Monday, March 31, 2014

Sherlock Holmes, 1st and 2nd seasons

... And so, eventually, several years after everyone else (even in France) these mini-series turned out to be truly inescapable. And not all that disagreeable, either, if truth be told! 

I have gone off detective shows, as you know, but every now and then, I relapse (as do all former addicts with some self-respect, right?.. don't they?) cheerfully goaded on by my two daughters. (Clearly, at ten and sixteen, they are a lot more titillated by Cumberbatch than I am.)

(What titillates me : That Holmes and Watson ran into each other again in 'The Hobbit'. Small world?)


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Kiss Me Once - Kylie Minogue

It's a good thing Minogue's covers sport different photos, as the music is literally indistinguishable from album to album. That, of course, is great news if you are into her particular though strangely anonymous kind of fluffy, 1990s pop music.
Should you suffer from a delicate stomach, this might tend to make you slightly queasy. Be forewarned. 

Quite apart from her music, it is hard not to feel a bit sorry for Kylie Minogue, what with her strained and stilted facial features. Ageing is troublesome when you have based your career largely on your good looks.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Hollywoodland - A. Coulter 2006

P.I. Adrian Brody investigates the death of Ben Affleck's postulant moviestar in stylish 1940s setting.
You'd think not much could go wrong, here, but somehow, this opus just lacks the nerve it takes to be engaging. As I read somewhere, films like this are "a waste of creative space". (Thank you, Aloe Blacc, for that wonderfully useful expression!)

Friday, March 28, 2014

House of Cards, season 2

As regrettably as inexplicably, it seems to me that Fincher's show has lost a great deal of its appeal; it feels very much like a repetition of the first - brilliant! - season.

That Underwood is a master villain is by now an established fact, and to have accelerated his corruption and recklessness into having him commit actual crimes himself might not have been, I might add, one of Fincher's more enlightened intuitions. There is, fortunately, a limit to how credible a flat-out illegal vice-president can be.

So I think I'm getting off this ship, too, although I'm only half-way through!
What is it with me, at the moment?? 
Have I developed some form of hyperactivity diagnosis and am henceforth incapable of finishing anything?
Have borrowed a book from my ten-year-old, just to make sure. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Strong Motion - Jonathan Franzen

Contrary to the rest of the Western world, I did not consider 'Freedom' a masterpiece, so I did not exactly jump up and down when I received 'Strong Motion, which is Franzen's second novel, for my birthday.
The blurbs on the cover did nothing to whip up any frenzy; they praise the author, but say mercifully little about this particular book.

'Strong Motion' might actually be worthwhile - I wouldn't want to seem too forceful about it, as I haven't finished it - but if so, it starts after page 140. That's where I am now, and that is as far as I am going.

I always finished books when I was younger. Now, though, I'm starting to feel I haven't got enough time left, and too many books. (Or perhaps I'm just growing impatient?)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Ballet Revolucion

As hardcore followers will be fully aware, dancing is horrendously under-represented in my cultural intake. And indeed, truth be told, the only reason I found myself at this unconventional blend of classic ballet and contemporary music is because my teenager asked me to go. 
(I don't know about you, but the only way I am able to refuse my offspring access to culture is if it involves superheroes.)

The teenager in question was well-inspired to ask, as she absolutely adored the show.

As for me, dancing is pretty much like other sports : I'd rather be doing it myself than watch others do it. 
(But yes, I do realize that probably not a soul in the whole universe would derive any pleasure whatsoever from watching me dance.)
Yet, the Cubans of 'Ballet Revolucion' were undeniably very, very good : The band was tight, and the dancers top-notch.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pink Friday Roman Reloaded - Nicki Minaj

As opposed to her hip hop-tracks - none of which does it for me - Minaj's dance-music is, artistically, pretty much tantamount to Taio Cruz's or Jason Derülo's - both of whom I find severely nauseating - i. e. a particularly braindead type of dance-music. (Although nota bene; dance-music can fare perfectly well without a brain.)

Strangely, however, I seem to put up fine with Nicki Minaj in my earplugs whenever I go for a run! 
Is it really the absence of sexist lyrics that account for all the difference?
I didn't even realize I actually listen to the lyrics, at all?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Little Armageddon - Skip the Use

Quite unobjectionable rock music, which is more than what can be said of most French bands!

To some (small!) extent unfulfilling, though, after their 120 km/h, red-hot concert last November... 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Kafka on the Shore - H. Murakami

Two plots, two narrators, two timelines and two point of views; uncomplicated structures have never been Murakami's cup of tea. 
This chunky novel was fairly typical of his writing, at its best; filled with cultural references, underlining the redemptive power of music, the importance - and inscrutability - of nature, the existence of a parallel universe and of course it has that dreamlike character which is so essential in Murakami's work.

I enjoyed it a lot. And STILL! When all is said and done, this is actually yet another coming of age story. What is it with them? Why are they everywhere? And am I developing some sort of allergy??

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Made In France - B. Carle

Carle is a young journalist who decided to spend one year using and consuming all-French products only. It started out very modestly, as you can see above.
In the course of the year, he managed to re-furnish his small apartment somewhat more, but still ended the year without a computer, a TV set, a cell phone, a fridge, decent coffee or a nail-clipper.

This is the documentary he made about his experience, containing interviews with factory workers, economists, a politician and Carle's grandfather, among others.

