Oh, it’s good

Yeah, I don’t much like Twilight. Or, rather, what I’ve heard so far means I’ll not see or read it voluntarily. So, no, I don’t know much about it. But this. This is good. And what makes it particularly good? This line: “You know, being stalked really isn’t a big turn-on for girls.”


So-called romantic so-called comedies

It’s been a while. Granted, I don’t watch many movies at all these days, other things seem to take up my time, but in response to Dorothy Snarker’s excellent Dear John letter to romantic comedies I’m trying to remember the last time I paid to see one. I saw Down with Love on television just a few weeks ago (oh, and boy, did that suck or what? I really don’t know why I sat through the whole thing, I think I must be allowed to plead insanity), which would make it the first romantic comedy I’ve seen at all in a very long time, but how long has it actually been since I paid to see one?

I think it might have been Bridget Jones’ Diary. The first one.

Intellectual (?) fodder

I spent the weekend alone, having sent the husband and the lass off to Hitra in order to get some peace and space to tidy/clean/organise at home to make the change from a crib to a “big bed” possible in the lass’ room. It was a busy weekend.

Saturday morning, however, I took some time out to visit an exhibition whose flyer has been on the fridge since I picked it up last June. Recycling the Looking Glass – Trash Art – Found Objects – I thought it was at Kunstindustrimuseet and went there first, however, it was at Trondhjems Kunstforening. To be honest, it was kind of disappointing. There were a couple of good pieces though. I liked this:

Vigdis Haugtrø & Johannes Franciscus de Gier - Triptyk (2008)

Which I think is by Vigdis Haugtrø & Johannes Franciscus de Gier  and called Triptyk, though the information sheet was only partly informational, so I might be wrong. There was also a video of leaf-cutter ants with pieces of paper with various international symbols interspersed with the leaves, which I’m pretty sure was Coexistence by Donna Conlon (and in fact, Google has just confirmed this – the portfolio page describing the video is here). Anyway, that was good, too.

After seeing the trash, I went back to the Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum to see their exhibit, which was a showcase of their acquisitions over the last two decades.

Just around 1989 when this sculpture by Chuck Wissinger was made, my brother was dinosaur mad. He would have loved it. I rather like it now.

Sculpture by Chuck Wissinger (1989)

The Tea Set by Ken Eastman fascinates me.

Tea Set by Ken Eastman (2006)

And I wouldn’t mind a full set of plates by Paul Scott.

Plate by Paul Scott (2008)

The latter, however,is the only piece which really comfortably fits the “decorative arts” tag for me. As Wikipedia says “some distinguish between decorative and fine art based on functionality” – I do. The plate, therefore, pleases me more. But I do like the tea set.

The Big Picture

Apparently, this is a meme: Pick your favourite movie from each year you’ve been alive. And since I haven’t posted for a while (again) I will. Caveat lector – I used IMDB’s view by year and 100 most popular in the main for this. Also my memory, which is very faulty. I may, therefore, have forgotten films that I would have placed higher than the one(s) I have chosen.

1974: Both Murder on the Orient Express and The Great Gatsby are pretty good, but both are better as books. Hm. Emanuelle? No. Perhaps not. I know: Herbie Rides Again. Gotta love sentient VW Beetles.

1975: Ah. It was a very good year. Monty Python and the Holy Grail. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Those were the days. However, there is really no contest, the winner HAS to be Flåklypa Grand Prix. Dra meg baklengs inn i fulgekassa!

1976: Uhm. Not so much. Of the IMDB top 100 by total votes I’ve hardly seen any. I’ve seen part of The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, but as I quit watching because it bored me, it hardly qualifies for a “Favourites” spot, does it? No, I didn’t think so.

1977: Pete’s Dragon! No discussion.

1978: I guess I’m going to have to go with Grease. I saw it first when I was around twelve, and liked it, except I preferred the pre-makeover Sandy then. Yes, I was probably a bit of a goody-two-shoes. I think I’ve changed my mind, now, though.

