a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Fridrik Thor Fridriksson’

Hera Hilmar, Rising Icelandic Star!

Meet Hera Hilmar! Really, Hera Hilmarsdottir, a beauteous Rising Icelandic star, who I met at the Toronto International Film Festival on a very hot, uncharacteristically tropical 100 degree day! She went to Lamda and lives in London, but Hollywood is knocking on Hera’s door! She’s irresistible! The film she was at TIFF with was called “Life in a Fishbowl.”

icelandic Film Festival at Film Society of Lincoln Center

I have always been enthralled by Icelandic Cinema, and also dismayed by the almost complete lack of attention paid to it state-side. But the American glacier of indifference is slowly melting as evidenced by the historic Icelandic retrospective of films recently on display by the enterprising Film Society of Lincoln Center, which just had a very big spring with their Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in March.
Scheduled directly opposite the Tribecca Film Fest downtown,  this terrific retrospective tribute was struggling to gain media attention, and also public attention. But the films are very, very good, some of them unforgettable, and attention must be paid.
I was fortunate to have been in Reykjavik twice in its’ banner season of 1999-2000, when Baltasar Kormakur who is now one of the main forces in Icelandic cinema, had his first film “101 Reykjavik” a GLBT comedy/romance about lesbian marriage starring Spain’s Victoria Abril, open to record-breaking box-office attendance in Iceland.
Baltasar was also starring in the true Icelandic legend Fridrik Thor Fridriksson’s “Angels of the Universe” as a stuttering madman who thinks he is a Beatle.
The Film Society proclaimed “Angels of the Universe” as “Fridriksson’s masterpiece” having seen the film four or five times now over the years(once without English subtitles!) I can only heartily concur.
“Angels” is a haunting, beautifully rendered cry of great pain from the great heart of Fridriksson as he charts the downward spiral of schizophrenia in the true story of his best friend’s brother. Based on Einar Gudmundsson’s prize-winning book, its’ a compassionate, violent and also very funny look at Iceland’s attitude towards the insane. Ingvar Sigurdsson’s Pall is wrenchingly memorable as the central character who longs to paint or play music or SOMEthing, before his world fades inevitably to black.
And  the asylum he is sent to is almost a respite from the endless white noise in his head. There he encounters Baltasar Kormakur’s crazed/shy Beatles’ maniac, who stutters and strums his way into the viewers heart with an Icelandic “Hey Jude.” Kormakur utterly captivates the audience as he befriends the friendless Pall, who doesn’t seem insane to him at all.
The scene where they, on an illicit afternoon out, end up having the most expensive and delicious dinner of their lives at the Hotel Holt (yes, the Hotel Holt. I must be Icelandic going back centuries…) and then getting arrested when they, of course, try to walk out on their bill, It’s a hilarious set-piece and also heart-breaking as you realize this will never ever again happen in their imprisoned lives.
And there  is the suicide of another chain-smoking inmate played memorably by Hylmir Snaer Gudnsasson. Who was also the star of Baltasar’s “101 Reykjavik.”
And did I mention Baltasar was also directing “Midsummer’s Night Dream” at the National Theatre of Iceland while starring in another production there of “A Doll’s House.”? He’s a one-man Icelandic powerhouse.
Iceland also produces incredibly talented and versatile actors, by the dozens(literally) who populate the films in “Images” from the Edge” over and over again. In a country which now has a population of 320,000, there is a lot of artistic overlap, and because of the small size of its’ vibrant and highly creative film and theater community, actors are expected to be as skilled at drama, and comedy, and even musicals.And they are. Because if they want to work constantly, they have to be.
Baltasar Kormakur also proved a vital action hero in this festival’s “Reykjavik Rotterdam”(2008) directed by Oskar Jonasson. It’s a pulse pounding thriller, which had the highest audience turn-out so far at Lincoln Center this Sunday. You’ll be familiar with this story of luckless drug smuggling sailors as Kormakur just directed Mark Wahlberg in its’ American language re-incarnation this spring. It was “Contraband” and it made # 1 at the box-office, the first time any Icelandic director has ever done this American hat-trick, and it has catapulted Kormakur into directing Wahlberg’s next feature starring him and Denzel Washington and Paula Patton now lensing in New Orleans.
In addition to Fridrik Thor Fridriksson’s magnificent “Angels of the Universe”(2000),this towering almost -Viking figure, had THREE other films in the Festival, one of them “Rock in Reykjavik” from 1982, a doc on Iceland’s red-hot music scene, featuring a teen-aged Byork, in her then group called Tappi Tikarrass.Also “White Whales” (1987) and an installation in , off the main foyer of the Walter Reade Theater called “The Circle” or “Ring-Road” which looped constantly  in the Furman gallery, And hypnotized all who watched it as the camera,as Fridriksson described it, “moving at the speed of light” down Iceland’s all encompassing Hwy.No .1 which literally rings the island.
Set in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, this isolated volcanic island of poets, artists, actors and filmmakers touches the Arctic Circle. And anyone who seeks out any of these marvelous films(too numerous to mention here) will also be touched by this enchanted island’s magical allure. Iceland itself is always the main character in any of its’ films. I can’t wait to go back.
If only “Angels of the Universe” had been shown at the New York Film Festival when it was originally made in 2000! Now 12 years later, it’s getting its’ due But I was shocked to discover that no Icelandic film,  as EVER been shown in the prestigious NYFF. I think after this colossal “Images from the Edge” retrospective festival, things will be different in the future.
It ran through April 26.

