Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Fresh Meat season 2

Whereas I generally feel enjoying the first season of a show is an excellent reason to stop watching before it inevitably loses pace, I know most people don't agree with me on that. 

I might, therefore, be caving to the norm in that I actually not only went on to watch season two of this quirky UK sitcom but also enjoyed it practically as much as I did the first.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Victoria & Abdul - S. Frears 2017

For all his - rather irregular - talent, I've never really been a great admirer of Stephen Frears.
Nor, indeed, did I find this to be any cinematographic masterpiece despite splendid scenery and acting. 
It was, however, a very OK history lesson to watch in company of a teenager on a Sunday afternoon.
(See, it doesn't take much - whenever one of my teens takes an interest in history, I'm happy!)

Who Rules The World - Noam Chomsky

Reading Chomsky takes a certain amount of concentration; he is very knowledgeable and very thought-provoking, but his teaching skills need working on.

He grows a little repetitive around halfway through, but his biting criticism of American politics and discourse is so convincing I don't even feel like vacationing there anymore.

In short, he is pretty much the antithesis to the Trumpian take on what the US should be.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Romeo + Juliet - B. Luhrman 1996

Undeniably, it has aged a little - yet it remains appealing enough to keep my thirteen-year-old riveted up to the tragic ending. Di Caprio's youthful looks may have had something to do with her staying on, but still.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Rainbow - Kesha

A bit like last year's Gwen Stefani-album, or Martina Haag's divorce book, a large portion of this album's strength lies in the fact that it feels directly inspired from Kesha's own life and hardships (lengthy legal procedures eventually freed her from the contract binding her to the producer she accused of repeated abuse).

Though there is no 'Tik Tok' on here, it is a fairly OK pop album.

Friday, October 13, 2017

On Harvey Weinstein

Oy, all you people in the entertainment business who now seem all taken aback at the Weinstein way of dealing with women : Perhaps you should have had a look in Biskind's book 'Down and Dirty Pictures' which was already over a decade old when I read it last year?

Admittedly, it does not mention sexual assault, but it leaves little doubt as to his general personality. 
(If I knew, how could you not..?)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fresh Meat s 1

A bit old (2011) and not overly original (six bonding roommates of different personalities) but oh! there is something to be said for British humour, isnt't there?! Charming!


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Dior, Couturier du Rêve at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris 1st arrdt

Despite pre-ordered tickets, there was quite a lot of queuing involved, the mob inside was exhausting and the air too stuffy for comfort. And still! SO worth it!

Room after room with outfits and accessories, sortied by colour, by style, by designer or chronologically (that's how many outfits there were). 
A commented Lady Dior handbag workshop. 
Four walls covered in real-life white patrons.
Famous photos and the dresses IRL, such as Avedon's Dovima with elephants.

Truly breathtaking!!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Beth Ditto at the Bataclan, Paris 11th arrdt

Only once before have I left a concert with an itch to take the artist with me home - and that was Gossip at the Zénith a couple of years ago, so it's safe to say the Ditto stage persona has lost nothing of its appeal.

She remains irresistibly charming; and as the Bataclan houses only 1500, Saturday night she was not only closer, but also louder, cuter, sweatier, sweeter and generally even better than the last time.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Allied - R. Zemeckis (2016)

Remarkable that someone with the experience and know-how of a Robert Zemeckis has produced a film this conventional, uninspired and uninteresting.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Långt Borta Från Nifelheim - Majgull Axelsson

Today, Axelsson is one of Sweden's most successful writers, and though she may not yet be shortlisted for any Nobel Prize, she has been given at least one of most other major Swedish literary awards.

This opus is her literary début from 1997 (and yes, it won an award, too). 
The fact that this was her first published novel makes it particularly ambitious; multiple time spans and geographical settings; back and forth from present-day, smalltown Sweden, where the main character is caring for her agonizing mother, to the Philippines, where she spent time as a diplomat, and further flashbacks to different periods of her childhood. 
Just like in her latest novel ('Jag Heter Inte Miriam') the underlying theme is poverty, exclusion and their consequences, although strangely these motifs are much more elegantly treated here.

As an effect of Axelsson's elaborate narrative choices, reading this does require some concentration. But is so worth it! Skilfully, in tiny instalments, just like in a murder mystery, she distills the story in tiny parcels, the tension mounting as the Philippine volcano ash thickens in the air and the Swedish old mother dies.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Villains - Queens of the Stone Age

Two quick thoughts on this album :

1. I like this kind of old-school, savvy rock music. Unmistakably, the musicians go way back together (1996; I checked) and seem to enjoy what they do.

2. Producer Mark Ronson is as versatile as he is talented.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Child 44 - Tom Rob Smith

I don't suppose anyone really enjoys being taken for an idiot, so I can only assume that the other buyers to the 1.5 million copies sold of 'Child 44' did not read the same things into it as I did. Personally, it drives me up the wall to have the author doggedly spell out all the important facts to me, in short simple sentences, at least twice for each fact. Just to make sure, I assume, that I, the reader, won't miss out. Maddening!

