Top rock songs from 2011

My focus during 2011 was on acoustic, dream pop and folk. This rock list is a bit of an afterthought and probably has a few gaps, as I don't care for very loud rock. I mainly listen to music with headphones. Questionable if all of these are what you would call true rock songs, some are probably pop rock, electronic, etc. I only post music I like:

Lotus Flower - Radiohead

Radiohead - Lotus Flower by okw4rd

Oh My Heart - R.E.M.

R.E.M. "Oh My Heart" by Warner Music Group DE

Reach A Bit Further - Wild Beasts

Wild Beasts / Reach A Bit Further by Constellations Festival

Take Another Look - The Cars

Take Another Look by The Cars

Re-wired - Kasabian

Take the world - She Wants Revenge

Call Me Back - The Strokes

Dear friends – Elbow

Born To Die - Lana Del Ray

Other rock songs from 2011 that impressed me:

Smart - Girl in a Coma

Stone's Gone Up - David Lynch

Sad Song – The Cars

Stamp - The Rural Alberta Advantage

La Fee Verte - Kasabian

Over the Hill and Back Again - Paleo

Misspent Youth - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (thanks The Past And The Pending)

All or Nothing - Mutemath

Wild Thing - Noah And The Whale

Bobby - Butcher The Bar

The Void - Darkness Falls

Cheater Carolina - Fops

Iron – Woodkid

We all go back to where we belong – REM

Lamentations - The Dears

My My Mind - Apex Manor

Living For Someone - Ivan and Alyosha

Street Joy - White Denim

One for You, One for Me - Bright Eyes

Shell Games - Bright Eyes

The Body - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Need You Now - Cut Copy

Morning Mr Magpie – Radiohead

The Hunger - Shirley Manson & Serj Tankian

Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses (U2 Cover) - Garbage

No Part Of Me - Steven Wilson

Remainder the Black Dog - Steven Wilson

Index - Steven Wilson

French Exit - The Antlers

Call It What You Want - Foster The People

On Our Own - Diamond Rings

Balance - Future Islands

Weekend - Class Actress

Even Better Than The Real Thing (Jacques Lu Cont Mix) - U2

I’m His Girl – Friends

The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Morgan's Bay - Goldroom

Landforms - Other Lives

Bad Ritual - Timber Timbre

Division Street - Ravens and Chimes

Flashlight Tag - Sleepy Vikings

Eventually - The Phoenix Foundation

Golden Ship - The Phoenix Foundation

Bailey’s beach - The Phoenix Foundation

Escape All Responsibility - Chocolate Horse

You Was Me - Jonny

The Secret Chord - The Sand Band

Adapt - Wire

Vitamin K - Gruff Rhys

Strangers - White Lies

Happy Soup - Baxter Dury

The Birds - Elbow

Can’t You Tell - Vetiver

Sun God - Cut Copy

Open Heart Surgery - Beth Ditto

Right Guide - Chamberlin

Never Die Alone - Chamberlin

Equal Dreams (feat. Solange Knowles) - The Rewards

Don't F*** with My Money - Penguin Prison

Major Minus - Coldplay

Future Shadows - Forest Fire

(Watch this space for more 2011 rock tracks in future...last updated 2nd of Feb 2012)

Any thoughts on my list? Which of the artists are you a fan of? Have I missed any great rock albums? Has 2011 been a good year for rock music in your opinion? Share your views in the comments below

Top folk songs from 2011

2011 was in my opinion a strong year for folk music, and also dream pop. I don't know about rock or other genres the last 12 months, I really couldn't say. The list below is unfinished. I’ll add more later, if I find some good songs, or if you tell me in the comments what I missed!

