Sunday, June 28, 2009

The exile of Rudolf, Andrew and Dinu

music: Folk Alley's 100 Most Essential Folk Songs

Last night I read the most touching book I've read in... well, in a really long time -- Uncle Rudolf, by Paul Bailey.

Why Paul Bailey is so fascinated with Romania is still a mystery to me, but I can only be glad an English author has written a book about the exile of a partly Jewish Romanian. He has managed to play so well with those Romanian words, and most importantly, with the idea of language as part of an identity. I like this review of the book:
It is Bailey's triumph to show a pan-European catastrophe through an ironic technique of miniaturism and understatement that aestheticises mass terror, while indicating the unfathomable depths of human bestiality over which language is a veneer.
You can also read this review (in Romanian).

*****

The few pages about Dinu Lipatti's final recital brought me to tears... so beautifully written.

I've been looking for some recordings of Dinu Lipatti (on vinyl, if possible) for quite a while, and haven't found anything yet (T_T) Until I find sth, I'll have to make do with what is available on youtube.

Friday, June 26, 2009

This is it

music: Michael Jackson - They Don't Care About Us

At approx. 4 a.m., when I saw this on Twitter, I couldn't believe it. The only reaction I could have was 'huh?!'

I liked They Don't Care About Us when I was a kid (and could not understand a word of English) for its rhythm, and now I still like it for its rhythm and especially for its message.


(The original version of the video cannot be embedded)

*****

Today I remembered about the story of a boy from my hometown, who had leukemia, and whose greatest wish was to see Michael Jackson live (I think this was in '96, when MJ came for the 2nd time in Romania). He never got to see MJ though -- he died shortly after arriving in Bucharest, for the concert...

Des fictions

music: Son, Ambulance - The Invention of Beauty

Louis Malle en parlant du cinema: "Je crois que j'ai trouve quelque chose qui me donne l'impression d'exister." (Interview de Louis Malle par Francois Chalais, 1963 -- complement du DVD Les Amants)

Je me demande... pourqoui dit-il "l'impression d'exister"? Est-il possible que l'existence soit juste une autre fiction collective?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I wish I worked at NPR Music

music: Leonard Cohen - Memories

I so envy the guys at NPR Music! They're already listening to the Monsters of Folk (Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, M. Ward & Jim James). How do I know? Twitter, of course (you can follow All Songs Considered's Bob Boilen @allsongs). Since ppl were asking who the Monsters of Folk were, Bob Boilen also wrote a blog post where he copy/pasted the press release, so now I'm looking at the track list *yay*:

Monsters of Folk track list
1. Dear God (sincerely M.O.F.)
2. Say Please
3. Whole Lotta Losin'
4. Temazcal
5. The Right Place
6. Baby Boomer
7. Man Named Truth
8. Goodway
9. Ahead of the Curve
10. Slow Down Jo
11. Losin Yo Head
12. Magic Marker
13. Map Of The World
14. The Sandman, the Brakeman and Me
15. His Master's Voice

Also, I've just signed up on monstersoffolk.com for the newsletter. If you sign up, you receive a stencil you can download.

Later edit: I just realized that the 7th track, Man Named Truth, must be the one Conor and the Mystic Valley Band played live at 400 Bar in December 2007. I'm curious how the MOF version sounds like.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cahiers du cinéma

music: Suzanne Vega - In Liverpool

I haven't read Cahiers du cinéma for ages! So now, I was thinking it's time for me to browse some back issues. And I've started from the beginning, i.e. with the issue of January '09. On the cover: Che by Soderbergh. Even though I haven't seen it yet, I was in awe the whole time I was reading the review for this movie. If in ten years I'm able to write like that about a movie, then I will not feel like I've wasted my life.


Also, after flipping through this issue I've added a bunch of other movies to my must-see list, among which a documentary with Godard, Morceaux de conversations avec Jean-Luc Godard by Alain Fleischer.


[...] Or la déférence envers lui [Godard] se confond avec l'amour du cinéma, si bien qu'il y a partout comme un renoncement a le combattre, quand bien meme ce qu'il avance peut etre évidemment tres discutable. Godard signale le cinéma, il le porte sur ses épaules, tel Atlas, en meme temps qu'il en est l'encyclopédie et le cartographe - un atlas. Parler avec lui, c'est comme lire le dictionnaire : chaque définition renvoie a une autre, et il arrive un moment ou il faut bien se contenter de l'une d'elles, sans suite.

