Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Seashells - Florrie

I found Florrie's previous EP filled with brilliant poptunes and an irresistibly airy sound, so I was a bit disappointed in this, as apparently she's off clubbing. 
The lyrics are repetitive and the melodies a lot less catchy. 

Still, OK running music, I guess.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

J. Edgar - C. Eastwood 2011

A highly unsurprising biopic - the ageing head of the FBI looks back at his life, the audience mirrored by a young journalist - allowing for a review of American history, from the first Red Scare of the 1920s up to the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968.

Having never been particularly impressed with Eastwood's talents as a filmmaker, I found the lack of surprise unfortunate but unsurprising.
You will, however, be justified in wondering why on earth I sat through this anyway. 
I blame my job for that; films on US history can prove useful in class. In no way do I exclude using this, at some point.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sherlock Holmes, season three

A meagre three episodes might seem a bit short for a season, except we are talking high-quality, 90-minute-long TV films starring Cumberbatch and Freeman.

I can definitely see the attraction in these, yet I doubt I would have watched them if my daughters hadn't. I do sit through a lot worse with them, though!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Oz, the Great and Powerful - S. Raimi 2013

Wholesome family fun, indeed; at 10, 16 and 45 we all enjoyed this at various levels.

A minus, however; you'd think that what with no less than three female witches, 'Oz' would pass the Bechdel-test with flying colours, but as the male magician is the only topic they seem to be interested in discussing with one another...

John Lennon snorting Coke

... on the set of 'A Hard Day's Night'

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Master - P. T. Anderson 2012

Ever brilliant River Phoenix as lost and confused ex-WWII Marine falls under the spell of equally brilliant Philip Seymor Hoffman's charismatic sect-leader (married to, at the risk of repeating myself, also brilliant though frequently underestimated Amy Adams).

Even with only slight knowledge of Scientology history, it is hard not to see the two alter egos as different sides of L. Ron Hubbard in his early career.

Well-played, then, and well-made altogether - but somehow too high-brow for me. 
I found it unnecessarily circumvented and a bit pretentious, to be honest.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Mais qu'est-ce qu'on a fait au bon Dieu..? - P. de Chauveron 2014

For once, I somehow found myself in front of the Huge French Box-Office Hit of the year; a comedy about an upper-class, right-wing couple whose sons-in-law come from almost all ethnic groups present on French soil.

Not much I can say that hasn't already been better said (but in French) here : 

Except perhaps that it is a bit remarkable for a film that takes such pains to poke fun at stereotypes and clichés to be so terribly conventional.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Foodroom

Just because I enjoy 'The Newsroom' doesn't mean I won't like a parody. 
Quite the contrary, as a matter of fact!

The making-of :


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Castle of Robert le Diable, Rouen

My husband and children respectively are all growing older, which, I guess, accounts for the fact that we hadn't visited any medieval castles in what suddenly felt like an eternity, whereas we used to manage one a year, at least.
(Convincing the kids is getting arduous, but once they are strapped down and shut up in the car, no escape is possible!)

No one really knows who Robert was nor what was so devilish about him (father of William the Conqueror?) but a good 50% of the home he erected in the 13th century is still standing.
Restoration is in progress and renders visits impossible for the time being, which was a bit of an anticlimax to us, I must admit...


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

This Night's Foul Work - Fred Vargas

Not all detective writers are capable of depicting what looks like everyday police routine and then imperceptibly spicing it up with tiny portions of eccentricity, the usual serial killers, a hint of supernatural folklore, plus a tongue-in-cheek sense of humour!

My favourite so far was 'The Ghost-Riders of Ordebec' (L'Armée Furieuse) but this comes a good second best! 
(And I'm not just saying that because I have connections to Normandy.) 
(At least, I don't think I am.)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Futuroscope, Poitiers

3D-films combined with vibrating seats are the raison d'être of this once-no-doubt futuristic fun park. Sadly, 3D-effects have a tendency to age less than gracefully, so the state-of-the-art character of the Futuroscope now feels a little dated.

Still! As an adult, a parent and a teacher, it's hard not to enjoy a fun park so persistently intent on educational fun, and managing it so well!

Minus points for the food, however! In two days, we tried almost all of the open restaurants and found almost everything inedible...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Transformers 3 - M. Bay 2011

Apart from the largely superior budget, this is very much the same as all those ghastly Barbie-films my daughters made me watch for over a decade; i.e. a two-hour-long commercial for toys and stereotypes.

I think they are immoral and ought to be banned.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie

Påskekrim is a Norwegian tradition, consisting of reading - and originally, I guess, selling - detective novels at Easter. Ideally, I would have liked to go full-Norwegian with Jo Nesbo's latest book, but I prefer reading him in Swedish which I couldn't find here in Paris, so I settled for an old Agatha Christie.

