Category Archives: Film

The deathlist

It is hard keeping track of who has died when you’re living in exile. There are two categories of people I’d know about if I hadn’t left the country of my birth; famous people [but not so famous that their deaths are reported internationally] and local people [to me] that any remaining friends I have would know that I’d want to hear about.

The Retired Children’s Librarian has done a sterling job over the years by keeping a deathlist. In between our phone calls, she writes down who has died, and when we have spoken, she rattles off the dead ones. Some I will know about, because they made it into a British newspaper. Others I won’t, and I’m grateful to be told. She also has a fairly good grip on who I’m most likely to be interested in.

Dead local ordinary people is the hardest. Mother-of-witch would tell me the names of those she knew, but of course, there are always names that wouldn’t have meant anything to her. And it is quite hard to find out if someone is still alive, once you’ve tried the phone directory [which tends no longer to be very effective].

My reason for talking about deathlists here is that today I read a Swedish magazine article about someone famous and long dead. There had been a television programme about her, in which ‘the late’ Alice Babs had taken part. That was the first inkling I had that Alice Babs is dead. Not surprising, though. She died two years ago at the age of 90, which is pretty good going. And when I searched, I found that she made it into the New York Times, but that was probably mainly the Duke Ellington effect.

I have blogged about Alice once before. I still maintain that her Swe-Danes album is one of the best ones I own.

Galaxy Quest

Thinking about Alan Rickman’s films on Thursday, I was struck by an urgent need to watch Galaxy Quest again. So we did. It’s the kind of genius comedy that should be watched regularly, which we haven’t done, but might do from now on.

We saw it in the cinema when it was new, but it felt like not many people did at the time. We got the video and made good use of it for Son’s birthday party soon after, as a film that would appeal to the age group, but was unlikely to be known to the other boys. That turned out to be right, and Galaxy Quest was also a hard act to beat, or even match, for subsequent parties.

The Star Trekky-ness of it is fun, but all the humour works even if you have no idea what Star Trek was, or the relationships between its actors. And Galaxy Quest has the best taking-out-the-rubbish-and-recycling scene I know.

Time means you forget some details, which then can come back and be almost as good as new when you see them again. I particularly enjoyed the bit where the other actors, minus one, arrived on the spaceship and were freaked out by the aliens, who turned ‘human’ shape by the time the last of the group caught up with them and who had no idea what all the excitement was about.

It’s possible to go on and on about it and its perfection, but I won’t. Watch it – again – if you haven’t already. I believe I will. It was the only thing to do on a day that brought us the news of Alan Rickman’s far too early death.

Galaxy Quest

The show must go on.

Subtitled

Dubbing films is a vile thing to do. It’s OK if it’s for young children who can’t read, but at any other time I hate it. It sounds simple enough, but the ramifications are many.

If you’re an English speaker and move to Sweden you will be fine. You have to put up with subtitles all over your James Bond, but he will still speak the way you expect him to.

If you’re an English speaker and move to Switzerland, you will be less fine. You’ll be lucky if you have subtitles to put up with. James Bond will have a weird new voice, and what’s worse, if you don’t speak French or German there is little point in going to the cinema at all.

I’ve now had the pleasure of cinema in Geneva twice. There is the odd film being screened in its original English/American, but you can’t choose the time or place as easily as if you go for dubbed-into-French films.

And for equality you get subtitles. Not one lot of subtitles, but two; one in German and one in French. I’ve discovered that the temptation to read the subtitles even when you understand the spoken words is great. It’s very hard not to read. The temptation to read is still there even when you don’t know the language of the subtitles. So there you are, listening to your normal actors, while desperately checking what those words look like in two other languages. Three, in the case of the original film requiring subtitles like The Man From U.N.C.L.E. which I saw a few weeks ago.

I liked it, which was surprising as I’d expected not to go and see it out of solidarity with the original television series. But it happened to be Daughter’s film of choice so I went.

The other day we watched The Intern. Not because either of us wanted to, but because we felt like going to the cinema and it was our only option. We’re glad we did, as we enjoyed it far more than we thought we would.

Mamma Mia! for mother

I’m continuing my trend of jumping into the middle of films. This evening Swedish television very suitably screened Mamma Mia! which was a good end to Mother’s Day. Not that I celebrate it, but any excuse will do.

