After one and a half years in Notodden, a new home, a family and … full professorship! This, along with a three-month book-writing grant from Telemark University College should put me on firm tracks to finish the next big thing for me: the book with the working title From meaning to sense: Social science in motion. More on this here in this blog!
Posts Tagged ‘Norway’
The title pun of Upperdog is not the most witty thing that I have ever encountered in cinema. It does its job though, since it hints at some of the drama that guides the plot of this movie. Should I face my past even if it is so much worse than the present and does not seem to have anything to do with the now? Should I face the underdog side of me, now that I am part of the upper class? In this film, a passionate affair of the upperdog with a real underdog, a migrant who works as a housemaid for the Upperdog’s parents, is needed to get things into motion.
For me, some parts movie were a bit like the title: a bit too close to the cliché to be really convincing. Maid = passionate affair. Adopting parents = cluelessness about their kid’s real emotions. But luckily, things are a bit more complicated, since there is another plot of almost equal importance, one that involves a Norwegian soldier returning from Afghanistan, where he killed an innocent. He is haunted by nightmares and the anti-war campaign in his home country and he too needs a woman to face his past and take his destiny into his own hands. Writer and Director Sara Johnsen is presenting two male characters that are completely different – on first sight. But a closer look reveals that they are both caught in different kinds of machismo traps, one as a successful and ruthless alpha male, the other as one who wanted to serve the good by taking up arms.
It is difficult for me to say why this movie did not really convince me – the leads are doing very decent or even good jobs and the two plot lines do not seem to be overly dramatic. But somehow there was no spark for me. Well, maybe that is not true – the scenes between the alpha male and the housemaid provoced some reactions in me (I was affected by their exploitative nature). It is difficult for me to make up my mind about this movie – and I guess that is why I would still recommend watching this movie. It raises some interesting issues – but not because of the bland conflict lines, which we all know too well, but because some of the characters are not very easy to place and it is not clear who could be a good guy here and why…
IMDb entry | Trailer
A man on his own – but not alone. Fighting invaders first in Finland (the Red Army in the Winter War) and later in the capital of his home country: the German Nazis who occupied Oslo from 1940 to 1945. Max Manus is one of the biggest productions of Norwegian cinema and it keeps filling cinemas in Norway and stifling public discussions about the Norwegian resistance movement. It depicts one of the most famous actors of the resistance movement, Max Manus, focusing mostly on the sabotage acts that he did together with the other members of the Oslo-Gang. Max Manus is very much the prototype of the Norwegian male: an adventurer, a man who is not too dependent on others, a man who travels through nature, who suffers pain without much ado, and a man who is adored by women and the king. But he also is a man that has a hard time to control the inner turmoil that he is experiencing. The main actor, Aksel Hennie does a good job of portraying the man and his conflicts – it becomes clear that his war experiences are a source of attacks of depression and alcohol abuse, that his love to a married woman is difficult to handle, and that his friendships are as important as they are vulnurable – because he knows that many of his friends will or did die in the fight against the invaders.
The rest of the movie is also well done. Good camera, nice settings and a solid plot that seems to be pretty close to the real life events. The Germans, mostly the local Gestapo officer Fehmer, played by the attractive Ken Duken, are portayed in a way that makes it obvious that the writer and the directors did not want to fall into a Nazi-cliché or into German-bashing. This aspect would have been even more more plausible if more would be shown about the occupation. The way the story goes now, it does not tell a stroy about the victims of the occupation, about the ways in which everyday life changed (or didn’t change), and about those who collaborated with the NS regime. Nonetheless, the movie is certainly worth watching – both from a historical and an entertainment perspective. I haven’t been too gripped by the story or the characters, but I think that this is mostly because I had to read the Norwegian subtitles all the time. Since I am still a very slow reader in Norwegian and an even worse listener, much of my attention was focused on keeping up with what is being said instead of breathing the rich atmosphere of the film.
IMDb entry | Trailer
A Norwegian movie set in the time right after the Berlin Wall came down, telling a story that is both universal und very much located in a particular setting. The medium sized town of Stavanger and it’s suburban surroundings feature as much into the movie as the particular Lebensgefühl of the time: Music (heavily featured are The Cure, Joy Division, Jesus and Mary Chain, etc.), a strange mix of feeling exhilaration about the future and being deeply disappointed with the world, and a strange, unknown feeling that one is getting closer to the end of one’s adolescence. Being in love and being insecure, posing and crying, doing sports and hanging out in your bed, meeting your buddies and sitting on your parent’s sofa watching TV. I really liked this movie because I could relate to it on so many different levels and because the actors are doing good jobs in difficult roles. However, I was not absorbed by the drama, and I could not really connect to many of the characters. Maybe the script was a bit too explicit about some things and maybe the camera did not find the right angles to provide us with sequences that offered us a glimpse into why the characters do what they do. With the exception of the main character, Jarle Klepp, the others remain mostly real depth. We don’t know why the beautiful and utterly cool Cathrine (played by Ida Elise Broch) feels the same ennui as Jarle and his buddies. We have dialogue telling us that the parents of one of Jarle’s friends are highly educated, but we don’t know much about his motivations beyond that. Maybe the film should have been a little longer, maybe the camera should have rested on the characters a little bit more, but as it is now, many characters remained too flat for my taste. Nonetheless, the film was really nice – it could only have been even better. It could have been as good as Fucking Åmål. I would recommend to watch The Man Who Loved Yngve in a nice theater with friends who like to discuss a movie afterwards – something like the Ryder in Bloomington.
