Donald Simmons (theengineer) wrote,
Donald Simmons

Film Festival Day 1 - Jar City

"It's a typical Icelandic murder, messy and pointless"

My film festival experience this year got off to a harrowing yet impressive start. Harrowing because thanks to the TTC bus I was expecting not arriving at all, instead of being 20 minutes early for the film, I got there just as the opening remarks were going on. Impressive because it was a very good film.

Jar City is the top-grossing domestic film in Icelandic history (based on a best-selling Icelandic mystery), but I don't think the Icelandic Tourist Board is going to give it rave reviews. Wonderfully moody, all the sweeping visuals are of bleak wastelands, and everyone lives in worn down clapboard houses and dingy apartment blocks. The director said it was a deliberate choice, as crime is too often glamorized and he wanted to show how grimy and pathetic it really is.

There's a great scene where our hero (a detective looking into the murder of an elderly loner) spots at a restaurant, gets a sheep's head to go, and back at his apartment just tears into it, popping out an eye first, pulling the jaw off, etc. The director in the Q&A (I would have asked about this if someone hadn't beat me to it) said that they've been eating sheep's heads in Iceland for centuries (unstated: because they didn't have much else), that this wife, who was born and raised in New York, loves them, and that the sales of the restaurant in the film (which was real) went up 300% after the film came out.

NOW didn't like it much, which just proves what they know.
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