Came in about halfway, which is good enough for me. Even the Resident IT Consultant seemed to enjoy it for a few minutes. What’s not to like about James Bond getting down on one knee and singing ABBA?

That’s the thing, really. We had Mrs Kramer singing with Dr Hofstadter on one side and Mrs Weasley on the other. Agent 007 has to share a third of a daughter with Mr Darcy and Bombi Bitt. And their offspring is in love with a History Boy.

My own Daughter/Offspring was so keen to see the film the first time that we were in the cinema hours after her returning from her Swiss school trip. And Switzerland continues to be on the agenda.

Anyway, nice treat for all mammas.

The end of Apollo

Not all films are good enough to tempt you away from emptying the dishwasher. Last night I had a kitchen to prepare for workmen coming today, and I was already late for bed (i.e. dead tired), and I had lots to do.

But I discovered that Daughter was watching Apollo 13 again. Not all of it, as she was simply channel surfing. And when I stuck my head in, there was perhaps ten minutes left.

I sat down to watch. Obviously. You can’t ignore a film like Apollo 13.

I just wished I hadn’t put the serviceable ‘napkins’ we’d used for the Indian takeaway in the laundry. Could have used something to mop tears with.

Woman in Gold

What surprised me the most about Woman in Gold was how much it was about the war. That might sound stupid, but I’d mainly thought about the process of getting a stolen work of art back now, long after the war. And the trailer had been mostly lighthearted, with clever and amusing lines.

Woman in Gold

Don’t misunderstand me; I believe the film was better for all its background, reminding us – and in the case of Daughter, showing for the first time – of what went on in Austria not only during the war, but before it as well. Without it, Maria Altmann could have seemed to be simply greedy and grabbing. In a way this was one of those occasions when you feel that both sides are both right and wrong. Were it not for the fact that Austria took away Maria’s right to the life she was living, when they pulled the rug out from under her feet. As I think she said, it wasn’t so much getting the painting of her aunt back, as getting some recompense for what they did to her family, breaking it up, and killing most of them.

Woman in Gold

I had looked forward to seeing more of Vienna, but in the end it was almost painful. I appreciated seeing the old Vienna, as Maria knew it when she grew up. I’m not Austrian, nor quite that old, but I could recognise some of the life she lived.

Had not realised that Daughter didn’t know what the outcome was going to be, but then it had been some years since we read about Maria and her Klimt painting in the news.

Woman in Gold

I enjoyed Woman in Gold, and more so for it being so European, and not just Hollywood gloss. Helen Mirren can do anything she puts her mind to, and Ryan Reynolds was a lovely Randol Schoenberg. Good to see so many actors employed who are not necessarily English language household names, but who were able to portray Austrians in a believable way.

X + Y

This was a film that looked a lot more fun in the trailer than it actually was capable of delivering. That’s nothing new or unusual, but disappointing, nevertheless. We need good films about Asperger Syndrome, and a comedy about a maths prodigy seemed like a good place to start.

And yes, it was funny, and it was sort of good from an aspie point of view. But only so far. The scriptwriters knew what to put in, and then they went and did what so many films and shows do; in order for it to satisfy our neurotypical demands, the poor aspie occasionally becomes almost ‘cured’ of their affliction. If the plot needs them to. Then they can go on and be weird again.

I loved Sally Hawkins in Paddington. Here she was a loving and sometimes perfect mother to an aspie child, while at times she was so clueless you couldn’t believe it. The woman who knows her son needs seven prawn balls, or else, would have learned a few other things as well over the 14 years that she’s been her son’s mother.

According to my own maths specialist, the maths chosen to do tricks with was pretty good. Short enough to fit in, but mostly correct. Thank you for that, a least.

X + Y

Teaching yourself to speak Chinese in a few weeks, with the help of a book, even for a child prodigy… Well, it’s possible. Maybe.

Alex Lawther [who played the young Alan Turing] was another maths genius, but this time as a neurotypical one, which suited him better, but made for more upsetting viewing.

Nathan’s poor room mate in China was the real victim of the story. An almost maths genius who didn’t make the grade, and who actually doesn’t like maths very much. That’s sad.

Whereas Nathan found love and friendship and [almost] gave up on his maths. Which is possible, but less likely.