TV Review: Trapped Series 2

Icelandic crime thriller Trapped returns for a heart-breakingly good second series

“Does this concern politics, or is this a family affair?”

It can seem like we’re swimming in acclaimed Nordic crime series but Baltasar Kormákur’s Ófærð (also known by its English title Trapped) was the one worth catching in 2016. Its first series had an ingenious concept which saw its cast literally trapped by the wintry weather in a remote Icelandic town and perhaps wisely, Series 2 opts for a different season and a different setting in which to reunite its crime-fighting team.

So we’re in the northern town of Siglufjörður and though he’s now based in Reykjavík, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson’s police chief Andri finds himself drawn to an unfolding case which has both professional and personal implications. And topically, writers Sigurjón Kjartansson and Clive Bradley draw in a number of hot button topics – homophobia, Islamophobia folded into a general sense of the rise of the Far Right, plus a dose of environmental exploitation to amp up the relevance points. Continue reading “TV Review: Trapped Series 2”

Film Review: Under the Tree (2017)

A savagely dark comedy from Iceland, Under the Tree/Undir trénu is a film to look out for

“It had nothing to do with emotion”

Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson’s Under the Tree (or Undir trénu in his natice Icelandic) is proof that there’s nothing so dangerous as suburbia, no matter which country you’re in. A wickedly dark, sharply comic and tensely plotted film, it scorches through the false comfort of liberal pretensions about loving your neighbour and suggests something far more unsettling about human nature.

The first crack in the veneer comes from afar. Lára Jóhanna Jónsdóttir’s Agnes walks in on Steinþór Hróar Steinþórsson’s Atli having a hand shandy to an old sex tape of him and another woman. With nowhere left to go when she kicks him out, he moves back in with his parents in their suburban home. They are otherwise distracted though by a long-simmering dispute with their neighbours about a tree that casts a shadow over some prime sunbathing real estate. Continue reading “Film Review: Under the Tree (2017)”

Short Film Review #36

Tortoise, written and directed by Andy Bloom, details the relationship between two teenage brothers who live a sheltered life deep in rural isolation. Things are made worse by the presence of their violent and unpredictable father, a brilliantly unlikeable Matthew Kelly, who dominates their every waking moment and so older brother Charlie, a steely-jawed Tom Hughes, has determined to escape the situation. Problem is the more fragile Billy, a cowed Rob Ostlere, isn’t completely sure and so they’ve waited for over a year until finally provoked once too many. Grim but reflective, a powerful reminder of how they fuck you up, your mum and dad. Sometimes. 

Small Things 
 
Another trip into Icelandic Cinema Online threw up this little gem, Small Things or Litlir Hlutir by Davíð Óskar Ólafsson. A Lantana-like confection, combining together disparate stories and characters into one interconnected world where one small thing for one person sets in chain huge events for others. Gripping stuff which you can watch for a euro here. http://icelandiccinema.com/watch/187  Continue reading “Short Film Review #36”

Review: Faust, Young Vic

“He will have to combine the rough with the smooth;
Only then will he find his Faustian groove”

Vesturport are an Icelandic theatre company whose innovative approach to theatre has seen them involve actors variously underwater, climbing up walls and clambering across ceilings and performing without makeup. Their new play, a free interpretation of Goethe’s Faust, is a co-production with Reykjavík City Theatre and has been chosen as one of the first plays in the Young Vic’s 40th anniversary season.

Starting off in an old people’s home at Christmastime and an attempted suicide by Jóhann, a gruff actor who after quite some persuasion begins to read the story of the one major role he has never played, Faust. It then riffs off on the Faust story as we know it, taking us on something of an epic journey, somewhat recognisable but at the same time completely different. This ends up as less an exercise in coherent, emotive storytelling than an exhilarating, acrobatics-filled rollercoaster of a production, set to music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis (one of the Bad Seeds) that uses the space of the Young Vic like nothing I’ve seen before. Continue reading “Review: Faust, Young Vic”