Glorious - The Pierces

Jesus Fever - Kurt Vile

Chains (live) - Abigail Washburn

The Fifth Horseman Of The Apocalypse - The Nightwatchman / Tom Morello

Come Around – Sarah Jarosz

I'm Losing Myself - Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes) feat. Ed Droste

Evening Song - Hymns From Nineveh

Moon in The Water - Dawes

Natural Rhapsody - Jonathan Wilson

Don't ask me why - Laura Marling

More folk music (or near enough) from 2011 not to be missed:

The Sun Always Reminds Me Of You - Marissa Nadler

Runner Ups - Kurt Vile

Your Own Spell - King Creosote and Jon Hopkins

Apple Like a Wrecking Ball - Hoots & Hellmouth

Silk Tilts - Butcher The Bar

The Tide Pulls From The Moon - William Fitzsimmons

Gone Kerouac - W. Travis

Used to be a cop – Drive by truckers

Face In The Crowd - Joseph Arthur

To Go and Return - Jeffrey Lewis

To Begin (Live) - Alela Diane

In Your Lair, Bear - Marissa Nadler

Spain - Arborea

Kentish Town Waltz - Imelda May

Field Song - William Elliott Whitmore

Bonny Bunch of Roses (cover) - June Tabor & Oysterband

That Was My Veil (PJ Harvey cover) - June Tabor & Oysterband

Gentle Spirit - Jonathan Wilson

Blood Never Lies - Thurston Moore

In Silver Rain With A Paper Key - Thurston Moore

County Line - Cass Mccombs

The Way It Will Be - Gillian Welch

Why Should I - Luisa Sobral

You Folded up our Blanket Like We Used to be Lovers - Case Studies

Wapusk - Kathleen Edwards (feat. Bon Iver)

Deep Water - The Middle East

Face to the Highway – Tom Waits

100 Acres of Sycamore - Fionn Regan

Black Captain - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy

No match - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy

Noble Aim - Sleeping At Last

Helplessness Blues - Fleet Foxes

The Shrine An Argument - Fleet Foxes

American - Sean Rowe

Surprise - Sean Rowe

Girl in a Coat - Blitzen Trapper

Stranger in a strange land - Blitzen Trapper

Night after night (Live at WFUV/The Alternate Side) - Laura Marling

Rest in the dark - Laura Marling

Lucky Now - Ryan Adams

Tree by the river – Iron & Wine

Lil Norge feat. Jens Lekman - Danielson

Hey Joe - Liz Green

Ballad Of The Bastard - Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat

Today, I Feel Like I'm Evolving - River City Extension

Waiting In The Airport - River City Extension

Ninth Ave Reverie - The Middle East

Eastwood (Feat. Clint Eastwood) - Brad Paisley

Universal Applicant - Bill Callahan

Riding For The Feeling - Bill Callahan

Drover - Bill Callahan

Infamous Love Song - Over The Rhine

Baby’s Arms - Kurt Vile

Fall Away - Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks

The Heron and the Fox (live) - Little Scream

My Way Back Home (Live at WFUV) - Dawes

St. Petersburg - The Wilderness Of Manitoba (from their 2011 album)

Baby Jeans - The Wooden Birds

The Afterlife - Paul Simon

Hymn For The Lover - Hymns From Nineveh

Keep Me Young - Trent Dabbs

Leave To See - Trent Dabbs

Paper Airplane - Alison Krauss & Union Station

Lay My Burden Down - Alison Krauss [Get Low Soundtrack Version]

For What It's Worth - Stevie Nicks

Country Dumb (Piano Version) - Josh T. Pearson

On a Spree - Richmond Fontaine

Inventory - Richmond Fontaine

Apothecary Love - The Low Anthem

Marcy's Song (Jackson C. Frank Cover) - John Hawkes

Part Time Believer - Boy & Bear

One Sunday Morning (Song For Jane Smiley's Boyfriend) - Wilco

The Nazarene - Joe Crookston

Lament - Mount Moriah

The Death Of You And Me - Noel Gallagher

Sourdoire Valley Song - The Mountain Goats

Outer Scorpion Squadron - The Mountain Goats

Born To Be Loved - Lucinda Williams

Your Friend - Denison Witmer

Two And A Glass Rose - Denison Witmer

Bugs - O'Death

Put on Cologne – Donovan Woods

Thanks for Nothing - Middle Brother

Wilderness - Middle Brother

Mary's Gone - The Deep Dark Woods

Everything I Saw - The Weather Station (thanks naturalbeardy)

