All things culture, which has mostly meant quick blurbs about the movies I've seen. Back to the front page.

Book reviews

One has never enough blogs, right? Even if old ones are pushing weeds and looking quite abandoned and derelict? Well, if you start enough blogs, the weak ones will eventually die (like this old geezer here) and the strong ones, those you are really interested in (say, Gameblog) will survive. We'll see what happens to my latest attempt.

It's called Mikko reads and it features small book reviews. If time permits, I'll go through my Finnish review archives (some 200 book reviews) and post translations, but at least I try to review all the books I read from now on. We'll see...

5.08.2007 klo 11:24 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Free books

Do you want free books? Iain M. Banks' excellent scifi novels? Or the hard-boiled noir scifi of Richard Morgan? Or something else? I've got a bunch of books I'd like to give away, and they're completely free. I'll even pay the shipping costs to anywhere in the world.

What's the catch? Well, to get the books, you'll need to sign up with BookMooch and ask the books from me that way. If you do that, then I'll get paid few points for each book. I can then use the points to get new books. Everybody wins.

I've been using BookMooch for a while now and I'm very happy with it. I've sent out six books and received eight. I read a lot of English books, mostly science fiction, and the Finnish libraries aren't the best possible source for that kind of literature. BookMooch isn't free, but a lot cheaper than buying the books new. The selection is perhaps a bit erratic, but at least so far I've found a lot of interesting books, more than I can get right now. And of course, the selection grows larger all the time when new users join.

20.09.2006 klo 09:13 | Comments 5 comment(s) | TrackBack (0)

Lordi wins!

Perhaps you have to Finnish to understand how strange this all is, but I guess Hell just froze as Finland won the Eurovision Song Contest! Not only that, but with a monster rock band and the highest score ever! After 39 years of being a loser Finland doesn't give a rat's ass of what Europe might like, but instead sends something unique, something personal and something Finland can really do well, and that's metal! Metal and monsters and the best Eurovision song ever! Woohoo! We rule!

21.05.2006 klo 01:14 | Comments 1 comment(s) | TrackBack (0)

Few movies: Red Eye, The Island, The Descent

Wes Craven's Red Eye was a nice thriller: compact (just 80 minutes or so), exciting, fresh and with relatively few plot holes. It was quite nice and certainly slightly better than we expected. Worth watching!

The Island has all the trappings of a big summer movie: A-list stars, it looks gorgeous, the action is fast-paced, the idea is clever... Too bad most of the movie was about unlikely chases. Scarlett Johansson, who's a good actor, after all, focussed on being a pretty little lamb and the movie was chock-full of product placement. The plot holes were huge, gaping monstrosities and the whole movie was way too long. Not good!

The Descent, in the other hand, is one of the very best horror movies recently. With no supernatural elements, the movie relies on the environment to build up the pressure. That works, as going into dark, claustrophobic caves is something I would abhor and avoid at all costs. I was bloody scared from the beginning! Excellent movie, definitely worth seeing!

13.03.2006 klo 09:14 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Latest Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the latest in the series of Potter movies. It's based on one of the best books in the series and as the movies are very faithful to the books, the movie was quite good. I mean, it tells all the necessary events, the special effects are nice, it was a bit scary, slightly romantic and somewhat awkward, just like it should.

Well, it was a bit long, but then again, I'm not sure if the studio's original idea to make it two movies (according to IMDB) would've been a better idea. Maybe next book, as they get bigger and bigger... This time it was ok, just a bit too long.

So, it's definitely worth seeing if you've watched the earlier movies, and even though the story takes a slightly darker turn this time, this is no reason to start watching the movies if you already haven't.

7.01.2006 klo 10:04 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

New Year movies

We saw Skeleton Key, which was better than we expected. Movielens, which is usually quite accurate, rated Skeleton Key for me as three stars, I gave it four.

In this case the trailer felt like it spoiled the movie. After seeing the movie you see it's not quite true, but that's how it felt back then. That's a bad trailer, if you ask me - trailer shouldn't discourage you from seeing the movie!

Anyway, Skeleton Key was pretty good. It had good music, nice atmosphere, groovy Hoodoo magic and a pretty clever twist in the end.

Cat Returns, also known as Neko no ongaeshi, was the last movie we saw last year. The English title is a torso; it should be something like Cat Returns a Favour to make sense. Finnish version is called Kingdom of Cats, which is better.

It's not a Hayao Miyazaki movie, but it's a Studio Ghibli movie. That means quality. It's not one of their very best movies, but it was a friendly family movie and we enjoyed it. The story was nice and cats are always lovely. Cat lovers looking for a good family movie might want to check it out.

First movie this year was The Yes Men, a funny documentary of the pranksters and culture jammers, who have made fun of WTO. Their most familiar effort in Finland must be the phallic smart suit presented here at Tampere.

The movie could be better, but the pranks the Yes Men pulled were good. Thus the result was quite entertaining enough. If you're into culture jamming, this movie is highly recommended.

2.01.2006 klo 18:18

Dark Water

As an after-Christmas movie we watched Dark Water, that is the US remake (as a pre-Christmas movie we watched the whole Lord of the Rings extended edition during three days). We loved the original Japanese version and as you might guess, this one didn't even get close.

The environment (Roosevelt Island in New York) was shabby enough and the water damage theme worked perhaps even better than in the original. However, they had reduced the horror and increased the custody fight so much I wouldn't even call the movie a horror movie. Psychological drama, yes, but no horror.

Stick with the original.

27.12.2005 klo 09:32 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

The Shawshank Redemption

I finally saw The Shawshank Redemption. It's about time! This is the movie that's been on top of the IMDB poll, along with The Godfather. And why not? It's certainly the definitive prison movie. The acting is good, as is generally everything else about the movie. Even though it's a long movie, the time flies past, it's all very entertaining.

We also saw Kaasuvalo (Gaslight), a psychological thriller also known as Angel Street. it was all very clever, and while most horror movies use tricks that are hard to reproduce on theater stage, Kaasuvalo managed to be quite exciting enough.

28.11.2005 klo 12:52 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Broken Flowers

Jim Jarmusch wrote Broken Flowers for Bill Murray, whowe really like. Unfortunately, Broken Flowers isn't quite as good as we expected... I felt the movie dragged in the beginning, before the story started to unfold. When it did pick up the speed, it was much better.

Still, the story leaves lots of questions, maybe too many. I kind of wish it would've been more definite. Some will enjoy this to no end, I'm sure, but we're not in that group. Still, it was definitely better than average movie, even if Bill Murray's minimalistic acting wasn't as brilliant as it usually is.

Best part of the movie? The song at the opening texts. "There Is an End", by The Greenhornes and Holly Golightly. Very good!

21.11.2005 klo 12:53 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

The Merchant of Venice

Choose Shakespeare and you can't go wrong... We watched The Merchant of Venice Saturday. It was a classy drama, spoken in Shakespeare's verse and set in always so beautiful Venice.

