Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Movie: J'irai comme un cheval fou

This movie explores, among other things, the contrast between the simple, "original" way of life and the complex urban relationships of today. That is, it is set some time in the future, as seen from 1973. Sadly, I'm not sure its exploration brings anything original.

It also explores a sick relationship between a mother and a son, in quite a disturbing way.

The movie is at it's best when it is shocking us by showing the most natural of acts - such as taking a shit. However, for much of the movie, it seems that the shock effects are just there to shock, not to contribute to anything else.

This is not a good movie, but it has some images that will sit there for a long time.

J'irai comme un cheval fou (1973)
Directed by Fernando Arrabal
Main actors:
George Shannon as Aden Rey
Hachemi Marzouk as Marvel
Emmanuelle Riva as La mère (Madame Rey)


Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Chess Mind

Trying to follow the Morelia-Linares tournament, I've stumbled across The Chess Mind, a wonderful blog which posts commentaries after each game. The coolest thing is that it includes full visual support - you can click through every move as you read his commentary.

He is full of scorn over the draws in round 6, though - especially the Carlsen-Leko draw. However, Carlsen remains on top of the tournament, with only two draws so far, so he is not the main culprit when it comes to early draws...

In his blog, Henrik Carlsen describes the draw like this:
"Magnus thought for a while but felt he would be worse if he avoided the repetition although (as the spectators could see from his body language) he did not really want a draw."

The standings after round 6 are:
1. Carlsen 4
2-3. Anand, Aronian 3.5
4-6. Ivanchuk, Leko, Svidler 3
7-8. Morozevich, Topalov 2

Movie: Walk the line

For me, Johnny Cash has never been a big idol, and I didn't know too much about him. But that didn't matter much - watching this movie, I soon got to appreciate the man. He wasn't easy to deal with for the world around him - but then, the world wasn't easy to deal with for him either.

Robert Patrick's portrayal of Johnny's father is perhaps the most gripping. His way of dealing with the loss of his son was terrible. But who am I to judge; Sometimes life is just so hard on a person that the personality is disfigured.

Reese Witherspoon won an Oscar for her performance - deservedly.

Walk the Line (2005)
Directed by James Mangold
Main actors:
Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash
Reese Witherspoon as June Carter
Ginnifer Goodwin as Vivian Cash
Robert Patrick as Ray Cash


Friday, February 23, 2007

Movie: Primitive London

The most amazing thing about this movie is perhaps the puritanism it unconsciously portrays. It is a movie that claims to show some of the "dark" sides of 1965 London, but apparently only as an excuse to include scantily-clad women. But the pictures of these women are such that they wouldn't raise an eyelid (not to mention other things) of an average fifteen-year-old today. The film got me to think of the incredible changes that has happened also on the area of attitudes towards nudity.

Of course, almost any movie from more than forty years ago will be interesting just by being a document from a time long gone, and most of the four points I give it is because of that. For instance, the comments on women are hilarious in today's enviroment - any narrator having that point of view today would immediately be sacked.

It was interesting to see this movie - but don't choose it if you have any good alternatives...

Primitive London (1965)
Directed by Arnold L. Miller
Main actors:
David Gell as Narrator


Magnus Carlsen in the lead

After beating Topalov (world #1) in the 5th round of Morelia-Linares, Magnus is in the lead!

Here's the standing:
1. 3.5 GM Magnus Carlsen (Norway 2690)
2-3. 3.0 GM Viswanathan Anand (India 2779), GM Levon Aronian (Armenia 2744)
4-6 2.5 GM Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine 2750), GM Peter Leko (Hungary 2749), GM Peter Svidler (Russia 2728)
7-8 1.5 GM Alexander Morozevich (Russia 2741), GM Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria 2783)

There were many people who thought Magnus didn't belong in this tournament (after finishing last in Corus), but he has proved them wrong.

