Friday, July 25, 2008

Movie: Death at a Funeral

This movie is trying to make fun of everything that can go wrong at a funeral. One of the main story lines is people taking valium, only to figure out too late that it's not valium, it's LSD. I acknowledge that I might have found this hilarious if I was in a particularly good mood (or even better; half drunk), but tonight it didn't work for me. The movie stays only half-funny most of the time, which is not good enough. The toilet humour didn't help, either.

The cast is excellent - some of Britain's finest actors take part in this movie, and it's not mainly their fault that the movie didn't really succeed.

Death at a Funeral (2007)

Director: Frank Oz

Main actors:
Matthew Macfadyen as Daniel
Keeley Hawes as Jane
Andy Nyman as Howard
Ewen Bremner as Justin
Kris Marshall as Troy
Rupert Graves as Robert

Four Monterrey Museums

Yesterday was the big day for visiting museums. My colleague and I visited four museums – all of them conveniently located near the Monterrey’s Gran Plaza.

The first was Museo de Historia Mexicana. There were no temporary exhibitions on display, but the permanent exhibition was well designed, telling the history of Mexico through original artefacts combined with models of people and interactive media. For a mathematician, the hands-on approach to the Maya numeral system was particularly interesting, where you could move “stones” and “sticks” from one side to the other, having the computer calculating which number you were representing. The Maya calendars were explained in a similarly interactive way. The big models of major pyramid sites in Mexico, combined with videos from the sites, were also interesting. All in all: well worth a look!

The second museum we visited was the Museo del Noreste. The rain was pouring down as we were exiting the Museo de Historia Mexicana, and as the Museo del Noreste is connected to Museo de Historia Mexicana by a indoor bridge and it was even included in the same ticket, we chose to have a look. We saw a temporary exhibition on Spanish history (which was not uninteresting, but our mind was not completely set to European history lessons on our first full day in Mexico) and the permanent exhibition on the history of Northeastern Mexico (which we walked through even more quickly). Not bad – but not exactly what we were looking for. As we left this museum, however, the rain had stopped for a while, so the Museo del Noreste did its job in keeping us occupied.

The third museum was Museo del Palacio. My experience from several cities is that as the museums narrow down their focus to smaller and smaller geographical areas, the museums get less and less interesting. This was certainly the case for me here. Museo del Palacio tells the story of the district Nuevo Leon. This was also a well-designed display set in a beautiful building (the State Government Palace), but we walked through quickly. Maybe better support for non-Spanish readers might have helped – while all signs around the museum were in Spanish, English-readers got the the possibility of reading large chunks of text at the beginning of each of the four main parts.

The highlight of the day, however, was the MARCO (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey), which was a beautiful building with a cute bird outside (by Juan Soriano). Inside, the permanent exhibitions were closed, but there were two interesting temporary exhibitions: one on the photography of Loretta Lux, the other on the paintings of Tomás Sánchez. This was an interesting combination.

Loretta Lux’s artworks were photos of children dressed in unmodern, which she had digitally manipulated and placed against a background. This was not done in a “technically perfect” way – the child often “stood out” against the background in an “unnatural way”, two children were placed next to each other in anatomically impossible ways (as if they were paper dolls). Moreover, the children’s skin colours were manipulated. The total result was one of unease – the children looked misplaced, pale, in unfamiliar surroundings. Although several of the photos were in themselves interesting, my main thought after seeing lots and lots of them was “why keep doing this instead of exploring something new?”

Tomás Sánchez’ paintings were mostly of nature, in which one, small person was often placed, titled “the meditator” or such. The theme “small man in big, beautiful nature” seemed to be in most paintings, and the paintings bordered on kitch. (The line between these paintings and the “moose at sunset” genre seemed thin.) However, there were a few very different paintings, in which nature did not consist of trees but of garbage. Here, the “message” was even clearer than in the others. Particularly interesting was the one in which Jesus Christ was lying on a garbage dump, crucified and naked, and where paintings of Sánchez were also lying around. (It could be argued, of course, that it was not Jesus, but just some random, naked, crucified man.) Most of the paintings were beautiful as well as technically great – but of debateable artistic value.