Day Three – Eaten. Day Four-Riot at the Scotia Bank!

Oh no! My third day at TIFF has disappeared completely! And I was so happy — yesterday…

Saw the Best Film Of the Year “The King’s Speech” and interviewed both Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush! As well as their British/Australian director Tom Hooper. Who nicknamed me their “Oscar Messenger”! I think I’ll add it as a subtitle! A.K.A THE OSCAR MESSENGER!

And — all of it has disappeared!

And now I’m feeling absolutely sick, because I was caught in a near mob scene, yes, TIFF does it again! It this was Day Four RUINED! Because like an idiot I was made to stand for over an hour waiting to get into see Danny Boyle’s new movie “127 Hours” which is how long it felt standing in that line! With  over 1000 people and the airconditioning not really working. And Cameron Bailey, TIFF’s CEO, rising to his full height, which must be over six feet and operating in crowd control mode, if not riot…People were sooo weakened by this….

I’m just a shadow of my former self. My knees are KILLING me. And I’m afraid to go back into that building, the Scotia Bank, again….Makes the case for going to Telluride, doesn’t it?

But I did see two movies this morning. Marion Cotillard’s “Little White Lies” and also Fridrik Thor Fridriksson’s best film in AGES “Mama Gogo” Icelandic, of course. And I just loved it. About a filmmaker(obviously him) played by  my old friend Hylmer Snaer Gudnudsson, trying to get a film made while his senior citizen mother, Mama Gogo, is losing it to Alzheimer’s. I loved it.

Tomorrow is going to be a killer day. What with the Bell Lightbox opening, then the Woody Allen press conference which is now an AUDIO press conference. No video allowed. And then Marion herself and my big reunion with her both of these in the Four Seasons, then I’m supposedly back at the Scene-Of-the-Riot the Scotia Bank…to interview Fridrik…something tells me, we won’t be getting back downtown for that one…

I am so upset that the Blog about “The King’s Speech” disappeared! I was so excited, and it truly was a wonderful, wonderful film experience! One of the best I’ll ever have! IN MY LIFE! A high so high that it justifies all you have to go through for TIFF’s sake. It was magnificent. The audience was transfixed. An audience of CRITICS no less. Who applauded. Laughed. And the at the end didn’t want to leave. They stayed and READ THE CREDITS?!?! Oscar nominations for everyone! And the buzz now is that Colin Firth has won the Oscar…

Depends entirely on how sick Michael Douglas is – or isn’t…

I met Peggy Siegel in the sweltering hallway outside the “King’s Speech” junket in a remote part of the building that no one knew was there! Talk about clandestine!?!? Is Colin Firth THAT famous? Well, he sure is the talk of the Festival!

I typed this all yesterday and now I am just repeating myself. But it was a sublime movie and a sublime moment for me and him and Geoffrey Rush and their director, Tom Hooper, who all seemed astonished that I was their “Oscar messenger.” I think Tom Hooper said that.

I told Colin that it was the Best Film of the Year and that it’s one of the greatest screen performances EVAH! And it is…

I’m not overstating this. Everyone here is just breath-took by it. And I think it only had ONE measly P&I screening and won’t be seen in the States until November.

I also told Colin that he was going to win every single critics award and was for sure going to get nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor and that he COULD win.

This was after saying two days ago when I saw Wall Street 2 that it was Michael Douglas’…!!! OOOPS! I knew Colin was the other contender and I knew he would be very, very good. Excellent, too. But I didn’t judge that it would be a HISTORIC performance! But it is! It’s one of the great screen performances.

I told Colin this and he was really non-plussed. At a loss for words. And then he wondered whether or not he really would win…I think after losing last year to Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart” he’s not at all sure about things like this…

I said his role had everything. He’s playing a Royal. Brit, Brit, Brit AND he’s disabled. He’s got a handicap. His stutter, which is a VERY hard thing to play and play convincingly and SUSTAIN it for the entire film.

Geoffrey Rush is equally sublime as the Australian speech teacher who helps him overcome it and he’s equally magnificent.

He’ll be nominated for Best Supporting Actor and even though he already has an Oscar he could win there, too.

AND they’ve got Harvey Weinstein behind them!

The film that this reminded me the most of was “Shakespeare in Love” which Rush also scored a Supporting nom for but he didn’t win, though the film did. And Gwyneth. AND Colin Firth was actually  in that movie, too, as Gwyneth’s disliked fiancee…

So now I have to change my Facebook headline. Two days ago it was Michael Douglas’ to lose. But now I think he’s just lost it. To Colin Firth. Well, it will be a big critical hit, f’r sure.

And Colin said to me ON CAMERA “Can I carry you with me everywhere?”(Well, maybe he said “take me with you”…) And I said,

“Yes! I’m ostentatiously available!”

And THEN I get stuck in another TIFF near riot….They should’ve expected this. They had nothing strong programmed AGAINST “129 hours” this afternoon.

MISTAKE!

Opening “The King’s Speech” at the same time as the “Black Swan” as far as P&I is concerned was actually a brilliant stroke of programming. Nobody rioted and everybody got in – to one or the other. NOT THE CASE with “129 Hours.”

This just in — there was a fire alarm! They didn’t tell us! On the anniversary of 9/11!?!?! I could’ve DIED there!

I saw Tom O’Neill and also Rex Reed, at a distance. Neither looked happy. OMG! A BOMB SCARE! Or whatever it was.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: