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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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Remembrance and Re-Remembrance

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Following the astounding success of their last collaboration, “Dansaðu fyrir mig,” (‘Dance for Me’), collaborators (and fiances) Pétur Ármannsson and Brogan Davison have used their new show “Petra” to reapproach some of the former show’s more fertile topics—artistic creation and family—while also dipping into the more complicated aspects of memory, autobiography, and storytelling. Debuting as part of the Lókal international theater festival, “Petra” is ostensibly a glimpse into the life of Pétur’s great grandmother, Petra Sveinsdóttir, whose semi-obsessive passion for collecting lead her to amass thousands of stones in and around her home in Stöðvarfjörður, East Iceland. (Petra decided to turn her

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Horse Manoeuvre

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Benedikt Erlingsson’s theatrical debut is a mosaic of several stories that centre on people’s colourful relationships with their horses. The film, ‘Of Horses And Men,’ which came out in late August of last year, has received glowing reviews from critics and it has picked up several awards on the festival circuit, such as the Kutxa-New Directors awards at the San Sebastián Film Festival, and the Best Director Award, at the Tokyo Film Festival. We spoke with Benedikt about his love for storytelling, cinema and horses. Why did you decide to make a film about horses? When you’re starting out in

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A Hard Metal Life

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Young Hera, played by Þorbjörg Helga Dýrfjörð, witnesses the accidental death of her older brother, Baldur. In response, she remakes herself in his image; she adopts his metal music, clothes, and when we see her in her 20s, she is a full-blown metalhead. Despite nearly a decade since the tragedy, the death of Baldur continues to loom over her and her family, their lives consumed by grief. Her mother and father have internalised their grief, manifesting itself in silences and coldness to one another. Though Hera hardly talks about it either, her outlet for all that pain is through her

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Cool Off With Cool Cuts

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In the four years since Bíó Paradís opened, the cinema has become a hub for Icelandic independent films as well as others that would not be shown elsewhere. In 2010, Programme Director Ása Baldursdóttir started ‘Cool Cuts,’ a summer series of Icelandic films with English subtitles. Though certainly a boon for tourists interested in Icelandic cinema, she also believes it is an important addition to Reykjavík’s cultural landscape. What was the idea behind creating Cool Cuts? Our idea was to strengthen the visibility of Icelandic filmmaking to English speakers with the best Icelandic films. We think it’s a great addition

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Real ‘Life In A fishbowl’

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‘Life In A Fishbowl’ tells three distinct stories of people living in pre-crisis Iceland. It stars Hera Hilmarsdóttir as Eik, a down on her luck kindergarten teacher who struggles to support her daughter; Þorsteinn Bachmann as Móri, a troubled writer; and Þorvaldur Davíð as Sölvi, an ex-footballer on the fast-track working for a bank doing some shady business. Director Baldvin Z teamed up with writer/musician Birgir Örn (of the band Maus) to write the screenplay for ‘Vonarstræti’ (‘Life In A Fishbowl’). It’s a follow up to his debut feature ‘Jitters’ (2010). Even though Baldvin has directed commercials, two feature films

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Uh, No

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Man, fuck Darren Aronofsky. Fuck his weak, hacky, hammy, pretentious, melodramatic, student-filmmaking-with-a-budget shit. I’ve always been mystified as to how it is he gets people to buy his overdone soap opera crap as serious film, but I’m confident ‘Noah’–a retelling of the renowned Biblical yarn with all the animals on the boat, shot largely in Iceland–will finally be his undoing; it will expose his shoddily constructed ‘films’ for what they are: overwrought and overrated pandering to fad-driven art-house wannabes who are too impatient for genuine counterculture film, but too proud to admit they’d rather be watching a Michael Bay movie. 

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