The central character in the movie was Shylock, a Jewish moneylender. He lends 3000 ducats to a trader, Antonio, whose money is bound to ships at sea and who wants to loan the money to his friend Bassonio. He is even ready to pay interest (something that was forbidden for good Christians), but Shylock offers the money without any interest. The catch of the deal? If Antonio forfeits the bond, Shylock gets a pound of his flesh.

You can guess what happens. Will Antonio be able to pay his debt? Well, it turns out rather interesting in the end. In the middle the movie drags a bit, the story just isn't that interesting. The end is diamond, pretty much. Al Pacino does a good Shylock, full of pathos, rage and sorrow. Well worth seeing, this one.

14.11.2005 klo 16:27 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Pet Shop Boys

If I were to list the best bands ever, I'd probably have to put Pet Shop Boys high on that list. That's funny, because I've never been a huge fan of them. I've bought their music, some of it, quite a few albums actually, but haven't really collected it.

It's just that they've pretty amazing. They've done lots of music, and it all sounds really good. Even at it's worst, it's really quite good. At it's best, well, there are few that can match their genius in pop music. The music, the witty lyrics and the way Neil Tennant delivers them - that all is just brilliant. It's constant four-star material in my iTunes ratings, with five-star hits every now and then.

I particularly enjoy their melancholy bent. The whole concept of sad, almost depressing pop music you can actually dance to is strange and charming. Everybody can make a happy, perky pop hit, but not many can do a great sad song.

Of course, Pet Shop Boys are not the only ones to do that well. Wolfsheim does it pretty well on their Spectators album, as well - the whole genre is summarised in their song I Don't Love You Anymore:

I don't love you anymore
and we're dancing
You're not the one I'm falling for
but we are dancing
I will not praise the times we had
and won't deny that I feel sad
The silence speaks for you and me
while we're dancing

We've split up, sad and miserable, yet we're dancing. How nice. Not to mention the biggest hit from that album, Once in a Lifetime, which is even more distressing (my interpretation: a man commits suicide by drowning in the same sea that swallowed his pregnant wife earlier).

Speaking of Pet Shop Boys, I must recommend the new editions of their albums. Double-cd discs feature all sorts of interesting extra material, but what's best is the thick booklet, where Neil and Chris tell interesting anecdotes and stories behind the music. Top-class reading material for Pet Shop Boys aficionados!

10.11.2005 klo 12:31 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Sin City

We check Frank Miller's Sin City Saturday, the movie adaptation that is. I've read most of the comics (or graphic novels, whatever), and enjoyed them - I don't like comics a lot, but Miller's stark black-and-white style pleases me.

Sin City - the movie - certainly looks very good. However, the content's a bit lacking... The stories are very unoriginal, and I must say I'm a bit annoyed by the women of Sin City, all of which are either whores, in need of rescue or whores in need of rescue. It's always the men, who come and rescue the women...

Despite that, the movie is certainly worth watching if one's looking for an interesting action movie. It's probably a bit too violent and a little bit too long, but hey, it looks good, that's enough for me.

24.10.2005 klo 10:00 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Howl's Moving Castle

We saw the latest Hayao Miyazaki movie, Howl's Moving Castle yesterday. It was wonderful! Miyazaki seems to have a thing for steampunk imagery, and this was no exception. There were loads of steam-powered inventions, cars and warmachines. I particularly enjoyed the huge flying things that moved by flapping their wings.

It was quite magical, indeed. The plot was somewhat tricky, as there was very little exposition as such. You just have to figure it out, or be left puzzled. I thought the story had pleasing details: people's reaction to war, aging (all the more important since my birthday is today - I'm already 25, *gasp*), how the characters weren't good or bad but something in between... It was all very good and well done.

10.10.2005 klo 10:12 | Comments 1 comment(s) | TrackBack (0)

Sideways, Urban Legends 3: Bloody Mary

Sideways, a story on two middle-aged men traveling in the California wine country, has gathered lots of praise. And why not? It's certainly not a bad movie. Especially if you're a wine snob, you'll enjoy this one for sure.

The main characters are great. Paul Giamatti particularly does good work depicting Miles, a depressed wine snob and failed author. It's easy to feel sorry for Miles, he's such a sympathetic character. Which is exactly what Jack isn't - he's a really despicable guy. Once again they've made a good choice on actors: Thomas Haden Church, also known as Ned from the TV-series Ned & Stacey is just the guy for the role. He's nasty!

The movie's quite nice, if a bit long. Two hours is often a bit too much, and I wouldn't have minded this one being a bit shorter, too. The end is great, though. For wine-lovers, Sideways is a good choice and I'd say it's worth watching anyway.

Urban Legends 3: Bloody Mary was a piece of ... well, turkey, turkey gone bad. Expectations weren't high, but the previous Urban Legends movies were at least decent teen slasher movies. This wasn't.

The urban legend theme, which worked well in the previous movies, was really forced this time. Not good. Also, after seeing Ring and Grudge, the movie makers had to add a long-haired dead female monster in this one, too - it's a bit of a mix between those movies, and not even half as good as either of them. Forget about this one, it's not good even for laughs.

26.09.2005 klo 10:55 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

365 Tomorrows

Here's something pretty nifty: 365 Tomorrows is a project that publishes a new speculative fiction short story every day for a year. It started August 1st, so there'll be new stories coming until July 31st next year.

I just finished reading through the archives and I must say there's some pretty inspired stuff. Of course not all of them are brilliant or noteworthy, but there were few quite good ones in the mix. Go, read through them and see if you'll find them - I'm not giving any pointers so you can find your own favourites.

Using the RSS feed is a good way to keep updated on the new stuff. The RSS feed has the complete stories, so you don't even have to visit the site. Good work!

12.09.2005 klo 12:18 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

White Noise

Last night we watched White Noise. It's a horror flick, focusing on EVP, Electronic Voice Phenomena. The voices are, of course, the voices of the dead, trying to communicate to the living through electronic devices.

The idea was decent and the movie wasn't bad, about three star quality or so. Unfortunately, the end sucked. It's like they had simply failed to come up with a decent ending to the fairly interesting plot. Too bad, because the movie was decent. Well, it's still worth watching if you find the theme intriguing.

5.09.2005 klo 07:54 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Finnish Big Brother is on

Finnish Big Brother started today - we've been waiting for years now. I find it quite odd that Finland is the only country to show foreign Big Brother series, we've seen three seasons of the British show. Now we finally have the Finnish version and I have to say, it's not shabby.

The house is pretty sweet, it looks a lot like the British house (but there's a sauna). The participants are ok, too, and I'm sure there'll be lots of interesting characters as the show goes on.

We're actually thinking about getting the 24/7 digital Big Brother channel. Johanna's parents have already agreed to loan us their digibox. It'll be fun, to tune in whenever you want. That's pretty scary, too, but we are ready to admit it: we're hopelessly addicted! I even created a Big Brother category on the Finnish side of the blog...

29.08.2005 klo 22:10 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Boogeyman, Steve Zissou, Kinsey

Our local video rental store had, for a change, a wide selection of interesting movies. We ended up making two trips to the store during the weekend.