The advantages of vintage Christie are 
     1) that you know precisely what you get, and 
     2) what you don't get; i.e. no paedophiles, rapists, serial-killers, gory detail, supernatural elements or solitary, alcoholic police detectives.
1 + 2 = Total tranquillity!

This one is a wee bit different due to a narrative twist I can't tell you about, for spoiler reasons, but every bit as charming as the others.

If, however, you believe Christie was the founder of these cosy, English whodunits, then you've clearly never read Wilkie Collins's 'The Moonstone'. (But you should!)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Les Etats-Unis d'aujourd'hui - André Kaspi

Kaspi is a knowledgeable scholar of contemporary America, and this book is as insightful and rigorous as anyone could expect from him. 

It covers a wide range of subjects, from immigration to popular culture via religion and the electoral system, in a mere 300 pages (at high speed, therefore. Hold on to your hats!).

The only problem with this opus is that it was published in 1999, and no small amount of water has run under the bridges since then.

What on earth possessed me to grab this and actually read it almost all the way through, you would be well-informed to ask? 
I haven't got the foggiest. Am experiencing some trouble finding incentive to read, at the moment...


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Stargate - R. Emmerich 1994

Ancient Egypt, an idealistic young scientist, stone-faced US army soldiers, space-travels and high-tech UFO pyramids - What else could anyone possibly ask for in a film?

I beg your pardon, what? A script? There is one of those, too, in fact! 
Not overly accomplished, perhaps, but its existence is undeniable!

My ten-year-old - not the film buff; the other one, with the attention-span of a squirrel - sat spellbound.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Dubliners - James Joyce

Some things never go out of style, it is said, and I reckon that is how you tell Real Literature apart from Good Books. 

I had read this classic collection of short stories several times before, and for every time I feel my understanding of them grows. Some remain cryptic - cannot seem to wrap my head around 'Ivy Day in the Committee Room' - while others gradually unfold like the petals of a flower ('Clay'!!).

They are all of them circular in shape (they end more or less at the same place they took off) and most of them focus on disappointment, and an impression of failure, often subsequent to an epiphany of some sort.

At the risk of breaking through open doors, I have to say it : This is wonderful writing!!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Campaign - J. Roach

Ferrell and Galifianakis as two opposing candidates for Congress, co-produced by both actors plus Adam McKay and director Jay Roach, the man behind 'Game Change' = I had high hopes for this!

Of course, non-application of the low-expectations principle (sometimes it's just not possible!) is asking for disappointment.

This was fun, obviously, but nowhere near as fun as it could / should / would have been, had it gone a little bit further, taken a little less easy shortcuts and used perhaps not quite as many stereotypes... 
Still, definitely more caustic than most US comedies.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The White Pixel Ape - Shaka Ponk

I'm sorry to be eternally repeating myself when it comes to Shaka Ponk, but this is just brilliant! 

Slicker, more thoroughly worked-through than their previous album. 
Less in-your-face, but no less brilliant!

(Promise I won't write another word about them now, until June, which is the date on my concert ticket..!)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Flight - R. Zemeckis 2012

There is always something august about Denzel Washington, whichever role he is playing. Yet, it's certainly not a given to look majestic as a downtrodden junkie and alcoholic, albeit an airline pilot.

After a nerve-wrecking plane-crash in the first half-hour, this film grows into a very conventional narrative on addiction. Unfortunately, we have all seen quite enough recovering alcoholics on film to know exactly how it's going to end way before it finally does.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Pretty Little Liars

I will confess I only watched a couple of episodes (from seasons three and four) before making my mind up, so any errors in judgment must be due to sheer lack of time..!

Besides, however complicated the plotline - and god knows it was!! - it didn't take that long to get the hang of this, at least for a frumpy old lady like myself with a baggage of more TV-shows than I care to remember or admit to having watched. 
I found it to be a darkened and updated version of 'Beverly Hills 90210' or 'Desperate Housewives' and GOD how I would have loved this as a teenager! 
(As indeed, an impressive amount of teenagers around me seem to do.) 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sorgfjäril - Ingelin Angerborn

Good news! I managed to finish my ten-year-old's ghost story and found it fully adequate, if not perhaps the book of the year.

Angerborn is a Swedish, multiple-award-winning author of children's books, and indeed, this is clearly quality writing. I'll admit to being a little surprised at her success, as I would have thought this e-x-c-r-u-c-i-a-t-i-n-g-l-y slow-moving plot to be somewhat under-stimulating to the young zapping and clicking generation (I nearly fell asleep, myself...), but sometimes it's good to be wrong!

To finish, a brilliant quote by brilliant Nick Hornby : "Dismissing YA books because you're not a young adult is a little bit like refusing to watch thrillers on the grounds that you're not a policeman or a dangerous criminal."