Anders Bergstrom's blog on Words, Films, and Music

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The new Darkness album, One Way Ticket to Hell...And Back!, is available in streaming format on The Darkness' myspace site. I loved Permission to Land, in all it's faux-metal glory. It's still one of those albums that I throw on when I need a smile. Justin Hawkin's Freddy Mecury impressions are getting better all the time, even if the new album doesn't quite standout on first listen. Give it a spin. It might at least put a smile on your face.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Oh, and incase you don't check all the blog links which I provide on the side there, you should check Meghann's posting of some great pics of our walk Sunday afternoon and how beautiful Victoria was this weekend. Thanks Meghann. I'm glad I didn't spend the whole day in the library and instead went for a walk and watched the Grey Cup.

In 2001BMW, under the supervision of executive producer David Fincher, produced a series of 5 films to showcase their various cars. Rather than mere commericals, this series would be true short action films, all revolving around the unnamed character known only as The Driver. The Driver was played by a little known (at the time) British star called Clive Owen. This was my first exposure to Owen, who would go on to become a much larger star today. The series of films, called The Hire, added three more films in 2003. For a long time these films were available free on the internet at Not long ago, BMW "retired" the films, but not before making it freely available on DVD (with minimal shipping and handling costs) to the fans of the series. I mark myself a huge fan of the series. Not only is Clive Owen one of my favourite actors, but I love BMW cars, and this series showcases some of the finest action directors of all time. Of course I ordered the DVD as soon as I got wind of this. My DVD finally arrived today!

The 8 films are directed by John Woo, Joe Carnahan (Narc), Tony Scott, the late great John Frankenheimer, Ang Lee, Wong Kar-Wai (2046), Guy Ritchie, and Alejandro González Iñárritu (21 Grams). And they showcase the acting talents of Gary Oldman, Don Cheadle, Madonna, Stellen Skarsgard, and Mickey Rourke among many others. They are thoroughly entertaining and finely crafted short films, showcasing some amazing driving and tense situations.

This DVD has been a long time coming. I'm very excited to have it now. I can't wait to watch it. Once I get a bit more work done on my paper for Chaucer and Middle Scots Poetry, I'm going to reward myself by watching a few episodes.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Today just reinforces a theory. I am planning on going to the library this afternoon and working on my "50 pages," so of course, today is the most beautiful, sunny day we've had in the last month!

I guess I should plan to be studious more often.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

There are a few things that I'm really enjoying right now. One of them is the iTunes exclusive, The Arcade Fire & David Bowie - Live At Fashion Rocks EP.

This is the recordings made at the show when David Bowie (right) joined the Arcade Fire (left) for their concert in New York earlier this year (l
I posted a link to a video of the performance of "Wake Up" earlier this fall).

Now iTunes has released three of the live tracks in an online EP. The tracks include two Bowie songs, and one Arcade Fire: "Life on Mars?", "Wake Up," and "Five Years." "Life on Mars?" is one of my favourite Bowie songs and the live version with the orchestrations of the Arcade Fire, accompanying Bowie's maturing (a nice way of saying aging) voice makes it unique from other takes on the song. Definitely worth the $2.97 CAN.

Another thing that is keeping me from getting much done on my "50 pages" project is, Turner Classic Movies channel. Some genius had the idea that putting one of the greatest television channel ideas of all time on basic cable, just before exams and papers are due, would be a brilliant idea. It is, but it's also really distracting. Basically, non-stop good movies. No commercials. Yesterday, was a Joan Fontaine festival. They played Hitchcock's Rebecca and Suspicion (which I'd already seen) and Fritz Lang's Beyond A Reasonable Doubt (1956, which I hadn't seen and was actually very entertaining with a neat twist ending). Today it's documentaries on Merican C. Cooper (the creator of King Kong), King Kong (1933, which I also bought today on the brand new Collector's Edition DVD) and some of his other non-Kong films (including the other giant ape film, Mighty Joe Young - the 40s version). It all makes for good background viewing while I make notes on Middle Scots Poetry.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Mission accomplished. I'm now the proud owner of tickets for Coldplay in Vancouver in January!