1979: I have a soft spot for Moonraker. Not quite sure why.

1980: The Blues Brothers. Though it’s closely followed by Herbie Goes Bananas, the first Herbie movie I saw (and loved). It occurs to me that I probably need a Herbie box set. Really.

1981: Gotta love The Fox and the Hound, I think it’s the first film that ever made me cry, and I was 7 in 1981 and not yet the sappy sentimental fool I seem to have turned into in my old age. Luckily The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy AND Brideshead Revisited are both tv-series, or this year would be a tough one to call. Though maybe not, I don’t suppose I could ever admit to anything beating Brideshead Revisited. (That new movie? Looks like a complete disaster, and no, I haven’t seen the trailer, I don’t dislike my brain that much, when I read that Emma Thompson was playing “a leading role” I knew they had seriously messed up already, as there is no female “leading” role in BR. Nope. Not. Lots of “supporting” roles, yes. But whatever.)

1982: Well, the competition is stiff: An Officer and a Gentleman? Annie? The World According to Garp? Victor Victoria? Perhaps not the latter, though I liked it in my Julie Andrews period. (What? What do you mean “Julie Andrews period?”? Doesn’t everyone go through a Julie Andrews period?) And The Last Unicorn! I had forgotten all about that film. And I think the fantastic going-down-a-cliff-on-a-horse scene was i The Man From Snowy River, Jamelah, which almost puts that film in the top spot. But I think I’m going to have to go with The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, actually. Partly because it has that song. But mainly just because.

1983: Back then: The Outsiders. Now? Either The Big Chill, WarGames or Flashdance, though it’s been a while since I saw either.

1984: Who’ you gonna call? Lots to choose from (Ghostbusters, Footloose, The Karate Kid, Against All Odds, Police Academy, Romancing the Stone)  but the winner has to be Ronja Rövardotter. It made me want to live in a draughty castle or a cave in the forest, and a daughter of the wilderness I am not, so it must have been pretty convincing.

1985: Back then it would have been The Goonies, hands down, no contest. The Color Purple is very good, though. And I recently watched Back to the Future with great enjoyment. Ooh, and White Nights! But still, The Color Purple it has to be.

1986: Children of a Lesser God made a deep impression, I seem to remember, but I’m going with Jumping Jack Flash, because, well, Whoopi Goldberg, you know?

1987: I like The Princess Bride, I really do, but I have to go with Jamelah on this one: Nobody puts Baby in a corner. I loved it then, I love it now (though for slightly different reasons, it must be said).

1988: Oh no. There can’t be just one for 1988, because there were at least three “Best film ever” candidates that year, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, A Fish Called Wanda (Don’t call me stupid!), and Die Hard.

1989: In 1989 I would probably have been willing to bet obscene amounts that Dead Poets Society would be my favourite film forever and ever. Good thing I didn’t. I later discovered Peter Greenaway, but The Cook, the Thief, his Wife & her Lover isn’t my favourite Greenaway film. I can watch Look Who’s Talking over and over, it’s one of those braincandy films that classify with chocolate in the comforting department. However, the best film made that year was probably A Grand Day Out, but since that’s a short, I’m going with The Fabulous Baker Boys, because it’s, well, fabulous.

1990: Die Hard 2 is my favourite Die Hard film (well, ok, so I haven’t seen the last one yet) and a strong contender. Three Men and a Little Lady still charms the pants off me (though not literally), so does Home Alone. I’d go all intellectual and say Rosenkrantz & Guildenstern are Dead, except I saw an amateur production of it live a few years ago which made the film look rather silly and tame, so Die Hard 2 it is.

1991: This is the year of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Fisher King and Hook.  The latter two are simply really good, the former… Ok, so you have a Robin with an american accent, but then you also have Morgan Freeman. Yes, you do. And Alan Rickman as the sherrif, managing to be quite creepy, absolutely pathetic and yet sexy (well, it IS Alan Rickman) all at the same time. AND you have Sean Connery in a sort of very noticeable cameo.

