Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Den Mörka Ängeln - Mari Jungstedt

Either I have just reached saturation in the detective-novel area, at least of this overly-classic, every-inch-in-the-mold type of detective novel...

... Or, conceivably, this could just be a distinctly despicably defective detective novel.

Time will tell.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Menedarna - Kerstin Ekman

Joe Hill, a.k.a Joseph Hillström (initially Joel Hägglund), was a Swedish 'wobbly' (labor activist of the 'I Won't Work' movement) in early 20th century America. His protest songs kept him alive well after he was sentenced to death for a double murder he most likely did not commit.

It's his arrival to the Salt Lake City prison that sets off Ekman's biography, and his execution that brings the narrative to a close.
Rather daringly, Ekman has chosen as her narrator a friend of Hill's, with limited access to Hill and to most of the action. 

Another of her early novels, this does not have the same verve and import as her later works, but then it's only 200 pages long, so thumbs up anyway.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Salty licorice-filled milk chocolate

Baffling, really ;

first how stunningly scrumptious the combo milk chocolate - salty licorice turned out to be!

also how it could take until now for our creative candy-manufacturers to come up with it!

And yes, I can see how it must be horribly tempting for attentive and faithful readers to link this post to what I wrote a couple of days ago - 
For the sake of argument, allow me to point out that I AM after all Swedish, and we expats are particularly attached to perpetrating our homeland traditions. Never count on us to change a trend. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Himlen Är Oskyldigt Blå - H. Holm (2010)

Almost painfully conventional.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sexion d'Assaut

Initially, I was a bit discountenanced to realize that I actually kind of enjoy this, although French rap music on the whole is clearly not my cup of tea.

The lyrics are much less inane than I expected them to be, and in rap that is what makes the difference.
(Not only in rap, as a matter of fact : Usher's "ooh-baby-baby" lyrics make me want to scream.)
(No pun intended.)
(Nor was it completely accidental, I must confess...)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Godis Åt Folket - T. Hedlund & A. Persson

A report about Swedish candy-eating habits may not sound particularly riveting at first hand, I admit.
However, if you take a minute to consider the fact that the average yearly intake of candy is 18 kg per capita in Sweden, and then compare it to the the 8 kg ingested by the average European, then you realise there is indeed food for thought here.

I enjoy probing, thoroughly researched, well-penned reports and so this was a good read.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Adrian Lux

In the wake of Swedish House Mafia and Avicii, this young man seems even more closely related to electro-dance dinosaur Jean-Michel Jarre.
Can't really make up my mind as to whether he is more nuanced and finely tuned, or just less dance-able. Possibly both.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Due Date - T. Philips (2010)

See, the thing is to harbour Low Expectations.
Once you have braced yourself for a bunch of crap, one of two things can happen :
Either the film/book/whatever is indeed a bunch of crap, in which case you have the pleasure of saying "I knew it".
Or the film/book/whatever turns out to be even slightly superior to what you had anticipated, which is of course a surprise, but a pleasant one.
It is a win-win situation!

'Due Date' was not quite as crappy as I gave it credit for when viewing the trailer, and so I even had a few laughs at this ever so classic odd-couple comedy. 

(WHY is it, though, that these odd couples are always masculine?? Are women forever destined to be girlfriends or rivals on film? Is that it now, forever and ever?)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dödsklockan - Kerstin Ekman

Arguably, Kerstin Ekman is Sweden's greatest today living writer. I have been a a huge fan ever since before even having read any of her books, from way back when she resigned from the Swedish Literary Academy as a protest against what she considered a lame reaction to the fatwa proclaimed against Salman Rushdie after 'The Satanic Verses'

Apart from a certain stamina, Ekman is a one-of-a-kind writer. This is one of her first novels, first published in 1963 - like many others, she began her career authoring detective stories. 'Dödsklockan' is the last of what was termed her detective novels, although you can sense she is ready for other challenges, as this is in no way a traditional whodunit. (Takes place in the forest, during the elk-hunting season.)

Obviously, it is not a Major Literary Opus, but just as obviously, the seeds to her forthcoming career are already present. A literary baby-genius is what it is.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cockpit - M. Klingberg (2012)

Attentive readers will remember how a couple of posts ago (http://ingelaonstuff.blogspot.se/2012/07/im-still-here-c-affleck-2010.html) I mentioned the phrase "willing suspension of disbelief" coined by British Romantic William Coleridge.
That you will require in no small amount to accept Jonas Karlsson as a woman, cute as though he may be (and indeed is!).