We started with Boogeyman. Expectations were about middle-level, but even that was too high. It was utterly bad, really.

A lot of it was the stupidity of the story, another big part the ineptitude of the lead actor. He just wasn't up for the task, and the script didn't support him at all. Not recommended.

Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou was, in the other hand, a most excellent movie. It was full of brilliant comedy, absolutely brilliant.

It was fun in every sense, lots of witty verbal comedy and clever visual jokes. It was all very refreshing. There's a long thread in IMDB on the best lines of the movie, as there were so many good ones.

I'm tempted to buy the movie, that's quite untypical. It was just so cleverly funny. The cast is great - Bill Murray is superb, as is Cate Blanchett, as is Willem Dafoe (he's very calm, collected and German) and so on. Wes Anderson is looking pretty good, after this and The Royal Tenenbaums.

Kinsey was an interesting portrait of an important and controversial man. Kinsey's studies on human sexuality certainly opened many closed doors.

The movie was quite good. The whole controversy around Kinsey's studies was less of an issue than I expected. I think that's good - I'm not sure if I would be interested to see all that mess. It was made clear enough that Kinsey's research wasn't all that welcome.

Anyway, if you don't know the man and his works, I suggest you watch the movie.

We tried to watch a movie of another influential man, but stopped in the middle. Helter Skelter, which isn't about The Beatles but Charles Manson, was surprisingly boring considering the subject matter.

28.08.2005 klo 17:23 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)


I like Nicole Kidman; she's proven to be a very good actress in many occasions. Birth is one: she does a good job, and has a rather pretty short haircut, too. The movie is very beautiful mixture of subtle background music and long, slow shots. It's great cinema, but a boring movie.

The plot is somewhat interesting and the final turn is quite strong, but in the end it lacks something... I found the movie beautiful and even touching, but wouldn't see it again, it just wasn't that interesting.

9.08.2005 klo 14:06 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Land of the Dead

We enjoyed the Dawn of the Dead (the remake from last year, not the original) a lot, but Land of the Dead was even better.

It had everything you'd wish for: lots of action, no blatant stupidities in the plot (no heroic rescuing of lost dogs or anything like that), interesting characters, some accurate social commentary and very neat living dead.

As action films come, Land of the Dead is highly recommended.

7.08.2005 klo 10:02 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)


It's funny how Julia Roberts got to be the lead female in Closer. I think Natalie Portman's role was much more significant and also better done. Someone agrees with me, as Portman got a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination. Well, Julia Roberts is the bigger star and thus in lead role, no matter how the characters turn out.

Witty dialogue was the thing with this movie. Snappy returns and clever lines echoed with certain artifical air. Nobody really talks that way; it was hard to believe. The characters were also quite empty - they were mere surface, with nothing substantial to hold on to. I didn't like anyone (except maybe Portman's character), nor did I hate them (at least much) - it was all quite indifferent.

Fortunately the movie succeeded in being funny, at times, so it wasn't all that boring. The witty dialogue did turn into boring muddle every now and then, though. At least I now know London has a neat aquarium!

31.07.2005 klo 13:24 | Comments 1 comment(s) | TrackBack (0)

Last House on the Left

Last House on the Left was the debut for the horror film director Wes Craven. It's based on Ingmar Bergman's movie Virgin Spring, which I haven't seen, so I can't compare.

The story could be an urban legend. There's a moral in the story: using alcohol and drugs and not using a bra (the movie's from 1972 and it shows) lead to a gruesome death. Poor girls.

The movie balances in between violence, anxiety and comedy. It's a bit unbalanced, I think, and at some times slows to a crawl. Wes Craven has certainly directed better movies during his career. I wouldn't recommend Last House on the Left except for those who are interested in Craven's career in general.

29.07.2005 klo 16:29 | Comments 1 comment(s) | TrackBack (0)

Weekend movies: Lemony Snicket and Constantine

We missed Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events when it went in the theatres, so we had to fix that one now the movie was available for rental.

I loved it! Johanna didn't like it too much, but I was simply charmed by the gothic aesthetics of the movie. Nevermind the strange plot, it was all so very beautiful. Jim Carrey made a stellar performance as the eccentric Count Olaf and the kids did their roles well, too.

After watching the movie, I just had to put a reservation for the first book. This is something I must investigate! I'd love to hear comments about the books, if you've read them.

Constantine was bad. We expected something like Hellboy, but it wasn't nearly as good. Keanu Reeves can't act, that's no surprise, but the movie was boring in other ways, too.

I mean, action movie should start fast and attractive, right? Constantine was dead boring until, say, half of the movie. It should suck one in right away, but it just didn't. Terrible movie - avoid!

19.07.2005 klo 17:25 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

War of the Worlds

War of the Worlds, the big boy of the summer movies this year, is done now. It did what we expected: the movie theater was rocked by the attack of the giant robots.

It wasn't a masterpiece, though. Tom Cruise sucks, to be honest, and the plot was from the Swiss cheese department. Until about half of the movie it was ok, but then went over the limit. The end was simply horrible.

I think the ending (a mandatory Hollywood syrup ending) was the biggest problem. I think the movie needed a sad with glimpse of hope kind of ending. Anyway - the robots rock and the movie is worth seeing for them, but I wouldn't pay full price for this one.

11.07.2005 klo 17:48 | Comments 1 comment(s) | TrackBack (0)

Garden State

Zach Braff's one man show Garden State (Braff wrote, directed and stars the movie) is a very good Sunday movie. Much is thanks to Natalie Portman, whose role as Sam is the best thing the movie offers. If you're looking for something fun, original and perhaps even romantic, Garden State is a good choice.

4.07.2005 klo 12:37 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Midsummer movies: Nousukausi, Willard, Gothika, Napoleon Dynamite

We spent a quiet midsummer (typical Finnish midsummer festivities are nothing but quiet) at home, watching movies. The results were interesting:

Nousukausi was great fun. The movie had a twist more interesting than we had expected. It was fun, too, but with such great actors what else can you expect. One does notice, though, that Finland has quite a few actors: Kari-Pekka Toivonen, for example, seems to appear in every movie recently.

Willard sounded good, but unfortunately flopped. It was dead boring, really. An idea of a sad little man who befriends the rats living in his basement was interesting, but it just didn't work. Instead of 90-minute movie, it would've made a decent 45-minute tv movie. The plot was quite obvious, too. This was the remake, I wonder if the original is any better...

Gothika was much better than we expected. It's a horror movie, and it scared us. Sure, it was a bit cheap as the worst horrors were simple surprise scares, but still, it was decent. The plot resembled Swiss cheese, though - it was a structure so weak that an intense stare would make it fall. The name sucks, too: Gothika tells you nothing about the movie, it has absolutely no significance. I would've named it Not Alone, I guess.

