Browsing through our public library's DVD collection, I came across a film from my home town—Oslo—that I somehow had never heard of. I borrowed it and took it with me on the overnight flight to Atlanta.
Overnight was just the right time to see Hawaii, Oslo. It's a dreamlike film. In some ways it reminded me of Amores Perros—a set of stories united by a central event or figure. In both cases, the event is a traffic accident. Both films are gritty and urban, without that oily Hollywood gloss, and both are realistic about the complications of human relationships.
However, Hawaii, Oslo has a mystical element that coexists with the realism: the central figure, Vidar, has dreams that reveal fragments of the future for people he may or may not know. He is an orderly in a mental hospital, and he foresees a tragic accident for his patient Leon. Leon himself is at the center of two dramas: his convict brother is getting a day pass to see him on his 25th birthday, and a girlfriend from his teenage years is also on her way to Oslo to fulfill a reunion pact they made ten years earlier.
The mysterious web around Vidar includes a pop singer has-been and her two estranged boys (one of whom is a graffiti tagger and pursesnatcher), the newspapergirl who befriends them, the ambulance driver who saves the mother from a drug overdose, the passengers in his ambulance (man, woman, and their newborn baby with a serious heart defect), and ever wider circles of characters—medical staff, detectives, bankers, patrons of the Hawaii bar in Oslo, social workers, and the very streets of Oslo.
And the woman who returns to Oslo in fulfillment of her promise to Leon.
The performances are moving. The girlfriend's face alone is worth getting the film, but so is the father of the sick baby, the delinquent boys, Vidar himself.
This film has a spiritual dimension that can't really be commented on without giving too much away. Please see it yourself and tell me what you think.
Fantasy presidential speechwriting. I advocated this pastime in a post a few months ago. Now former U.S. diplomat John Brown, who resigned in protest at the impending invasion of Iraq, is trying his hand. He's not following my rules, though. His speech is satirical, whereas I proposed writing the speeches that we think Bush really ought to give.
Tom Engelhardt's intro to the Brown/Bush speech is worth reading on its own account; Tom has some important observations on the death of Zarqawi. The very strange coverage of this death made a lot more sense when you know that Zarqawi as a public figure was entirely the creation of the USA. But the man who died was a real human being with real motivations (whether good or evil). "God does not delight in the destruction of the wicked," but there is little that's godly about the Pentagon propaganda apparatus.
While we're on the subject of disposable people, I'd like to advocate prayer for the soul and the family of this man, Mani Shaman Turki al-Habardi Al-Utaybi.