Tag Archives: Languages

Bedrag – Follow the Money

Herr Christensen and Alexander

Not all baddies got their just desserts, which I suppose is realistic. The bigger the baddie you are, the likelier it is that you will get away with it. And I’m not sure if it’s a compliment or not, that Swedes make for such good baddies on Danish television shows. Also, at what point does the English speaking viewer find out? Here Daughter took her time to realise our mysterious and violent man spoke Swedish (in that unrealistic way on-screen Danes and Swedes from all walks of life understand and communicate properly with each other).

The Resident IT Consultant found himself a nice quote – ‘Småland får vänta’ – which no doubt will pop up every now and then.

Well, I enjoyed it, despite there not being very many likeable characters in Follow the Money. That too, is realistic. Crooks may be handsome, but they are not nice. Greedy people have to learn there are consequences. The police are only human, so can be as ordinary as they need to be. I’m probably not alone in liking Alf, but found Mads a bit too thick for comfort.

Mads and Alf

If the top lawyer in episode 1 hadn’t been such a misogynist, he’d have fared better, and the fraud department might have got somewhere a lot sooner. Let that be a lesson.

One thing I wondered about afterwards, was what happened to the mini-plots at the beginning. Not much resolution there. And the characters who were temporarily quite important, simply did a vanishing act and we heard no more.

Some tying up of lose ends would have been welcome, unless that’s what we get in Bedrag 2.

I really didn’t want there to be a sequel. It can be good to allow something to be the end, without raking up more action later on, for some of the characters. I felt it pretty much let some of them walk off into the ‘sunset’ and that is often for the best. But the Resident IT Consultant went and found proof there is more coming. It will be this autumn, in Denmark at least.

Nicky and Bimse

But basically, financial crime is probably bigger and ‘more successful’ than ordinary violence and death, although there was some of that here too. And the police have no teeth. They don’t appear to be allowed to, which in itself says a lot.

Dogs are a man’s best friend.

To the cream

I like Gruyère. In fact, I like most Swiss cheeses. They are generally of the kind we at CultureWitch Towers call ‘big holes’ cheese, as opposed to ‘small holes’ cheese.

I like meringue, too. But I’d never combine the two. Which is why on my first visit to Switzerland this summer, I was left nonplussed by the dessert at the Italian restaurant we went to. Meringue, served with Gruyère cream.

I tried to imagine it. I really did. I suppose if I’d been feeling adventurous I should have ordered it. And I didn’t even put it down to me having problems with the French langauge, although I obviously do, never having learned it.

On my third visit the penny dropped. It wasn’t a cheesy meringue dessert at all. It was meringue with cream. Cream from Gruyère. As a place name, not a description of cheese. Although the cheese clearly gets made from Gruyère cows’ milk.

When I return this time I really must try the Gruyère meringue.

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.

Lakeside languages and lone ladies who lunch

Their gnocchi was the best I’d ever eaten. I’d have told them that if I could have, because it truly was gorgeous gnocchi. The Italian restaurant nestling in the corner of the Mont Blanc bridge and the shore of Lake Geneva looked lovely back in June when I first saw it. But I wanted company to eat there, so Daughter and I went at the weekend, when the weather was still warm and sunny, and a lakeside meal seemed like a good idea.

The – presumably Italian – maître d’ joked about our lack of French and demanded more languages. We gave him Swedish, and he shut up because he couldn’t match it. For a restaurant that has menus printed in English (separate menus, not just English added) you expect a bit of linguistic skill, and they certainly had that. A professional looking waiter soon took our order in impeccable English, and the food came promptly.

And as I said, the gnocchi was fantastic, as was the pasta with salmon. We swapped halfway, so sampled both. The half litre bottle of water soon came to an end, and while it’s positive that they don’t want to fleece their customers by opening two bottles, it’s what we are used to and expected. But you can always order another.