Apart from that minor snag, this (Swedish) comedy is perky, clever, pleasurable and even a wee bit provocative at times.

I just have one teensy-weensy, trifling little vexation with this film; it had already been done, practically image per image :

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin

For the last 3-400 pages I have been trying to come up with at least one author who could safely get away with an 800-page-opus. Nick Hornby, perhaps?

The thing is, an entertaining plot and likeable characters do not suffice for a book of this length. (Sorry, Mr Martin) (I realise you will be crying all the way to the bank, now.)
Further requirements are stylistic prose and some form of philosophical content.

And yet; much as I adore Faulkner´s writing, for instance, I doubt I would survive 800 pages of Faulkner. Intelligent writing solicits too much of your concentration for at least me to be able to keep it up much longer than, say, 500 pages.

Anyway! As regards 'A Game of Thrones' : 'Twilight' for adult boys. Stereotypical, easy to grasp characters, unequivocal language, lots of dialogue, battles, medieval chivalry and a hint of sex to spice it up.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Winter´s Bone - D. Granik (2010)

This America - trailer park and meth cooking 'white trash' America - is seldom shown on film, which may explain the eerie impression resting over this opus.

But then, that uncanny feeling could also be due to the gloomy but gripping subject matter, the subdued staging or Katniss Everdeen Jennifer Lawrence´s excellent acting.

All in all; not the film of the year (still waiting for that one, I guess) but an hour and a half well spent.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Der Kuss - Gustav Klimt

One of the most beautiful paintings ever to have been painted!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bridesmaids - P. Feig (2011)

First time, last year, in a movie theater, I was howling with laughter along with the rest of the audience.

This time, from my couch, on a dvd, it was a lot less fun, and a lot more somber.

Still globally enjoyable, however (even though I guess I had better not see it a third time).

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Downton Abbey

Summer is rerun-time! The weather is particularly suitable for watching TV and I had seen only the final episodes of the second season before. Mind you, I would have been perfectly capable of gobbling down both seasons in full, even if I had known them both by heart.

I realise it does not really set me apart from the rest of Western society, but still : Am strangely fond of this show!

I always appreciate when writers shun clichés and stereotypes, and admit it : Nothing would have been easier than making the gay man a nice guy and the American immigrant the vulgar and loud woman they are usually depicted as on European TV.

Add to that a witty dialogue, finely tuned acting, beautiful stage sets and Maggie Smith!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Finding Neverland - Marc Forster (2004)

Well, this was sort of cute, wasn't it? A bit more creative and not quite as cheesy as I had expected (or at least not all the time...).

And above all : Johnny Depp - young and dapper and with a succulent Scottish accent!

Lex Hives - The Hives

Not so sophisticated, perhaps.
But it rocks!
And it's Swedish!

What more could anyone possibly want?

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Steven Spielberg is a bit like cell phones : Though it would never occur to me to in any way deny their usefulness / skill, I just don't go for them. I assume full responsibility.
Strangely, however, I sort of enjoy 'Smash'!

'Boardwalk Empire' it ain't, not even 'The Good Wife' but the characters are likeable, if stereotypical, the musical numbers are shipshape - less soulless than in 'Glee' - and the plot is not too dim-witted. I don't read chick lit; I'll have this as my guilty pleasure instead.

Idle point of interest : French TV-giant TF1 had a hunch French audiences would not go for 'Smash', and as usual, they have been proven right.
(I don't suppose the fact that they broadcast it from 23.15 to 00.50 has anything to do with anything?)
Way to go, TF1.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Women struggling to drink water

This is just a third of a brilliant blogpost (unfortunately not my creation).
Media stereotypes of women is an infinitely sad subject matter, yet I'm splitting my sides.

Thank you, thehairpin.com!


Also check out :

Monday, July 9, 2012

I'm Still Here - C. Affleck (2010)

On the one hand; as a general rule, you kind of like to be aware of it whenever you are taken for a ride. (And no, that is in no way incompatible with adhering to a movie. Coleridge coined the expression 'Willing suspension of disbelief' as early as in 1817. Not, perhaps, about film, but same difference, really!)
Pretending to show a documentary when you are clearly not (no way could Affleck have shot all that with one camera, for instance) is disdainful to the audience.

