Sunday, April 27, 2008

[stóra planid] almost a gangster film

This blog has long been a fan of Iceland Review not just for classic stories such as Salmon Fishing is Better compared to an Average Year but for the uniquely quaint style of English in their reports.

This film review by the soon to be acclaimed Egill M. Arnarsson is no exception to this fine tradition, being arguably one of the finest film reviews this blogger has read in years - it will almost certainly reward your close attention [and good English].

Catch the Icelandic subtitled trailer here, courtesy of Poppoli.

Stóra Planid [almost a gangster film]

Award-winning director Ólafur Jóhannesson moved back to Iceland to make an Icelandic feature that is almost a kung-fu film and almost a gangster film. The film features debt-collectors, a well-known and mocked profession in Iceland, as weak thugs on the quest for a higher status in a questionable gang.

Considering that the Icelandic film scene is blossoming at the same time that organized crime in Iceland is on the rise, Stóra Planid’s timing is perfect. Pétur Jóhann Sigfússon, whose star is shining brightly these days, plays the lead as Davíd in Stóra Planid. He won the stand-up competition “Iceland’s Funniest Person” and got a spot in a silly TV show on a small network.

However, his roles have always been similar, and in fact, some might say that he plays the same character over and over again. His role as Davíd is no different. But even though Sigfússon did a great job, the Icelandic nation yearns to know if awkward and repressed characters are the only thing he is capable of acting.

Other roles and aspects

Thorleifsson delivers his role with great professionalism while Imperioli’s well-known face and accent-free English did not cast a shadow on the others’ performances. Benedikt Erlingsson (Fóstbraedur) and Stefan C. Schaefer’s characters were surprisingly well-written and added hilarious details (i.e. Erlingsson’s horse whip and boat-modeling interest) to a number of scenes.

The screenplay by director Jóhannesson and Ómar Örn Hauksson was mostly well-written, but a bit vague on key plots in the storyline. Also, it was missing a climax and highlights causing it to be a bit flat. An example of that is an awkward, unexpected sex scene without the traditional raw nudity and passionate moans, never before seen in an Icelandic film.

Rune Kippervik’s cinematography overdosed on heavy depth-of-field usage, which was a huge discomfort to the eye. A few shots seemed experimental and some lower-lit scenes were a bit grainy. The editing, however, often had good timing which compensated a little for some of the most annoying shots.

And in conclusion

The film breaks a huge chunk of the barrier between international and Icelandic filmmaking and pushes the limit of domestic film standards and creativity.

Catch the Icelandic subtitled trailer here, courtesy of Poppoli.

Perfect [almost]

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