Acceptable Ambivalence

The first Icelandic Netflix series, Katla (a sci-fi series) will begin shooting soon in Vík í Mýrdal, Iceland. Part of the town has already been covered in volcanic ash in preparation for filming. Þorbjörg Gísladóttir, the director of the local tourist council, says “the timing (of shooting) is perfect” and further says she understands the series will begin airing next February. Baltasar Kormákur is the filmmaker responsible for creating the eight-episode series with his co-creator, Sigurjón Kjartansson. The series was written by crime writer and playwright Lilja Sigurðardóttir, screenwriter Davíð Már Stefánsson, and Kjartansson, who serves as show-runner.

This is the sort of thing one learns by occasionally reading foreign news websites. I got wind of this information from the online version of The Iceland Monitor.  Because the topic interested me, I explored elsewhere, learning more about the project by reading an article on Cineuropa. I’ve learned other things from The Iceland Monitor in months and years past. I believe The Iceland Monitor is where I learned that Iceland has a Naming Committee that rules on the permissibility of baby names. When I first learned the Iceland had baby-naming rules, I was incensed. But the more I read about it and thought about it, the more I came to appreciate the importance of retaining aspects of one’s culture. It is not about cultural “purity,” as I once thought, but about cultural integrity. There’s quite a difference. Yet the concept remains moderately troubling to me; my feelings are ambivalent, as they often are.

But back to film. In reading about Katla, I learned of another Icelandic series I want to watch, entitled Trapped. It is available on Amazon Prime Video. As I’ve written before (many times, probably), I have become enamored of Scandinavian film and Scandinavian television series, especially crime drama. It’s a bit hard to understand, much less to explain, why I am so drawn to the genre of, for want of a better term, Scandinavian Crime Drama Noir. Suffice it to say I find much of the genre riveting. It entertains me in a way I want to be entertained. In some cases, it is intellectually stimulating, but my primary motive for watching it is entertainment.  But it’s not just Scandinavian television and film I find appealing; it’s foreign fare across the board. In thinking of television series and films I have enjoyed (and plan to watch), it becomes apparent that I am equally taken with German and French and Spanish and Israeli and…so forth. Before I finish this post, I’ll make a list of foreign films and series I’ve watched so I’ll have a single place on my blog where I can find it. If I remember where I put it or how I categorized it.

I’m in the midst of watching another Amazon Prime series, The Man in the High Castle, based on a 1962 alternate-history novel by Philip Dick. I have not read the novel, but I want to. First, I will finish the series. My brother, who has read the book, says the series is far more involved and intricate. The premise of the story (so far) is that Japan and Germany won World War II and have divided the United States into Japanese and German territories. Dick’s daughter, Isa Dick Hackett, is a producer of the series. Not that it matters much to me; just an idle fact rattling around, temporarily, in my head.

I’m also watching Ozark, a rather quirky crime drama series involving money laundering and hillbilly intrigue. The writing is exceptional. I like the series but I loathe it; not the series, but the fact that some of the characters are so absolutely real and regionally unflattering. It’s actually hard to digest how I feel about it. Okay. I love it.

I’m slowly watching The Good Fight, as episodes become available on CBS All Access. Netflix spoiled me for the plodding nature of broadcast-style television series.  And I have, apparently, caught up with (and am having to wait for) new episodes of Better Call Saul.

It looks like I watch television more than I actually do. All of this stuff (and the stuff that follows) reflect a rather long timeline.

All right. Now, for the list I wrote about a few moments ago:

  • The Break (Belgian) (called La Trêve, in French, translated as “The Truce”)
  • Broadchurch (British)
  • House of Cards (original British version)
  • Unit 42 (German)
  • Occupied (Norwegian) (Norwegian title is Okkupert)
  • In Order of Disappearance (Norwegian) (the Norwegian title is Kraftidioten)
  • Department Q Trilogy (Dutch)
    • Keeper of Lost Causes (adapted from  the book, Mercy (English title)
    • The Absent Ones (adapted from  the book, Disgrace (English title)
    • A Conspiracy of Faith (adapted from  the book, Redemption (English title)
  • The Wave (the Norwegian title for which is Bølgen)
  • The White Helmets (British documentary)
  • Fauda (Israeli) (watching another season now)

The Department Q Trilogy is based on books in a lengthy series by Jussi Adler-Olsen. I’m anxiously awaiting access to the next film in the series (after the trilogy) called Purity of Vengeance, adapted from Adler-Olsen’s book, Guilty, (English title). I haven’t found it on Netflix nor on Amazon Prime; I want it, though. I understand it is the highest-grossing Danish film of all time. Hmm. I’m interested in reading the entire series by Adler-Olsen; at last count, there were eight books in the Department Q series.

Some other series/films I plan/want to watch are:

  • Dead to Me (a new season)
  • After Life (a new season)
  • The Occupant (Spanish, via Netflix)
  • Borgen (Danish)
  • The Valhalla Murders
  • Trapped (Icelandic series)
  • La Mante (French series)
  • The Platform (Spanish, via Netflix)
  • Giri/Haji (Japanese series)
  • The Forest (la forêt) (French series)
  • The Midnight Gospel (Netflix animated series)
  • The Breaker Upperers (New Zealand film [in English, of course])
  • The Photographer of Mauthausen (Spanish, via Netflix)
  • No doubt many, many more

I have mixed feelings about globalization. I am afraid globalization has the capacity to erase cultures, just as it has the capacity to enrich them by exposing cultures to their counterparts that are geographically distant from one another. Like so many other aspects of existence, I’m ambivalent about it.

That’s all for this morning. I have people to be and things to see.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
This entry was posted in Film, Scandinavian, Television, Television series. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Acceptable Ambivalence

  1. Thanks, Pat. I hope my selections deliver quality viewing experiences!

  2. Pat Newcomb says:

    Well done – thanks for plowing through the hard ground for us

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