Strange Fellows

January 8, 2010

I haven’t told you about my fellow passengers, have I?

Most of you are familiar with the first one. I had him neatly chopped in 12 slices and shrink-wrapped into 4 DVDs.

Dexter is IMHO the best TV-series ever made, at least the only one which has maintained superb screen-writing (great characters, clever dialogue and and nail-biting plot-lines) for four consecutive seasons. I thought I might need some distraction on slow days so I decided to bring season 1 with me.

Now, if you have missed out completely: Dexter is a forensics expert with the Miami police department. His professional specialty is blood. His main hobby is: killing people. He is mass murderer with a twist: he only kills really bad guys who have managed to escape justice. He is clearly a deeply disturbed person (due to a childhood trauma), but he follows a very strict morale, or “code” as he calls it himself. So if you haven’t yet, I warmly recommend you to check Dexter out. Buy it, borrow it, download it, steal it, whatever.

And then…

The other guy in my bags is Böddi. Now, “who the hell is Böddi?” you might ask. Well, I had him evenly spread-out over 427 hilarious pages.

Stormland (Swedish details, and an English translation of another novel) is a highly entertaining book by Hallgrímur Helgason. Just like Dexter, Böddi has failed (or refused) to adapt to the norms of society. He lives in a tiny town, in the outbacks of northern Iceland. And I can tell you, he is one angry dude. He does things his own way, and loses every job he gets. On his blog he spews his sarcasms over everything he detests about Iceland and the people in his hometown. He then experiences an unbelievable string of unfortunate events, and slowly he starts to lose his grip on reality. But his anger remains unbroken. It then escalates to a Gargantuan confrontation with society. He decides to take them all on, single-handedly, from a horse-back. Epic stuff.

The book was written in 2005, well before the global economic crisis and the total collapse of Iceland’s financial system. So it can be seen as a quite strong and prophetic story on the dark side of the heedless greed that was prevailing in Iceland (actually, not only Iceland (and actually not only was)) before the crash. If you have a soft spot for dark humour, I recommend it warmly.

* * *

It has struck me that we have a few things in common, Dexter, Böddi and me; Dexter loves the Atlantic ocean and often goes out to sea. Böddi often stares at the ocean and contemplates. And the Atlantic is just what made me come here! Even though I do not particularly mind traveling on my own, here I am constantly surrounded by happy couples, which reminds me of my status, and makes me feel a tiny bit like Dex or Böddi. And then, all three of us are travelers of different kinds. Dexter along with what he calls “his dark passenger”, Böddi with his horse, and me with my little rented Fiat Punto!

The Kite Runner

November 1, 2007

Mo blogging has been rather silent for a month. Not the first time. Now…

I started reading this book while visiting San Francisco. It was electrifying to read the opening paragraph of the book where the narrator is overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge [me myself and I being there, quite a coincidence] and saying: ” I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975. I remember the precise moment…” here I end my quote because I warmly recommend you to read the book.

A boy is born in Afghanistan in the mid 1960’s. He grows up in a country: then rich, well organized, civilized, and beautiful, a fully functioning society. He sees the “revolution” where the Afghan leftist rebels overthrow the monarchy, and a total disintegration of a peaceful society, followed by a period of turmoil, followed by the Soviet invasion, then the undignified Soviet withdrawal, followed by the extreme islamist mayhem, followed by 9/11 and all.

With all this historic turmoil as a background, all the personal experiences, family hardships, and difficulties are painted before us in a painful, yet very down-to-earth image.

I can only say: Get it. Read it.


September 19, 2007

This weekend’s excursion went to Berkeley. Across the San Francisco Bay lies this super nice little university town. Everything revolves around the university. The atmosphere is very relaxed and pleasant. I spent a whole day just walking around campus and the streets. Just hanging out and absorbing the atmosphere, I really enjoyed it.

And, of course, academics and culture are high on this town’s list. Bookstores are all over the place.When I wandered into one the record/DVD stores, at the back I found a shelf that really won my film loving heart and mind. ( Most people when talking about film usually ask: “Who’s in it?”, while I ask: “Who directed it?”.) Movies in this section were sorted by director: Robert Altman? Check. Fellini? Check. Hitchcock? Check. Ingmar Bergman? Check. Francis Coppola? Whaddaythink?

If you ever spend a good amount of time in San Fran, do not miss Berkely.

Catch a Fire – Film Festival Take #3

November 26, 2006

The third and last installment of my Film Festival Reviews, (unless I change my mind and write a note on “A Scanner Darkly”), is about a film called “Catch A Fire”.

It takes place in Apartheid South Africa, around 1980, but it does cast very deep shadows into our own days. It is about a man, Patrick Chamuso, who is a hard working family man. He has nothing absolutely to do with the ANC, the armed liberation movement, or “the terrorists”, in the white regime lingo.

Tim Robbins delivers an excellent performance, perfect South African accent and all, of a anti-terrorist cop. When the plant where Patrick Chamuso works get hits by bomb attacks every black man becomes a suspect. And he gets some very hard torture-like treatment. He tells them nothing as there is nothing to tell, he is innocent. But the treatment does turn an innocent man into an active terrorist. It certainly raises questions on how productive the methods of today’s so called War on Terrorism are!

And no, it is not a propaganda brainstorm. The story of Patrick Chamuso is a true story.

Film Festival – Take # 2

November 23, 2006

Another highlight (by popular demand!) from this year’s Stockholm Film Festival. The thing about film festivals is not that you catch the latest and the gratest movies. Sure it is nice to watch for example the latest Cohen brother’s, before everyone else, but wait a few weeks and it is on in the cinemas. What is great about a film festival is the stuff you would never otherwise be able to see.

Zidane – 21st Century Portrait, is such a film. It was shot during a single Real Madrid match, with 17 cameras. None of them were following the ball, all were following Zidane! It may not be the best film at the festival but is one of the most interesting.

Make no mistake, whether you like the famous footballer Zinedine Zidane (Zizou to his fans) or hate his guts, is really beside the point. In fact it may not even matter if you care about football at all! But it does help if you are generally interested in the mental aspects of highly competitive sports. In my eyes, this film is much more an art movie than a sports movie. It just happens to take place in a football field. It is about a state of mind. A Zidane quote from early in the film gives an idea of this:

I remember whenever playing football I was a kid I used to hear a running commentary in my head. It was the voice of Chaquet [exact name forgotten]. Whenver he was commenting a match on TV I used to run there to get as close as possible. It was not so much his words – as his tone of voice – the atmosphere – that captured my heart…

The result is quite amazing, and the interesting stuff takes place inside your own head: after a while you drift into a light trance-like meditation. I loved it, others did not. Make sure you check the “Videos” and “Gallery” links at the movie site. And if you want the other side of the story too, check the dissenting opinions at IMDB.

The Sounds of Sand

November 22, 2006

The Stockholm Film Festival is on right now. Hundreds of films in 9 days

On of the films I have seen is the Belgian production Si le vent soulève les sables, (or The Sounds of Sand.) It is a beautifully photographed film, about a poor family struggling on foot across the desert sands, in search of water.

I myself have travelled in the mighty Sahara it has gotten into my bloodstream a bit. Even though I travelled in the relative comfort of 4WDs I still could recognize the total mercilessness of the dessert.