Now, you may call this French jingoism, and that would be one way of looking at it.
It would also be correct, however, to say he underlines the link between our everyday lives and world economics.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Girls, season 3

In the previous season, the girls in question interacted fairly little, which can definitely be taken as an explanation for Hannah's subsequent psychological troubles.

Here, they are all back together again, Hanna living in romantic bliss with fairy tale prince Adam (at least to begin with) and it is all highly enjoyable!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Star Wars Identities, Cité du Cinéma

Costumes, figurines, movie excerpts, R2D2, Yoda, spacecrafts and a series of educational films on the shaping of your personality (applied, incidentally, to Luke and Anakin Skywalker) to be found at this exhibit at Luc Besson's roomy but smelly Cité du Cinéma in St Denis.

The target groups in our circle (children and adult Star Wars-geeks) loved it.
The rest of us found it more or less OK.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Red - Taylor Swift

Every now and then (way too often, as a matter of fact!) what you see is precisely what you get.
Not even in my wildest dreams could I have pictured this girlie-Texan-with-a-guitar sounding any different from what she does. Not sure what that says about me, or about her.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Talladega Nights; The Ballad of Ricky Bobby - A. McKay 2006

This is very much a real-people remake of Disney's 'Cars'
However, as it stars co-writer Will Ferrell as NASCAR driver Flash McQueen, has him surrounded by a crowd of experienced secondary-role actors and is directed and co-written by the creator of 'Anchorman', it had us in stitches from beginning to end. Hilarious!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Aleph - Gesaffelstein

Admittedly, I am under no obligation to keep downloading all these French DJs, so I will stop whining about it. (It just feels so WEIRD to suddenly be listening to all this French music! I have bought more French music these last two years, than I had in all the previous 26 I have lived here.)

If Uppermost are leaning heavily on Justice, then Gesaffelstein is a descendant of the Germans in Kraftwerk. There is not an ounce of rock-inspiration here; only monotonous, hardcore club-beats. Work fine for running, also!


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Papier Glacé, Musée Galliera

There is no permanent collection at the Paris Museum of fashion, as I discovered when visiting it Sunday, for the first time after its recent renovation. 
I was all the sorrier about missing the previous Alaïa exhibition.

Still - the Musée Galliéra is a bit of a hidden gem, even without Alaïa and a permanent collection. It lies buried in the depths of the 16th arrondissement (not my usual digs) but is well worth finding. 
At least the current fashion photo exhibition was a treat.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Revolution - Uppermost

... And now for yet another French electro house musician. (How many are there? Seriously??)

This one was foisted upon me by my teenager, and is not half bad, really - which makes sense, because of his acute resemblance to 'Justice' (they are a duo, but apart from that, the two are tough to tell apart) who I am very partial to.

OK running music.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Ten Years In The Tub - Nick Hornby

This is the complete collection of the columns Hornby has been writing for art magazine 'The Believer' about his reading. 

They are not regular book reviews, since :
Tenet number one is that he will write about "what (he) would have done anyway, which is read the books (he) wanted to read", and 
Tenet number two is that "The Polysyllabic Spree" (which is how Hornby refers to the allegedly "white-clad... chillingly ecstatic young men and women who run this magazine") have a strict policy against "snarky criticism", which eventually has Hornby read only books he suspects he will like (as opposed to those he feels he ought to read) - a pleasing and unexpected side-effect of the column.

As ever, Hornby is a miracle of wit and perspicacity, and sheer bliss to read. 
I honestly think he could write user's manuals and still have me in stitches. 
(Or even football books, which seems a lot more likely.) 
(And no, 'High Fidelity' is not about football. It is about a football fan.) 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Synecdoche, New York - C. Kaufman 2008

The synecdoche of the title is both a figure of speech (a metaphor, where a part is taken to symbolise the whole of something, or vice versa) and a reference to the city of Schenectady, New York, where the action is set.
Writer and director Charlie Kaufman is a major movie-prodigy, and has cast a series of top-notch actors; Michelle Williams, Dianne Wiest, Emily Watson and late Philip Seymor Hoffman as a theatre director overtaken with his own life, which he turns into a play, and peoples with doppelgänger of himself and everyone around him.
If it sounds weird, it's because it is.

The screenplay is ambitious - I might even stretch that to 'pretentious', in fact - and somewhat reminiscent of Bunuel's 'Cet Obscure Objet du Désir' : It's the kind of film you could spend weeks analyzing and come up with heaps of interesting findings.

Problem is, I found it just Too Weird. Gave me a headache.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

True Detective

I didn't much go for director Fukunaga's 'Jane Eyre', have never been fond of McConaghey, however brilliant, am sick of self-destructive detectives and have watched / read about more American serial killers on the loose than I care to think about. (Plus, can't help wondering how come every single one persists in attacking young women and teenage girls? Where are the serial killers hung up on elderly men? toddlers? middle-aged housewives???)

Despite all of the above, 'True Detective' turned out just too well-played and finely tuned to be overlooked. 
What at first seemed mostly weird and slow, somehow turned mesmerising, still slow, and actually kind of creepy.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

a 19 year old Jay-Z on a visit to London
What it is, though :
- a brilliantly deviced hit-inducing blog name.
  (Not all of us were that clever when naming our blogs.)

- a good-humoured collection of quirky celebrity photos.

Sigourney Weaver eating a banana on the set of 'Ghostbusters'