I've seen Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire twice now. Yes, I have three papers and a presentation to do in the next 3 weeks before I got back home for Christmas, but one must keep one's priorities straight.

I can say now with a fair amount of certainty that this is both my favourite, and the best, of the Potter films thus far. This is of course, in no small part, due to the fact that Rowling's novel is possibly the strongest of the series (though I really do like Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the most recent book in the series a whole lot as well). In the first three films (and books), the key event always seems to occur at the end of the school year, with the majority of the plot building up to the key event--they are mysteries at heart. With Goblet, the Tri-Wizard tournament takes us into the action from the beginning of the term, with the various tests taking place over the entire story. What it means for the film is that Goblet is rarely slow; it's remarkably fast paced and packed for a film that is over two-and-a-half hours.

Things I particularly liked:

  • Fred and George Weasley; every scene they are in is priceless
  • The Quidditch World Cup; the stadium is impressive, and the Death Eater attack particularly memorable (Ku Klux Klan anyone?)
  • The Hungarian Horntail; movie dragons are rarely impresive, but fortunately this one holds up both as a special effect and as a threat to the character
  • The Yule Ball; one of the most entertaining and moving sequences in the film, showcasing our heroes struggle with the pains of growing up (and the band is pretty cool too, what with Jarvis Cocker, Johnny Greenwood and Phil Selway)
  • Lord Voldemort; Ralph Fiennes creates a memorable villian for the series, which is important because as my brother Anton likes to point out, a story is usually as good as its villian
What I think puts this one ahead of Prisoner of Azkaban for me (as I especially appreciate the way that Cuaron tries to make the film art and really adds a unique visual style to film, despite creating a few plot holes), is that Newell seems to have a much stronger grasp of the characters. I think Goblet of Fire is a good example of a film that is able to present strong visuals and outstanding special effects without losing its characters in the mix. Of course, again, it helps that they had such a strong piece of source material to work with, but it's still quite remarkable when you realize they did a fairly successful job of paring down a 636 page book into an two-and-a-half hour film and still conveyed the sense of it all. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is one of the best times I've had at the movies all year...both times.


In other news, I'm in the middle of a Beatles marathon. I made an iTunes playlist of every single Beatles song. 237 songs.10.9 hours. Chronologically.

Also, tomorrow morning I'm getting up early to buy tickets for Coldplay's January 26th concert in Vancouver at GM Place! I'm fairly excited about this. It should be a good show. A lot of the songs on the new album lend themselves perfectly to the arena experience. I can't wait to hear "Fix You" live. Also, Fiona Apple is opening. Judging from the reception her new album has gotten, this should be good, though I see that Richard Ashcroft is opening the UK dates in December and I would have rather seen him. Nonetheless, this should be an awesome concert. I love living here!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I'm going to admit that I've never loved Superman. I've always had a serious respect for the character; he is an icon of the comicbook artform. Yet I never really had the same affinity for him the way I do for Batman (my personal favourite) or even Spider-man (who else comes closer to "me" as a superhero?). On the other hand, Superman has a mythology that is unrivaled in comics: the origin story, Lois Lane, Smallville, Jimmy Olson, Kryptonite, Lex Luthor. Perhaps only Batman comes close in having such a richly developed mythology (I use the word mythology here, specifically, for those two characters, because while the stories have appeared in many forms, there isn't really a definitive single story that explains all; they are constructed of repeated motifs that have made their way into the narrative consciousness...not unlike classical myths). But Superman has rarely, in my opinion, been treated in a way that would make me really fall for character. Perhaps the closest moments would be the Fleischer Superman cartoons of the 1940s. I have a fondness for the first two thirds of Donner's 1978 Superman film, and think that John Williams theme is perhaps one of the greatest movie themes of all time, but the failure to utilize Lex Luthor as anything other than comedy (though I do love Gene Hackman) taints the film for me. Again, John Byrne's 1986 mini-series, Man of Steel, also contains moments of brilliance, but is far from a perfect imagining of the character.