We tried. Oh, how we tried. After half an hour I decided we would go thirsty, because I was just too well mannered to get out either of the two bottles we had in our bags. After another half hour when we’d had our fill of sitting by the lakeside we decided to ask for the bill.

We tried. Oh, how we tried. But we were in that corner, window and all, and nice view, but where they maybe put the undesirables. Was it our unattractiveness? Or simply the fact we had no male with us?

I rather regret not walking out without paying. I wonder if they would have noticed. As it was, I walked up to the maître d’ where he was standing, mid-restaurant, but was prevented from speaking by our now irritated looking waiter. Perhaps they punish waiters whose remiss attention disturbs the king? The bill arrived extremely fast. Great.

Except, you know what didn’t happen next, don’t you? That’s right. No one came for our money, and there is only so long you can wait for non-existent service. Luckily I had the correct money, so I put it on the table and we left.

It’s a shame. The food was great. When they wanted to, they had the right restaurant skills too. I recognise it was a busy Sunday lunchtime. But still. And they could easily have sold us another water, possibly some dessert, maybe even tea. There would have been some hope of a tip, which they clearly wanted, judging by the layout of the bill, despite this not being a Geneva thing. Or so I’m told.

But I can recommend the gnocchi. And the view.

From the Earth to the Moon, across The Bridge to Olympus

Earlier this summer our holiday viewing consisted of rewatching From the Earth to the Moon. After we accidentally caught a bit of Apollo 13, it felt like the obvious choice, and it was high time we revisited Tom Hanks and his astronauts, training to go to the moon.

I’ve said this before and it can be said again; this is one of the best DVD boxes. Ever. I’ll want to watch this many more times. And it’s funny for someone who was around when it happened for real, because you find you get to know these astronauts and all the rest of them from scratch.

I used to subscribe to the idea that Apollo 11 was a lovely trio of men doing something great and special. After watching this though, you feel disappointed that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were such idiots. Seemingly, anyway. It takes a bit away from that night in July 1969. On the other hand, there are many astronauts I knew little about and whom you come to love. Especially Alan Bean, I reckon. Lovely man.

Is it the actors? Or is it the research, where it is now safe to admit to things no one would have mentioned in the 1960s? And speaking of actors, it’s interesting to see the parade of NCIS guest actors donning astronaut gear and looking so much younger. The episode on geology is one I could watch more often than most, even though that sounds like a pretty boring statement. Geology rocks.

This part of our summer Daughter and I are catching up on my chronological watching of Rejseholdet/Unit One, which suffered a long delay some time ago. The resident IT Consultant gave up, again, after half an episode, not being able to cope with the Danish soundtrack and Swedish subtitles.

As with the astronauts, hindsight now shows us Rejseholdet was first to introduce us to all the actors we have subsequently seen in The Killing, Borgen and The Bridge. The younger Brix was particularly chilling as a sweeter looking but fairly disgusting character.

Towards the end, we came upon the episode that was our first. I had no intention of watching anything Danish back then, but we switched on and came in when Gaby enters Fischer’s hotel room after he has been concussed, and then hides in the bathroom while Johnny speaks to Fischer. We had no idea who any of these people were or what was happening, but it took only minutes for us to be hooked.

It’s a little harder to find the time to watch, when one of us can’t join in, so we tend to eat to the accompaniment of selected episodes of NCIS season 11. (What do you mean, conversations with dinner?) Last night we watched Olympus Has Fallen, which was more one-sided and bloody than even I had expected. Fine if you don’t mind a film that is nearly all about Gerard Butler. Personally I want more variety than that.

The Saboteurs – Kampen om tungtvannet

It’s OK, this new Norwegian television drama about heavy water. So far it’s not as earth-shattering as I was led to believe it’d be, but still fine. The thing is, it’s hard to beat an old Hollywood movie that manages to be fantastic entertainment while still being a bit OTT and not entirely true to reality. But at least this one does not star an unlikely Kirk Douglas.