Napoleon Dynamite was Johanna's discovery. It's a bizarre little high school -movie, about an oddball outcast. It kind of reminded me of Ghost World. It was drop dead funny: the surreal gallery of characters, the bizarre dialog... the plot wasn't anything particularly interesting, but it is the amazing characters that drive this movie. It was a heart-warming movie and goes highly recommended for the fans of odd comedy.

26.06.2005 klo 16:33 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Team America and Dead Birds

Yesterday we saw Team America: World Police, a movie by the authors of South Park. A spoof of Thunderbids, the movie made fun of ... what? American world police action, perhaps, but I think Hollywood was the main target.

We didn't quite enjoy it. The authors could've done a much better work (South Park movie was much better), somehow it all was just too stupid and too low-brow. The best thing the movie had to offer were the songs - they were just brilliant and certainly the best part of the movie.

Our second movie was much better. Expectations were nonexistant, but Dead Birds surpassed anything we could've expected. Set in the Civil War era America, it's about a group of bank robbers who hide in a deserted plantations for a night before heading to Mexico. As you might guess, none of them are alive in the morning to continue the voyage.

The mood of the movie is very scary. The stylish French-style country house makes a really impressive setting full of atmosphere. The movie is slow, subtle and creepy until it starts unraveling and revealing its secrets. The chaos and turmoil of the Civil War makes for a really good setting, I'm amazed how most horror film authors focus on modern day while there are plenty of other interesting settings.

What's best, the story made sense. The director Alex Turner links at his web site to Dead Birds Movie Field Guide, which gives the official explanations. They matched our understanding, which was nice. Of course: do not read the guide before watching the movie.

19.06.2005 klo 14:11 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)


No matter how low one ranks Renny Harlin's, Finland's most prolific Hollywood movie director's career, Deep Blue Sea is a decent blockbuster action movie.

The movie's best bit is, of course, the death scene of Samuel L. Jackson. It's total top-10 class, no doubt about that. I'm also always delighted when Finland is mentioned in a movie, and that's for sure in a Harlin movie (it's his trademark). In this, we see a Finlandia vodka bottle, a Finnish flag and a whiteboard note about Finnish pancakes.

2.06.2005 klo 13:00 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Better and worse horror movies

Friday night we watched Final Destination from tv. It's very basic teen slasher: there's a group of kids, who start dying one by one. Will the survivors figure it out before they all die?

It was quite a horrible movie, and not in any good sense. It's not I like picking out mistakes, but here the plot was real Swiss cheese, just too much holes and movie character stupidity. It was bad, but scored some points from surprising splatter scenes.

Saturday's movie was much better: Ju-On: The Grudge 2. Now there's a movie I can recommend to everyone who's seen and enjoyed the Japanese Ju-On (the American version won't do, even if it's pretty good). The theme of the movie is similar and the chronologically broken structure is also quite familiar. However, there are some new ideas, too.

What's best, it's really, really terrifying. Especially the sounds: director Takashi Shimizu masters the art of horrifying noise. The home theater amplifier we bought yesterday got really good use. The better speakers and improved space effect (even if we're still using just two speakers) really made a difference. Even without the soundtrack the movie scared us real bad, Shimizu's subtle (and less subtle) touch worked really well.

29.05.2005 klo 20:11 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)


Takashi Miike's sensational Audition wasn't a great sensation when we saw it last weekend. Perhaps we had too high expectations; I'm sure the movie would've been better if we didn't know a thing about it. Now it was, frankly, quite boring most of the time and when the shocker came in the end, we didn't get shocked. For a movie that boasts extreme violence, it was quite tame.

24.05.2005 klo 08:19 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Hide and Seek

We saw Hide and Seek Saturday. My expectations weren't high, which turned out to be a wise move. Hide and Seek is about psychological horror: a psychologist and his daughter move to countryside after his wife and her mother dies. She comes up with this imaginary friend, who turns out to be a rather nasty person.

Much horror ensues, typically in the form of sudden scares, which is always a bit boring. There's a twist, and it is a pretty good one, too, but it's not enough to rescue the movie from boring mediocrity. Robert de Niro makes a very tired lead role, while Dakota Fanning shines as the daughter.

(Edit: No comments allowed on this entry; I had to close them, because for some reason, this entry draws in spammers like nothing else.)

16.05.2005 klo 14:10 | TrackBack (0)

Pregnant horror

Yesterday's movie choice was The Eye 2, which turned out nice. I enjoyed the first Eye and so did Johanna, if to a lesser extent than I. We both thought the sequel was better than the first movie.

Somebody whined in IMDB how the sequel had nothing to do with the original movie and thus it's a spin-off, not a sequel. Who cares? And besides, since when a sequel must've continued from where the first movie ended? While the stories aren't connected, they certainly develop the same theme of seeing spirits.

The second theme of the movie was pregnancy. It reminded us of Rosemary's Baby, but I guess that's because of the scarcity of horror movies about pregnancy. The setting here is quite different, but quite scary. I wouldn't necessarily recommend The Eye 2 to pregnant women. Fans of Asian horror should find this one enjoyable, however.

5.05.2005 klo 08:13 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Bridget Jones and the National Treasure

Saturday entertainment was provided by Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, which was a rather terrible sequel to a decent movie. The plot was silly and the characters had very little development from the previous movie. It wasn't a disaster, but pretty bad nonetheless.

Today we watched National Treasure. I expected very little, but it was a surprisingly good and action-packed adventure movie. It was, indeed, quite stupid and proved once again that Nicolas Cage is absolutely terrible actor, but hey - it was pretty good entertainment despite these flaws.

1.05.2005 klo 16:17 | Comments 1 comment(s) | TrackBack (0)

Pieces of April and The Last Horror Movie

Pieces of April didn't look too impressive based on the cover, but turned out to be a real indie movie gem. Good actors combined with a heart-warming story worked out fine. The story is rather typical Thanksgiving family reunion, but with enough twist and edge to make it interesting. There's a dash of seriousness and even black comedy to balance out the sweetness of the theme. It's certainly the best Thanksgiving movie I've seen.

The Last Horror Movie tries to be a different horror movie and succeeds ok. A serial killer documents his killings while chatting pleasantly with the camera. Much of the goodness of the movie comes from the persona of Kevin Howarth, who plays the lead role. There's plenty of grim humour and it all adds up to, indeed, different kind of movie. Despite its silliness, the end of the movie succeeds in creating an unpleasant feeling, thanks to Howarth's fine acting.

24.04.2005 klo 13:01 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Amityville Horror

From the boring selection in the local video rental shop, we chose Amityville Horror. It's a horror movie from 1979 and a classic of some kind. Nothing quite like the big 1970's horror movies like The Exorcist, though, even though it has the same Catholic horror element and it's even based on a true story.

A house haunted by the devil himself is a good case for a horror movie, but Amityville Horror didn't quite make it. The horrors are developed slowly and quite well, really, but it's just too slow. Worst part is the end, which leaves a hole where the climax should be. The end is simply boring.

Of course it ends the way it ends, because it's based on a true story. The accompanying documentary was actually more interesting. I hadn't heard of the story before, but here's the story: a bloody murder of six is done in a house and the new owners experience strange horrors.

