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You want bizarre Scandinavians? Try Lars von Trier’s The Kingdom

Posted on 07 October 2010

You want bizarre Scandinavians? Try Lars von Trier’s The Kingdom. Less snow on the ground, more depth.Laurel Canyon (18) Hard to believe that this comes from Lisa Cholodenko, the woman behind 1998’s gorgeously off-kilter indie hit, High Art True, the themes are similar. Even worse, the psychology that seemed so sophisticated in the TV series doesn’t work in condensed form, and now seems as hokey as the end speech in Psycho. Post-modernism thrives on updates, but this film doesn’t have the wit to pull off any new moves.Noi Albinoi (15) Set in deepest Iceland, this is the winner of “five international prizes”.

At which point an actor pipes up: “Oh, please, please – send us your Tony Blair.”There’s oblique self-portraiture, too, in My Zinc Bed (2000), in the part of Victor Quinn, an ex-Communist-turned-dotcom millionaire. And up to a point, I Can’t Stop is an enjoyable enough attempt to recapture former glories, with languid, strutting funk grooves furnishing undemanding backdrops for the Reverend Al’s vocal excursions, and “A Million to One” borrowing the rhythm and structure of “Let’s Stay Together” virtually wholesale. The French sovereign was powerless then to stop them, because his own forces were no match for theirs.This is the risk we will face in 50 years if we allow private forces to outnumber public ones. We are handing over our ability to protect ourselves to corporations who rarely have impressive ethics. Look at the willingness of so many of our big high street chains to use slave labour in the developing world. Would you trust them with your freedom?Yes, we are at a fairly early stage in the development of PMFs, and some of my worries may seem fantastical. But we must stop this descent now, before we wake up with a corporate military only to ask how we sleepwalked into a McDonald’s-sponsored battlefield.j.hari
More from Johann Hari.

Pam Mitchelhill, the high-flying headteacher acquitted this week after a trial in which she was accused of slapping a six-year-old pupil is by no means the first. In recent months David Watkins, another lauded headteacher, was found not guilty after being accused of shoving a fish head into a pupil’s mouth. Bruce Hogan, a physical education teacher for 31 years, was cleared of assaulting a pupil he had marched out of a canteen, and Andrew Morley, again a notably successful head, was proved innocent of assault after he intervened with a fellow teacher in a fight between two boys.
It is becoming rather commonplace for teachers to end up in court – suspended from their work for months as they await trial – then found to be the victims of charges that sometimes seem trumped up, and sometimes too insubstantial to carry weight in court.There have been so many cases hitting the headlines recently that the anecdotal impression is that this situation is occurring far too often. Downey Jr is so taken with his own man-of-a-thousand-faces persona that Dan Dark can’t get a look in.On a more mundane level, the sets feel all wrong – not expensive enough to take us into another world, not cheap enough to add another layer of subversion to the conceit. You’re horribly aware, though, of his conviction that he’s nailed it.

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