(See Susan Polgar's blog for more.)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Answers to Ask Me Anything Meme

Two people left questions for me (so far) at the Ask Me Anything Meme:

Forever Ranting asked me:

1. Your favorite Song?
2. Your all time favorite movie?
3. Favorite Time of the day?
4. What is the first thing you do each day.
5. What is the last thing you do each nite?

Scott asked me:

6. Why do you like to get naked (non-sexually) in public?
7. Why do you think Europeans have more relaxed attitudes about nudity than Americans? (assuming you agree with that premise)

My answers:
1. My favorite song? That's a difficult one. There are so many that I love. If I have to choose one, I'll just pick one of the "most played" in my iTunes. I pick "Living A Boy's Adventure Tale" by a-Ha. I really like the early albums of a-Ha, and this song could be a motto of a life.
2. My all time favorite movie is "A Room with a View". That's partly because it celebrates life so wonderfully.
3. I don't know... I kind of like mornings, but only when they're not too stressful.
4. Turn on my computer.
5. Kiss my boyfriend goodnight.
6. I love to go to the beach in summer. While at the beach, I see no point in wearing anything, as it is warm enough even without clothes. For instance, I HATE the feeling of wet swimwear. It is a lot more comfortable to feel the wind touching my naked body than to feel the wet swimwear. Moreover, nude beaches tend to be more relaxed (not as body-concious) as textile-beaches. Clothes are necessary in Norway, but not all the time.
7. I really don't know why this is, but I'm quite sure that the premise is right. I've heard that many Americans don't even shower in the nude with people of their same sex (in school, for instance), while that is the norm in Europe. But it is mostly a habit, I think - getting used to the idea that nudity and sex are not the same thing takes some time if the whole culture equates the two.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Ask Me Anything Meme

Ask me anything is a meme in which you (or I in this case) posts a message saying "Ask me anything", and people ask questions in the comments.

There are no rules. Content and Number of Questions Per reader are totally up to you And when you respond is totally up to you.

Movie: Letters from Iwo Jima

It is probably a good thing that Americans have started making movies where the people on the other side in wars are actually human beings. In this movie, it is even the Japanese soldiers that are most human, whereas the Americans are partly terrible (not unlike the way a few American soldiers have acted in Abu Graib etc).

For me, however, it is not really something new that humans are human, so I'm looking for some other qualities in a film. Of course, the acting is quite good in this movie, I don't think the visual effects are too bad, it is a touching story and so on. But there's not enough to keep my interest through more than two hours. Very much good could be said about showing the horrors of war, but I've seen the horror of war many times before on the screen, so the explosions doesn't really make my day...

Okay, I see that others may feel differently about this movie, but for me it's just tolerably good. I seriously hope that some of the other candidates for the Oscar (for best movie) are better than this one and Babel...

Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Main actors:
Ken Watanabe as General Tadamichi Kuribayashi
Kazunari Ninomiya as Saigo
Tsuyoshi Ihara as Baron Nishi


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Movie: Dreamgirls

Wonderful movies are often better than just its parts - there is something undefinable that makes them wonderful. Similarly, a movie may be wonderful in parts, without being wonderful as a whole. This explains why Dreamgirls got eight Oscar nominations, without being in the running for best movie of the year.

In this movie, I'm particularly fascinated by the music - the main problem with making a movie about a fantastic music group is of course that their talent should be apparent in the music. Watching this movie, it seems absolutely plausible that this music could have brought "Dreamgirls" to fame in the 60s.

I'm also happy about Jennifer Hudson's role as Effie (who for some reason got a nomination for "Actress in a Supporting Role", even though her role is every bit as important as that of Beyoncé Knowles' or Jamie Foxx'), and it's nice to see Eddie Murphy performing well - I haven't really seen him doing a good movie since "Beverly Hills Cop"...

But although the music and some performances are great, I think the movie's just good. Unneccesarily long, and a bit "unfocused", in my opinion. But well worth seeing.