The documentary featured experts of the spiritual, claiming the authenticity of the events or throwing dirt on each other. There's money and fame involved, as well as personal attacks and revenges. I don't believe a word the psychics say, but what happened in the house is an interesting mystery. Later owners of the house say it's a pretty nice house, except for the intruding fans of the books and the movie.

Interesting case, but a boring movie.

11.04.2005 klo 16:04 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Incredibles and Sky Captain

The Incredibles: how conservative can a super-family be? Dad's superstrong, mom's super-flexible. Son has lightning speed, daughter turns invisible. Boring! However, the movie was rather brilliant nonetheless. I just loved it's style and graphic design, it's a brilliant job. It was also hilarious, with lots of laughs stemming from the action, not words. Highly recommended!

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was another thing. Filmed completely against a blue screen, the movie looked bizarre. It reached for certain old-fashioned style, and captured it perfectly. Still, it looks a bit alienating perhaps. The plot is a classic adventure movie stuff and thus quite old-fashioned as well. I don't know - it's certainly worth seeing just for the unique style, but I wouldn't still consider it a top-tier movie.

28.03.2005 klo 14:48 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Ring 2

Large movie theatre full of idiots: giggling girls, jackass guys - both talk through movie, which is worse, I can't tell. From now on, we'll stick to smaller theatres and untypical screening times.

Decent movie, much better than Ringu 2 but inferior to original Ring which we loved. Not as scary, but this one certainly had it's moments. There was also pretty heavy stuff in the end - Rachel is faced with a very tough task in the end. There's also really weird deer, which was odd, in a good way (and not hilariously funny, as some seem to think).

Ring 2 is worth seeing, if you enjoyed Ring and can keep your expectations low enough.

25.03.2005 klo 09:43 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Sad state of album promotion

I understand not everyone speaks or writes fluent English. However, if I was in a position where I'd have to send lots of promotional information to receivers around the world, I'd put some effort to writing well.

Here's an example I got from Austrian CCP Records. "The songs are very varied but very catchy and will be hooked in your auditory canals, although they are a manifest of hardness. Thy Nemesis are still immune against commerce and will always stand for the old spirit of Black Metal."

I mean, that might sound perfectly alright in German, but in English it's just silly. And what's that, the band's still immune to commerce? How on earth they've gone and published their album and even try to sell it to people, then?

I think the most outrageous claim so far was made of Entwine's album, which was declared as a superbly original masterpiece - which was simply a ok-if-not-exceptional attempt to ride on HIM's success, with absolutely nothing original about it.

24.03.2005 klo 09:45 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)


Earlier this week we watched M. Night Shymalan's The Village. It was a curious choice, as Johanna had already seen it and spoiled the plot to me (by my own request). We watched it still, and why not - it's a good movie.

Good, indeed, and not exceptional. The basic idea of the movie (which I will not spoil for you) is interesting. It wouldn't stand for closer scrutiny, but if you don't think too much about it, it's just fine. I also enjoyed the use of colours in the movie - it was a pleasure to watch.

The Shyamalan movies I've seen this far rank this way: The Village and Unbreakable are the best, then comes Sixth Sense and finally Signs in the bottom. None of the films are very good, but even Signs wasn't complete crap.

4.03.2005 klo 08:13 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Resident Evil: Apocalypse isn't much of a movie, but hey - it was fun, it had lots of action and... well, that's about it. I had no previous experience of the earlier movie or the games, but that didn't stop me from enjoying this one. Nothing I'd recommend to anyone, but fine for quick entertainment.

27.02.2005 klo 17:18 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Stepford Wives, The Machinist

The day before yesterday we saw the new The Stepford Wives. The idea (a community, where men are men and women are simply perfect) is clever, but the execution didn't work. There are immense plot holes and the movie is just too bland. However, the movie scores points for creating a perfect Stepford - the pastel-coloured world is simply amazing and very convincing (and at the same time rather nightmarish - I wouldn't want to live in a place like that!).

Yesterday we had a dinner-and-a-movie setup and saw The Machinist. It had probably less than ten people watching it, which is a shame, because it's a brilliant movie.

Christian Bale, thin as a skeleton, makes a strong role in a movie that would've been original if Memento and some other movies were never made. But hey, nevermind, it's a clever movie and works well even if it's not the most original thing ever.

I'm not telling you anything about the plot, as I don't want to spoil it, but one thing I can tell: it's indeed quite clever and full of more or less subtle hints that all work out in the end. There's very satisfying wrap-up that brings it all together, making the movie quite coherent in the end. If you're into psychological thrillers and movies like Memento, you'll love The Machinist.

18.02.2005 klo 08:44 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Alien vs Predator, people vs sharks

The first match-up of the weekend was Alien vs Predator, pitting poor humans against two classic killers from outer space. The setting was interesting - but I'm not spoiling it - but the movie was disappointment. Or not really, because we didn't expect much. It's a typica special effects action movie, nothing more. Certainly it's nothing like the original Aliens movies (I haven't seen Predator movies so I can't compare).

Another kind of horror story was a small budget film Open Water. It's based on true events and tells a story of a couple who go diving and get abandoned on the open sea. What's worse is they're not alone: there's lots of god's creatures in the sea. Like sharks. The sharks in this movie are real, too, and not CGI monstrosities.

Open Water is almost minimalistic movie that works quite well, especially because they had a clue and made it short (80 minutes). It's not excellent, but it is quite depressing. If you're afraid of the sea and it's creatures, this intimate and gloomy movie will give your phobias a boost.

14.02.2005 klo 15:05 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)


Hellboy matched expecations: light, brainless action blast with a more-interesting-than-average occult Nazi theme. Good, but far from excellent. Since we haven't read the comics, possible mistakes didn't bother us. Anyway, it's worth a look, if one's looking for an easy action movie.

7.02.2005 klo 08:27 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Into the Mirror (Geoul sokeuro)

This South-Korean movie promised terrible horrors, but failed to deliver fear. However, even though the fear factor stayed pretty low throughout the movie, Into the Mirror was an exciting film with an interestin plot. We felt it needed some condensing and I think the main actor could've been better, but the movie did have a rather amazing ending which I enjoyed a lot. Final verdict: good, but not outstanding.

31.01.2005 klo 08:59 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Fluff and time travel

First movie of yesterday was fluff. Mean Girls was yet another high school comedy with a rather typical setting. Nice, but nothing that needs to be seen. The movie had some twist in it, but would've needed a lot more.

The Butterfly Effect was much more interesting. While Ashton Kutcher is quite far from a good actor, it was still a decent movie with a rather interesting plot. However, it went a bit astray at times (the prison episode was, for example, too much). Still, thanks to the sharp ending (which was quite dull and stupid in the theatrical version, I read) the movie left a rather good taste. The plot will probably fall apart if examined more closely (Johanna found a problem right away), but that's the risk with time travel movies. The concept of how changing a small bit in the initial situation results in huge changes in the end was made clear.