So it's rare that I find Superman particularly compelling. But today seemed to be his day to make me sit up and take notice in a way I haven't in a long time. I picked up Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's addition to the new DC All Star imprint (the first which was All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder): All Star Superman. The team behind Marvel's much maligned, but in my opinion brilliant, New X-men tackles the "World's Greatest Superhero." So what do we get? We get an icon treated with respect. We get Luthor acting appropriately villanous. We get iconic versions of Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Perry White ("Great Caeser's Ghost!"). We get Superman behaving appropriately heroic. And we get new and wild things that feel fresh and classic at the same time (Who knew that Willy Wonka was a daring researcher and adventurer?)--which was what I thought was the point behind DC's All Star line in the first place.

In some ways this first issue capitalizes on the promise of the All Star line up more fully than Miller's B&RTBW in offering non-continuity based stories that explore modern takes on the heroes while staying true to the mythology. Miller's story seems to me to really be a take on his own Year One continuity--Batman: Year Two anyone?-- but Morrison's Superman story here is original and seems far more "super" than any have in a long time. Quitely's art is classic, bringing to mind the Fleischer Superman cartoons. The way he portray's Clark/Superman's transformation and differences in body posture, etc make it believable that people could not recognize the differece, but are also clearly the same person. In the end, the comic is a fully satisfying modern comic book, but also fittingly mythic in it's take on that most iconic of superheroes. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in Superman, but never read one of the comics.

The "return" of Superman continued today as the new teaser trailer for Bryan Singer's Superman Returns debuted online (for real this time). I've expressed doubts about this film before, and while I'm still not completely won over, this trailer did get me excited. The music, the look, even the costume which I was questioning looks good here. But the main thing is the voiceover by one of the greatest actors of all time reprising (post-humously) his role as Superman's father. Yes, that's correct. Marlon Brando is Jor-El!

Well, it looks like John Allison's experiment with hand drawn strips has ended over at the Scary Go Round. He has returned to the Adobe Illustrator production, as he says, "for the foreseeable future." I understand that it makes it much faster to produce the daily strips (and unlike certain other strips, he is never late), but at the same time I really enjoyed his experiment in pen and ink. Oh, well. It's still one of the best webcomics out there and I'll continue to read.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Yesterday my mom and I went to down to the Oak Bay Marina and walked around a bit, looked at the boats and the ocean. However, we found something even more interesting than that. These greedy little guys.

Apparently these seals are regulars around the marina, and the shop there even sells the fishes that the children are feeding to them. Of course, they're greedy and look how fat they are! This guy looks like he'll just float. No need for swimming.

Friday, November 11, 2005

There have been numerous "Top 5" lists making the blog rounds lately. Most of these have been things "people don't get", and while I could probably make a list of much more than 5 things that confuse the hell outta me, I'm going to try to be positive and make a list of 5 Things That I Really Appreciate At The Moment.

1) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - I watched the film for probably the fifth time last night with my mom, who hadn't seen it before. I was again moved by it, and how I both emotionally and intellectually respond to the film, and to appreciate the fantastic piece of art it is. I love the imagery in this picture below.

2) "Personal Jesus" by Depeche Mode - I love this song. I don't know what else to say about it. It's so good.

3) Gingerbread Lattes at Starbucks
™ - I was walking downtown today, on a beautiful sunny afternoon here in Victoria. My mom and I had returned from walking down by the water, and we both felt like grabbing a drink. Since I moved to Victoria, I haven't been as much of a Starbucks junkie as I used to be (having maybe had one coffee from there, since there is so much other good coffee here). However, Starbucks has their Christmas drinks out already, and I couldn't resist the Gingerbread Latte. It reminds me of Christmas. And though there is no snow on the ground here (and not likely to be), it's clear Christmas is soon upon us.

