Friday, September 30, 2016

Freakonomics Radio

For all its flaws, I mostly enjoyed the book, 'Freakonomics', a couple of years ago.
This podcast is hosted by co-author Stephen Dubner and treats just as various and not per definition economic topics, in very much the same energetic, not to say slightly hysterical, way.

Episodes range from 30 to 50 minutes and delve into subjects which seem very American, such as how to become successful in a particular field, how to achieve grit, how to motivate kids to study and what is the problem with American teachers (or; whether the problem is the American teachers).

In all, it's interesting enough, yet at the same time it feels both superficial and strangely biased. (That may depend on the amount of statistics involved, and on my general distrust of statistics...)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Glada Hälsningar Från Missångersträsk - Martina Haag

I wasn't expecting chick-lit from Haag, because it's not what she usually writes. 
(I mostly enjoy her light-weight comedy writing.) 
Nor do I in any way want to seem snooty and look down on cute, predictable romance. 
However! I personally don't like it.

Also, I reckon that though Haag may not have a future Nobel Prize in her, she is certainly capable of doing better than this.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Vapen Till Dom Hopplösa - Hurula

As befitting to pupils of the Iggy Pop School of Rock, Hurula on record is more melodious and slick than Hurula on stage.

Still, though; quite enough raw energy and talent to make this very enjoyable and a lot more personal than his American counterparts in, say, Blink 182.

Monday, September 26, 2016

4.50 From Paddington - Agatha Christie

Vintage Agatha Christie from the early 1950s! Endlessly long, deliciously British names (well, how many Crackenthorpes, Stoddart-Wests or Eyelesbarrows does your addressbook count?), arsenic, strangulation, batty old ladies, fatally continental French women, wide-eyed public-school boys and a decrepit old manor house.

Exquisite like a well-brewed cup of tea!

Beat Generation at Centre Pompidou, Paris 4ème arrdt

Exhibiting authors is obviously a tricky task, and that trickiness is at least partly the problem with this exhibition.

True, there is the script scroll to Kerouac's 'On the Road' + a number of poems; yet the lion's share of the exhibits is what felt like three billion photos, all presented in what felt like a complete jumble.

The high point was definitely the videotaped interviews with Allen Ginsberg. 
Though I have never been much for poetry - and definitely not the deconstructed Ginsberg kind - the man himself was absolutely fascinating. Unlike most rockstars and other 1960s survivors, who have all but drugged away their brains, Ginsberg's capacities seemed only to have been sharpened by whatever he took. Commenting photos and his life, he remembered every tiny little detail, every name, every person, every poem. Fascinating!


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Popestar - Ghost

I'm not sure what to think about the EP phenomenon, consisting in releasing just a couple of songs rather than a proper album, but I'm fairly convinced that for THIS, the EP is the right medium : One personal composition + four covers = Excellent promotion for the ongoing (North American, sadly) tour.

Unexpected covers, at that! Swedish 90's supergroup Imperiet, Echo and the Bunnymen and the Eurythmics! Love the playfulness of it all!

'Square Hammer' is the only original song on the EP. 
Preferably listen with your eyes closed, their attirements do the song no good, unless you want to feel like thirteen again.

My views on 'Meliora' in case you are wondering.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Moog For Love - Disclosure

A three-song record hardly even counts as a record at all, but since one of the tracks features Al Green, I'll go ahead and say it anyway : It sounds pretty much like you'd expect, which is really not all that bad, considering that we are talking about Disclosure and Al Green.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Skeleton Twins - C. Johnson 2014

The cast is fantastic - Hader, Wiig, Owen Wilson, Jackie Gleason - and this story about suicide and depression is rendered delicate, sensitive and funny. 

Wiig and Hader have tremendous chemistry and I enjoyed it a lot.

Plus : A perfect 90 minutes long!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Rowlings, Tiffany & Thorne

First : Intense pleasure at meeting all the familiar characters again! 
Turns out everyone has teenage kids now, Harry sucks at parenting and - alas! - his scar still hurts from time  to time. 

Then : Sucked into the adventure, head over heels! 
The story is fast-paced and takes you for a dazzling ride down that old memory lane, revisiting key moments from the books. 

Why it works : Because the Harry Potter books have always been about three things; characters, story and dialogue. 
Rowlings has never been Real Literature. Her writing style has never been "charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree" (quote Ezra Pound). 
Removing it, therefore, is no major loss. As the director and playwright seem top-notch, this probably rocks the hell out of everything else in West End, right now. 


