Sunday, April 20, 2008

Theatre: Jeppe

Nationaltheatret's version of Ludvig Holberg's "Jeppe på Bjerget" is modern and well played. Kim Haugen plays Jeppe, the drunkard who is the subject of a grand practical joke - while sleeping, he is moved to the duke's bed, and when he wakes up, he is convinced that his memories of being a farmer are just fantasies. His new power almost immediately corrupts.

Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754) is one of Norway's three great playwrights - with Henrik Ibsen and Jon Fosse. (It's funny that he is on Denmark's newly established cultural canon - it is a very good sign for Denmark's immigration debate that people who come to that country as adults are nonetheless considered Danish... :-)

Of course, a play that's almost 300 years old, loses some of it's ability to surprise. There is absolutely no suspense here, and that makes the play a bit flat for me at times. On the other hand, there's lots of humour in the play, and one of the scenes in the second part is so funny that it's worth the ticket alone. (I won't mention exactly where - so at least that may create a little suspense.)

There are lots of layers and ideas to consider - What made Jeppe what he is? Who would he have been if he was born a rich man? The most touching thing was to get a glimpse of the love Jeppe and Nille felt for each other before alcohol and fighting made life miserable.

Kim Haugen is wonderful as Jeppe - the other actors are just okay. But all in all - if you're ever tempted to see the play once more, this might as well be the time to do it.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Oslo opera house wall

Originally uploaded by BjørnS.
Here's a photo of a cool wall inside Oslo's new opera house. (Yes, I've fallen in love with it...)

It is created by Olafur Eliasson and gives a nice, soft but icy feeling to the areas next to it.

Art: Huang Yong Ping - ping pong

There opened a new exhibition at the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art yesterday: "Huang Yong Ping ping pong". According to the museum, "Huang Yong Ping (b. 1954) is one of the most outstanding Chinese artists from the ‘first generation’ to adopt a Western concept of art."

While being visually interesting, the artworks also had obvious interpretations, which is a help to an amateur like me. (Of course, the artworks might have less obvious interpretations as well...)

I will mention three artworks that were interesting:

Colosseum (2007)

A message of hope? A building once created for cruelty and killings are now being transformed into a place for growth.

Wolves and sheep watching the Aïd el Kebir video (2006)

Stuffed wolves and sheep are watching a video of sheep being (mal)treated. The image is powerful. Then it strikes me that the wolves and sheep have themselves been killed and stuffed - for the sake of art? Thereby, what seems at first to be a powerful criticism of others turns in on itself. Interesting.

World map, 2000-2046 (2000-2007)
A globe torn apart - or rather peeled like an orange, mounted on the wall and acupuncturally tortured with pins marking major environmental problems/occurences. Beautiful and powerful.

I always end up saying "well worth a look" - just to get a reason to mention that the museum is still free of charge... It is a very good modern art museum right in the centre of Oslo.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Oslo's new opera

Oslo's new opera was opened today with a galla show that was also sent on TV.

I'm very happy about the new building, and I'm sure I will visit some performances in the years to come. Maybe some ballet? I must admit that the show reminded me that I like architecture more than I like opera...


Movie: Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

It's amazing that I have managed to wait for more than two years after the premiere of this film before finally seeing it. I am a big fan of Wallace & Gromit, and loved their earlier movies together: The Wrong Trousers, A Close Shave and A Grand Day Out. (And I'm delighted to read on the Wallace & Gromit Official Site that there will be another 30 minute movie coming up: Trouble At’ Mill.)

Of course, converting the genius of W&G from the short format to the long one was never going to be easy. The shorts rely on a combination of a moderately engaging story, likeable characters, hilarious inventions and an endless stream of small gags. It's the last part that may tend to get a bit tiresome in the long format.

However, in this case, it worked quite fine. I enjoyed the movie a lot, and loved some of the spoofs of other movies - especially King Kong...

Wallace's inventions are more ingenious (and more dangerous) than ever, the romance is there, Gromit is put into ever more precarious positions (including dogfights) and the rabbits are cute. And no animal was injured in the production of the movie, according to the end titles.

Recommended, indeed!

Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
Directed by Steve Box and Nick Park

Main actors (voices):
Peter Sallis as Wallace
Ralph Fiennes as Victor Quartermaine
Helena Bonham Carter as Lady Campanula Tottington

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Movie: Tatt av kvinnen

I do like Erlend Loe's books. He has a special way of looking at life - and when his form of humour gets tiresome, it's always possible to put the book aside for a while.

This movie captures much of what is great with Erlend Loe. It gives a man's perspective of a relationship in which the woman's "instincts" always have priority over the man's thoughts ("you think too much"). While no such woman exists (I hope), the caricature is done beautifully - and funny. However, a whole full-length movie of this is too much at a time, as there is not much more worth mentioning.

I would recommend reading the book.