Dreamgirls (2006)
Directed by Bill Condon
Main actors:
Jennifer Hudson as Effie White
Jamie Foxx as Curtis Taylor, Jr.
Beyoncé Knowles as Deena Jones
Eddie Murphy as James "Thunder" Early
Danny Glover as Marty Madison


Carlsen - Morozevich 1 - 0

Magnus Carlsen won his first game in Linares Morelia, according to Susan Polgar's blog. A quick PC-analysis of the game shows that Magnus made no big mistakes, while Morozevich had a few more problems. See also Magnus' blog for more info.

This means that Magnus is in the lead after one game, as all the others ended in draws.

Movie: The Producers

The story is quite funny. Sadly, it is not a two-hour-movie-story, in the sense that it doesn't - on it own - keep the interest up for the whole time. But of course this is a musical, so in theory, the music should keep us happy, right? Well, it doesn't keep me happy. I can't take it seriously, and it's not all that funny either, so the two hours turned out to be two long hours. With a few good spots in between, of course.

(My boyfriend, who has seen this on stage in London, swears that that version was good, though.)

The Producers (2005)
Directed by Susan Stroman
Main actors:
Nathan Lane as Max Bialystock
Matthew Broderick as Leo Bloom
Uma Thurman as Ulla
Will Ferrell as Franz Liebkind


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Linares round 1

ChessBase is to be relied upon to deliver interesting news, so now we can start following the Morelia-Linares tournament. Here's the line-up for the first round:

Vassily Ivanchuk - Peter Leko
Veselin Topalov - Vishy Anand
Peter Svidler - Levon Aronian
Magnus Carlsen - Alex. Morozevich

As usual, I'm hoping for a Magnus Carlsen win.

And by the way: Magnus Carlsen has now his own blog: http://blog.magnuschess.com/

Happy new year!

We have just entered the year of the pig!

From Wikipedia I see that

"The Boar type is usually an honest, straightforward and patient person. They are a modest, shy character who prefers to work quietly behind the scenes. When others despair, they are often there to offer support. This type of person is reserved with those they do not know too well, but as time passes and they gain confidence, those around them may discover a lively and warm-hearted person behind that mask of aloofness. Despite those born in the year of pig having a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, they have few close friends who understand them and share their inner thoughts and feelings. It is easy to put trust in pig type; they won't let you down and will never even attempt to do so. Such people simply want to do everything right according to social norms.

It is important to remember that these people are not vengeful creatures. If someone tries to take advantage of them, the pig type tend to withdraw to reflect on the problem and protect themselves. All they need in such situations is a little time to find a constructive way to respond. The people of the pig type are conservative creatures of habit. They dislike being made to travel too far from familiar surroundings, unless it is a trip to the countryside. They love nature and are never happier than when they are out somewhere, far from the city.

There is a tolerant and peaceful side to their character. Such people are never afraid to allow others their freedom of expression; they do not want to cause arguments and if there is any way to avoid arguing, they will probably take this option. They are not weak, however, and if the situation forces them to fight these people will rise to the occasion, whether it is to defend themselves or those close to them. People of the Boar type are the most admired by others."

Did I mention that I'm born in the year of the pig?

(picture from globalclassroom.org.)

Bipolar disorder

Aftenposten's "A-magasinet" had an interesting article this week about the "new" disorder, "bipolar disorder". The magazine went quite far in suggesting that the pharmaceutical industry is working hard to include as many people as possible in this diagnosis, thereby boosting sales of "stabilizing" drugs.

While I assume that "bipolar disorder" is a legitimate diagnosis, there is reason to beware. We must not get into a position when anyone feeling a bit "down" is put on drugs - that evokes images of Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World". Being a bit down for a few days when life is not too nice, and then being happy again, is a natural part of life.