1992: Aladdin. There you go, that was easy. Except then my eyes continue down the list and find Home Alone in New York and Strictly Ballroom. And at the very bottom, Peter’s Friends. And Peter’s Friends it’s got to be. Stricktly speaking I suppose it’s rather clichee in all manner of ways, but the actors are so good they pull it off wonderfully. Which in itself makes it almost more impressive than if the script had been really good to start with.

1993: This is the period when I really saw A LOT of movies (quite a few of them as “press”), and so chosing just one is getting harder. Schindler’s List was chilling, The Fugitive adrenaline-inducing, Sister Act 2 quite charming, Cool Runnings funny, Shadowlands oh so sad and Trois Couleurs: Bleu impressive. But the film I loved in 1993 and which threw fuel on the flame that was my love of Shakespeare, for which I can only be grateful, was Much Ado About Nothing.

1994: Priscilla – Queen of the Desert it is, but if you’re looking for recommendations you might also like to try Nobody’s Fool, Shawshank Redmption, Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Hudsucker Proxy, It Could Happen to You, Leon, Quiz Show, Clerks, Clear and Present Danger, True Lies, The Flintstones (for a laugh), Reality Bites (at least if you’re around 20, or were, in 1994) and The Lion King (if only to watch Jeremy Irons as Scar), roughly in that order.

1995: Well, for once I have the same film in the top spot as IMDB’s voters, namely The Usual Suspects. Toy Story is, of course, also great and I still like Clueless and Sense & Sensibility, too.

1996: Kenneth Brannagh’s Hamlet.

1997: As Good as it Gets.

1998: An increasing number of films that I planned to see one day but obviously “one day” hasn’t come round yet. I’m going with Blues Brothers 2000.

1999: Fight Club made an impression, that’s for sure, but Toy Story 2 just beats it, if for no other reason that I’ve seen it several times, and it stands up to it, whereas I’m hesitant to watch Fight Club again because I fear that it just might not work second time round. Also, the Danish Den eneste ene is pretty much the bees knees.

2000: No big, earth-shattering experiences, out of the main contenders (Chicken Run, The Wonderboys, Billy Elliot and Coyote Ugly) I’ve seen Chicken Run the most times. If that counts for anything.

2001: So much better, Shrek beats LotR – FotR, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Monsters Inc, Bridget Jones’ Diary and Moulin Rouge. I also saw, and hugely enjoyed, The Princess Diaries and Save the Last Dance, but, hush, don’t tell anyone.

2002: Bowling for Columbine totally knocked me off kilter, but it’s hard to call it “a favourite”. The usual suspects may be Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and LotR Two Towers, but guess what? I REALLY like Bend it Like Beckham.

2003: I’m going to go with Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World. There may have been better films in 2003, but this was a very good attempt at filming the unfilmable, and I do love Jack and Stephen – with a passion.

2004: Flip a coin: Shrek 2 or Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban? Also, A State of Mind (which I saw in 2006), is VERY good.

2005: I’d waited for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for so many years it seems a pity not to mention it, but Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was better. And Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was good, but not scary enough (it’s much scarier in my head when I read it). Narnia – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was good, too. Four of my favourite books filmed and all actually quite good. How often does that happen?  

2006: Another year of films that I meant to se, but somehow… Well, of the ones I did see, I think Ice Age 2: The Meltdown was the best.

2007: Hampered in my movie-going by the lass, I didn’t see very many films in the cinema (or at all) in 2007. I saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which was very good. Looking at the IMDB list of 100 most popular now I’m wondering if perhaps I didn’t miss much. There aren’t that many titles that seem interesting. Was 2007 a bad year for film, or what?

2008: I hate to admit it, but so far this year I’ve only seen one (1!) new film: Prince Caspian. It was good, though, so I don’t mind calling it my favourite.