-- The Atlas by Jean-Philippe Tessé

(excerpts in English can be read here)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Cute monsters

music: Conor Oberst - Gentlemen's Pact

So nice to wake up at 6ish a.m. and find out about a new Conor Oberst project! (thank you, Yannell)


They've been putting off the release of the album under the name Monsters of Folk for quite a while (Paste Magazine was writing about this album in July last yr), and I'm so glad this is finally happening! But I don't think I can hope for a European tour (T_T).

Monday, June 8, 2009

My TIFF - final impressions

music: Bright Eyes - Amy In the White Coat

  • I only saw one movie that was in the competition, Porumboiu's Politist, adjectiv, which was also the winner, alongside Nord [the complete list of winners here].
  • The highlight for me: Antichrist. Of course! I supposed there would be lots of ppl coming to see it but I didn't expect there would be so many. And I sat on a little bench, which was really uncomfortable, but it was so worth it!
  • I managed to keep the promise I made to myself, that is not to go to the mall to watch movies, TIFF or no TIFF.
  • Arta is my favourite movie theater (it's the closest to a cinematheque), and I hate it that ppl care more about the fate of Republica. OK, besides the recently opened multiplex in the mall, this is the biggest movie theater in Cluj, it has a wider screen, and it has the best sound system. But outside TIFF they only play crappy Hollywood blockbusters, so why are they even surprised ppl don't go to see them? At Arta, however, they always have movies that are worth paying a ticket for. Unfortunately, lately they've been playing movies that they've already played, which can only mean one thing: they've got money problems too. So why doesn't anyone care about saving Arta? (T_T)
  • I know I'm horrible for saying this, but I actually like going to the movies and finding the movie theater almost empty. Why? Because when the movie theater is (almost) full, I'll certainly end up sitting next to / in front of sm who will talk during the entire movie. It happened at Tokyo Sonata, Cea mai fericita fata din lume and Sweet Rush. I don't understand why ppl can't just shut up and wait for the movie to end and then comment upon it. But I have to admit it's a bit funny too, because most of the times you can hear the most idiotic comments.
  • Also, I don't understand why ppl don't sit through the credits. Sometimes, you can find out interesting things. For e.g., I spotted a Romanian name on the credits for Antichrist (Dan Loghin for the editorial department), and they had a research department too (they did a research on misogyny, among others).
  • Overall, this yr's selection was better than last yr's and I'm sorry I've missed Shirin, Come Back Kate, Mammoth, Winter Silence, Involuntary, Gomorra, Katalin Varga, Buick Riviera and the special screenings of Almodovar's Matador and Hitchcock's The Lodger.
  • I'm sorry I've missed the 'Cuba continues' photo exhibition of Cosmin Bumbut. After having seen Cea mai fericita fata din lume, I met R. and we wanted to go see the exhibition, but there was a press conference and we couldn't enter (T_T).
  • Note to self for next yr: try to go to as many films as possible during the first days of the festival. There are way too many ppl during the second weekend.

My TIFF - Day 10

music: Bright Eyes - We Are Nowhere and It's Now

Sweet Rush. Last yr at TIFF I saw another movie directed by Andrej Wajda, Katyn, and that's why I wanted to see this one too. Besides, the story behind the movie is interesting. I liked how they incorporated the personal story of the main actress into the movie, which resulted in a movie in a movie. Sweet Rush is very touching, and I liked it (the fact that I almost fell asleep a few times has nothing to do with the movie haha).



Il passato e una terra straniera. My TIFF started with an Italian production and it ended with another one. Unfortunately, this was a Rai Cinema production, so I knew I couldn't expect much (the only Rai production that I liked was Il Bell'Antonio). I guess I could compare it, to a certain extent, to Hell -- as far as the whole 'live fast die young' thing goes. Il passato... is the worst movie I've seen at TIFF this year; it was so not interesting and def not a good choice to end this TIFF series.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

My TIFF - Day 9

music: Bat For Lashes - Trophy

Cea mai fericita fata din lume. I don't know why I thought I would like this movie. The subject itself (a girl wins a car and she goes with her parents to Bucharest to shoot a testimonial ad) doesn't allow the movie to go in too many directions. However, it does capture some Romanian realities very well, I can't say it doesn't. Now that I think about it, maybe that's exactly why I don't like it so much -- I watch movies to escape from reality, and this movie made me face it.



