Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tate Modern

Though I generally enjoy modern art, Tate Modern is somehow a wee bit too modern to my taste. I enjoy paintings, but can't seem to wrap my head around these installations. They just don't speak to me at all.

Still : Great place, if only in the spatial sense of the word.

Newfound problem with London : Having visited frequently these last few years, always with different people in tow, I end up visiting the same sights over and over again.

Allow me to inform you that :
- The Shakespeare Globe is expanding - A new, indoor theatre (The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse) is opening this January.
- The London Duck Tours no longer drive on the Thames, after the unfortunate incident that took place a couple of weeks ago (one of the buses caught fire while on the river...). You get a voucher for a more modern boat cruise after the bus tour (which is still worth the money, btw!).
- Tate Britain has still not finished renovating.

We did go to one monument I hadn't entered before :

The London Eye

Hm. Not much to say about this, really. Way too high for me - but slow, and with a proper floor, which alleviates vertigo.

Expensive, obviously.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

1991 - Azealia Banks

I bet you thought I listen to anything pertaining to teenage-culture, seeing the unsophistication of my musical fancies.

Well, no! As it turns out, I feel much too old for Azealia Banks, though I am quite at a loss to determine exactly why. 
(Might have something to do with my actual age. I do see that.)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Days Are Gone - Haim

I have always considered my tastes as fairly intellectual - in all except music. 
(Even an over-enthusiastic, if also somewhat over-aged, Glambert like myself must own up to the fact that Adam L's music is just not very refined.)

This may explain why I find Haim's acclaimed first album somehow a bit over-bookish.
It is elaborate and well-wrought music and all, but it lacks that undefinable element that makes up something like 98% of for instance punk rock. Energy? Spontaneity? Zing?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Flimmer - Anne & Even Holt

I am not very demanding when it comes to thrillers - I want them to be pageturners - nor, I must confess, very patient.

Although 'Flimmer' is, in my opinion, quite as unputdownable as you might ask, the plot was a wee bit too complicated for me. When reading detective stories, I like to unplug my brain, sort of like when I run. 

Should you be unfamiliar with Anne Holt, allow me to point out she is top-notch in the genre of Scandinavian murder fiction, waaaaay above best-selling Camilla Läckberg; and pretty much in the vein of Jo Nesbo. Well worth discovering.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Good Father - Noah Hawley

Although murderers abound in modern literature, assassins of famous people are a little harder to come by. The parents of those assassins are even more scarce, which is where Hawley's book holds its interest.

It is fiction, but it leans heavily on existing characters, presenting short biographies of famous killers, such as Timothy Mc Veigh and John Hinckley. These add depth to the already thought-provoking subject of 'good parenthood'.

Despite the first-person treatment, Hawley has the point of view jump around between the characters, which is a bit confusing, albeit ambitious.
Ambitious also is the recurring metaphor comparing detective work (Did He Do It? Arguably, the book would have been better off without the whodunit.) with medicine.

Altogether : OK writing, but not much more than that.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Louie, season 1

This is hilarious!
Not always very subtle.
Generally not too politically correct.
Frequently extremely vulgar, and definitely unsuitable for young children.

But hilarious!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Clear History - G. Mottola 2013

This TV film from HBO contains a several actors I feel I don't see enough of - Larry David, Jon Hamm and Michael Keaton - plus a few more I do pretty well without (Eva Mendes, Liev Schreiber, Kate Hudson).

The script is co-written by David and very representative of his distinctive style; he plays his routine garrulous old man in a story about self-delusion, revenge for real and imagined sleights, blowing up houses, dating women much younger than himself, all the while upsetting people every time he opens his mouth.

Apart from the fact that Larry David is a lot more offensive but just as talkative as Woody Allen, this feels very close to a Woody-film; one of the better.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Breaking Bad, season 1

So. Five years after everyone else, I eventually got around to this.
Settled down in the company of my 16-year-old, both of us drooling at the prospect of finally watching the show we had heard and read so much about. (Needless to say, the low-expectations principle was inapplicable.)

We have sat through five or six episodes, but truth be told, our enthusiasm began to peter out after the second.

The brushstrokes are large, and though the plot is ingenious - hard-up teacher cooks metamphetamine - it suffers from a dispiriting lack of subtlety. 

Moreover, there is not a single character in there I can even remotely relate to, except maybe the teenage son, who is given way to little space to compensate for all the other one-dimensioned clichés.

I doubt we will get past episode six.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? - Mindy Kaling

However hard I try, I can't seem to muster up anything at all about this book without referring at some point to Tina Fey and Nora Ephron, in whose wake Kaling follows - closely!

A writer, producer and actress of 'The Office' (US version) and now with a show of her own, Kaling's writing is very oral; mindless, articulate, very girly ramblings musings on life, boys/men, work, fashion and other stuff.

It's very American, and very entertaining. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Memento - C. Nolan 2000

Picture your basic romcom, containing all the quintessential ingredients, from the goofy best friend down to the happy ending.
Then, envisage the direct opposite - and you may be starting to get the hang of 'Memento'.

Young and handsome Pearce stars as partial amnesia-struck widower, out for revenge, using his body as a post-it pad to compensate for his extremely short-term memory.

The story-line is cyclic, beginning and ending with the same scene. 
The scenes are presented in what probably is the worst disorder Nolan could think of. 
Certain flashbacks are in black and white and the same scene is frequently shown several times. 
All this, combined with a particularly elaborate script, render the film slightly confusing.