Came so easy - The Weather Station

Yarrow and Mint - The Weather Station

Running Around Asking - The Weather Station

Go on - Bec Sandridge

Decision Day - Conrad Plymouth

Feral Horse (live on CJSR) - Tyler Butler

Ghost on the canvas - Glen Campbell

Run Away - Sarah Jarosz

The Tourist (Radiohead cover) - Sarah Jarosz

Now and Then - Catherine Maclellan

Bats in the Attic - King Creosote & Jon Hopkins

Treasures - Seasick Steve

Rice Triangle - Rachael Dadd

If My Love Loves Me - June Tabor & Oysterband

(Watch this space for more 2011 tracks in future...last updated 3rd of March 2012)

Any thoughts on my list? Which artists above are you a fan of? Do you agree with me that 2011 has been a good year for new folk music? Did I miss any great folk songs or albums? Share your opinions in the comments below

Top acoustic songs from 2011

Probably if you asked 100 different people, you'd get 100 different lists, enjoy!

Flash - Joan As Police Woman

Monday - The Sea and Cake

Hiding Tonight - Alex Turner

Memoir - Charlotte Gainsbourg

Hit or Miss - Sleeping At Last

Time Trades - Jeffrey Lewis

Everyday (Buddy Holly cover) - Fiona Apple

Carousel - Ravens and Chimes

Black - Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi feat. Norah Jones

Wonder Years - Real Estate

Careless Love - Arborea

Towards the Sun - Alexi Murdoch (on 2011 album)

Other acoustic tracks (or near enough) from 2011 not to be missed:

How can it be (live acoustic) - Jeffrey Lewis

Krongu Green Slime - Jeffrey Lewis

Holocene - Bon Iver

Rising Red Lung – Wilco

Come Home – Ryan Adams

Invisible Riverside - Ryan Adams

Terra Incognita - Atlas Sound

White Telephone - Charlotte Gainsbourg

Fade and Then Return - William Fitzsimmons

Open Your Mind (live) - Wilco/Jeff Tweedy

Sin so sweet - Butcher The Bar

Requiem on Water - Imperial Mammoth (from Twilight Breaking Dawn soundtrack)

Resolve – Sleeping At Last

January White - Sleeping At Last

Steak Knives - Man Man

Everything Is Burning - Ivan & Alyosha

Womanifesto - Jill Scott

Ricochet - Sondre Lerche

So Alive (Love and Rockets cover) - Duncan Sheik

The Worst Of Me - Ida Gard

Riverside - Agnes Obel (from her 2011 album)

Avenue - Agnes Obel

Pyramid Song (Radiohead Cover) - Wolf Gang

Love and Hard Times - Paul Simon

Love Song (Lesley Duncan cover) - Marianne Faithfull

Her Hands Were Leaves - Alexi Murdoch

Wind up Doll (Sleepover Shows live) - Marissa Nadler

A Little Time - Arborea

Like A Man - Adam Cohen

Coney Island Winter (acoustic live) - Garland Jeffreys

All Things Past Serve to Guide You on Your Way - Frederick Squire (thanks slowcoustic)

Think You Can Wait - The National

Exile Vilify - The National

Can’t Keep – Eddie Vedder

A Little Bit of Everything (live on WFPK Radio) - Dawes

The Last Goodbye (acoustic) - The Kills

Love Is A Laserquest (Live on KEXP) - Arctic Monkeys

Godless Brother in Love - Iron & Wine

Half Of Something Else (acoustic) - The Airborne Toxic Event

All I Ever Wanted (Bombastic Video) - The Airborne Toxic Event

All For A Woman (Bombastic Video) - The Airborne Toxic Event

Only In Your Head - Marketa Irglova

Last Fall - Marketa Irglova

Driverless Train To Expo - Klak Tik (Thanks indiehere)

Between The Bars (Chris Garneau cover) - Elliott Smith

We Will All Be Changed - Seryn

Belongings – Clock Opera

Two Matchsticks - The Wooden Birds

The Things You Lost - El May

Taking You With Me – Daniel Tashian (Thanks Inspired Ground)

The Discipline Of A Broken Leg - Vessel

One-Month Marathon - Eleanor Friedberger

Pots and Pans - The Kills

Comfort Me - Feist

I Shall Forever Remain An Amateur - The Leisure Society

Catholic Boys in the Rain - The Savings and Loan

Jack and Jill – Jonny Kearney & Lucy Farrell

The Punk - KT Tunstall

(Watch this space for more 2011 acoustic tracks in future...last updated 2nd of February 2012)

Did I miss any great acoustic music from 2011? Which tracks or artists did you like, hate, discover? Let me know what you think of the list in the comments!