Antichrist. Hm, I'm not even sure I should write about it now. I should probably wait a week or two. Besides, there are so many things to say about Antichrist. After the movie, I walked for a few minutes not knowing exactly where I was going and suddenly, it occured to me that I could do my dissertation (thesis, whatever) on Antichrist - I would have plenty of things to write about.

Antichrist is extremely beautiful, poetic, intense, psilosophical. Some might say it's a horror movie, but it's much more than that. I loved the b&w scenes from the epilogue and the prologue, which were filmed in ralenti. And I loved it how nothing in this movie is used randomly (for e.g. the falling acorns). Everything is a symbol for sth. Plus, Charlotte Gainsbourg is absolutely wonderful! I wasn't so sure if I liked her as an actress, but now she's def convinced me.

I was surprised that I managed to stay very calm while watching this movie, i.e. I didn't have any reactions to the scary / shocking scenes. But the moment I got out into the real world, those images started haunting me. And I'm sure they'll haunt me for a few weeks in a row.



P.S. *spoiler!* The scene where she's drilling a hole into his leg made me think of the final scene from Audition. Does that make any sense?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Real ppl, real stories

music: Matteah Baim - Pagoda

I follow David Lynch's tweets, and that's how I found out about the Interview Project. So far, they only have two interviews posted, with Jess and with Tommie Holliday. I can't wait to watch the next interviews. I find the concept very interesting. Also, it reminds me a bit of Chroniques de New York, a web series posted on arte.tv.

Friday, June 5, 2009

My TIFF - Day 8

music: Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse - Revenge (ft. Wayne Coyne)

Amintiri din Epoca de Aur / Tales from the Golden Age. Or urban legends from the 80s, when communism in Romania was still alive and kicking. Written by Cristian Mungiu and directed by Ioana Uricaru, Hanno Hofer, Răzvan Mărculescu, Constantin Popescu and Cristian Mungiu.



I guess I've managed not to think at all about the realities of Romanian communism while watching this collective, and I've allowed myself to really enjoy it. I loved the carousel scene from the first episode -- it was hilarious -- and the whole Bonnie & Clyde thing from the last episode (intertextual elements again :P). Otherwise, it's pretty unrealistic. And I'm not referring to the storylines. Everything looked too good, too... colorful. I mean, it was communism after all. And tacky 80s. But then again, this might reflect the way the directors remember or choose to remember their teen years.


*****

This was a really good TIFF day. I've met some beautiful ppl and R. is in town for the festival *yay*

My TIFF - Day 7

music: Neil Young - Sugar Mountain (Live at Canterbury House, 1968)
/on myspace/

Politist, adjectiv / Police, adjective. Who would have thought that you could make a movie with most of the dialogues revolving around DEX and the Romanian Academy? Well, Corneliu Porumboiu has done it and he's done a great job. No wonder he won two awards at Cannes with this movie.

At the beginning, the pace of the movie is pretty slow. Actually, during the Q&A that followed the screening, Porumboiu did say he has a preference for real time. That was obvious in A fost sau n-a fost? too. And just like in A fost sau n-a fost?, the dialogues from Politist, adjectiv are brilliant!



Also, Vlad Ivanov managed to make his little part memorable. I must admit that this character, being quite authoritarian, made me think of Ivanov's character from 432. He's actually the reason why I cannot watch 432 again. I know this is silly, but Ivanov played that part so well that he scared me.

*****

I had a ticket for Katalin Varga too, but since I'm such a scatter-brain I've "managed" to miss it (T_T)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My TIFF - Day 6

music: Miles Davis - A Trumpet vs. Darkeness (The Leader & The Side Man)
/on myspace/

The Countess.
I had read some bad reviews for this movie, but I wanted to see it because Anamaria Marinca was in it. And because it was about one of the most famous female serial killers in history, Elizabeth Bathory. Unfortunately, there's really nothing special about this movie. It's more like the typical Hallmark movie based on historic events. Not even the feminist substratum can save this movie.