The contrast between the two artists is great. Lux’ photos are almost minimalistic. They are unnatural. She uses technical imperfections to convey some sort of artificiality. She does not have a clear message. Sánchez’ paintings are huge, showing a tiny man in breathtaking surroundings. They are (mostly) technically great paintings, but still does not seem natural (they are certainly “set up”, unnaturally beautiful and with a human figure in just the right place). His message seems clear – almost too clear to bear.

Walking through these two exhibitions was fun. The museum building was great.

All in all: what better to do than visit museums during a rainy day in Monterrey?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Colour changing card trick

I hadn't seen this before - amazing!

Movie: Married Life

First of all: I saw this movie on UA909 from Amsterdam to Chicago. The screen was perhaps 6 inches and the sound was often disguised by the engines. Therefore, it may not be altogether fair to give the movie a score at all.

However, I did like the setup of this film. For some reason, I think there was something a bit film noir-ish about it. I also liked the fact that it was set in 1940s – it was stylish, and a bit nostalgic. However, personally, I didn’t think Chris Cooper (in the lead role) managed to portray the complex character that Harry Allen was supposed to be.

But the again – anything is better than just staring at the seat in front of you for eight hours.

Married Life (2007)

Main actors:
Pierce Brosnan as Richard Langley
Chris Cooper as Harry Allen
Patricia Clarkson as Pat Allen

Movie: Ice Age 2

Even though this movie at times more is a series of fun ideas than a connected whole, I did enjoy another meeting with these guys – especially the mammoth and the squirrel are great characters.

But there's not really much more to say about it...

Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006)

Directed by Carlos Saldanha

Movie: Sicko

Of course, Michael Moore is kicking in open doors in this movie - every thinking non-US citizen on this planet knows that the US health care system is a mess compared to many other rich countries. He does, however, kick in the open doors in a quite entertaining way. For instance, it is quite fun to see him asking British, French and Canadians how much their stay in hospital will cost them. For most of the developed world, it makes sense to leave that bill to the government.

Ethical issues aside, by which economic calculation does it make sense to let people die just because their insurance company has come up with some excuse for not paying?

The last part is especially touching, in which people who have struggled for years to afford proper examinations, go to Cuba and get them for free. At the same time, I guess this makes the movie a bit less convincing for many US people, as they will start confusing universal health care with socialism again.

The way Michael Moore hands readers to is a bit strange, though.

Sicko (2007)

Directed by Michael Moore

Main actors:
Michael Moore

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tarik Elyounoussi

According to Aftenposten, Tarik Elyounoussi will quit Fredrikstad to join Dutch club Heerenveen. Good for them - but Norwegian soccer will lose a colorful person...

Sunday, July 06, 2008


The men's Wimbledon final was a thriller, and although it is hard to describe it in words, the score tells a lot: 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 7-9! An instant classic. And the winner? Rafael Nadal, denying Roger Federer his sixth Wimbledon win in a row.

Roskilde nude run 2008

Again, Roskilde music festival has had its nude run. Naked festival goers - boys and girls - have been running naked for the chance of getting a free festival pass for next years festival.

Dagbladet's photos
VG's article, based on
Ekstrabladet's coverage.

Last year's nude run

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Magnus Carlsen #6

On the FIDE Top 100 players list for July, Magnus Carlsen is number 6, as the Aerosvit Tournament in Foros was not included. He is #2 on the unofficial "live top list".

1 Anand, Viswanathan IND - 2798
2 Morozevich, Alexander RUS - 2788
3 Kramnik, Vladimir RUS - 2788
4 Ivanchuk, Vassily UKR - 2781
5 Topalov, Veselin BUL - 2777
6 Carlsen, Magnus NOR - 2775
7 Radjabov, Teimour AZE - 2744
8 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar AZE - 2742
9 Shirov, Alexei ESP - 2741
10 Leko, Peter HUN - 2741

It's an amazing jump in a short time - I notice that in April 2007, I was thrilled that he was number 22...

Jay brannan sings "Bæ, bæ, lille lam"

As noted in the post on Jay Brannan's concert, he surprised his audience by singing "Bæ, bæ, lille lam" - a well-known Norwegian children's song. Here it is!

(By the way, Jay Brannan's album is out now...)