But on the other hand; the statement made here about fame and its consequences definitely gains in emphasis by the mockumentary point of view.

And to finish; respect to Phoenix. It takes a fiery personality to accept coming through as such a filmstar, arrogant ego, whether it be true or not.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

In The Shadow of No Towers - Art Spiegelman

While I devoured tons of comic books as a child (Steve Roper & Mike Nomad, Donald Duck, The Phantom, Bamse, mushy love stories...), I never really made it over to the next level, now known as graphic novels.

I might need to change that, however, now after reading Spiegelman's ten oversized double pages on 9/11 and its aftermath.

This is personal in both acceptions : intimate, because based solely on the artist's own firsthand experience, and unique, because it resembles nothing else (or perhaps that's just my deficient adult-comic background?).

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Blunderbuss - Jack White

This is not my usual scene, and it I doubt it is very runner-friendly (will try, though) and still... I enjoy it a lot more than I thought I would.

The Enchantress of Florence - Salman Rushdie

I used to truly relish Rushdie's novels, but I remember being a bit disappointed in 'Shalimar the Clown' 6 years ago, and this opus did nothing to reconcile me with the man dubbed by his bodyguards "the world's most pompous prick". (Well, maybe they were Muslim integrists?)

It is a complicated book :
Average phrase length : 30-50 words
Average number of different proper names for what I think is the same character : 2-3
Average number of different proper names per page : 10-15
Number of embedded stories : lost track at the third
Number of bibliography pages attesting for Rushdie's painstaking historical research : 8

Very poetic.
Very exhaustive.
Very exhausting.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Princess of China - Coldplay feat. Rihanna

Interesting fact : Although

a) this is indubitably Coldplay featuring Rihanna - and not the other way around - and

b) I am a lot more into Rihanna than I am into Coldplay

I kind of like this!


Rembrandt self-portraits

Whereas I'm planning to have my students put these in chronological order (Please do not enquire how this is teaching them English. It is a long story.) for you, as a favour, I will present them classified (Give and take!) :

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Higgs boson

Sounds astounding! I just wish I could take at least some of it in.

Carnage - R. Polanski (2011)

Polanski has a pronounced fondness for, and excels in, what in French is known as a 'huis clos', i.e. a drama set in restricted space, filled up by ACTING.
'Carnage' is all drama performance, the staging seemingly invisible (which obviously is not to say its not there; quite the contrary).

Limiting the film to atypical 1h15 was an astute decision; the decidedly Bergmanian quality of this face to face with its subsequent fall of masks actually makes it fairly tiresome!

PS, though! A story that begins with a departure! What a stroke of genius!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Louis XIV Le Règne Eblouissant

French history is just not my field, which may - or may not - explain why I wasn't aware - or, conceivably, had forgotten - that Louisiana was named in honor of Louis XIV in 1682.

But there it is.
Henceforth no excuses.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - T. Burton (1999)

I had all but forgotten this film - notably absent, as far as I remember, from MOMA's Tim Burton exhibition currently at the Cinémathèque de Paris, which I recommend if you haven't seen it - but it was of course delectable like most Burton / Depp alliances.

New England has never looked more entrancing, Depp as alluring as always. A carnival of staggering special effects.
Whatever happened to Ricci's career, though?..

Finally, kudos to Tim Burton (or the studio?) for not having entitled it 'Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow'. That would have been downright fraudulous...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Skip the Use

This morning, I heard them on the radio, so I am now hurriedly posting this so as to confirm my position as a trendsetter. (Will you please stop laughing?!!)

'Skip the Use' is a band from the north of France with a distinctly un-French sound : Bass and drums are conspicuously present, and not just vaguely perceptible as is the case with most musique française.

Despite half-hearted attempts I have not been able to locate the geographical ancestry of the singer (even Google has its limits, apparently), but his British accent - for yes! Lyrics are in English! I told you they didn't sound French! - is very uplifting to the elderly English teacher I am.

No attempt to describe the music will be made here (not by me, anyway) in order to prod interested readers to YouTube them pronto!


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Percy Jackson - C. Columbus (2010)

By all reason, this ought to be right up my alley; Harry Potter-ish young adult-literature adaptation with profuse historical / mythological references.
As a rule, Chris Columbus knows his job.

And yet, and yet... a letdown, even though I can't compare it with the books (having not read them...).

(My 14-year-old, who can, is enjoying herself.)