James May Steals My Thunder

I know the first rule of flight club is that you don’t talk about flight club, but I thought it was worth a quick mention despite that.

Not sure what I’m talking about? Well, that means you missed the 2012 Christmas edition of James May’s Toy Stories, entitled ‘Flight Club’. Following on from his 1:1 scale ‘Airfix’ Spitfire, he decided that he wanted to break an aviation record and aimed to break the longest flight of a toy aeroplane. (Here’s the episode on iPlayer.)

Brad Pitt dresses up as his idol

For those of you who have been following my balsa builds, this is an extreme example of exactly what I am trying to achieve. He has inspired me somewhat, and while I do my next couple of balsa builds, I am also going to start working my way through a very interesting-looking book, ‘Aircraft Workshop: Learn To Make Models That Fly’ by Kelvin Shacklock, which starts with a very simple balsa glider (much like those James May has at the beginning of ‘Flight Club’) and works its way up to a very large remote controlled Spitfire. Hopefully by working from the very simplest gliders up to the more complicated rubber-powered planes and beyond, I will understand better what I’m doing and why. And then I’ll be flinging gliders across the channel!

The Bridge

As I suggested in my previous post, I have started watching ‘The Bridge’, a Swedish/Danish co-produced detective series.

The basic set-up is that a body is found in the middle of the Oresund Bridge, which links the Danish capital Copenhagen with the Swedish city of Malmö. In fact, the body is found right on the dividing line between the two countries’ jurisdictions, and matters are complicated further when forensics go to move the body and find that it is actually the legs of one woman arranged beneath the torso of a different woman. To seal the deal and ensure that the Danish and Swedish police forces are both involved, one woman was Swedish and the other Danish.

This bizarre premise sets up what looks to be unfolding into a fairly standard serial-killer-with-a-grudge-about-certain-social-issues story (his initial point is that we aren’t all equal before the law – the Danish victim was a prostitute and when she went missing the investigation was shelved after a fortnight, and he posits the theory that the investigation into the Swedish woman’s murder won’t end s quickly as she is a politician and so in the public eye).

However, the story isn’t really what prompted me to blog. The visual style of the show is very distinctive and reminds me of the BBC’s production of the Wallander series and also something else, and I can’t quite remember what. The vast majority of the action happens at night, but rather than being dark the areas are lit by the harsh artificial glow of streetlights and neon signs. It is often the case that the only thing moving on screen is the scene’s main characters, and the sound has been altered so that often there is no background noise other than that made by the actions of the characters, giving the whole thing a disturbed, dreamlike quality. It is also preoccupied with showing the less attractive areas of Copenhagen and Malmö. This, combined with the washed-out palette lends a feeling not so much of despair but more disappointment or disillusionment to the proceedings, as if it isn’t just the colours that have faded, but hope too.

Finally, the Swedish detective Saga Noren (the blonde lady in the picture) is as nutty as a fruitcake. I honestly have no idea how she got through any form of psychological screening to become a police officer. Her behaviour is truly eccentric; she is blunt beyond the point of rudeness, utterly selfish and inconsiderate and seems completely unaware of the social norms (twice in the first episode she strips down to her bra to change her top, both times in the middle of conversations with her boss or her new partner as if nothing could be more normal).

There is also a sequence involving her which goes something like this:

Scene 1:

[Saga is wandering around her flat reading a large book entitled ‘Equality Before The Law’ or something similar. She pauses, puts her hand down her trousers and smiles.]

Scene 2:

[Saga walks into a bar. Makes eye contact with Handsome Chappy across the bar. He walks over.]

HC: Are you waiting for someone?

SN: No.

HC: Can I buy you a drink?

SN: No

[HC walks back to his original position, turns his back on SN and has a drink. SN waits a couple of seconds, clearly confused and then follows him.]

SN: Why did you walk away? [pause] I just didn’t want you to buy me a drink.

HC: [puzzled] OK….

SN: Would you like to have sex with me back at my flat?

HC: [pleasantly confused] Yes, definitely.

[They leave]

Scene 3:

SN and HC are having sex. They finish. She rolls over, turning her back on HC and taking 99% of the duvet with her, all without saying a word, and promptly dozes off. HC is understandably confused.

A few minutes later, HC has dozed off, and SN wakes up. She seems a little surprised to find HC in bed next to her, promptly removes his arm from her shoulders and gets up, fires up her laptop and starts browsing through the autopsy findings which were given to her on CD earlier.

Unfortunately, I have only managed to get the first three episodes on iPlayer, so the third will determine whether or not I invest in the DVD. There are only ten episodes, and with the DVD costing £25 online at the moment, it’s one which will have to wait if I decide to continue with doolally detectives and sleazy Scandinavia.

Forbrydelsen

Or as you’re more likely to know it….

Series One

As you probably know, I like detective stories and I like Scandinavia. In fact, I really like Scandinavian detective stories, so things don’t get much better than this for me.

In the last few weeks, I have watched the two series currently in existence and really enjoyed both. I think I prefer the longer-format detective shows to the feature-length, self-contained shows we tend to get in Britain. That’s not to say the format is perfect – the first series, and to a lesser extent the shorter (and that is significant) second series suffer slightly from the dramatic device which requires each episode to end on a cliffhanger.

However, the extended running time does allow the characters to develop and I think my favourite thing about The Killing was the lack of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ characters. As events play out, peoples’ motivations are more clearly and delicately expressed making them much more realistic and believable as a result. We see them compromise, give in to their emotions and make stupid but understandable mistakes.

Series Two

All of this, added to some brilliant acting (I can’t get enough of the subtle little mannerisms which make the characters seem even more real) and the occasional shot of some striking Scandinavian scenery has made this one of my favourite TV shows at the moment.

I’m now off to iPlayer ‘The Bridge’ and see if that’s any cop.