Let the Right One In

Tomas Alfredson's film adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist's 2004 vampire novel, Let the Right One In, uses the vampire legend in much the same way as Hollywood did in its prudish days of yore: as a device to smuggle in the exploration of erotic themes. At the core of the picture is the relationship between Oskar (Kare Hedebrant), a 12-year-old boy who is the target of bullying at his school, and Eli (Lina Leandersson), a vampire who, by outward appearances, is the same age as he. At the beginning of the film, we see Oskar standing by his bedroom window in his tighty-whities, rehearsing a violent fantasy in which he revenges himself upon his attackers. Meanwhile, beneath him, two new arrivals to his apartment complex, Eli and her caretaker, move in. A loner in school, Oskar welcomes his friendship with Eli, which he cements by lending her his Rubik's Cube. (The film is set in 1982.) She returns the favor by encouraging him to fight. Oskar is not a guileless paragon; he nurtures a disturbing habit of cutting out morbid stories from newspapers, and the film's ending suggests a violent future may lie in wait for him. Soon after Eli loses her caretaker, her friendship with Oskar acquires a romantic hue, which is tactfully conveyed by Alfredson, whose directorial approach is pleasingly unadorned. The manner in which Alfredson conjoins the innocence of the children as they plumb their relationship with their disconcerting adaptability to a world in which cruelty is unexceptional, is a triumph of sentiment over the sentimental. That is to say, Let the Right One In is successful in its evocation of childhood as anything but a fragile utopia.

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."