Sunday, January 30, 2011

The week that was #21

Not a lot going on this week, but there were a couple of things worth noting.

The Millennium trilogy

Over the last couple of months I've read the three books in Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

I'd heard of them, but not much about them; in fact, the first time I really started thinking about reading them was after the success of the film version of Dragon Tattoo1. So, when my friend and co-worker Rachel said she had them if I wanted to borrow them, I – having nothing else to read at the time – jumped at the chance.

Having studiously avoided reading much more about them than the titles, I wasn't really quite sure what to expect. But I was a little taken aback by how unimpressed I was when I started reading Dragon Tattoo, since it took quite a while for it to get interesting. But it did get interesting, and so I stuck with it all the way to the end.

While I wasn't as impressed as I thought I'd be, I decided I'd give Fire a shot, and found that, from very early on, I was liking it a lot more than that I'd liked the first. It was a lot better paced than Dragon Tattoo – i.e. faster, more action-packed – with a more interesting set of plot developments.

After knocking that one off, I got straight into Hornet's Nest. While probably not as good as Fire, it was still better than Dragon Tattoo, and built very well to the climax; so well that I couldn't stop reading until I'd finished it.

So, definitely enjoyable reading, but it's not without its flaws. The two lead characters, Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander (the titular 'girl' of the titles) are both bordering on Mary Sue territory, which makes following their adventures slightly less satisfying. There are graphic scenes of sexual violence – mostly in Dragon Tattoo3 – that I don't think needed to be as detailed as they were.

One of the things I did like about it was that, by virtue of being set in Sweden with (mostly) Swedish characters, it had a very different feel from other stories; most crime novels I've read have been set in either the USA or the UK. The differences are subtle, but significant, and mostly to do with how people react to the situations they're faced with.

I haven't seen any of the Swedish film versions, but I'll almost certainly see the English-language remake, since they've cast Daniel Craig as Blomkvist, and it's to be directed by David Fincher and the soundtrack composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross4.

1I'm going to abbreviate for the rest of the post, out of sheer laziness.
2Its original Swedish title was Män som hatar kvinnor – 'Men who hate women' – which is a lot more indicative of the content; there are some seriously nasty guys involved.
3Fincher, Reznor and Ross, of course, worked together on The Social Network – which I wrote about here – and they all won Golden Globes for their efforts, as did the film itself. It's not impossible that they'll do the same at the Oscars, since they (and it) have all been nominated.

Rocky Horror

In what appears to be becoming a tradition I went with some friends to the Moonlight Cinema to see the cultest4 of cult films, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

And, like people the world over – and no small number of people in Adelaide that night – my friends and I went to see it because I enjoy the participation aspects that have become the standard practice for screening of the film: shouting stuff out, throwing things in the air, and running up to the screen to dance to Time Warp.

Read the Wikipedia article for a fuller description. See here for the script we had, one of several different versions out there.

Unfortunately, it appears that this tradition isn't as well known as one would think, since and there were people who didn't realise that's what happens, and got somewhat abusive. It didn't stop us, but it was kind of annoying – something like if you were in the Barmy Army at the cricket and a gaggle of ignorant hicks kept telling you to stop singing songs.

So, before the next one I'm going to make a concerted effort to publicise the fact so that it doesn't happen again. The Moonlight Cinema people said they're going put something on the website as well, which could help. What I'd also like is to co-ordinate with others who are there for the participation so there are a whole bunch of us together; everything will sound a lot better in chorus.

Actually, come to think of it, if you're reading this and someone mentions they're going, please ask them if they're aware that people are going to yell stuff out. If they aren't, please warn them what they're in for.

Another downside was the script we had – it was far too involved; I spent way too much time looking at it rather than the screen. A lot of the callbacks are far too long, and many of them involve trying to shout over the actual dialogue (the best ones make use of the long pauses), which I dislike. Before next year I'm hoping to either find a lighter version of the script, or modify the existing one to fit my needs.

Despite all of that, it was still fun. We got rained on quite a bit – which was kind of ironic, given that one of the standard actions is to shoot water pistols into the air because there's a rain scene in the film; if only it'd been ten minutes earlier5 we needn't have bothered with the liquid arsenal.

4I'm aware that's not really a word, but I don't care.
5Or possibly later; I can't recall exactly.

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