Top Gear, top show

It occurs to me that I have probably not really expressed myself on the joy that is Top Gear previously. I will now remedy that by explaining why it is one of the best tv-shows ever. No, this has not been brought on by Richard Hammond’s rather unfortunate work-related accident (though I am, of course, hoping that he’ll be up and about and driving ridiculously fast again – in reasonably controlled conditions – as soon as may be), but by my finally reading I Know You Got Soul, which we purchased in Kingston this summer. I somehow feel I owe you an explanation of how come I enjoy a show about cars when, normally, a conversation about cars could quite possibly be one of the few things that would bore me to tears.

Well, you see, it’s not cars so much. It’s Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond. Yes, it involves them talking about cars a lot (in fact for most of the show), but it involves them talking about cars in a way that is witty in that uniquely British way. And of course you know I do love British wit. So.

Does that explain it? Possibly not. I also, on the whole, love watching people do things that they obviously enjoy doing. And the three Top Gear presenters are so frequently the picture of joyful glee when they get their hands on a new car that it is very hard not to be smitten.

Another thing is the competitive spirit. Well, I have it, and they’ve got it in bundles. In an episode I saw recently, Jeremy Clarkson was out in Germany trying to get a car round the world’s longest race-track (at least, I think it was – see, I can’t remember the track or the car, that’s not what I watch Top Gear for) in less than… uhm… I think it was ten minutes, but don’t hold me to that. (I suppose I could google this, but the details are beside the point, really.) He struggled manfully for days and finally just made it. He blamed the car for his failure to do better sooner. Then he let his guide to the track, a local girl about my own age who probably had motor oil instead of mother’s milk, have a go. Her first try at the car, but her ten thousanth something try at the track. Anyway, she beat him, obviously. To Hammond and May’s delight. Oh, and she had blond hair, too.

Whatever. It’s one of the best shows on television (and before you ask, I haven’t even seen the Norwegian version, and I have no intention of ever doing so – it’s that anglophile thing again, you see). And one of the funniest episodes ever can be found on YouTube in three parts. Do yourself the favour: Part 1, part 2 and part 3.


i am a major geek

Kosmorama being well (they even made a profit this year, apparently) and truly over I suppose I ought to report back on the rest of the festival for my part. Well, not much to report, I’m afraid. I took Tuesday off as planned, Wednesday I got a text message to say the The Puffy Chair, which I really wanted to see, was postponed until 4 PM, which meant that I could actually make it, though having been in a sloooooow computer course all day with a vague headache I really didn’t feel up to it. However, I was bracing myself when I got another text message to say it had been cancelled. So I went home to feel sorry for myself instead.

Thursday I was back on duty at 4:30 PM, and managed to get assigned to the theatre showing Mad Hot Ballroom which is a sort of feel-good documentary. Hardly great cinematic art, but everyone seemed to leave the theatre with a smile on their face, which is an achievement in itself.

At that point I decided that since we were overstaffed and I wouldn’t be leaving anyone in the lurch by bailing out, I had better get out of there. I’d had a sort of wannabe headache coupled with a wannabe nausea since late afternoon, and curling up at home with a cup of tea and a book seemed like a better plan than staying for a movie I only half wanted to see.

And whaddaya know, Cavite won its category (Schizoid). Ah, well. The jury must have known something I didn’t.

All filmed out

Due to some massive self-delusion of the “Yeah, I’ve got lots of free time to spare” kind I volunteered to help out at Kosmorama – Trondheim International Film Festival. It’s a pretty new thing, only in its second year, but, you know, films, right? It’s mostly all good – I’m in the theatre hosting team, which means I stand at the door taking tickets and counting press/industry people. I also have to be present in the theatre during the showing of the film to make sure the machinist gets alerted if there is a problem with the sound or picture. So, yes, I need to see the film. It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it… We also get to go to as many shows as we want when we’re not actually “working” ourselves (well, technically there is a limit of 28 shows during the one-week festival, but what with being on duty for three sessions and working full time in my usual job there is no way I could possibly see anywhere near as much). In fact, the only drawbacks I can see are A. uhm, sleep and all that and B. film overload.