I don’t know how many people in Britain knew about this incident from WWII before the More4 screening of this big hit from Norway. In fact, I wonder how many Norwegians knew about it. If you’re older you will know, if only because you will have seen The Heroes of Telemark with Mr Douglas. I learned about it at school. It was a school radio programme, complete with leaflet to read, and interviews with the real people involved, who were still quite young, and perfectly alive, in the 1960s. I gather at least one of them still is. You live longer in Norway. Must be all that skiing.

Kampen om tungtvannet

What I like about The Saboteurs, which is a shared production between Norway, Denmark and Britain, is that it covers everyone. The Germans are not merely the bad guys who are going to have that heavy water, no matter what. We see the – slightly mad – scientists, who live for their science. The bosses of Norsk Hydro are quite German-friendly, which comes as a bit of a shock.

There is the slightly unnatural way everyone can chat to each other when they meet, in perfect English or German, but at least we see them ‘at home’ so to speak. It’s obvious that the settings described as London or Scotland are neither, but they try. Rjukan is Rjukan, however, and that snow looks geniune enough.

Two episodes in, I look forward to the rest. If the ending to the second episode had been fiction, you’d have accused the scriptwriters of being over-fanciful.

Temporal

There was more black humour in Temporal than was comfortable. I suppose it wasn’t meant to be a picnic, or even close to walking barefoot on the beach, as the call centre ladies dreamed about.

Times are bad, and we know they are very bad in Spain. Temporal was a day in the life of a small group of temps, and while it didn’t get worse, it certainly didn’t get better, either. Not much hope anywhere.

Temporal

If you try to complain you end up feeling grateful you are allowed to keep your job afterwards. In the call centre breaks were something the workers could only dream about, along with wanting a holiday in Varadero.

Temporal

The poor guy who sold – or tried to sell – vacuum cleaners could have been given a better script to work from. Very short shorts seemed to help Rosario/Jenifer in persuading passers-by to stop and talk to her about crisps.

This was a hard film to understand, or like. Why didn’t they stand up to their employer? Why did they let people walk all over them? Unemployment, and the wish to eat today. And tomorrow.

I truly hope I will not take pity on my cold callers in future. I still don’t want what they sell, nor can I afford it. I can see why the workers try to make a living out of this hopeless task. But why does someone want them to do it in the first place? There can be no money in it.

We could have done with finding out about poor Jenifer.

(At Cornerhouse on March 20th.)

A vinyl ¡Viva!

Once we’d got rid of the half dozen young men who were in the wrong cinema (they left to the acompaniment of much hilarity), the gala opening of the 2014 ¡Viva! at Cornerhouse went well. A brave woman made a speech in Spanish, and then the ¡Viva! head film-picker spoke (in English), before handing over to the director of Días de vinilo, Gabriel Nesci, who said a few words.

Gabriel explained his early fascination with vinyl records and he reckons his film began being written when he was twelve. He loves Britain and he has clearly been influenced by The Beatles as well as the low key retro, more introverted style of making films in the UK, as opposed to the flamboyant exuberance you tend to expect from Latin American films.

Días de vinilo

Días de vinilo follows the friendship of four young boys into adulthood. A couple of decades after they were inadvertently showered with LPs from an overhead window, they are trying to deal with being adults. One of them, Facundo, is marrying his girlfriend of ten years. The other three have relationships breaking up, and all are fairly useless around women. If they can pick the wrong woman, they will.

Damián is a screen writer (Gabriel’s alter ego?), Luciano DJs on radio and Marcelo has a Beatles tribute band, The Hitles, forever hoping to win tribute competitions that would bring him to the promised land that is Liverpool. Marcelo – as John Lennon – has a bit of a Yoko Ono complex, which is not helped when his telephone love Yenny proves to be more Japanese than Colombian.

Luciano is hopelessly in love with the singer Lila, who goes through men like there’s no tomorrow. And Damián is pursued all over town by exactly the right girl, except he doesn’t (want to) realise.

