27 April 2010

Devil in the Woods

The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo (or Män som hatar kvinnor - translated to "Men Who Hate Women" in its orginal Swedish title) is a film that recently hit US shores and is based on the Swedish, award-winning crime series of novels by author and journalist Stieg Larsson. The film is the first in his "Millennium Trilogy" and in the midst of all the hype it's receiving, the film did not fall short of expectations.

Now, there is always the fear that a film that comes from a dark, fictional series of novels (ala Harry Potter, Twilight, etc...) is going to end up a cheesy, Americanized blockbuster. Thankfully Swedes do things better than most and director, Niels Arden Oplev made sure the film was well-acted, wonderfully shot and balanced a continuous sense of intrigue with sporadic resolve.

The story remarkably blends mystery, crime solving and haute action to keep the viewer engaged. Oh, and the girl - the one with the dragon tattoo, of course - is quite the ass-kicking heroine.

The film is not lacking high doses of dark and graphic situations, but if you're in the market for a great film that will start a great series, this is the one.



03 April 2010

Go Do

And we're back! A sincere apology for such a long hiatus (not that anyone really cares about this old blog anyway, right?)

On to more important things. Jónsi Þór Birgisson, vocalist, guitarist, pianist and all things auxiliary for Sigur Rós, just released his first solo effort titled, Go.

Considering that Jónsi has been writing and working on these songs for many years (some more than five years in the works), it's no surprise that this bevy of nine songs feels cohesive, intentional and uniquely complete; each song flowing purposefully from one to the next carrying the listener through a landscape of elation, bleakness, reminiscing and anticipation. And it's all done humbly and beautifully.

Rich layers of vocal arrangements paired with an orchestration of strings, brass, woodwinds and percussive elements that rarely resemble a traditional drum kit carry throughout the record. And the result of such meaning and dedication is simply sublime.

Jónsi - more than many modern artists - does such a stirring job of taking his music to a place that leads the listener way beyond a simple, sonic experience. If you can allow yourself to be vulnerable while listening to one record, Go is the record. The songs are like that childhood birthday that - when blowing out the candles on your cake in a dark room surrounded by those that love you - you knew your wish would come true. Or that walk on a beach with a good friend while gentle waves wash over your feet. Or a funeral after an unexpected death of someone close. Or that long-awaited kiss on New Years Eve just as the clock strikes twelve. The songs are your reliance. Your comfort in melancholy. Your faith in promise and perseverance. For some it is your worship. Your contentment that our world's discord is fleeting and that love is the beautiful and veritable agent of change.