Yet as all those other readers don't seem to have minded, I reckon they managed to focus on either the setting (1950s Soviet Union, described in well-researched detail) or the plot (Lo and behold! A serial killer! How unusual.). 
None of those had me precisely enthralled, unfortunately.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Nocturnal Animals - T. Ford 2016

Stylish (though perhaps less artificially so than 'A Single Man') and with a mind-spinning plot that is unsettling in the way of 'The Shining' or 'Twin Peaks'. (Or as my eldest said; "It creeps me out.")

And complicated! Blink and you will have missed something crucial.

Enjoyable, though!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Atonement - Ian McEwan

This was an ambitious work! Elaborate metafiction, multiple focalization and parallel timespans overlapping each other make this novel rise well above your average bestseller.
Also, I found the story particularly wrecking, despite having seen (and enjoyed!) the film a couple of years ago.

In the first part, several characters give their version of a single hot day and night in a pre-war English mansion. 
The mounting tension and sense of impending doom are elegantly conveyed in a multitude of details. 
The second half of the book deals with the consequences of that night.

Sad and thoughtprovoking. And beautiful!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Färjan - Mats Strandberg

Gory horror with supernatural elements is perhaps not at the top of my reading list, but this was a quick read and despite both blood and suspense in abundance, it did not affect my sleep so why not? I won't make a habit out of it.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

O.J. Made In America - E. Edelman 2016

All spring, my Professore pal has tried his best to sell this docu-series to me, and I have patiently tried to explain to him that O.J. Simpson does not interest me in the least.

In the end, I stand corrected : As it turns out, not only am I very interested in this particular former football-player and his juicy (!) private life, but the series deals with so much more than just the Simpson story. It begins with a successful athlete, then pans out on racial relations in late 20th century America.

Close friends, lawyers and collaborators are questioned, and the use of archive footage is extensive. Simpson is depicted as a charismatic, selfish wife-beater, completely indifferent to the black civil rights movement, aspiring mainly at being considered 'non-coloured'. 
There is dark irony, therefore, in the fact that the black community weighed so heavily in his release.

I might try to take the Professore's advice more seriously in the future.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Sjuka Själar - Kristina Ohlsson

The writing style is so unbelievably common and uninspired that I can't help wondering what on earth possessed Ohlsson to make her want to write a book. It certainly wasn't the love of fine literature.

It might, though, have been the urge to tell a gripping story - It is, indeed, gripping! 
Serial killers (yes; again...), satanism, mysterious pasts and ghosts, no less. 
Overkill she has not worried about. Throughout the book, I kept wondering how she would manage to tie up all the loose ends in a satisfactory and non-disappointing way, seeing how spectacular and overwrought the plot panned out. 
Obviously I won't tell you how; suffice to say she managed!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Skäringer & Mannheimer

I generally prefer well-structured interviews (not like Mark Maron's) to people prattling on about whatever pops into their minds, but this one actually makes me laugh out loud in the metro from time to time.
It's a successful TV author / performer and a successful actress / performer rambling on about everyday topics (charity, doctor's visits, feminism, childbirth, bees...) and it is sometimes thought-provoking and mostly fun.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Hacksaw Ridge - M. Gibson 2016

Andrew Garfield is, ordinarily, the epitome of boyish charm (which ought to make him pretty much the opposite of the disgruntled director Mel Gibson?) and yet here, he may be overplaying his charms a little.

Apart from the conscientious objector soldier, refusing to bear arms, I had already seen the rest of this film in countless other war movies. I was bored and don't like writing about films I haven't finished, so I sat through it, and can therefore now safely recommend you not to.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Girls, season 6

I felt compelled to quit this brilliant show after Hannah became such a horribly annoying sub teacher I am positive I would have strangled her had it been physically possible.
And yet, that is the bottom line and the strength of this show; that the characters are multifaceted, evolving, 'real' people.

In this brilliant final season, the girls are enriched by a couple of boys (one of them Riz Ahmed!) who are allowed to take up more space.

Sorry to be so wholly lacking originality but : Fantastic series.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Everything Now - Arcade Fire

Some of this is really OK pop/rock music, and some of it just sucks. 
Uneven only begins to describe it. A strange combination of high and low - all the more bewildering as some seriously talented people have been involved - which makes for a rather lukewarm general impression.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Château du Lude, Loire Valley

Yet another beautiful Renaissance château, built in the Middle Ages (though not much, if anything, remains from those days) and surrounded by a spacious, flourishing park.

The château is still inhabited, which lends a titillating impression of peeping into people's private lives to the visit. Stately renaissance furniture.

An extra plus for the visit being comprehensive enough to show us not only the usual sitting rooms and libraries, but also the kitchen and cellar.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

No Such Thing As A Fish

Three witty Englishpeople and one American, all equipped with microphones, each describing an interesting fact learnt during the week. 
Everyone comments and quips, it's all terribly British and rather fun.

The topics tend to be science-oriented, which is probably the reason I didn't find this quite as hilarious as I had thought I would.