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August 2012 119

No shortage of GOOD movies. Big and small, bold and cold, fur trappers and sheep farmers. The Revenant and Rams.

Back from a frenzy of writing—for work, trying to satisfy State demands for ever more info on anyone served by our program, and—for school, trying to become the-writer-of-a-book of which the latest chapter-attempt was messily unsuccessful. Too busy to comment on the movies I’ve been seeing but I have managed to exhaustedly remain in a filmland frenzy of sorts.

I still love movies. And will tomorrow night when watching the red carpet and pretty people and listening to raunchy jokes and the Academy being castigated for its whiteness…which brings me to the point of this post: The Revenant and Rams.

I love movies even when they go on and on with such scenic intensity and repetitive color-contrasting of blood on snow with never a hint of humor that the sheer relentlessness of it all makes you just want to give the Oscar to Leo and get it over with…  Or when the only signs of love and affection are directed at sheep, big and round and fluffy as those pretty Icelandic sheep are…

So I intended to dislike The Revenant thinking my love of ‘westerns’ for the horseflesh had been dulled by the years and my fatigue with our gun culture. But turns out I really couldn’t hate or even dislike it. DiCaprio works just too damn hard; the scenery is in Grand National Geographic style; and boy oh boy that ever-spreading bloody crimson against the icy snow white is too too camera-friendly. It is relentless however. R e l e n t l e s s. Drink coffee before and maybe sneak in a sandwich for during.

I would still want Idris Elba to win the best actor Oscar—if he’d been nominated (Beasts of No Nation) but since whiteness prevails, it probably should be DiCaprio in the snow.

Most of you won’t see Rams since it’s already been at the Guild and there’s too much to stream on Netflix and Amazon in one lifetime in any case…but that is your loss. It has something in common with The Revenant in the coldness of the environment, maybe the coldness of human nature. But Rams is intimate in spite of the sweep of barren, chilly hills of rural Iceland that’s the ever present background. Two brothers who haven’t spoken to each other for 40 years although living on adjacent sheep farms are brought together finally in a tragedy of major proportions for a farming people. Doesn’t sound exciting. Maybe you’ve been seeing too much American blood and guts? Because it is…very…in that quieter (and even darker in a way) Scandinavian film mode.

I’ve been reading a lot from and about the Icelandic Sagas lately and Rams could have existed then, in Viking times. The intimacy of the small farm houses, the closeness to and love of animals, the humanity of the community in all its hates and loves and chuckles and mishaps—it’s straight out of the sagas as far as I can tell.

Rams gets in your personal space in a way The Revenant never can. The final tragic image from the former in its white on white, pallid bodies linked forever against the colorless snow, dead quiet after a storm of relentless proportions will stay with you forever. Leo almost surviving through yet one more blood-against-snow spectacle will only last through tomorrow night’s ceremonies.

But Go Leo—since the aging Icelandic actors weren’t nominated either.

August 2012 040



Iceland: More Photos…PUFFINS this time


I once had a plan to do some reporting on all of the crime fiction I read. Forget that project…but I might say something about it from time to time…like right now.

Today was the day I was going to start writing about the Icelandic crime fiction authors I have read so far; unfortunately I did not have access to my Arnaldur Indridason and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir books. I had intended to bring the stack to work and use them for an essay about Iceland’s place in the literature of Scandinavian death and deception but the books were forgotten at home and besides work (the kind for which I get paid) consumed my day.

Tonight I’m the theater-sitter so there has been time for a little Google-work filling empty spaces remaining in the part of my brain reserved for Icelandic murder. In fact I’ve subscribed to one Scandinavian crime blog today and also discovered the “Nordic Noir Book Club” which is perfect for someone like me—except for the small drawback of all of the meetings taking place in London.

Now it is late and I’m still at work but to keep my Iceland mindset going without really writing anything—yet again, here’s a photo album from my summer 2012 visit to the island of puffins in Reykjavik harbor. ENJOY.










Iceland: More Photos

Hot Springs.

Hot Springs.



And still more glacier.

And still more glacier.

It rained on the way home from the glacier.

It rained on the way home from the glacier.

Iceland: Hiding the Bodies

Bob, Teresa and I spent a week in Iceland last summer. We fell in love with this odd and lovely island that still sees Vikings around every corner; is cold and windy and gray but NOT covered in ice; and feeds its visitors fermented shark.

Since Iceland is so picturesque AND because I have so many photos I am hoping to stretch my little essays over several days—off and on/now and then.

To begin exploring murder most northern, it seemed like a photo essay investigating the many places where victims could be cleverly concealed would be appropriate. You see we were there and, while we didn’t find any actual bludgeoned bodies or icy eyeballs we did go on a mystery writers tour which took us to various locations featured in Icelandic crime novels. I am sorry to report that what is a brilliant idea came off as earnest and uninspiring. The two well-mannered young women guiding the walk just could not manage any vicious vibes so we soon went off to have a nice Icelandic beer. I do hope that the suggestions of foul play accompanying the photos that follow will make you a little more leery of Reykjavik’s dark and shadowy corners than what our pretty tour guides could manage.

You can rest assured that Iceland does indeed support several interesting murder mystery writers so if you enjoy the deceptively cozy scenes that follow or the gloomy landscapes full of deadly potential in days to come, know that you can spend many book-hours deep within these often lethal nooks and crannies.


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