I didn't make it to the Nordic Film Festival to see Niceland - Population 1,000,002 when it came out. Friðrik Þór Friðriksson is one of my favorite movie directors, I even got to interview him once in 1992 before he got famous and I was hoping to maybe be a famous film critic one day. After the interview I tagged along to the bar with him and his cronies, telling him about a translation I just did of Einar Kárason (another one of the Bad Boys of Iceland, they are all about my age and describe the pain of growing up when we did, except only from their perspective. There is always a pissing-in-the-snow/river/garden scene in all of their works, it seems). They just kind of mocked me, and I realized I really didn't know much of anything about movies. So I spent a lot of time learning.

I wrote a biography of Friðrik Þór as an exercise for my E-Learning unit on plagiarism (and put it on the Wikipedia as a nasty surprise for the teachers taking the course, thinking they have caught a plagiarist when it is the author herself, overeagerly posting her paper to the WP). During the course last week one of the participants noted that he had just read something about Friðrik Þór and mailed me the article the next day: Niceland has been released to Germany. So my next order of business was to go see it.

It was only running at Blow-Up, a theater in PrenzelBerg that shows wacky movies and doesn't have many patrons on a Wednesday night. WiseMan came along, even though he had a) already seen it and b) didn't really like it, but he wanted to keep me company during this at times very depressing film. There were maybe 5 others in the theater.

Niceland is the story of a mildly retarded couple, Jed and Chloe, who work in a factory with other, similarly retarded young adults. One of their friends is played by Timmy Lang, an actor with Down's Syndrome who is just utterly brilliant and funny.

Chloe thinks taking care of her cat is her purpose in life, so when Jed gooses the cat just after asking Chloe to marry him (and getting a yes), the cat tries to dash across traffic in a city that is a strange mixture of little Reykjavik + Glasgow + Frankfurt/Main, getting itself killed.

Chloe falls into a deep depression, so Jed decides to figure out the purpose of life for her. He hears a crackpot on TV who lives in a junkyard talk about knowing the purpose of life but not telling, so he packs a bag and moves into the junkyard.

Jed's father works selling TVs, and there are many wonderful scenes with many, many TVs in them, showing identical pictures, as well as shots of many bored couples vegged out on the sofa watching the tube. The film even starts with Chloe and Jed vegged out on a sofa seeming to watch TV - they are in a furniture store, pretending it is their apartment, before they get chased away.

Jed and Max, the guy in the junkyard, have a very dark, very depressing, very strange relationship peppered with many attempts by Max to kill himself. But in the end, Max reveals the purpose of life to Jed, namely, that everyone has to figure this out for themselves.

Chloe miraculously recovers and marries Jed at the junkyard, in a gorgeous white bride's dress with Max officiating. A very bizarre, Friðrik Þór-like ending. I don't think this will be a box-office hit. But nice when you have made so much money that you can afford to make a film like this. Hmm, maybe he's growing up - I don't recall a pissing scene in this one.

Oh, and I found a description of how to find your purpose in life in 20 minutes or so.

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