A little slow and un-Argentinian, this film could do with being watched again. I’m sure there are many nuances I missed the first time round. The actors do a great job, and apart from the glamorous looking cemetary salesman Facundo, they are genuinely ‘the boy next door.’

Días de vinilo

This is a comfortable film, rather than maniacally racy. Quitely funny instead of being a farce. Still quite Latin American, for all its quietness, since their British counterparts don’t talk or behave as openly as this. All You Need Is Love, as the Rolling Stones so famously sang (sic.)

Cornerhouse invited people round for drinks and music afterwards, and possibly even dancing. I didn’t stop to check.

And if anyone wants to know more, Gabriel Nesci will do a Q&A after the screening tomorrow afternoon, and if you miss that, the film is also shown on March 19th.

Farvel og tak, Borgen

‘The last episode ever’ said the BBC4 announcer. That might be for the best. You can milk an idea for too long, but I don’t believe they did that with Borgen. Three seasons would seem about right for length, although when you work out that it’s only four weeks from start to finish when you get two episodes every Saturday, it does seem fairly brief.

Borgen III

As some reviewers have said; it’s unusual, but good, to have so many women in a television series. Women in big roles, at that. So not only do we have a female lead as the politician, but she gets herself a female spin doctor.

Perhaps Katrine let the side down by being a ‘useless’ mother at times, but on the other hand, we do need to see that people are normal, average, poor, at what they do. And it was nice to see how well Kasper took to fatherhood, considering his own childhood and how hard he finds it to commit to a woman.

Borgen III

I can’t say I thought much of Birgitte’s ‘bit on the side,’ as boyfriend Jeremy described himself in the Guardian. I didn’t particularly like him, and the English dialogue was too perfect. We know that actors can do foreign langauges well, because they have a script, but what works well for a political state visit, doesn’t really do for intimate chats between lovers. Besides, female viewers want to see more of Mikael Birkkjær.

Borgen III

Torben’s wife was an interesting character. And I don’t know what to call Torben’s boss. But it would be unprintable. Personally I found Søren Malling’s acting very good indeed. He really came into his own. For fictional characters, I very much liked Hanne.

The recycling of actors in a small country leads to weird situations, like when The Killing’s Troels came face to face with his PA. And for child actors, how can you possibly predict that one will grow tremendously over the years of filming, and the other one will hardly change at all?

Borgen III

Birgitte’s ‘cheaper’ flat seemed anything but. It was very trendy. Even the broom cupboard conference room at party headquarters had a certain charm.

Finally, isn’t it good that politicians can come up against laws they have put into existence, so that it’s ‘impossible’ to question them?

(Finally finally, how many people have stopped eating Danish pork?)

Borgen III

I’m So Excited

There is definitely more sex in Spanish films. And they certainly talk more openly about it, even allowing for scriptwriters who come up with odd characters. It’s fun and it’s refreshing.

I’m So Excited is Pedro Almodóvar’s new film about a plane load of passengers trapped up in the air, who go slightly crazy while they wait to see what will happen. (I’m grateful I have no immediate plans to fly anywhere.)

There is an amusing cameo appearance from Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz, and I suspect it could all have been their fault that what happens happens.

I'm So Excited

Even with my limited experience of Spanish films, this plane is full of people I know from somewhere else. Looking in the cockpit was like watching Airplane again. I wouldn’t trust the pilots in the slightest. They drink. They have sex. They have increasingy weird conversations with passengers who just pop in, with the cabin crew, and with their families at home.

The cabin crew are crazy. They drink. They have sex. They bicker. And that’s the ones who are awake.

I'm So Excited

The relatively few passengers in business class are also somewhat crazy. One professional escort, one virgin, a newly married couple, an assassin, a dishonest – but lovely – banker and a lying actor. They drink. They have sex. They phone home.

It’s absolutely crazy. But they are so friendly, in that Spanish way, that you kind of love them. You don’t want to be on a plane with them, though. Not a plane in difficulties, anyway.

It’s sex, drugs and rock’n’roll all the way.

(At Cornerhouse)