4) Scary-Go Round - This is currently one of my favourite webcomics. It's not as immediately hilarious as some, but it's unique (British) sense of humour and strong storytelling makes it great. I also favour John Allison's move from creating his art on Adobe Illustrator, to good old hand drawn work. I think his characters look better hand drawn.

5) Infinite Crisis - This DC comicbook miniseries is the real deal. It's been a blast to read the first two issues, and it reminds me of what I love about DC comics and superheroes in the first place. Geoff Johns knows and loves the mythology he's been granted to work with. It's a joy to read. There's been more worthwhile material in the first two issues of this series than in all of Marvel's much vaunted House of M (which was alright, but didn't need to be 8 issues long to hold 3 issues of content).

Well, I can't resist putting one negative thing on here (everyone else was allowed to). How about the fact that I have such a horrid short term memory? I do. This entire post wasn't what I had originally intended to post tonight, but I couldn't remember all the wonderful insights I had this afternoon (must carry notebook at all times!).

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The teaser trailer for one of my most anticipated films of the past few years: Darren Aronofsky's (Pi, Requim for a Dream) The Fountain. Finally coming out. This should be interesting.

Monday, November 07, 2005

So, the weekend was not much of a break. I spent most of it working on a homework assignment (Early English Books project) and wasting time in the library (thank you iPod). But now this week, since I don't have Monday or Tuesday classes, is reading break for me. My mother is visiting, so it's nice that I don't have classes this week. However, I still have to work in the Writing Centre. Apparently there is no rest for people who don't know how to write, and thusly, no rest for me.

After taking my mom around campus and going for supper, we proceeded to watch the new episodes of Arrested Development that were on tonight. I've spoken about how much I love this show, and it isn't changing. This season may even be more absurdly wonderful than ever. The cast is uniformly excellent, though we could do with more GOB (Will Arnett), as he is possibly the funniest character on television. Jason Bateman continues to carry the show. And suprisingly (at least to me), Charlize Theron's guest role (4 episodes so far) as "Rita", Michael's new British girlfriend who may be more (or less) than what she seems. Ms. Theron (pictured above) had always struck me as nothing special, but I believe that my negative image of her was only reinforced by her bland as tofu performance in The Italian Job remake. However, even the often excellent Mr. Wahlberg was flat in that fiasco, and Ms. Theron is actually very funny, and her character is already a memorable one. I'm going to drop some "R" on this Academy Award winner for recognizing comedic excellence can be as praise worthy as Oscar gold. She's just earned a new fan.

Friday, November 04, 2005

You're probably asking if Peter Jackson has taken over my blog and is using it to promote King Kong -- nope. I'm just so ecstatic about this movie the more I see of it! I want to share the excitement with others. Like the fact that the full length trailer for King Kong is available now! Seriously, watch Kong on top of the Empire Stare building taking a swipe at that bi-plane; It's pure movie magic! (Sorry, Meghann, Danny and others. While I am very excited for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Kong is king!)

As for the rest of life, it's going well for the most part. Unfortunately my motto for November has become "50 pages!", as that's how much I have to write before I head home for Christmas on the 12th of December (and Kong opens on the 14th; maybe Jackson should pay me for this). That's just the major papers, not counting the presentations, teaching and writing centre work I'm doing. So, yeah, graduate school is a stress in case you're wondering - especially to those of you who are also suffering through heavy work loads. You're not alone.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

My excitement for Peter Jackson's King Kong just got a boost from the new "A Look Inside" production trailer that is online now.

This is definitely my most anticipated film of the remaining year. And if you think Kong is stupid, you probably haven't seen the original 1933 film. When the re-mastered DVD is released on Nov. 22nd, watch it!