While I recommend the movie especially to those who enjoy time travel themes, make sure you see the director's cut and not the theatrical version. There's a big difference... And Ashton Kutcher still sucks, no matter what.

16.01.2005 klo 18:26 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Dawn of the Dead

We've seen and enjoyed the new Dawn of the Dead, so it was easy choice to pick up the original version. We saw the Romero cut (and not the Dario Argento's cut, which we later regretted, as Argento's version was 30 minutes shorter).

While the remake is dynamic and exciting, Romero's original is slow, boring and silly. The zombies look stupid and aren't scary in any way. It doesn't even work as a comedy. It had some good moments, but even those were usually stretched far too long - over two hours is way too much for a movie of this caliber. The remake is clearly superior.

8.01.2005 klo 11:45 | Comments 1 comment(s) | TrackBack (0)

Don't Look Now

We watched Don't Look Now yesterday. It's a classic thriller from 1970's. It's about a couple who lose their child in a tragic accident. They end up in Venice, where they meet a psychic who sees their child. Mysterious and tragic events occur and things start to turn towards a horrible end.

The DVD we watched was unfortunately cursed with really bad sound and no English subtitles, so at times it was pretty difficult to hear what was said. That was bad, but didn't spoil the movie. It was fairly good, with lots of atmosphere thanks to the grimness of the small alleyways of Venice. What a perfect location. In the end the movie was quite intense, but the intensity was hurt by too much random running around and the climax was a wee bit silly. It should've been better. Still, it was an enjoyable movie and only slightly dated.

7.01.2005 klo 10:22 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

The Grudge

The Grudge was a positive surprise. Having the director of the original version direct this new one (and not Sam Raimi, as I thought) was probably critical, but whatever the reason, the remake was good work. I especially enjoyed the fact that despite all main characters being American, the movie was still set in Japan. The house where the horrors happened was almost identical to the one used in the original version.

There were changes. One significant plot turn (Toyamas) was cut and replaced with something new that was less complicated. The new plot explained the reasons behind the original killings, which was left as a mystery in the original version. Events were generally explained a bit more. While Rika was obviously the main character of the original version, Sarah Michelle Gellar's Karen had a significantly stronger role in the remake.

The plot changes were ok, except the ending. The original has much more interesting ending, which was ruined in the remake. The spirits of the original version aren't one-dimensionally evil, unlike in the remake. How boring. However, the movie was scary and the very important sounds were beautifully done in the remake.

It's Ring all over again, but the other way around. Now it was the original version that was richer and more impressive. The Grudge isn't a bad movie, but the original is better. I gave the remake 3½ stars in Movielens, while I gave 4½ stars to the original.

6.01.2005 klo 12:16 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Ju-On: The Grudge

The rest of our Play order was delivered yesterday. We pondered for a while whether we should see the original Ju-On: The Grudge before the US remake, which we'll go and see today. We ended up watching the original.

It's bloody creepy and ranks among the very best horror films (A Tale of Two Sisters, Dark Water and Ring). The movie begins with murders that leave the spirits of the deceased haunting the house. Of course, lots of innocent bystanders visit the house and end up suffering from the spirits' vengeance.

The plot of the movie isn't linear and that has caused some confusion. For example, a girl called Izumi appears in the movie as a child and later as a teenager. But yeah, movies can have time leaps even if the dates of the events aren't explicitly told! We found the order of the events fairly easy to figure out. Too much explanation hurts the movie and at least we weren't really confused at all. Some questions remain, as usual, but nothing critical.

My expectations for the US remake are mixed. The movie will probably look better. The special effects aren't flashy in the Japanese version. It's still impressive, but perhaps the dead could've used better look than simply white makeup? I do hope they can replicate the excellent soundtrack. The sounds were often more scary than the sights! Japanese horror movies (and games, like the Silent Hill series) have often made good use of scary sounds. The plot will probably be simplified a bit - hopefully not too much.

I'll write more about the US remake tomorrow when I've seen it. Meanwhile, the original is highly recommended.

5.01.2005 klo 11:40 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)


We went and saw the Saw. It's about a twisted serial killer, who doesn't actually kill his victims. Instead he places them in games in which they have a chance to survive through gruesome horrors. Each game has something to do with the things the victim has done wrong in their life - the setting isn't far from Seven.

It's clever, and the main game of the movie is an intriguing setting. Two men are faced in a room. One must kill the other, otherwise his family will suffer. Men are chained to pipes so they can't reach each other, but the room has secrets, which will give the men more possibilities.

The idea is great, but the movie is merely good. Cary Elwes does a substandard job as one of the lead men. Most movies have stupid things which are necessary to make the plot work - in this case, there are probably few too many. Police are, as usual, rather stupid.

Considering the circumstances the movie was made in (inexperienced director and writer, 18 days, 1.2 million dollars, expected straight-to-video release), it's well done. So far it has brought in 55 million dollars in USA alone. That's no Blair Witch Project, but certainly well done!

2.01.2005 klo 15:05 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Two sisters and May

Play surprised us by delivering some of the movies we order last Saturday already. We weren't expecting any before Monday, so it was a pleasant surprise.

May is a tale of a young girl, whose life is lonely because of her handicap (a lazy eye!). But, as her mother says, if you don't have any friends, you'll have to make one. She gives her a doll, which then becomes her only friend. So, I guess nobody is surprised if May is somewhat socially challenged, when she meets some real people.

The movie starts peacefully and picks up speed at somewhere mid-movie. May's a bit weird. The movie isn't really scary - we found it more funny - but in the end it turns pretty nasty. It's 18+ for a good reason. It was a good movie, though not really worth buying. We had to, because it's not available otherwise and with the reduced price from Play it was worth it.

Our other movie, Janghwa, Hongryeon aka A Tale of Two Sisters is a another filmatization of an old Korean folklore tale. Now here's a creepy horror movie! Two sisters return from a mental institute to their dad and horrible step mom. It's not a happy family. Weird things (unexpected sounds, opening doors) start to happen right away.

The director is good when it comes to scary - the movie works well in that respect, especially the sounds are creepy. The plot is clever and interesting - but all I'm telling is that this is one of those movies where watching it again will provide a whole new experience as you know what's going on.

It's straight to my horror movie top five, no questions asked. If you're at all interested in chilling horror movies (as opposed to silly horror movies), this one is a must. DreamWorks has the rights to make a new version of it, but I don't think it can be this good. The complicated plot will probably see some simplification, I'm afraid. That remains to be seen.

1.01.2005 klo 13:04 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Christmas movies

Christmas was movie time, with lots of time and movies to watch. Christmas in general was fun, with traditions upheld. Good food, tons of candy, lots of clever gifts... What else do you need in the end?

Village of the Damned is a new version of a movie from 1960. I find it hard to believe the movie was made in 1995, it has a bad eighties look in it. It isn't the sharpest of movies, but entertaining enough to be watched once. It's about a village, where every inhabitant blacks out one day. After that many women are pregnant and give birth to weird babies. The plot works, but I've seen better. As an interesting fact you might be interested to know that this was Christopher Reeve's last movie before his fatal riding accident. I'm quite sure he won't be remembered from his part in this movie!