Martyrs. I haven't seen a horror movie in a very long time. And I have certainly not seen such a good one in a very very long time. I definitely have to see more French horrors. Martyrs is very surprising, especially if you think how predictable horror movies usually are. I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't seen it yet, so I won't share my thoughts about those unpredictable elements.

Seeing this only a few days after having seen Hunger was a bit weird... The torture scenes both from Hunger and from Martyrs are not easy to take in.

Also, I think it might be interesting to analyze this movie in the context of the whole feral children phenomen.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My TIFF - Day 5

music: Conor Oberst - White Shoes

La possibilite d'une ile. I went to this movie thinking that I would be blown away by it simply because it was based on a book by Michel Houellebecq and directed by the same Michel Houellebecq (btw, I had no idea he's also a filmmaker). Well, I guess my expectations were too high -- I wasn't impressed at all. Although I haven't read the book (what a surprise, right?), I think it's safe to say it's not film-material.



(This is completely irrelevant, but anyways...) The Wikipedia article on Houellebecq informs me that letters between Houellebecq and Bernard-Henri Lévy (whose American Vertigo, in French (!), still feels ignored there, on my book shelves) were published under the title Ennemis publics. And guess who's wife appears in the movie? Yes, BHL's :D Arielle Dombasle.

P.S. I have yet to see Les particules elementaires. I still remember when I first heard about it (also the first time I had ever heard about Houellebecq; it took me 3 yrs to remember the spelling of his name haha). At that time the cable company still had Rai Uno in its offer, and almost every Saturday night at around 3 a.m. I would watch a tv show about cinema -- the movie had just been presented at some film festival, and they were talking about it on the show. And of course I'll have to read the book too (even though I've heard it's pretty misogynistic). Someday. If I'm not dead. I'd need a second life just to read / watch / listen to all the books / movies / records that are on my lists.

Later edit: I don't know how come it didn't cross my mind to look for that Italian tv show (Cinematografo) on youtube. This took me to this -- I can see why Italians are so sick and tired of us. What's up with all these Romanian actresses playing in Italian movies?! Haven't they heard about the nouvelle vague du cinéma roumain? he he

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My TIFF - Day 4

music: Bright Eyes - Gold Mine Gutted

Voy a explotar. Or la Nouvelle Vague a la mexicaine. I always try to catch a Latin American production at TIFF (last yr it was La rabia). And when I read somewhere that Voy a explotar can be compared to Godard's Pierrot le fou, I knew I had to see it. The movie has a few memorable scenes and some that are just... blah, which is such a shame.



Two surprises: Easy / Lucky / Free *yay* Twice! *double yay* This is the first time that I've heard Bright Eyes somewhere outside my room ;)) It felt pretty unbelievable to be in a movie theater and hear that song (I was all smiles). Plus: Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal as producers.

I love finding intertextual elements in movies! [Maru walking along the road] "No se que hacer! No se que hacer! [...]"

Monday, June 1, 2009

Magic

music: Fever Ray - When I Grow Up

Instead of trying to see as many movies as I can at TIFF, I watch movies that are outside the festival. This w/e: Rachel Getting Married and Coraline. I didn't really like RGM; it's very forgettable. Coraline however, is absolutely lovely, just as I expected.

After I watched the movie, I explored the website, coraline.com, which is pure magic: miniature knitting, Bobinsky's Circus etc. etc. I love it! Now of course I'll have to read the book, too. After I finish the other 4 or 5 books I have on my 'currently-reading shelf' *grin*.

My TIFF - Day 3

music: Placebo - Happy You're Gone

Hunger. I saw only one film, and my choice proved to be the right one. Hunger is absolutely mind-blowing. It's so intense! I love the opening scene, I love the shift from those scenes of extreme violence to a relaxed (at first) discussion between Bobby Sands and the priest. And I loved it how, once Sands started his hunger strike, everyone in the movie theater was quiet until the end (even those jerks who were laughing when there was nothing to laugh at; plus: how can anyone eat while watching a film like this?! seriously! this was definitely not a 'festival public').