I’ve had two stints so far, Sunday “early” (9-4:30) and Monday “late” (4:30-whenever it ends) – Im also on Thursday “late”, and think I’ll go see a film or two tomorrow (Martin’s working tomorrow night, so it’s either a film or two or rattling around in the flat by myself), but I’m having today off. I love movies, but I do have a threshold, and I think I need a break today…

Now to the part I’m sure you’re all waiting for: Which films did I see and what did I think of them?

Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
In the original and no sub titles. I love film festivals! I also loved the film. I think it’s probably even better than Ice Age.

Everything is Illuminated
I never got around to reading the book, and I suppose I’m unlikely to now, but the film was great. Better when it was mostly funny than when it was mostly serious, but definitely great.

A State of Mind
A British film crew was given access to follow two North Korean schoolgirls training towards a Mass Games performance. The glimpse into North Korean society is fascinating, as is the whole concept of Mass Games – especially the way it’s tied up to the whole ideology of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jung Il. I was left with very mixed feelings (this is good) as on the one hand I got so wrapped up in the girls and their expectations and exhileration, and their awe at being allowed to perform in honour of their leaders and on the other a part of me is thinking “they’re all brain-washed” for every second sentence uttered. I think it will take a while to digest this one.

This one was a bit of a shock, as I’d not read the synopsis properly and although I was expecting the initial idyll to be shattered I wasn’t quite prepared for the thoroughness of the shattering, to put it that way. Bring Kleenex. Also, being supposed to clear the theatre and get it ready for the next show and taking the tickets of the people arriving for the next show with a smile isn’t the best way of following this film. Consider seeing it in your own time… Very good, though.

Pat Garret and Billy the Kid
Brilliant, obviously, though I suppose I ought to have seen a lot more westerns to fully appreciate it, but still, brilliant. This was a newly refurbished version, and getting to see it on the big screen with no subtitles was too good an opportunity to miss (though not everybody thought so, apparently, four of the 30-odd people in the audience left, separately, within the first ten minutes – I thought that very strange, I suppose with a few of the other films at the festival you may realise it’s not the sort of thing you expected at all and decide to leave, but you’d have to be pretty dim to do so with this one, and four dimwitted people is quite a lot for such a small audience).

Uhm. No. I’m sorry, but this completely failed to push any buttons with me whatsoever. My main problem was that there was no real lead-up to the “thriller” part – you are thrown into a conversation between a man and a woman (actually, it’s more of a monologue by the woman) about how she intends to have an abortion and he’s obviously not very happy about it (which is understandable, but not terribly engaging without a bit more backstory) and then you see the guy walking around being a security guard (which is supposed to be ironic, I bet), eating some fast food and pointing his flashlight at things. Then flashback to a few days (or is it weeks?) earlier he’s in the airport (more conversations with his (ex)girlfriend over the phone here), apparently on his way to the Phillipines. He arrives in the Phillipines and five minutes into the film Wham! the action begins – his sister and mother have been kidnapped and he is led a not-so-merry dance through Manila and Cavite, all cumulating in… well, now, that would be telling, but I must say, though who can tell what we’d do if pressed, that I don’t think I’d have, but, anyhow, back to the point: I was given no time (or reason) to feel empathy for the guy before being expected to feel tense on his behalf, and so I didn’t. What little backstory we got suggested to me that he was likely to be fundamentally miserable no matter what the kidnappers did, so I really didn’t care. I felt somewhat sorry for his mother and sister in a detached sort of way, but less so for their fictional plight than for the very real plight of the thousands of random “extras” we get a glimpse of in the slums and streets. To top it off there were things I didn’t much care for in the way Cavite was filmed, too (too much fancy camerawork that just annoyed me), but I don’t think that would have bothered me if I had appreciated the plot, so I’m not going to quibble much with that. My advice, though, is pretty clear: Go see something else.