Creepshow was another Christmas gift from my brother, though this one was from last year. We finally got around and watched it. Two-hour length has kept us away... It has five stories in the style of old horror comics, all written by Stephen King. King also stars in one of the clips, making it clear it's better for him to be an author. Leslie Nielsen makes a curious appearance in a rather serious role in perhaps the best story of the all. Unfortunately that story is somewhat marred by silly undead, but it's still weird in a good way. Seeing Nielsen so serious must have something to do with it. Not a classic, but ok for seeing once.

Deathwatch was a rented flick. Behind the silly name lies a horror movie set in the trenches of World War I. I like that, as the First World War was in many ways an interesting war and is a lot more fresh as the second one. In this movie group of British soldiers find a German trench where evil things happen. It's an European movie with crappy ratings in IMDB, but I enjoyed it. The trench is a creepy place with lots of rats, mud and rain. We were surprised (in a positive way) to notice Andy Serkis (aka Gollum) in the cast, his character was pleasantly insane. Jamie Bell does a good lead role as a young kid. The movie reeks atmosphere and metaphor and the WWI setting is quite fresh indeed.

Schoolday of the Dead aka Shisha no gakuensai was an important film: it proves that all Asian horror movies aren't good. It had a confusing plot, which made some sense in the end but still felt pretentious and artificial. The movie wasn't scary, just somewhat silly.

The Office Christmas special, in the other hand, was absolutely brilliant. One of our favourite shows got a good end. I got the Office boxed set as a gift from Johanna, so we'll be watching the show second time soon. It's certainly worth another round. I've also ordered the Black Books box, which actually has lots of episodes we haven't even seen yet. I'm looking forward to returning to our favourite book seller.

27.12.2004 klo 15:25 | Comments 1 comment(s) | TrackBack (0)

Shaun of the Dead and Last Party 2000

Sometimes you just can't find anything decent in the local DVD rental place. Then you go there one day, looking for something specific and don't find what you're looking for, but tons of other movies worth seeing. Well, that hit us yesterday.

First we watched Last Party 2000, a documentary about the 2000 US presidential election. An old topic, but the movie was interesting. It was hosted by Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of our favourite actors. His style was better than Michael Moore's, while the documentary was less entertaining than Moore's work. It was good, fairly neutral document giving voice to both republicans and democrats, but especially to the activists, who felt an injustice in the system, be it racism, fraudulent vote counting, WTO or whatever. I enjoyed it and found the document thought-provoking.

After that it was time for serious comedy. I've read lots of good things about Shaun of the Dead so we had to see it. It's highly recommended and one of the best movies I've seen this year! Absolutely brilliant! Simon Pegg, known to us from Big Train is great as Shaun, a sad loser who wants to turn his life around: he wants to win back his ex-girlfriend and improve his relation to his mother. That good cause is unfortunately slightly troubled by dead who wake and become zombies...

The beginning of the film is hilariously subtle, and the action picks up speed from there. The movie has good actors, many of which are well known from British comedy series like Black Books and The Office. The plot is full of references to ...of the Dead -movies, but the comedy works without any previous knowledge. Shaun of the Dead is a must-see for fans of either British comedy or zombie movies.

21.12.2004 klo 10:25 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Return of the King - the proper way

Watching the extended editions of The Lord of the Rings movies was the primary reason Johanna bought a DVD player two years ago. Now the trilogy closes with the whopping four-hour edition of Return of the King. That includes 48 minutes of extra material, introducing the Mouth and then some. Extended edition indeed - the whole trilogy clocks in around 11 hours.

While I do think the movies are best enjoyed with the extra material, the extra materials on the DVD's are probably even more interesting. Few movies offer such extensive extra materials and if they do, they are rarely worth watching. However, this one's different. The crew at WETA who did all the special effects and props and all that were madly in love with their job. When people love their job, they'll put in amazing amounts of effort that's basically useless - the movie would be equally good without it, because you simply can't see it. Or did anyone notice the rat-catcher's hut in Minas Tirith, with the dead rats hanging outside the door? Not to mention the decorations everywhere, giving each culture distinct feel.

All that would be mostly wasted without the detailed documentation. Of course, there's also the wonder: how on earth they did that? Seeing how the locations and effects were done doesn't kill the illusion for me, because the creativity and enthusiasm of the team is a wonder in itself.

We'll be watching the movie Tuesday - it'll be a long and wonderful night. But what's then? Peter Jackson should do The Hobbit next and then start working on all the tales of The Silmarillion...

13.12.2004 klo 15:05 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Qveere Eye For Thye Mediaeval Man

Qveere Eye For Thye Medieval Man is a really neat parody on everybody's favourite reality show Queer Eye for the Straight Guysta. It's a great show, a nice combination of educational and entertaining!

Thy hovel moste certainly is a pigstye!

(via Linko)

25.11.2004 klo 12:41 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

21 Grams, Godsend, Day After Tomorrow, Dahmer

Here's some quick reviews on movies we've watched recently:

21 Grams - High recommendations, good reviews, Movielens says I'll enjoy it - but no, it fell very flat. The movie was interesting because it's so fragmentary - it took a while to understand how the three different storylines join together, but once that "click" happened, the movie suddenly became rather boring. It's the story - only reason it was interesting was the fragmentary way it was told.

Godsend - Eight-year old boy dies accidentally. Parents clone the boy, everything's fine for eight years and then, something bad starts to happen. Why? I thought the storyline was kind of interesting, but no, the movie was very boring. It's pitched as sci-fi thriller and it falls badly short on both accounts.

Day After Tomorrow - I like the concept: save the nature, or else... Very un-American, that's always refreshing. There are also very neat special effects, but that's where the good stuff ends. Rest of it is very typical and all the plot elements are familiar from other high-budget mainstream movies. Boring!

Dahmer - The story of the serial killer and sexual ritualistic cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer! This must be terrifying! But no! Instead of crazy murdering and ritualistic killings, we get psychological stuff about Dahmer's repressed homosexuality and bad child-parent relationship. Which is nice, unless you were expecting a horror movie. Once again: boring!

Looks like we've been watching boring movies recently. Hopefully we'll see something better soon!

22.11.2004 klo 13:37 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Theater and music

We've enjoyed lots of quality culture recently. First we saw Macbeth, a classic Shakespeare tragedy on power and greed. The acting was strong, the set gorgeous and everything simply well done. We adored it. I wish the Tampere theaters did more Shakespeare - I wouldn't mind seeing more of his work, especially the tragedies.

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. (Macbeth, V.v)

Next play we saw was Wait Until Dark, best known for the 1967 movie starring Audrey Hepburn. The play was thrilling, especially towards the end when the theater went completely dark and the only light was a cigarette lighter waved by an actor. Very exciting! The story, about a doll full of drugs, a gang of criminals and a blind woman, was well weaved and intriguing. Another great piece of theater.

