Thursday, May 5, 2011

I spent 20 hours in Copenhagen and I only learned Danish swear words.

I've been hoping to write more often but after starting this blog, my work responsibilities have increased two-fold. I really need a vacation and seeing the royal wedding made me release it's been 2 years since I've been overseas. Which brings me back to my topic.

After two weeks and marathon viewing sessions, I've watched the final episode of Forbrydelsen. Overall, it was a fantastic series that inches along until episode 17 when it switches to warp speed. My ability to spot the killer based on Law & Order rules remains unsurpassed but I was wrong about the motive. In fact, my only criticism is that much was left up to the viewer to figure out at the end and many questions were left unanswered. The ending is one thing AMC's The Killing is changing and it's probably a good thing based on the fact that Americans love closure, ambiguity in movies or TV isn't really popular in my experience. Sadly, unlike a Japanese fellow who learned English by watching ER, the only Danish words I picked up were either German words or swear words that transcend every language. The rest sounded like mouths stuffed with marbles! However, if I ever get a pet, I will name him/her Troels.

As for the new season of Doctor Who, I'm very intrigued with all the hints dropped in the first two-parter. It looks like Moffat will once again put Amy & Rory through the wringer this season-he is such a soap writer! As long as they leave together at the end of the season and Rory doesn't die again-he drifting into Fox Mulder(season-ending pseudo-death) territory. On a more positive note, Sherlock will be starting filming shortly and air in the fall. Yippee.

I may not have anyone in England but this song expresses my feelings when I get "homesick" for England.

Next blog will be my adventures at the EU Embassies Open House. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 25, 2011

What I've been watching the past week

The reverse casting of Frankenstein(Johnny Lee Miller as the Creature:

If a movie of the National Theatre's "Frankenstein" ever comes out, I'd want Benedict Cumberbatch to play both roles. I loved him as the more analytical Creature as opposed to Miller's more childlike interpretation but playing in portraying Victor, Cumberbatch gave a more nuanced reading of the scientist-alternating between arrogance and amazement with just a touch of fear. Sadly my issues with the supporting cast were still apparent. I haven't been to England or a London play in a few years and this production showed me what I've been missing.

Forbrydelsen(The Killing):

Not the AMC version but the BBC4 DVD of the Danish crime drama about the killing of a young women and the aftermath. Having seen the first few episodes online at AMC and reading the Guardian's raves about the show*, I bought the boxset of the original(with subtitles) and proceeded to watch both simultaneously...for a week. I found myself increasing intrigued with the dark Scandinavian gloom and the murder of Nanna Birk Larsen much more than the remake. I didn't think I could watch a 20 episode show with subtitles and not get bored but the twisting storyline, 3 dimensional characters and a female detective who rocks a ponytail and wool sweater/jumper hooked me. Sophie Grabol plays Sarah Lund as a thoughtful, quiet, workaholic who refreshingly makes mistakes in the case. Her acting is such that she is Sarah Lund, something that the American actress can't quite manage. The other cast is uniformly good with special mention going to the wonderfully named Troels Hartmann, politician.

The only thing I liked better in the US version is that we find out a little bit more about the victim Rose like hearing her voice and seeing her videos. Nanna is never quite a character but her death is felt in every scene. I also think the two American boys playing her brothers did a wonderful job in portraying sibling grief. The little Danish boys grief seemed to consist of staring down at the ground.

However, Forbrydelsen should come with a warning mentioning after watching it, the viewer will want to travel around Copenhagen, speak in Danish and wear $350 white wool sweaters with snowflakes.

The sweater:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

You know you're getting old when:

-You start listening to BBC Radio 4 drama and enjoy it.

-You reminisce about how 1970s & 80's music was better than today's music. You also discover your favorite radio station is now the "classic rock" station?!

Your iPod contains songs from the Police and Billy Joel.

Instead of staying out all night partying, you want to be back in bed by 10:30 to get 8 hrs of sleep.

You used to buy Bazooka gum and Star Wars bubble gum cards. Why did I ever get rid of them!

Upon hearing of the Royal Wedding, it doesn't seem that long that Jane Pauley broadcasted live from London at Charles & Diana's wedding. Thirty years ago!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Off to the theatre or somewhere thereabouts

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a theater-nut. When I was young, my parents took us to the touring productions of Broadway plays. Annie, Cats, and some local Chicago theater productions. In my travels to London, I always manage to see at least one musical or play. So when I heard that the National Theatre was broadcasting the sold out "Frankenstein" and it was playing near me, I quickly bought my ticket.

Since most everything about the play has already been said by others, I'll just report my thoughts.

1)As my first theater to film experience, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The camera work and crane shots never allowed you to feel like you were in the NT but we were privileged to see the actors expressions and the wonderful makeup on the Creature, something that the live audience couldn't see. The crane shots were lovely, very movie-like in the scene where the creature is experiencing rain for the first time.

2)Benedict Cumberbatch was amazing as the creature. Having only seen him in cerebral roles like Sherlock, his agility scaling the scenery and his emotional range made me realize he's one of the better actors of today. Sadly, Johnny Lee Miller didn't have much to do as Dr. Victor and only his scenes with the Creature gave me any indication of his acting range.

4)Supporting characters were a mixed bag. Naomi Harris was underutilized as Elizabeth with only her last scene with the Creature showing her true caring nature. Karl Johnson was as dependable as every as the old blind man and stole every scene. The rest of the cast were very weak.

Can't fault the aesthetics as the scenery, music and rotating stage were effectively used and shows off Boyle's talents. It's not a particularly deep production and there are physiological aspects of the play that weren't full developed. But as a piece of entertainment for $20, it was marvelous. At the end, our theatre burst into applause at the curtain call for 5 minutes.

As for myself, I enjoyed it enough to buy a ticket to the reverse showing in April. You can also buy the soundtrack on iTunes if you so desire. While not a patch on a night in the West End, for those of us who are in America, it's the next best solution.

Here's a shot of the cafe outside the theater.