Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy (and Joe Wright)

I’m not sure if i decided i quite fancied reading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy before or after seeing the sumptious adverts for Joe Wright’s new film version featuring Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Kelly Macdonald and Aaron-Taylor Johnson. Doesn’t it look gorgeous?

Anna Karenina UK Release poster

Speaking of Gorgeous – Keira Knightley wore stunning Chanel at the UK Premiere – you can read and see more pictures here. I’ve loved Keira in the last few films i’ve seen here in (most recently A Dangerous Method) and she’s showing she has a wealth of talent beyond just looking amazing and pouting. I’m looking forward to seeing this (but wonder whether i’ll finish the book first…)

Keira Knightley Anna Karenina UK Premiere in Chanel

I have read some Russian literature in the past BUT it’s hard work – i read some Chekhov at University aswell as Leo Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Aleksandra Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the life of Ivan Denisovich is one of the most depressing books you’ll ever read but Anna Karenina sounds like a great romp:

Anna Karenina is the tragedy of married aristocrat and socialite Anna Karenina and her affair with the affluent Count Vronsky. The story starts when she arrives in the midst of a family broken up by her brother’s unbridled womanizing—something that prefigures her own later situation, though with less tolerance for her by others.” (Wikipedia)

Will let you know how i get on.


Bill Murray and You’re Awesome

I saw this via someone on Facebook (no idea where it originated) and love it so have shared it everywhere. Who doesn’t love Bill Murray? Obviously following on from stints on seminal US show Saturday Night Live, there followed early classic somedies such as Caddyshack, Ghostbusters and Little Shop of Horrors plus the likes of Groundhog Day (just a wonderful film) and personal favorite Kingpin (the Hair is a work of genius). More recent films such as The Royal Tenembaums, The Life Aquatic…, Broken Flowers and Get Low show a more accomplished and considered side of his acting, but it’s Lost in Translation which kicks me in the guts everytime. So, Bill Murray, thank you but You’re Awesome too.

Films and me plus what i’ve watched this week

I love films. From watching black and white Fred Astaire films on a Saturday night to doing my English degree dissertation on the two Scarface films and the development of the gangster film genre (which I wrote in the 2 weeks before the deadline after my dissertation ‘advisor’ said that what I’d written was just a history of the genre (err..yes?!) and didn’t include any feminist, Marxist or any other kind of nonsense critical theory then it was essentially worthless. Anyhoo, did fine with my degree in the end and whilst it instilled in me an intense dislike of assigning a particular form of critical theory to film, it didn’t affect my love for the form.

I embrace all film styles though and am no film snob, watching most things from foreign language classics to High School Musical with the exception of the Saw-type gore-porn of recents years. I have a real fondness for musicals with two of my all time favourite films are Singin in the Rain and The Sound of Music, I love a good B movie and recent additions to the genre Starship Troopers, Independence Day and The Day after Tomorrow I’ve watched countless times.
I love a good, quirky indie film – Whip It and Youth in Revolt I really enjoyed; Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia I thought was wonderful and left me sobbing, as did the Disney film Up which is one of the most heartfelt films you’ll ever see. Sometimes I just need a bit of Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler or Will Ferrell silliness though.

I will watch pretty much anything with Celia Johnson, Dirk Bogarde, Gregory Peck, Cary Grant, Gene Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Julianne Moore, Kristen Scott Thomas, Joan Cusack or Steve Buscemi in it. I have removed Johnny Depp, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino from this list as they’ve made some real shit recently.

Hitchcock, Vincente Minelli, Fellini, Scorcese, Woody Allen, Tarantino, Michael Powell and David Lean are just some of my favourite directors. Brief Encounter and This Happy Breed (both early Lean) plus The Red Shoes and Peeping Tom (Powell) are another more favourite films.

This week I’ve watched (so far):

    DVD: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Disney) – currently on heavy rotatation in our house thanks to TheYoungLady.

DVD: Snow White (recent-ish live action with Miranda Richardson as the Queen) – Recent addition for TYL. It was ok.

    Skyplussed Movies Premier: Love and Other Drugs – Jake Gyllenhaal/Anne Hathaway. Hot slutty guy falls in love with Hot arty sick girl. They shag then split then realise they love each other even though she’s getting more ill. Hated it and fast-forwarded through second half of film.

Sky movies Family: Hachi: A dog’s tale – Joan Allen/Richard Gere and an Akita dog. Had this on while playing with TYL. Had to stifle sobbing. Lovely film.

    Sky+ from BBC2: Starter for 10. If you didn’t know this was written byt David Nicholls (One Day) you could guess. Clever working class essex boy (James McEvoy doing a great job of being the awkward fresher) falls for blonde pretty girl but realises the serious brunette is really the girl for him. I liked Mark Gattis as Bamber Gascoigne and Benedict Cumberbatch as wanker Engineering Postgrad+ leader of the University Challenge team. Predictable but well done and I enjoyed it.

      Lovefilm DVD rental: Captain America: I like how they made Chris Evans look all skinny and weedy at the start. Hugo Weaving, Stanley Tucci, Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L Jackson. It dragged a bit and I got bored enough to draft this post…

      Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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: ) . 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).