My top 10 albums from 2011

Kaputt - Destroyer

(Released in January, I didn’t find a better album all year. I love the laid-back, unhurried dream pop atmosphere. Pitchfork Media named it the second best album of 2011)
Favourite tracks:
Bay of Pigs (Detail)


Smoke Ring For My Halo - Kurt Vile

(Hit stores in March. My favourite folk album from 2011. I love his voice, lyrics, and guitar playing. Haunting and memorable)
Favourite tracks:
Baby’s Arms
Runner Ups
Jesus Fever


Drive (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

(What can I say that hasn’t already been said? I have to admit the outbursts of violence put me off loving the movie, and I ended up only liking it. The soundtrack however I can’t get enough of, and the hazy dreamy tracks fit my taste perfectly)
Favourite tracks:
A Real Hero - College feat. Electric Youth
Under Your Spell - Desire
Nightcall – Kavinsky


Sea of Memories – Pallers

(Under the radar electronic album from Sweden. I feel these guys deserve more credit and attention than they're currently getting. You could argue the songs are a little similar, but the album is easy to listen to all the way through!)
Favourite tracks:
The Kiss
Another Heaven
Come Rain, Come Sunshine


English Riviera – Metronomy

(My 2nd favourite electronic album this year. Great sound, great beats, great videos)
Favourite tracks:
The Bay
The Look
She Wants


A Turn In The Dream Songs - Jeffrey Lewis

(American singer-songwriter. He’s a talented lyricist! You get the feeling he has really experienced what he‘s singing about, and a lot of effort has been put into each tune. He kind of jokes around on the LP how he ought to be more famous ( :
Favourite tracks:
Time Trades
Cult Boyfriend
How can it be
Krongu Green Slime
So What If I Couldn't Take It
Try It Again


Holy Ghost! - Holy Ghost!

(A pop album that is just so catchy that I love it to bits. And redemption for Michael McDonald after he was crucified by Judd Apatow)
Favourite tracks:
Wait and See
Some Children (feat. Michael Mcdonald)
Say My Name


Gentle Spirit - Jonathan Wilson

(A throwback to the Pink Floyd and Neil Young sound of the 1970s, Wilson's 2nd LP has a number of strong tracks. I'm surprised so few music sites are mentioning a truly under-appreciated album of 2011. I definitely want to find his debut album as soon as possible. Works best by listening to the LP in its entirety)
Favourite tracks:
Natural Rhapsody
Gentle Spirit


Making Mirrors – Gotye

(Up there for me with the very best pop/rock LPs released in 2011. I think the LP will sell very well, it hits US stores in January 2012)
Favourite tracks:
Giving Me A Chance
Dig your own hole
Somebody that I used to know
Smoke and Mirrors
Don't Worry We'll Be Watching You


Philharmonics - Agnes Obel

(Award winning Danish singer-songwriter. In my opinion among the best acoustic albums from 2011, instrumentation is reminiscent of Joanna Newsom.)
Favourite tracks:
Brother Sparrow