Friday, September 16, 2016

This Is Where I Leave You - S. Levy 2014

Adam Driver, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Patrick Bateman, Rose Byrne, Connie Britten etc = The crème de la crème of Hollywood comedy actors in a film about a family reuniting around the father's funeral.

Everything here is exactly, precisely, to the letter what you expect it to be, except for the fact that it would be fully reasonable of you to hope for something a lot more original, or at least something funnier, seeing what a talented cast this is.
(Except, of course, if you are enough of a film buff to remember Levy was also the director of equally promising, equally slightly disappointing 'Date Night'.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Ljust- och Fräscht-boken - Lindström & Schyffert

This book was edited to accompany a comedy show a couple of years back.
I regretted missing out on it at the time, as the comedians are two of Sweden's sharpest tongues with brains of the same kind. 

I regret missing the show even more now that I have read the book; a perspicacious and rather cynical view of the current Swedish passion for interior decoration and home improvement, branching out into psychology, history, sociology and stand-up comedy.

An eye-opening side-splitter.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Marie Antoinette - Stefan Zweig

At the rate I'm going, the blanks in my knowledge of the 18th century will most likely be amended before Christmas! (Previously read : Laestadius Larsson's 'Pottungen' and 'Räfvhonan')

Zweig's portrayal of the unfortunate rococo queen dates from 1932 and indeed tells you almost as much about Zweig's early 20th century as it does about the late 18th. 
For instance, according to Zweig, the fate of France's last royal family pretty much boils down to Louis XVIs initial sexual impotence and his bland personality. These, you see, rendered him incapable of properly harnessing his fierce, lusty teenage bride, so desperately in need of male domination...

Zweig is no brilliant historian, notwithstanding any amount of research he undoubtedly conducted. He speculates about what might have been, states of mind, thoughts and fears - in short, things none of us can possibly have any knowledge whatsoever about - and he fearlessly presents his musings as near-truths. He peremptorily passes judgement on people (The King and Mirabeau he holds in the greatest contempt. And however patriotic I may be, his idolisation of the Queen's Swedish lover Axel von Fersen makes me ill at ease.)

In all, this was a detailed but conventional (and irritating!) portrait of a person who remains quite a mystery.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Hollow Crown, s. 2

Though I'm a fairly regular Shakespeare-reader, the history plays are a huge and shameful blank in my bibliography.

In its infinite kindness and wisdom, the BBC has compressed four of these battle-filled plays (All three 'Henry VI's and 'Richard III') into a series bearing the usual BBC hallmark of quality TV.

After missing out on season 1, I took great pleasure in these three two-hour long episodes of season 2, recounting the Wars of the Roses.

I now consider myself slightly less ignorant and - who knows?! - perhaps soon ready for one of the Henry-plays in its original text version.

That Benedict Cumberbatch's Richard III is epic (if slightly over-played) surprised me less than pretty boy Sturridge's skills as Henry VI. (Despicable prejudice on my part, I confess.)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Amy - A. Kapadia 2015

A rather commonplace documentary on what has become a tragically commonplace topic.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Getaway - The Red Hot Chili Peppers

In a sudden frenzy caused both by frustration over other missed concerts (Panic! At the Disco, Twenty One Pilots, Adam Lambert...) and elation at finding places were still available (most of the aforementioned gigs were sold out by the time I realized they were playing in Paris) I booked concert tickets for the RHCP in October.

Not until after paying - quite a hefty sum, I might add - did I remember I don't really know their music at all. To make amends, I downloaded both their recent album (The Getaway) and the 2003 Greatest Hits collection, and have been listening to both over the summer.

The outcome is double :

1. I am absolutely incapable of distinguishing one album from the other. 
   I'd be hard-pressed to state wether this is good or bad.

2. I've grown rather tired of them; too much of a good thing, definitely.

I have no real opinion of the new album, therefore. I will have to get back to you after the concert.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Shaun The Sheep Movie - Burton & Starzak, 2015

Clearly loads superior to the Disney/Pixar/Dreamworks-band of movies with their eternal coming-of-age stories, constantly glorifying family and countrylife.
However, this was not as sidesplitting as most of the previous Aardman-films; Wallace and Gromit or the Chicken Run.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Far From the Madding Crowd - T. Vinterberg 2015

This film has a lot going for it - remarkable actors, stunning scenery, the absence of Thomas Hardy's patronizing voice, and a very limited number of irritating shortcuts - and still, there is nothing in here to make me go back on my previously expressed views on adaptations.