Marianne Faithfull is almost sixty, but still kicking strong. Her performance on Monday was strong and captivating. Thanks to the first-row seats, I suppose, but it was a really good show anyway. Johanna, who has already seen her twice before, really loved this one, even saying this was the best gig she's ever seen. I agree it was a great performance, but I think the Nick Cave show we saw in September was even better.

Anyway, Marianne did lots of good songs Johanna hadn't heard before and of course the best tracks from her new album, Before the Poison (which is, by the way, highly recommended). The band featured Barry Reynolds and Fernando Saunders. Saunders did a small opening number, playing few songs. Nice, but unnecessary delay.

17.11.2004 klo 13:47 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Book news

Some of my favourite authors have been busy lately. I recently bought Redemption Ark by Alastair Reynolds (when I noticed that Play sells books with very pleasant prices). Not that I've had time to read it! Then there's Absolution Gap and Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days I don't even have and to make my lag even worse, he's went and published a new book! Century Rain has a really pretty name, that's one thing for sure.

Then - Johanna bought me Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan. I read it during our honeymoon and enjoyed it a lot and then got his next book, Broken Angels as a birthday gift from Johanna. Now I found out he has a third book out called Market Forces. And that's not all! Woken Furies is coming out in March - fortunately.

Oh, and Iain M. Banks - The Algebraist is his latest book. I've read all his books I own (except The Crow Road, but that's not a M. Banks book) so there's not a large pile of those waiting. I've actually read most of the books I don't own.

Then again, there's A Game of Thrones, which everybody likes, except me it seems. I've read most of it, but haven't touched the book in months. I doubt I'll ever finish it. Enjoying books is fine, but has it's downsides, especially if one prefers books that aren't generally available in libraries...

3.11.2004 klo 15:10 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

The Barber

We rented The Barber on Saturday. I was looking for something else, but I didn't find it, so I had to improvise. I had never heard of this one, but the cover blurb was interesting enough.

The movie's a story of a serial killer (played by Malcolm McDowell) who lives in a far-away Alaskan village. He has killed a girl, whose body is found earlier than he expected. Police investigation follows and the village is stirred up nicely. The story is told through the serial killer, which is a nice twist.

Sounds good, but the movie's quite bad. The acting is pretty mediocre, nobody really shines. The story is just bad. I just hated most of the characters - watching a movie where you just hope every character would go to hell and die isn't really that interesting. I want to care about someone! Even the main good guy was arrogant, stubborn and just plain stupid.

Next time we rent a movie, it'll better be by someone famous, have some good actors in it or be recommended by someone, somewhere.

25.10.2004 klo 15:18 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Weekend movies: In the Cut, Mystic River

I've been writing movie reviews on the Finnish side for a long time now. I thought it would be fun in English, as well, so here we go. Hope you like them. Last weekend we had a plan to go and see a movie, but we couldn't be bothered. Instead, we had a home movie night and watched two movies. Now we have a large widescreen tv, watching movies is even more fun.

We chose two thrillers, but they were very different. Both had notable directors: Jane Campioni and Clint Eastwood - such different reputations, I'd say. I was a bit reserved about Eastwood, actually, since I'm not really a fan of his earlier work.

However, Campioni's In the Cut was actually the worse of the two movies. The user comment at IMDB summarises it neatly: "Heap of shite". It had some artistic value, certainly. There was some neat use of unfocused picture and even the shaking of a handheld camera was used once with good effect (and that's rare!) - however, as entertainment the movie failed completely. Uninspiring acting (Meg Ryan and Mark Ruffalo form the leading couple and neither one of them shines), uncomprehensible and illogical plot, unnecessary sex scenes... In the Cut was a disappointment.

Eastwood's Mystic River, in the other hand, was a pleasant surprise. I had heard lots of good about the movie, but I didn't expect it to be that good. It's a story about three kids, who get separated when they grow up and then meet under dramatic circumstances: Jimmy's (Sean Penn) daughter has been murdered, Sean (Kevin Bacon) is a FBI agent investigating the case and Dave (Tim Robbins), well, Dave's just acting funny - but for a good reason.

The story is strong and haunting. Unlike in In the Cut, the acting is rock solid. The leading trio scored two Oscars - Sean Penn for the best leading role, Tim Robbins for the best supporting role. Robbins deserved his, that's for sure. The others actors do a great work, too. All in all, Mystic River is highly recommended. It is a haunting story well told.

19.10.2004 klo 15:56 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

Bizarre spam poetry

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vbweb naked.

7.04.2004 klo 10:50 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)


We went to see Dogville, the latest movie from Lars von Trier on Saturday. I've been hugely impressed by just about everything von Trier has made and Dogville was no exception.

The most interesting part of it is the way it's done. Von Trier seems to love tricks. This time the catch was the location. Instead of finding a suitable town, he drew it. He got a huge warehouse, where he drew the outlines of the town. There's an outline of a strange blob on the ground and an explanation "Gooseberry bushes". Neat.

Actually, it worked really well. There were enough props to make it believable. Everything there was was used at some time during the movie. The rest of it - the unnecessary bits - were left out. It was very strange, but I got used to it soon. At the same time it help to generalize the events - this could've happened anywhere.

The movie was, indeed, about the human nature. How does a town react, when a strange and perhaps dangerous woman appears? How did they accept her? What were the conditions? It ended up pretty ugly, but that's to be expected from the torturer of innocent women (see Breaking the Waves and Dancer in the Dark for other examples). The ending left me satisfied, but ashamed of being satisfied at such ending.

It was an unpleasant movie, but in a purifying sense.

6.10.2003 klo 10:40 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

History for Iron Maiden fans 101

In case you've been listening to Iron Maiden's new album Dance of Death, you might be interested in learning some history.

Montségur was a Cathar fortress. Cathars were a Gnostic heretics, who were persecuted by the Inquisition. In 1245, Inquisition conquered Montségur and burned 200 Cathars. Too bad. Boardgamers might be interested to know that there were lots of Cathars living in the city of Carcassonne. If you're interested, Wikipedia knows lots of things about Cathars.

Passchendaele, in the other hand, was a major battle in the World War I. It is better known, perhaps, as the Third Battle of Ypres. As was typical in the WWI, it was a long, bloody fight (about 250,000 casualties) over nothing: almost everything the allied forces gained was lost in the Fourth Battle of Ypres. Wikipedia can tell you more, as usual.

26.09.2003 klo 15:53 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)

TV treats

Yesterday was a good day, TV-wise. New episodes of Cold Feet have arrived! It's a very good show and definitely one of the best running right now. Of course I'm hopelessly hooked on Survivor, even though the Thailand series they're showing now has started off quite slowly. Hopefully it gets more interesting, but I'm afraid the people aren't as interesting as they could be. Johanna quoted a news article or something like that to me which said the Thailand series is the most boring of them all, but the next one should be much better. Hope so!

6.08.2003 klo 10:06 | Be the first to comment | TrackBack (0)