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September 11, 2006

Nuru Kane – Sigil

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4 out of 5 stars

Nuru Kane is a Senegalese musician, who encompasses and incorporates both North African and West African influences in his songs. To be honest, this means very little to me at the moment (my interest is still developing), but this album has inspired me to find out more. It’s predominantly an acoustic offering, but one with plenty of variation: sometimes it’s bluesy and chilled, other times tribal and invigorating. I really found myself listening to the lyrics on Sigil, which is all the more impressive because none of them are English. Maybe that was just me trying to test my rusty GCSE French, but more likely it’s simply because Kane’s quietly intense vocals and instrumentation commanded my attention for the entire album (which clocks in at a fairly hefty total playing time of 62.13 minutes) . Definitely worth checking out. Now I just need to find out when he’s next playing the UK…

September 05, 2006

Frozen Land

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Frozen Land
4 out of 5 stars

Saw this incredibly bleak Finnish film last week. It’s similar to Crash in that it features several different protagonists whose messed up lives are all interconnected in some way. The story is kicked off by the forgery of a 500 Euro note, which passes through the lives of several characters, old and young, as they struggle to make it in an unforgiving city where vice and money hold more sway than integrity and honesty. The key difference between this and Crash is that Frozen Land is devoid of any of the latter’s Hollywood warmth – it offers an unremittingly bleak picture of life, and more subtly too: the semi-improvised dialogue never at any point veers towards the occasionally cod-polemic tone of Crash. I can’t make my mind up though. Frozen Land struck me as being a good film (just to clarify, so did Crash), but I still can’t really pin down why I think this is, especially as my overriding impression was that I don’t want to see it again any time soon. The title provides a neat little analogy: I’d describe this film as bleak because it made me quietly melancholy and contemplative, rather than manically depressed. Frozen rather than heated, if you like. Pace is probably a big contributing factor here: Frozen Land is a slow film (despite what the blurb might have you believe), where people don’t so much crash as slowly unravel (barring one notable exception involving a train, which I don’t want to give away too much more about. Or remember.) I felt similar after watching Capote , another good film which I’d probably to struggle to sit through again, and left me feeling slightly cold and empty. It’ll be interesting to see how Frozen Land is received, but I’d recommend it.

Incidentally, the film is loosely inspired by Tolstoy’s novel False Note, which I haven’t read. I have read Anna Karenina though and the connection makes sense: a none-too-cheery study of human interaction and the inevitable misery that results from it. Maybe I’ll read False Note and see if that sheds any new light on the film.

…On second thought I think I’ll just leave it at that and say that it’s worth seeing. I just hope my upcoming visit to Finland is more cheerful.

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