... But in no way humdrum, of course! 
Fundamentally, it's like the antithesis to a whodunit, which has you pining for the truth. 
Here, there is no truth; it is made up as you go along. (Spoiler alert! Sorry.)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Happy Feet 2 - G. Miller 2011

As little ones grow older, some parents I know get nostalgic for toddler times of yore.

Personally, much as I love my offspring, I feel increasingly grateful that I now am actually able to :  

1) Spend my nights in my own bed, sharing it with only the relatively modest number of adults it was built for.

2) Lie down in my couch every now and then with some reading, and enjoy peace & quiet enough to also get the reading done.

3) Choose not to watch these crappy Pixar/Dreamworks/Disney/whatever films, AND their nonsensical sequels.
(Well, obviously, we haven't fully completed item 3, but we are getting there!)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Alice Munro

The Peace Prize may be heading more and more into politics, and becoming more and more controversial, but this year's Literature Prize is dead on! Read!

The Age of McCarthyism - Ellen Schrecker

At some point during the Middle Ages, I read this book for a university course, so this time, I sort of knew what I was in for : A dense, concise read about the American Red Scare during the 1950s, with heaps of authentic documents accompanying Schrecker's narrative. 

Perhaps because I was already more or less informed about the subject, I found Schrecker's comments on the legacy of McCarthyism the most interesting point in the book : "Since political activities could get you in trouble, prudent folk avoided them... middle-class Americans became social conformists" and the nation was wrapped in what Supreme Court Judge Douglas called "The Black Silence of Fear". 

Social reforms were aborted, diplomatic initiatives were shunned, trade unions were diminished, and the film industry grew reluctant to broach social or political subjects.

Also, the witch hunt opened the way for the antidemocratic practices which followed, since national security henceforth took precedence over ordinary law; Watergate, Iran-Contra scandals etc. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

True - Avicii

Should you feel tempted to compare Bergling's debut album to a whole heap of other DJ albums, I doubt you will find anything fundamentally different about it.

Yet, I can't help respecting his ambition to bring something more into club-music, as exemplified in for instance bluegrass-y 'Wake Me Up' or his collaborations with Swedish wunderkind Salem Al Fakir. 

Plus, he does manage to squeeze in both Nile Rodgers and Adam Lambert! 

Up All Night - One Direction

Frequently annoyed at the media's constant bias against anything teenage girls enjoy, and besides, thinking these seem like a nice enough bunch of boys, I will admit to perhaps not listening to this with the open mind I should have. I wanted to like this!

I'm sorry to say I just can't. Not even while running are my ears sufficiently numb to put up with this colourless, businesslike pop music.

I did try!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Pop Art - Klaus Honnef

After a long and pompous introduction, Honnef takes on and comments 35 great Pop Artworks by major artists such as Rosenquist, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Ramos etc.

Pop Art being more about the message than about the actual beauty of the artwork, I think this book would have benefited from presenting fewer works of art and longer, more explicit comments. 

 Apart from the obvious (Warhol, Lichenstein) my favourite is Jasper Johns's 'Flag'
Is it a flag or is it a picture of a flag? Does it symbolize everything that the 'real' flag symbolizes or is this a statement from the artist?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Enlightened, season 2

On the plus-side : 
My favourite Wilson (Luke).
And : Laura Dern, her real-life mom Diane Ladd, multitasking Mike White.
A low-key, unconventional plot about what actually feels like real people. 
A commendable refusal of stereotypes.

But then, on the other side :
An overly-melodramatic tone.
And, strangely, a disheartening absence of adrenaline.

Still :
A lot worse TV-shows endure, season after season. 
It seems kind of unfair that 'Enlightened' only lit up for two seasons.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Nurse Jackie, season 5

In previous seasons, Jackie herself used to be a fascinating blend of expert nurse & mother, all the while popping pills and cheating on her husband.
Now clean and divorced, there is less to her, I'm afraid - there is still hope of a relapse..! - though her lovelife is almost worth a TV-show of its own.

The secondary characters are still sheer delight; my favourite being quirky colleague Zooey.

Not many TV-series survive their sixth season with any dignity left, so I reckon it's best to enjoy this while it's still enjoyable.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

World War Z - Max Brooks

Brooks's novel takes the shape of an official report consisting of oral first hand accounts from all over the world on the major war humanity in a near future had to wage against zombies.
It is an original take on a not-so-original subject, and I guess that - and the minute details he effortlessly goes into - is what makes the difference from other stories of living dead (which I generally have a hard time taking seriously).

Contrary to appearances, this is also a highly political book. The Zombie epidemic breaks out pretty much now, and so Brooks's criticism of today's society and how to his mind a similar crisis would be dealt with both have a genuine ring to them.

His liberal swings at the pharmaceutical industry, the army, the media and the government all serve to add depth to the story.

Plus, it's entertaining.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Dark Knight Rises - C. Nolan 2012

The age limit is 12 on this one (12 being the minimum age required, I hasten to point out), so the 9-year-olds were automatically barred from this. WHAT kind of excuse I am going to come up with, then, for watching yet another tights-clad superhero I still cannot say.

My intention was to blame Nolan, my low-expectations principle being impossible to apply to the man who created 'Inception'.

Both very surprisingly and quite unexpectedly (do you follow?) I found this Batman rather satisfying!
An adult man in tights will remain an adult man in tights, but there were women present (no Bechdel-test is applicable, though...) and the tiresome, obsolete figure of Absolute Evil eventually turned out not to be 100% evil after all, which was a pleasant surprise.

My present cause for bewilderment is how I could find the previous film, 'The Dark Knight' so terribly burdensome. I don't have to watch it again, do I? (Please, say I don't.)