IMDb entry | Trailer
Things are developing nicely. We moved into our very cozy new apartment, the nice weather still allowing us to have our dinner outside on the balcony in the late afternoon sun. I moved into my new office (in the building displayed to the left), where I could not only attach all my electronic devices and even get full network access without having to jump through hooks but also enjoy a nice view on one of the central campus plazas – with the Holmenkollen in the background! And I started to participate in the informal daily institute lunches (lunch is spelled lunsj in Norwegian), where I struggle myself through the Norwegian conversations – not overly successful yet, but I am working on it.
That would be the Norway-motto for these days. The press laments the unexpectedly low number of gold medals won by Norwegian athletes in the Olympic Games so far. (About fourteen gold medals were expected, two have been won until day eleven.)
There is a recompensation though: Norway, or at least the Oslo region, has more snow than it had for many years. Everything is puffy and white and glistening. We already did two nordic skiing tours. The fist went on for almost three hours (we went from Sognsvann to Hammeren and even a bit further) and caused considerably sore muscles for the female participant of the trip. Yesterday, we were on our first night tour: we departed at 20:25 h and came back two hours later. Although we went uphill almost all of the time and although we raced back downhill later on, we only had one or two falls each and it seems as if the muscles don’t complain as much as they did three days before. Skiing at night is a fun experience, but one should not expect it to be a lonely experience: the electrically lighted cross-country ski run was still well-used – not as many people as there were last Saturday, but still a lot.
I am sorry to tell you that for the next two weeks I probably won’t be able to post entries to this blog. I will leave Oslo for Kristiansand tomorrow. Starting there, the Bornholdt familiy and yours truly will travel up the west coast of Norway for the next two weeks. I am looking forward to do some hiking, having good food, playing board and card games, reading novels, and working a tiny bit on my dissertation. And all of this offline. :)
When I arrived in Torp Airport thursday afternoon, the world was blanketed under snow and the twigs of the trees were collecting frost out of the air. On Friday the temperatures slowly began to rise, and Kerstin bought her new skis. Yesterday the temperatures were slightly above zero; Kerstin and I went out to actually do some skiing. Today it is even warmer, though it should still be possible to do some nordic skiing around Sognsvann, where Kerstin is living. The forecasts say that for the next few days the temperatures will stay above zero – I must say that I would have been disappointed if I would have arrived on a day when the snow was already melting, somehow that just takes the beauty away…
Für die, die noch nix Süsses in Norwegen gekauft haben: Ich empfehle Kvikk Lunsj (ja, dieses Wort wird genauso ausgesprochen, wie man, leicht belustigt, denkt). Kvikk Lunsj ist dem hierzulande verkauften KitKat anverwandt jedoch selbigem überlegen und ausserdem Teil der Nationalkultur: kein anderer Schokoriegel hat solche Präsenz im öffentlichen Raum – ein längerer Blick aus dem Fenster der T-Bahn genügt, um mehrere Kvikk Lunsj Reklamen in unterschiedlicher Ausgebleichtheit zu sehen. Und das schon seit Jahren!
Hierzulande sollte man ja Nuts essen. Das Problem bei diesen beiden Schokoriegeln ist natürlich, das sie beim Verzehr möglichst frisch sein sollten. Aufgrund der hohen Verbreitung von Kvikk Lunsj in Norwegen fällt das dort leicht, der Umsatz ist hoch genug. Der Nuts Umsatz in Deutschland allerdings lässt sehr zu wünschen übrig, was dem Nuts Enthusiasten gar nicht behagt. Snickers-Menschen mögen da wohl kichern wollen, aber dieses Kreuz zu tragen nehmen wir Freunde des Nutskonsums gern in Kauf. Das ist Distinktion via Schokoriegel und deshalb hier auch der richtigen Kategorie zugeordnet.
Nur nebenbei: Habe gerade die erste Gliederung für meine Dissertation fertig gestellt.
To get back to the wonderful German saying “to make yourself to the spoon” (literal translation of “sich zum Löffel machen”“, which is more accurately translated as “make a spoon of yourself”) I want to report something which I just saw on NRK 1, a public Norwegian TV channel. A high ranking, uniformed police officer was interviewed about the recent theft of The Scream, the famous painting by Edvard Munch. During the interview he pulled a mask over his face, a mask like the one used by the robbers in the museum. Funny thing is, he kept this mask on for quite a while, answering the questions of the interviewer in the most serious manner. It was totally hilarious. It has been a while since I saw a uniformed person make himself to the spoon in front of a camera in such a blatant way. Still extraordinarily amused, yours truly.
This morning Kerstin told me that VG, Norway’s popular yellow press newpaper, features a story in which we are told that last Sunday, temperatures in Oslo have been higher than in any other European capital. Awesome! Now, that’s something to celebrate! Wohooo!