Books and films and stuff

I haven’t posted much recently (on blog anyway – am always on Twitter) but I’ve been busy taking Ashtanga yoga classes, reading books and watching a load of films ( a real love of mine). This evening I’ve finished Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin. I’d seen the film several years ago but a friend read the book recently and recommended it. It’s frankly terrifying and it’s worth reading the book even if you have seen the film – Polanski’s film is wonderful but from reading the book, you’ll see that Mia Farrow was perfect for the role. Amazing to think Ira Levin wrote three of the most fascinating studies of modern America in the mid-late 20th Century: Rosemary’s Baby, Stepford Wives and The Boys from Brazil. I have the latter on kindle which I’m now going to read – Chuck Palahnuik’s introductions are excellent too.
Also tonight I watched the film Jeff, Who Lives at Home – Jason Segel and the phenomenal Susan Sarandon – what’s not to love? I really enjoyed this film – more than just a lame stoner comedy. I’m now watching classic British horror The Night Of The Demon (1957) thanks to a ‘British Connections’ season by Digital/cable film channel Film4. Its a fabulously creepy British Cult/Satanist horror. Worth checking out.

Life getting in the way a bit

So i’m aware i haven’t blogged for a while but as the title says – Life’s been getting in the way a bit. In a good way though. Since moving house and in the last few weeks, i’ve read more, seen some great movies, discovered some great vintage shops/jumble sales/car boot sales in my new locale and have even picked up a crochet hook again (though less said about that, the better…). My daughter has also started School nursery a couple of afternoons which has given me time to write this.

So – recent media consumed includes:

Films –

The Descendants (Clooney, cried buckets)
Harry Potter and the last whatsit (you know, the last one – was pretty good)
A Dangerous Method (Cronenberg – Jung v Freud – Keira Knightley a revelation; Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen wonderful as always)
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (recent prequel with James Franco, Freida Pinto and John Lithgow as well as rent-a-creature Andy Serkis. Was so much better than i thought it would be. Those Apes were ANGRY)
Disney’s Brave at the cinema with TheYoungLady (twice! – as i said to someone – possibly the first Disney heroine who didn’t make me want to puke. Lots of stuff about changing your fate and i cried at the mom/daughter bit. It was good)
Volcano – (not new i know but have never seen it. Great disaster movie and Tommy Lee Jones – whaddaguy!)

Books

We were the Mulvaneys – Joyce Carol Oates. I found this a struggle as the pace is slow but it was a rewarding read.
The Hunger Games Trilogy – Suzanne Collins. Couldn’t quite believe these were kids books – glad i read them before seeing the film. Wonderful.
The Fifty Shades Trilogy – EL James. Amazingly badly written tripe. (nb – not me being prudish – there were definately some sexy bits but it was so badly written and Grey and Anastasia so unlikeable)
The Ice Princess – Camilla Lackberg. Now, i do normally love Scandi-crime but got a bit bored with this and didn’t finish it.
11.22.63 – Stephen King. Read even less of this. Time portal at the back of a diner where the protagonist can maybe chnge history and stop the assassination of JFK? Nah. Gave up.
Going to attempt some Leo Tolstoy next (War and Peace or Anna Karenina?)
I also quite like this new magazine http://www.thesimplethings.com/ and Mollie Makes Both of which are just too darned cute.

Recent thrift/bargains loot

Am heading to St Ives, Cornwall, UK for a week’s holiday soon where i’ll hopefully return from laden with all manner of artsy, hippy, surfy stuff. Looking forward to visiting Tate St Ives gallery and maybe the Barbara Hepworth museum – loads of small galleries and artists studios to visit too.

Scandi-fixated much?

Last September, i wrote an article on how i was ‘Having a bit of a Nordic Phase…’ which covered the current Scandinavian/Nordic (including Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland) influences in Music, Fashion, literature, film and tv (you can read it here: http://www.missmarples.co.uk/article/articleid/159/having-a-bit-of-a-nordic-phase%E2%80%A6.aspx ) . Having since now seen the second series of The Killing and Series 1 of the excellent Borgen on National Treasure tv station BBC4 and thoroughly enjoying the more mainstream Those Who Kill (Thanks ITV 3!) and the contents of my bedside reading table being this:

not to mention the Nordic novels on my Kindle including Jar City (Reykjavik Murder Mysteries 1) by Arnaldur Indridason and Roseanna, book 1 of the Martin Beck series by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö; its clear i am still to drawn to the cultural output from the region. Given this interest, earlier works by the likes of Henning Mankell and Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö are being translated and published often many years later. Norwegian Jo Nesbo is something of a publishing phenomenon right now, with millions of his pretty gruesome crime novels featuring world-weary cop Harry Hole having sold. A film of his novel Headhunters is due for release on 6 April 2012.

I’m not the only one. There can barely be anyone left who hasn’t read the Millennium Trilogy by Steig Larsson or seen the films. Every British newspaper, broadsheet or otherwise, aswell as magazines such as Heat and Grazia, was fawning over The Killing and Borgen, with The Radio Times even printing a knitting pattern for one of Sarah Lund’s famous jumpers (yes, really!). The slight digs at these tv series featuring the same Danish actors was i think the only thing the journalists could aim to find ‘fault’ with – i mean, seriously, how many working UK actors haven’t been in Casualty/The Bill or a soap?

I have no answers here but the tv series’ i think have really benefitted by largely being national tv-station produced by Denmark’s BBC equivalent, who demanded modern series’ relevant to life today be created for their Sunday evening timeslots. I do wish the beeb would look at this rather than the yawnsome remake of Upstairs Downstairs and whatever sleepy sub-CSI thriller they tend to show on a Sunday night. I think they also appeal because the characters are real and utterly believable and importantly female characters are essential, rather than just being some wife/girlfriend/plain-jane colleague role. With Borgen, yes, you can absolutely see why the female PM’s marriage would potentially crumble and that her relationship with her kids would suffer. With The Killing, there is no disguising the fact that Sarah Lund is a pretty damaged character and her unorthodox methods and singular personality have resulted in estrangement from her son and family aswell as having directly resulted in the death of close colleagues.

The literature too details the lengthy processes the police and prosecutors have to go through to catch and convict criminals. There are no quick-CSI/Law and Order type arrests here (and these are largely BIG hefty 500+ page novels). The characterisation again is compelling and the flaws of Wallander and Hole keep the reader rooting for them.

The old stereotypical image of Scandinavian countries offering little more than Abba, Sauna’s and Ulrika Jonnson has been completely replaced with the rest of the world waking up to it’s cool clothes, music, art, books, tv and cinema and on a completely frivolous note, Stockholm’s men were recently voted Sexiest in the World largely aided, i personally feel by Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood).