Saturday, 21 June 2014

Some Midsummer discoveries

So, Midsummer celebrations came and went again – the day when most of Finland typically locates to their countryside mökkis or some other retreat to celebrate the longest day of the year. Most years, the weather does not favour outdoor celebrations, but people do that anyway. Midsummer formally ends the day after, when the newspapers have informed us how many people drowned amidst this year's festivities – unfortunately, for many people Midsummer is just another convenient occasion to get seriously drunk, go boating on the lakes and forget everything about safety on boats.

Well, the getting drunk part of Midsummer was never my thing, but this year, my celebrations were even more against Finnish traditions than usual. I stayed in town and watched movies all day – and had a wonderful day! One of my friends, code named A, has a very impressive hoard of DVDs, and she brought a couple of them over with her. In the end we took the "animated films" route all the way, and I was introduced to two films I had never seen before: Brave and Hoodwinked!

I had heard such conflicting reviews about Brave, ranging from "awesome" to "nothing special", that I was really interested to see how I reacted to it. Conclusion: it's absolutely amazing in every way I can think of! Ten times better than Frozen! All the characters are extremely entertaining, the story is refreshingly unpredictable in all its tosses and turns, I love the way they used Scotland as a setting (with  a touch of fantasy of course), and the animation is exceptionally beautiful – my favourite things to look at were the sunlight, the horse Angus' shiny black coat, and, obviously, Merida's hair! I was also extremely surprised that this film actually managed to make me tear up! Twice! The genuineness with which Elinor and Merida's mother-daughter conflict is handled is really something to admire. I did not expect this when the film started off with the we've-all-seen-this-done-before "rebel princess who wants to escape from the responsibilities of royalty" setting. However, in the end I was both thoroughly moved and wildly entertained. The humour in Brave was also something I didn't quite expect from a Disney film, and I mean it in a positive way. Brave also happens to feature some of my favourite actors: Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters and Kevin McKidd – though I have to admit that I was so utterly fooled by the last three's Scottish accents that I didn't realize it was them till I saw the end credits!

Young Macintosh, my new Disney crush...
Angus is the most beautiful Disney horse ever. I want an Angus of my own!

Next up was Hoodwinked!, and this is where our indoors Midsummer celebrations reached a whole new level of uncontrollable hysteria. This movie is incredibly hard to describe, but I think I come pretty close when I say "brilliantly random". It's kind of a re-telling of "The Little Red Riding Hood", with an ample dose of psychedelic-level creativity. Nothing makes sense in the warped fairy-tale realm of Hoodwinked!, and it's not supposed to. You just go with the flow when you meet Wolf the investigative reporter, Red's Granny who secretly indulges in extreme sports, and Japeth the Goat who has a set of horns for every occasion and has to put everything he says into song. I am just literally quite lost for words when it comes to this film, just... just go and see it if you want to know what it is!

Got to love the singing goat, just got to.

By the way, I'm finishing this blog post at 2:20 in the morning, and that is just part of my Midsummer "tradition". This time of the year in the northern regions means that the sun doesn't really set properly (hence the "midnight sun" phenomenon), and my light-sensitive brain is absolutely convinced that it's daytime around the clock. I have gone with absolutely minimal sleep for the last two or three weeks, and not feeling remotely tired! It's so good to have a blog to keep me from getting bored on these kinds of days... nights, I mean.

I hope everyone had a fun Midsummer, and that there weren't too many sad boating incidents this year – it was a rather cold day, so it well may be.


  1. *plucks up courage to comment* Aside from the drinking and drowning, Midsummer Celebration sounds really neat! Oh, Brave is terrific. Even though it doesn't seem like it at first, it is quite a mold-breaking movie.
    Um, bye!

  2. Thanks for your comment, I always get tremendously excited when I see a new one has come in! How nice that you like Brave too, it's so, so under-appreciated compared to Frozen!

    This year's Midsummer celebrations set a new record for drownings – ZERO! At least that's what the papers are saying right now. I am quite stunned by this, but very happy about it of course, if it really can be true.

    1. Yeah, well, the weather was not remotely inviting for boating. The torrential downpours that we usually get are one thing, but this year there was snow.

  3. Midsummer sounds pretty wonderful from the way you describe it apart from, yeah, all the drownings. Bonfire Night is the British celebration that results in deaths. Hedgehog deaths that is. Thankfully it doesn't really result in human deaths although our primary school teachers are always telling us horror stories about their friend who lost an eye/hand because of a firework and how we must be careful, etc...

    I've only seen Brave once and I remember liking it quite a lot but not loving it. But your review is really making me want to see it again. I'm sure I'd appreciate it even more a second time around. And I've never seen Hoodwinked but now I want to.

    One animated film that I would completely recommend to you is Pirates in an Adventure with Scientists. It's very British, very random and absolutely HILARIOUS. And it has a great soundtrack. Martin Freeman's in it. Hugh Grant (who I'm not usually a fan of) is in it and is clearly having the time of his life voicing his character. It's a pretty awesome movie :D

    1. Our Midsummer celebrations also feature bonfires, but they seem to cause a lot less injuries and accidents than the alcohol + boats combo, which is interesting...

      I have never heard of Pirates in an Adventure with Scientists, thanks for bringing it up! I'll try to find it someday.