Albums 11-
Towards the Sun - Alexi Murdoch (reissue)
An Argument With Myself - Jens Lekman
Magic - Sean Rowe (reissue)
Shapeshifting - Young Galaxy
Blouse - Blouse
A Creature I Don't Know - Laura Marling
A I A : Alien Observer – Grouper
All Eternals Deck - Mountain Goats
Ashes and Fire - Ryan Adams
Apocalypse - Bill Callahan
All Of It Was Mine - The Weather Station
Helplessness Blues - Fleet Foxes
Submarine - Alex Turner
Burst Apart - The Antlers
Knees, Feet & The Parts We Don't Speak Of - Ida Gard
Fathers Be Kind - Ivan and Alyosha
Hymns From Nineveh - Hymns from Nineveh
Southerner - Trent Dabbs
You Are All I See - Active Child
We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves – John Maus
Vanity Is Forever - Geoffrey O'Connor
Marissa Nadler - Marissa Nadler
Red Planet - Arborea
Nothing Is Wrong - Dawes
Move Like This - The Cars
The Deep Field - Joan As Police Woman
The King of Limbs - Radiohead
Grace for Drowning - Steven Wilson

Any thoughts on my top albums? Which of the LP's did you enjoy? Have I missed any great albums? Has 2011 been a good year for music in your opinion? Share your views in the comments below

Top 10 classic films discovered in 2011

When I say classic, in this case everything older than 2010. Oddly, I've hardly reviewed any of the below titles yet.

The Face of Another (1966)

(A lot of buzz currently for Almodovar's new film The Skin I live In. Watch The Face of Another for a similar atmosphere, only its Japanese)

Written on the Wind (1956)

(I got hold of a box set of director Douglas Sirk's films, this one definitely impressed me a lot. A powerful story about a rich family, who in spite of money are not happy. The mysterious title is also part of the soundtrack: “our night of stolen bliss was written on the wind)

The Decalogue 1-10 (1988)

(I finally got around to watching and loved it! Some of the best made for TV programmes ever made. Each one hour episode is about one of the ten commandments. Everyone should see Kieslowski's masterpiece at least once in their life. I'm going to review each part in 2012.)

Collateral (2004)

(Say what you will about Tom Cruise, for my money he's a talented and underrated actor. Again he delivers in Collateral as a hit man on the run. I don't know why I love Collateral, I just do. Maybe it’s the dialogue in cars thing I enjoy.)

Buffalo '66 (1998)

(Haven’t seen any film quite like this underrated indie. Don’t judge the film on the dreadful trailer. I found it very original, and that says a lot, as I have seen a ton of independent films.)

My Brilliant Career (1979)

(A forgotten Australian film more people should watch. Has a terrific script that I could really identify with at this point in my life)

Wings of Desire (1987)

(An atmosphere like no other film I know. Like a poem set to moving images. A classic.)

The Shape of Things (2003)

(Dialogue-driven comedy/drama. The pay-off means its not a film I'd see a bunch of times, but the first watch blew me away. Says a lot of smart stuff about relationships.)

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

(Great acting, interesting characters. I got into some of Tennessee Williams' plays during the year, his characters kind of have a timeless quality. Another Tennessee Williams play turned into film I enjoyed features on my honourable mentions list below, The night of the iguana (1964)

The Tarnished Angels (1957)

(The poster lies, its black and white. Actually has almost the same cast as number 2 on my list Written on the wind. Another Douglas Sirk directed film. Story a little confusing at times, but loved the scenes between Rock Hudson and the woman, very endearing and romantic stuff. Plus, the flying scenes were well-done. A rare mix of action and intimate dialogue. Currently unavailable on DVD, you can watch it on youtube

Honourable mentions in random order. A few of the picks have not appeared on my blog before:
Unrelated (2008)
A Woman Under The Influence (1974)
Mildred Pierce (1945)
Now Voyager (1942)
Sweet and Lowdown (1999)
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Breaking Upwards (2009)
We Don’t Live Here Anymore (2004)
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
The Inheritance (2003)
Temporary Release (2007)
Babettes Feast (1987)
10 Questions for Dalai Lama (2006)
The Four Seasons (1981)
I Vitelloni (1953)
Nights of Cabiria (1957)
The Night Of The Iguana (1964)
Cat People (1942)
Possessed (1947)
Lost Horizon (1937)
Another Woman (1988)
You, the Living (2007)
Lovers of the Artic Circle (1998)
The Dark Side Of The Sun (1988)
The Last Days of Disco (1998)
Babel (2006)
Live And Become (2005)

Look out for my top 10 films from 2011 list coming soon!