Striking the balance will be difficult, and the pharmaceutical industry should not be trusted to do the balancing.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Course "only for straight couples"

Vårt Land writes about a course for couples arranged by the student organization in Trondheim. A lesbian couple who signed up for the course was told that it was only for straights.

Jenny Bremer says that they have decided that there should be seperate courses for straight and gay couples. However, as she does not give any idea of when the course for gays will be arranged, it all seems a bit fishy. (I tried to send an email to them to check when the course for gays will be, but their email solution on their web pages did not work.)

Cans professionals

In a perfect world, you wouldn't miss a thing. This video is from such a perfect world...

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Google reader

Google reader is a cool alternative to stand-alone rss readers. And in addition to being a way of keeping updated on different kinds of news etc, it also offers the possibility to share with others. Here are my shared items, for instance. I also have a cute little thing in the right margin showing the 10 newest news items that I found interesting enough to share.

Movie: Shortbus

For the entire history of cinema, directors have had to strike a balance between their artistical concerns and the censorship put upon them. While violence has been more and more tolerated, nudity and sex have lagged behind, so that even the most natural nudity (important to the story) has happened off-screen.

In this respect, Shortbus is refreshing. The movie is all about sex and the relationships that depend on it, and it would be plain silly to try to make it without nudity and explicit sex. "Shortbus" is a place to go to experiment with sex, and gods know that the people in this movie need some experimentation to figure out which direction they want to go.

But the movie is not really about sex, of course. As in Hedwig and the angry inch, John Cameron Mitchell shows that he is capable of creating real people with real feelings and problems, and nothing that is happening on the screen feels inrelevant.

The actors do a great job. I particularly liked Jay Brannan's performance, although his adorable character is certainly not the most difficult one to pull off. Paul Dawson is also believable, even though it is hard to figure out why he makes the choices he does.

All in all: go watch this movie!

Shortbus (2006)
Directed by John Cameron Mitchell
Main actors:
Sook-Yin Lee as Sofia
Paul Dawson as James
Lindsay Beamish as Severin
PJ DeBoy as Jamie
Jay Brannan as Ceth


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Rational Response Squad

Via ABC, I've become aware of the Rational Response Squad. It is a sign of the amazing cultural difference between the US and Norway that everything about this show is apparently considered blasphemic in the US. In the ABC show I watched, Christians were even upset by the Rational Response Squad's assertion that there is no god, no Jesus and no holy spirit! They called it unrespectful.

In Norway, happily, rational discussion on religion is still possible, and saying that gods do not exist is considered as "respectful" as saying that gods do exist.

(I have still to hear the show, though, so my opinion is based on the excerpts in the ABC show.)

Sunday, February 04, 2007


I've been looking around for an art magazine that manages to blend an interest of modern art with an eye on art history. Too many of the art magazines I've seen, are too occupied with the present only. On a visit to Taiwan last year, I saw ARTnews, a US art magazine that seems to be what I want...

Now my boyfriend has given me the latest issue, and I'm reading with interest. I consider subscribing. Is that a good idea, or is my impression of the magazine wrong?

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Theatre: Fiddler on the roof

I saw the musical "En spellemann på taket" (Fiddler on the roof) the day after its premiere on Oslo Nye Teater. Except knowing some of the music, the musical was new to me - including the story. It was a great show. The most important actors (Dennis Storhøi, Eli Anne Linnestad and Alexander Rybak) do a great job and the music and scenography works well.

Some of the critics have critizised (that's their job!) that some of the serious issues are undercommunicated, and that is true. This is first of all a funny and life-loving play, where we see how Tevye (Storhøi) faces life as it happens, and adjusts his dogmas according to the things happening to him. The pogroms devastating the Russian countryside is, in this play, only another outside thing that the single human being has to adjust to.

The title of the play refers to the same - that you can be a fiddler even though you're only centimetres away from tragedy. The fiddler (Rybak) is never far away.

The musical has sold 35000 tickets already - there will be more...