From Iceland — Sunday Morning Coming Down

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Published June 1, 2012

Ever had one of those Sundays when you feel wiped out and you’re not sure whether to go to an AA meeting or take in a movie? Well, thanks to Bíó Paradís, which hosted a SÁÁ (kind of like AA, but without the religious connotations) film festival last week, you didn’t have to choose. There was no need to get up and declare your name and preferred addiction; it was just about kicking back with some popcorn and letting the recovery begin.
You could take your pick of drunk Swedes (who turn out to be Finns) or a double dose of drunk Danes or Brits on the piss. As with all drunks, the films are full of worldly wisdom. To wit: never assault a telephone booth (might lead to loss of hand), never urinate on a sleeping girlfriend (might lead to loss of life) and if you intend to take a hatchet to your neighbour’s dog, do it sooner rather than later (before the beast starts attacking local children).
English anger, Danish rot
The films are of high quality, although one needs a strong stomach to take the incessant wife-beatings, wasted childhoods and general misery that comes with routine overconsumption of the nectar of the Gods. Perhaps the most acclaimed is the Danish ‘Submarino’ by ‘Festen’ Director Thomas Vinterberg, starring Jakob Cedergren (I got drunk with him once), which deals with the addictions of working class Copenhageners.
For those who prefer upscale alcoholics, there was ‘Applause,’ featuring the spicy Paprika Steen as a famous actress caught in a downward spiral. Even more depressing, predictably, was the British ‘Tyrannosaur,’ although it seems to deal more with anger management issues than alcoholism (everyone gets theirs in the end, both abusive spouses and annoying dogs).
Men who hate women even more
Taking the cake was the Swedish ‘Svinolangorna’ (“Pigsty”), starring ‘Män som hatar kvinnor’s’ Noomi Rapace, about Finns who moved to Stockholm in the 1960s to look for a better life, with some of them winding up beating their wives and drinking themselves to death instead. Incidentally, at the same time, large numbers of Icelanders went to Gothenburg to check out the famed Swedish welfare system, sometimes with similar results.
The SÁÁ festival might be over, but Bíó Paradís is still worth a visit. It is Reykjavík’s only arthouse cinema and, incidentally, the only one with an alcohol license. Currently on offer are, among others, ‘Tyrannosaur’ (from the festival), Ralph Fiennes Shakespeare epic ‘Coriolanus,’ the Finnish space Nazi extravaganza ‘Iron Sky’ and Iceland’s very own crime epic, ‘Black’s Game’ (with English subtitles).  Enjoy.

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