Any thoughts on the list above? What were your favourite classic or older films watched for the first time in 2011?

Songs for your iPod

Smart - Girl In a Coma

(Obscure maybe, brilliant tune, definitely. The end of the track could have been better, but still one of my favourite rock songs of 2011.)


Gentle Roar - Niki & The Dove

(From EP. I'm guessing Liberian Girl was an influence. Look out for Niki & The Dove's album in 2012. Also, their atmospheric tracks from 2010 are amazing. Thanks to listologies for opening my eyes to the band in his top 50 songs of 2010)


Giving Me A Chance - Gotye

(Wow, I've heard this song more times than I care to admit, so catchy! the past and the pending, good job highlighting this tune, and looking forward to your best music of 2011 lists! )

Visitors to my blog, any thoughts on the music?

Film review: Babette's Feast (1987)

Foreign language oscar winning film from 1987. Based on the story by Danish author Karen Blixen. With the surge in interest in Blixen during the mid 80s due to the film adaptation of her book Out of Africa, its understandable why they made Babette's feast soon after.

The film is a time capsule, showing us what it was like to live in Scandinavia in the late 1800s. The point of view is from the parish. For this reason, it was tough for me to identify with the characters. Perceived today, the two sisters Philippa and Martine seem smug and behave like nuns in denial. On the other hand, in those days the sister's were no doubt role models of righteousness, good-hearted non-sinners. Their background with a father as a priest means they feel obliged to live a holy life without getting married. A problem probably lies in that they are unable to see a world outside of their own devout Christian upbringing. Faith is all that matters in their daily life. If they are attracted to a man, they brush the feeling off, thinking its shameful and a sin to take it beyond friendship. The story sheds light on the limitations of such a chaste life, and questions blind and all-encompassing devotion to the bible and a collective suppression of individuality.

We see the sisters at different stages of their life. They appear afraid or unable to deal with their own feelings, frightened of change. In essence, the community are robbing themselves of new experiences. Perhaps it's insecurity, afraid to be independent people, blindly taking over their father's philosophy of life. The sisters outwardly are content with status quo. Perhaps Philippa and Martine think their destiny in this world is to honour their father by continuing his church work.

Even when the priest dies, the community still follow his example. The material world is an illusion, true reality for them is a heavenly place. In order to be accepted in paradise, the sisters behave in a restrained manner, they don't believe they can achieve actual happiness during their lifetime. The film is based on fact and a depiction of the times, refraining from drinking was a method to control drunkards.

The book was controversial in its time, and Karen Blixen wrote under the pseudonym Isak Dinesen. Having travelled to Africa as a young woman, Blixen could observe Scandinavia from a different point of view on her return, and see the disadvantages of living such a controlled life, where all pleasure is rejected. Then again, there is no way of knowing if the sister's in fact would have had a happier life away from the small town?

For me, the highlight of the film is the preparation and eating of the feast, which is to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of when the priest was born. The way the scenes were shot, the food becomes something magical. I actually read the novella/short story, and the words Blixen uses to describe the meal likewise elevates it into something extraordinary, almost divine. The community enjoy the delicious food, they have never experienced such a magnificent meal before, and maybe never will again, knowing their behaviour. Perhaps the expensive food tastes even better, because they are telling stories to each other as well. Its fun to watch them getting drunk, and repressed feelings come to the surface during conversation, for better or worse. Watching all these tasty dishes I really began to feel quite hungry ( :

Since the sisters don't want to travel, travellers who visit the community are a form of stimulation for them.
Babette is an outsider, the cook, perhaps the opposite of the two sisters, Babette views herself as an artist, wanting to realize her potential, cooking is her identity. Ironically, the aristocrats who are her enemies from the past, are the only ones who can truly appreciate her special meal. You probably can't distinguish between Babette's desire to thank Philippa and Martine for letting Babette stay at their house, and Babette's selfish need to express herself through her cooking. Anyhow, her artistic longings benefit everyone positively, irrespective if it's a self-serving agenda or not. For a few hours, Babette takes over the priest's role in the community, the unifier gathering everyone together.

