Thursday, 31 March 2016

"Reykjavik Nights" by Arnaldur Indridason - Inspector Erlendur prequel

Iceland is cool. Very.
Perhaps it's because I've just watched "Trapped", the brilliant TV drama. Perhaps it's because Iceland is so different from Australia. Twenty years ago the only thing I knew about Iceland was it was the home of Bjork and the setting for Jules Verne's "Journey to the Centre of the Earth".
Anyway, I digress....

This is a prequel to the Inspector Erlendur crime novels set in Iceland. Reykjavik in the seventies, Erlendur is a young traffic officer investigating (on his own, of course) the death of a homeless man, Hannibal.
The young man is fascinated by lost souls and disappearances from Iceland's past.
Erlendur is a cold fish who prefers his own company (as seen by his patchy relationship with his girlfriend, Halldora). The novel explores loss and loneliness through the capital's homeless underclass.
There are some powerful scenes. One, on his last call out of the night, is a harrowing depiction of domestic violence. The other is Hannibal's back story, a car accident forcing him into a "Sophie's Choice" situation.
The dialogue is clunky at times, but this might be due to the English translation.
I enjoyed the leisurely pace and now will jump wholeheartedly into the Inspector Erlendur series.

The following is the order of English translations of this crime series. A few novels have not been translated into English so far.

"Tainted Blood", 2004 (first published as "Jar City")
"Silence of the Grave", 2005
"Voices", 2006
"The Draining Lake", 2007
"Arctic Chill", 2008
"Hypothermia", 2009
"Outrage", 2011 (centring around Erlendur's female colleague, the rational, caring Elinborg)
"Black Skies", 2012 (main character is his other colleague, arrogant, young gun, Sigurour Oli)
"Strange Shores," 2013 (while the action in "Black Skies" centres around Reykjavik, at the same time, Erlendur has taken leave to return to his eastern childhood home)
Reykjavik Nights, 2014, the aforementioned prequel, set in the 70's
"Into Oblivion", 2016  (recently translated, a follow-up to Reykjavik Nights, set in 1979, featuring Erlendur's mentor, Marion Brien)

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The Art Centre, Melbourne, Victorian Hall of Fame exhibition

Angus Young's school uniform circa 1972

Kylie Minogue's costume "Better the Devil you know" circa 1990
Hidden away in small section of Melbourne's opulent State Theatre (part of the Art Centre) on St Kilda Road is a fascinating display of music memorabilia. Highly recommended. Noone was there when we visited. Enter through main doors and turn right (street level). It's free too.

Melbourne's overlooked building facades - Bourke Street

Public Benefit Bootery building (once a family owned shoe store)

Gloriously art deco Buckleys & Nunn buiding (now David Jones)

Coles Department Store (now part of David Jones)
Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne is probably Australia's busiest block of retail stores. Everyone is in too much of a hurry to look up and see the amazing buildings from the last two centuries. Several walking tours take in the Melbourne streetscape. Google: walking Melbourne.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

The Doctor Blake Mysteries: A new game!

Don't get me wrong, I love the show. The recreation of 1960. The Ballarat locales. The warm characters. But occasionally my mind wanders and I play the "How many lampshades can I spot?" game. You will score big time in Lucien's lounge. I spotted 5 in one shot last night.

Rules are simple:
  • Table lamps, standard lamps, desk lamps are all fair game.
  • You can not reuse lamps used in the same camera shot.
  • Mirror shots don't count.
  • Lamps must be on (which they usually are, even though it's broad daylight outside).

You can see why the art director/set decorator uses so much indirect lighting like lamps and such. They do add to the period ambience. Compare with "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries".  Both great Melbourne-produced shows.

Images Copyright Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Thursday, 17 March 2016

If US TV wants an iconic bad guy - they cast a British actor

  • "Homeland" "Billions" - Damian Lewis ("Wolf Hall", "Band of Brothers")
  • "Bates Motel" - Freddie Highmore ("Finding Neverland", "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory")
  • "Lucifer" - Tom Ellis ("Miranda" BBC)
  • "Damien" - Bradley James ("Merlin")

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

"Bates Motel" Season 4 Review

Things are finally getting interesting in White Pine Bay. After a dull, hackneyed second season and a promising third, Season 4 could be a corker. Episode 1 had a terrific first scene with the scuttling of the fishing boat and a haunting aerial shot. The final scene with Norman/Mother (in mom's dressing gown) graciously serving Emma's mother coffee before strangling her knocked my socks off.

Lots to like in Episode 2:
  • The fact that Norman is convinced Norma is a killer. Terrific acting between the two leads. Highmore is pulling out all the stops in this season. (Child star done good)
  • The power/love play between mother and son. 
  • The contrast between nightmarishly lit county hospital and plush, shiny Portland private hospital. 
  • The use of Hope and Crosby's "Road to Bali" in a key scene. 
  • Seeing Norman as the charming motel manager checking guests in at reception. Anthony Perkins would approve.
  • Norman's use of the lamp in the cellar (precursor to the swinging lamp in key scene in "Psycho").
Episode 3 was fairly pedestrian. Highlight was the return of Dylan's creepy old hippy neighbour.
Episode 4 saw Norma smile a lot (for a change, rather than looking strained). Julian (Pineview's Andy Hardy meets Robert Morse) leads Norman to don a fetching black ostrich number.
Episode 5 notable only for the machinations of psycho-hippy "Chick" and a couple of intense sessions between Norman/Norma and the affable shrink. The rest was pure soap. Scars and Dylan's torso - yawn.
Episode 6: two things of note - Chick's blindfolded doll's head walking stick and a disturbing rape scene flashback to Norman's past.
Freddie Highmore has an impressive scene with Dr Edwards about two-thirds into Episode 7. Nestor Carbonell (Sheriff) directs this episode with flair, particularly the final scene.
Freddie Highmore wrote Episode 8. Lots of tension in the second half, starting with the Christmas tree market scene. The highlight was Norman boring into the motel wall to make his spyhole (to feature in the 1960 movie).
The creators wrote Episode 9 and it shows. Not a dud scene. The earring confrontation ( about a third of the way in) with Dylan and Norma was their strongest piece since the show started. The concluding "Mr Sandman" scene was chilling. The writers are playing with the audience how does Mrs Bates die in the original movie?
Episode 10 was a tremendous return to form. Certainly the funniest in the series. The funeral home scenes with nonplussed mortician (Harvey Fierstein lookalike), goth daughter on the organ and Norman and stepdad slugging it out in the empty church. Then we get a dose of "Weekend at Bernie's", Norman wrestling with Norma out of the grave and out of the Mercedes. The glued eyelids was disturbing, though. In all, a most satisfying season final.

  • How long before I tire of the Emma/Dylan subplot? Please God, let's not have another S2 teeny soap opera.
  • Those disturbing paintings in Dr Edwards' rooms are not helping the patients.