly, they never get there and it is hard to feel sympathetic for people who seem to have no idea what they are doing.
Deadgirl was this year’s Midnight movie. It is an interesting take on the vampire myth, and a juxtaposition of the Twilight series. A group of teenagers find a living dead girl and decide to use her as a sex slave. The film probably says more about the strict caste system in American sexuality than it intends, and is in any case more realistic than Revenge of the Nerds.



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On Thick Ice With Kitty Von-Sometime

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Artist Kitty Von-Sometime and a crew, including a friend brought along to monitor Kitty’s temperature in the cold, watched uncomfortably as their trailer full of film equipment, an ice sculpture, soda, and other potentially hazardous refreshments bounced in and out of sight in the rearview window as they approached Langjökull glacier. They were on their way to shoot ‘Opus,’ more than a year after Kitty produced her last installment of the Weird Girls Project. Originally conceived to encourage her female friends to push their boundaries, The Weird Girls Project began as a one-time event: the participants showed up with costumes

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RIFF 2014: Critic’s Picks

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‘Art and Craft’ dirs. Sam Cullman, Jennifer Grausman and Mark Becker Mark Landis, one of the more prolific art forgers in American history, shopped for arts and crafts supplies at Hobby Lobby; painted, stained and varnished over photocopies from auction catalogues; and donated copies of the same works to multiple museums. While observing the ease with which the suggestion of largesse will open art-world doors, the film is less a meditation on creativity and originality than a sympathetic character portrait. Landis, a diagnosed schizophrenic often seen hunching over TV dinners in front of reruns, with few anchors in the world

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Meet The Directors!

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The Reykjavík International Film Festival (en.riff.is) runs through October 5, at Bíó Paradís, Háskólabíó, and elsewhere. The program encompasses features, documentaries, and short films by more than 100 directors–a handful of whom generously answered our questionnaire prior to bringing their films to Iceland. Heike Fink – ‘Home in the Ice’ This documentary tells the stories of German women who, during the lean years after WWII, responded to newspaper ads soliciting women to come work on Icelandic farms. Is there any specific aspect of the film you’re especially looking forward to sharing with an Icelandic audience? It was very interesting seeing the

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The American Indie Filmmaker’s Guide to Iceland

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The old man is describing how impressed he was with Geyser. “A cum shot to the sky,” he says, in his throaty good-old-boy accent. “Like the Devil’s exploding.” In ‘Land Ho!’, which opens the eleventh annual Reykjavík International Film Festival on September 25, Iceland is the backdrop for unlikely couplings. The film is codirected by Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz, two American filmmakers known for ambling, engaging indies featuring plenty of regional specificity, low-key drama, and off-kilter performers. In the film, ex-brothers-in-law Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson, the above-quoted) and Colin (Paul Eenhorn) take a trip to Iceland to “get their

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Who is Alice Olivia Clarke?

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Aside from the leads, most of the actors in ‘Land Ho!’  are either Icelanders in service jobs, or people associated with the production. Alice Olivia Clarke, who appears in a crucial late scene, is neither. Canadian-born, Alice Olivia has lived in Iceland for over 20 years, and in addition to acting (you maybe saw her in Dagur Kári’s ‘The Good Heart’, she works in Hafnarfjörður as a mosaic artist and designer. We discussed her experience with the film over email. You play a visitor to Iceland. How was it getting into that mindset? Did you think about Iceland in a

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Capturing Biophilia

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Way back in June 2011, English film editor Nick Fenton was one of the lucky few sitting in the crowd at the Manchester International Festival waiting to experience the live premiere of Björk’s epic Biophilia project. David Attenborough’s voice came over the speakers, the screens lit up, and the lights went down, and for the first time an audience was transported into the magical world of Biophilia: from the young and excited girl-choir to the specially constructed stage and dramatic new instruments, the dizzying array of nature footage, the firing Tesla coil and, of course, the grand dame herself, bobbing

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