Several things point towards Babette being the author Karen Blixen in disguise, the individual who creates something beautiful, which can be enjoyed by friends or foes. Blixen wrote stories to be enjoyed, likewise, Babette cooked a feast to stir the senses. Karen Blixen was a woman of the world, who returned to Denmark and could perceive her home country with a fresh pair of eyes.
Similarly, Babette is a foreigner from Paris, she wants to introduce the community to something exciting and new, which they otherwise would never have encountered without her help.

The message of the film I think is that we can have faith, but also at the same time enjoy our years on this planet. It can be rewarding and liberating to rebel against conventions, new people can push you into new experiences, but being a renegade can also be alienating. Perhaps through art and our senses we can get a glimpse of something beyond our material existence. I think Blixen is hinting, why shouldn't we enjoy all that nature has to offer, animals, fruit and vegetables?

A minor critique is the running time of the film, it could easily have been shorter. Suitable for watching at Christmas time, even though its actually got nothing to do with xmas.

Readers, any thoughts on Babette's feast?



Songs for your iPod

A couple of promising, new female singer-songwriters from Scandinavia I found in 2011

House – Amanda Mair

(Her lyrics are so mature considering she's still a teenager. I'm excited to hear her debut album, hopefully out in 2012)


Doubt - Amanda Mair

My Two Feet - Ida Gard

(If you like Fiona Apple's sound, I think you'll like Ida Gard's songs. Pretty impressive album for an independent artist. If you want to buy her debut album, details are on youtube)


It's Windy - Ida Gard

(Also check out the track, The Worst Of Me, which I'm adding to my upcoming top acoustic songs of 2011 list)

Let me know what you think of the music in the comments below!

Film review: It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

A feel-good drama with fantasy elements. Calling it a Christmas movie is a bit misleading I think.

Arguably James Stewart's finest performance, he has an effortless charm. Stewart plays George Bailey, a thin, skinny, well-meaning and selfless character, who has much responsibility. He grows up in Bedford Falls in Connecticut and dreams about leaving and exploring the world. At the same time, he feels duty towards the community.

My favourite scene is between Mary and George Bailey after the party, where they talk about the future, and he promises to pull the moon down for her.


Much like The Shipping News (2001), it’s a film about community, and what that entails, pros and cons. George Bailey’s struggle of trying to get away from his roots, and if escaping would in fact be more meaningful or not? It’s A Wonderful Life is about how during our lives we touch many more people than we realize.

Probably one of the most uplifting and inspiring films ever made, about seeing goodness in others, and how our society could be better with less greed and more sharing. Placed number one on the American Film Institutes list of the most inspirational American films of all time.

Director Frank Capra: "I didn't even think of it as a Christmas story when I first ran across it. I just liked the idea." In a 1946 interview, Capra described the film's theme as "the individual's belief in himself," and that he made it to "combat a modern trend toward atheism."

David Lynch is a fan of the film, and thinks you don’t have to travel around a lot to get a lot of experiences. The way the world is, you can tap into feelings outside your environment.

A bit of trivia. The original story "The Greatest Gift" was written by Philip Van Doren Stern in November 1939. After being unsuccessful in getting the story published, he decided to make it into a Christmas card, and mailed 200 copies to family and friends in December 1943.

The film was remastered in colour in the 1980s, I have to admit I stuck to the good old black and white original. Only after it lapsed into the public domain in 1973 and became a Christmastime TV perennial did it don the mantle of a holiday film classic.

As another reviewer writes, you'd have to possess a very hard heart not to find something to love in this story. I agree with film critic Roger Ebert that the conclusion of the film makes such an impact. A third reviewer writes: "Maybe it takes a filmmaker so fascinated with the American Dream to see how close it can be to a nightmare."

A heart-warming movie, but perhaps a bit over-praised for me. I found the film to have some very memorable scenes, particularly towards the end, and at the beginning, but slightly uneven and boring in the middle section. Still, highly recommendable, particularly during December and Christmas.

The film received mixed reviews and weak box office on initial release. It’s A Wonderful Life is ranked #30 on IMDB's top 250, and received five Academy Award nominations, best picture, best director, best actor (James Stewart), best editing, and best sound recording.

