31 March 2011

One crew, one ship, one more time...

Clear Skies III trailer (76.9 MB)

Seriously, it looks awesome.

One Dane and her jumpers (Review: 'The Killing')

It all began with Kenneth Branagh. More specifically, his role as Kurt Wallander in the BBC1 adaptations of the Henning Mankell novels. Without those I wouldn't have heard about the far superior Swedish-language TV series starring Krister Henriksson and the rather good Rolf Lassgård films. These led me on to The Killing.

Forbrydelsen (literally translated as "The Crime", but sold to English-language markets as "The Killing") is a 20-part Danish-language television series produced by DR. A second season has already aired in Denmark, with a third in production. Oh, yes, there's also a US remake due to start airing on AMC tomorrow, IIRC.

Before I go into the plot, let me say that it is certainly worth 20 hours of your time and 20 hours worth of reading subtitles if you don't speak Danish. It is the best foreign-language detective drama I have ever seen - and among the best detective dramas I have seen, full stop.

The main character is Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Lund. Lund (played wonderfully by Sofie Gråbøl) is a determined female cop who focusses on the job at the expense of her personal relationships. She also often wears a traditional Faroese sweater - at least three of them (one ends up slashed by a knife and another ends up in police evidence). She's on her last day working as a detective in Copenhagen before she moves to Sweden with her boyfriend and her son.

Then a 19-year-old girl, by the name of Nanna Birk Larsen goes missing. The missing persons inquiry soon turns into a murder investigation when her body is found in a submerged car. You just know that Sarah Lund isn't going to Sweden.

The following 19 episodes involve twists, turns, lots and lots of red herrings, plus warehouses. Plenty of warehouses. Over a third of the Danish population tuned in to find out who did it.

By the way, each episode covers a single day in the investigation of Nanna's murder.

The story doesn't just focus on the criminal investigation - oh, no. In a similar manner to one of my favourite shows, 24, there are two other plots running through the show that interlink and feed off each other.

The first involves the bereaved family of Nanna, including her parents Treis and Pernille. I admit I actually managed to confuse the latter with DCI Lund on a number of occasions while watching this - they look similar. It's a deeply moving look at what happens to the families left behind after a murder like this - something that doesn't usually happen in these sorts of works.

The second involves Troels Hartmann, a candidate to become Lord Mayor of Copenhagen in upcoming elections against the rather slimy incumbent Poul Bremer. The political ducking and diving is good, although arguably a little overdone.

It's a slow-paced work; Nordic works tend to be. This doesn't stop there from being some very tense scenes and the rather shocking demise of a key character near the end.

The solution, which I won't spoil, wasn't fully explained and the denouement did seem a bit rushed. There's a strong sense at the end that justice has not fully been done. Personally, I'm not too bothered by that - such, alas is life.

A truly excellent work and one that I would highly recommend.

5/5. I look forward to the next season.

26 March 2011

March for the Alternative

The TUC are organising a large march in London today against Government spending cuts. The Government says that those against the cuts need to have an alternative.

Here's some of my alternative, then:
  • Aim to eliminate the bulk of the deficit by 2020, not 2015.
  • Halve the speed of the cuts.
  • Cut salaries of top executives - no public sector worker should earn more than the Prime Minister
  • Require universities to make similar cuts on top-level pay before they are allowed to charge £9,000 a year
  • Focus on getting people into work in the private sector, so they can fuel growth
  • A Robin Hood tax.
  • Ensure that funding to local councils is based on local needs (e.g. free school meal requirements). It is unjust that Witney should have a far smaller cut than Lewisham.

18 March 2011

Review: 'Doctor Who Comic Relief Special "Space/Time"'

Got to say I really enjoyed this sketch. It was very funny, with great one-liners for everyone and a wonderfully timey-wimey plot. Only slight weakness was an overuse of innuendo, but it wasn't a massive problem.

Great work, Steven Moffat.


Elsewhere in the Middle East

There have been further clashes between protesters and the government in Syria and Yemen, with deadly force being used against peaceful protesters in the latter.

My message to those regimes: Shame on you.

Libyan 'ceasefire'

Either Gaddafi has seen the possibility of Typhoons destroying his air bases and blinked, or he's just trying to buy time.

I personally think it's the latter.

17 March 2011

UN Resolution #1973

The United Nations Security Council has authorised a no-fly zone in Libya.

Let's hope this is a short war.

Libya: Hopefully this will be enough.

The United States has finally come around to supporting a No Fly Zone over Libya and in fact now wants to go further, with a no-drive-zone. Gaddafi is using his artillery and tanks far more than his (rather antiquated) air force, so this would help the rebels quite a bit more than an NFZ.

I think that an NFZ (at least) is necessary to protect the people of Libya from a massacre. If Gaddafi attacks Benghazi, possibly next week, thousands of people are going to die in the attack and in the reprisals afterwards. Gaddafi has publicly executed people in the past and would likely do so again.

There are concerns about us being sucked into a war in Libya; however, we are being asked by the rebels to help. If we allow Gaddafi to win, we will not only have failed as an international community, we will have to deal with another rogue state; because there is no way "normal" relations with Libya can now be restored. Libya could well restart its WMD and long-range missile programs. I don't want that.

I don't like the idea of entering this war, but it is the lesser of two evils.

15 March 2011

Japan tsunami

Watching news footage of the events in Japan since Tuesday, the sheer magnitude of events there horrifies me. This has caused disruption to the lives of millions and my thoughts and prayers are with all those affected.

Hopefully the reactor problems can be minimised.

06 March 2011

The Libyan Civil War

Libya is in what is now arguably a state of a civil war and there have been calls for intervention in the form of a no-fly-zone.

If it is necessary to protect the people of Libya, I would support this. However, I hope it doesn't come to that and Gaddafi falls quickly.

03 March 2011

Leaving eRepublik

I have left eRepublik. Basically the admins made a bunch of controversial changes and then banned those who protested.

I don't have time for that, so I'm leaving.