Tatt av kvinnen (2007)
Directed by Petter Næss

Main actors:
Trond Fausa Aurvaag as Him
Marian Saastad Ottesen as Marianne

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Eurovision Song Contest 2008 (final)

Five countries are already qualified for the final. Here are my opinions:

Germany: 'Disappear' 8/10
Great Britain: 'Even if' 7/10
Spain: 'Baila el chiki chiki' 7/10
Serbia: 'Oro' 6/10
France: 'Divine' 5/10

Therefore, my total Top 6 is like this (see my previous posts):

1. Norway: 'Hold on be strong' 10/10
Maria Haukaas Storeng

2. Croatia: 'Romanca' 9/10

Danmark: 'All Night Long' 9/10
Simon Mathew

4. Armenia: 'Qele Qele' 8/10

Switzerland: 'Era stupendo' 8/10
Paolo Meneguzzi

Germany: 'Disappear' 8/10

Eurovision Song Contest 2008 (second semifinal)

The second semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 will take place on Thursday, May 22nd. Here are my evaluations, after a very quick listen:

1. Croatia: 'Romanca' 9/10

Danmark: 'All Night Long' 9/10
Simon Mathew

3. Switzerland: 'Era stupendo' 8/10
Paolo Meneguzzi

4. Bulgaria: 'DJ, take me away' 7/10

5. Turkey: 'Deli' 6/10
Mor Ve Ötesi

Czech Republic: 'Have some fun' 6/10
(Memorable line: “If you want to have some fun, don’t run”…)

Belarus: 'Hasta la vista' 6/10
Ruslan Alehno

Cyprus: 'Femme fatale' 6/10

Portugal: 'Senhora Do Mar' 6/10

10. Iceland: 'This is my life' 5/10

Sweden: 'Hero' 5/10

Latvia: 'Wolves of the sea' 5/10

Hungary: 'Szívverés' 5/10

Malta: 'Vodka' 5/10

Macedonia: 'Vo ime na ljubovta' 5/10

16. Ukraine: 'Shady lady' 4/10

Lithuania: 'Nomads In The Night' 4/10

Albania: 'Zemrën E Lamë Peng' 4/10

Georgia: 'Peace Will Come' 4/10

Eurovision Song Contest 2008 (first semifinal)

It's time for another year of the Eurovision song contest. To kill some time while following the soccer results, I listened through the competitors this year. Here is my (very quick) opinion on the strenghts of the songs in the first semi final. (Granted, I've heard the Norwegian song so many times that I've learned to like it...)

1. Norway: 'Hold on be strong' 10/10
Maria Haukaas Storeng

2. Armenia: 'Qele Qele' 8/10

3. Montenegro: 'Zauvijek volim te': 6/10
Stefan Filipovic

Israel: 'Ke'ilo kan' 6/10

Moldova: 'A century of love' 6/10

Poland: 'For life' 6/10

Bosnia: 'Pokusaj' 6/10

Netherlands: 'Your heart belongs to me' 6/10

9. San Marino: 'Complice' 5/10

Ireland: 'Irlande Douze Pointe' 5/10

Romania: 'Pe o margine de lume' 5/10

Russia: 'Believe' 5/10
Dima Bilan

Greece: 'Secret combination' 5/10

14. Estonia: 'Leto Svet' 4/10

Azerbaijan: 'Day after day' 4/10

Slovenia: 'Vrag naj vzame' 4/10

Andorra: 'Casanova' 4/10

18. Belgium: 'O Julissi Na Jalini' 2/10

Finland: 'Missä miehet ratsastaa' 2/10

"Move over, Sydney!"

Originally uploaded by BjørnS.
Dagbladet has an article today, speculating on whether the new opera in Oslo may do what the opera in Sydney did for Sydney. It quotes tourists saying "Move over, Sydney!" :-)

For me, "meeting" the Sydney opera house "in person" is the strongest experience I've ever had with a building. I was amazed and awestruck. The new opera in Oslo almost matches that feeling.

Here's a photo from yesterday - at least we see that the opera already attracts many people.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Great insults

I listened to a comedy show, where they asked their audience for their best excuses. One guy in the audience answered: "If I had an excuse, I wouldn't have been here!"

Two other great insults from my immediate family:
While preparing for a party, Peter asks Neil if he has a spare tie. Before Neil has the time to reply, John says: "That's a stupid question: if he had more than one tie, would he have chosen this one?"

The best answer when somebody claims something is "below their dignity":

(Do you have any great insults? Use the comment field. Notice that this is the only time you are allowed to use the comment field for insults... :-)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Håkon Kvæken

Norwegian athletes keep throwing off their clothes for nude photographer John Andresen. See more photos.

Håkon Kvæken is, apparently, a straight track and field athlete from Løten, who is now studying at Handelshøyskolen BI in Oslo. It is an interesting trend that more and more athletes contribute in this way - I can't really understand why they do it, except for the fun of it. There's probably not much money involved, their name recognition doesn't really improve that much locally (where the sponsors are, anyway) and it certainly doesn't help them improve their athletic skills. But on the other hand, when did "for the fun of it" become a bad reason to do something? :-)

Movie: Gymnaslærer Pedersen

"Gymnaslærer Pedersen" ("Pedersen: High-School Teacher") is based on Dag Solstad's book about a man who is swept away with the AKP-ML movement (The workers' communist party - the Marxist-Leninists) in the 1970s. While the movie is funny (in a low-key way) and visually beautiful at times, the underlying story is sad. Believing in Chinese propaganda, AKP-ML saw Mao as a liberator of the masses and not as the despot he was. They believed in a revolution in Norway, and had a way of looking at life which, when seen from the present point of view, contributes greatly to the humour of the film, but which was dead serious at the time.

AKP-ML was mostly an academic movement, and while many members gave up their academic jobs to "join" the working classes, the working classes did not always want to be joined by them. This is very well portrayed in this movie.

The movie features some of Norway's best actors, and it gives a realistic glimpse of the 1970s in many ways. However, it got a bit too long.

It is also interesting to consider whether the same could have happened today. Could a political movement be based on a basic misunderstanding of what happened in another country? Well, there are actually some people who believe in the success of the North Korean government, but most people are able to find proofs to the contrary...

The movie made me think a bit. But I guess the book may be better...

Gymnaslærer Pedersen (2006)
Directed by Hans Petter Moland

Main actors:
Kristoffer Joner as Gymnaslærer Knut Pedersen
Ane Dahl Torp as Nina Skåtøy