Readers, I'm curious to hear what you think, love it, hate it, let me know in the comments!

Songs for your iPod

You, Earth or Ash - Slow Club

(The kind of track I want to listen to again and again, a highlight for me on their 2011 album Paradise)


Tori Amos- Shattering Sea

(A song that stayed with me, the other tracks on her 2011 release all have the same kind of rhythm, and for me lacked individuality in terms of sound, the album needed more variation. Perhaps because I’m not an Amos regular, I had trouble relating to Amos’ lyrics. Classical instruments, piano, harp etc means it’s an LP that could have been made 100 years ago. )


This Woman's Work (Director's Cut) - Kate Bush

(Another singer I don't listen to very often. A 1989 piano version that in 2011 got an electronic remix . I prefer the new edit. Lyrics are about regrets. The video and song I think together are rich on atmosphere and impressed me. For the length of the song I forgot about everything around me )

Listeners, any thoughts on the music?

Favourite trailers blogathon

Into the wild (2007). Such a well-crafted trailer that contains some of the best quotes. The clip also has a highly emotional ending, which I like, and of course the scenery and landscape is magnificent. Maybe they could have included a bit more of Eddie Vedders memorable soundtrack, but still a trailer I can return to every few months, and continues to give me chills. For me, Sean Penn is an underrated director. The Indian Runner (1991) and The Pledge (2001) are little gems just waiting to be discovered.

Readers, what do you think of Into the Wild? and the trailer? Let me know in the comments below!

ps If you enjoyed Into the Wild, I recommended the under-appreciated wilderness movie Never Cry Wolf (1983) directed by Carroll Ballard. And its not just me who liked it, Never Cry Wolf has a 100% rottentomatoes rating ( :

Film review: Hunger (1966)

(Revised review with added screenshots) Hunger or the original title Sult is a powerful drama in black and white, with Norwegian dialogue. I saw it with English subtitles. At times felt like a comedy, I laughed a lot! A co-production between Norway, Denmark and Sweden.

Not to be confused with the 2008 prison movie of the same name, or the 1983 movie.

It takes a little while to get going, but definitely one of the best older Scandinavian pictures I’ve ever seen, it still felt fresh. Actually one of the best I’ve seen in 2010, and I’ve seen many different movies. Based on the acclaimed novel from 1890 by the Norwegian Nobel Prize-winning author Knut Hamson.

The story is quite simple, you might think its a one-trick-story of someone hungry, and that's that, however there is more to it than just starvation. Set in the late 1800s, a struggling author is wandering around the streets and has no money left for food. A man who has nothing, who pretends he has everything.

I felt sympathy for him, because he is in such pain. The country boy lost in the city having an anger towards the urban setting. I think it’s a story about pride and denial. The hungrier he gets, the more he distances himself from reality.
In an interview on the dvd, the granddaughter of Hamson says the character is looking for himself.

There are many memorable scenes, so its tough to just pick a handful:

On the dvd, the director Henning Carlsen explains how the audience see everything from the subjective point of view of the main character. Something Scorsese also did in Taxi Driver (1976). In both cases, the first person angle means we feel we are in the protagonist's shoes. The director talks about how they struggled to recreate 1890 in the year 1965. I think they did a great job.

The acting by the main unnamed character is what brings the story alive, Per Oscarsson is very convincing, he deservingly won a best actor award at Cannes for his role. He probably seems desperate or even amusing to the viewers or the people he meets on his journey, to me a bit like the humour in some of Kafka’s stories. Hunger is quite a dark, psychological character study. But also a very powerful story with comedy moments, particularly funny when talking to the guy on the park bench, and when he knocks on people's doors. It had a lasting impression on me, I’ll never forget Hunger.

Hard to understand why only 1070 people have rated this film on IMDB!!! Kept me glued to the screen, on my 3rd viewing as well! Really drew me into a different world much like Scorsese's Taxi Driver achieved. I think I'm going to have to add Hunger (1966) to my favourite films ( :

Thanks for reading, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. Anyway, highly recommended foreign language cinema.

7.8 on IMDB




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