In August I have been busy, mainly watching films, but also socialising and attending a couple of Book Festival talks. Here are some brief comments on what I experienced.
Derecho de Familia
Very understated film, subtle and gentle. Quite bourgeois, but at times it is so nice to watch a film that is not trying to shock or scandalize, but it just exists. It is a film just about normalality and the relations between different family members. Especially the one between the father and the son (both lawyers). There were times when he could have tried to do something "crazy", but he opted for a silent touch to those moments. Perhaps the camera could have rested longer on actors, in order to create more "drama", but the film worked. I just love listening to the Argentinean accent.
Zidane - A 21st Century Portrait
The film was made with 18 cameras, under the supervision of cinematographer Darius Khondji. Another beautiful film (excuse me for using that word so often). At first I was worried, it would be too contrived, but I have to say it is one of my favourite films in the festival and perhaps one of the best art pieces made about sport ever. Zidane is a man of small gestures, but well chosen and often quite symbolic. In the film one can hear him spitting, brushing his head against the short stubble, the sweat dripping and muttering one phrased expressions to his team mates or himself, as the camera is mainly focused on Zidane. He seems quite alone, in what is supposed to be a team sport, very few inter actions with other players. The film is quite melancholic and one asks oneself what the atmosphere of the film would have been if it would have been made not in the deep post-galactico depression, but at the height of his career. He looks so angry in the film and does not seem to enjoy himself at all (or like Douglas Gordon said; "he is just having a bad day in the office). It is fascinating to watch him at work, one forgets that this is his job, when one watches a football game in normal circumstances, but this is a portrait of a man at work. A rather famous man, but it is just that. He almost does not run, but when he does it is an elegant gallop with a purpose. Very economic, precise and thought through. Zidane is one of the most expressive and mysterious characters in modern football. There is something about his aura, something enigmatic, untangilbe. I thought it would be too much to watch him for 90 minutes, but I have to say when the end came, one wanted almost more. Perhaps especially since he went out of the game under the circumstances he did.
Empire in Africa
Civil war in sierra Leone. Very tough film, which ended with oneself trusting nobody, perhaps a sensible thing to do when dealing with war and power. They are all bastards after all, where civilians are the ones to suffer.
Return of a Poet
Just pure beauty. Incredible. All emotions at the same time, so subtle and gentle, but provoked oneself to think, I can't even remember what it just would start all these thoughts that does not have much time when the daily routines take over. A sculpture is being returned to the village. It is of the national poet who was burn in the deepest rural part of Armenia. The film is a mixture of all the rituals of the village and the daily lives of the inhabitants and the journey it makes to its new home. Full of moments from the past and present, there is a hint of time being still. The director has even allowed a tiny bit of drama. The humbleness, the dignity in a village, which one assumes is so Spartan, but it is also very rich.
Into This Great Silence
A film about monks in France. Sounds like a cliché, but it is a very silent film. Extremely beautiful. Not that religious, just spiritual. Very very long, allowing the viewer to follow the monks in their daily lives. Almost no dialogue. I can't recall any music apart from the monks chanting. In between you would have stills of the monks, projecting an individuality to a film, which was rather collective. You would see themselves preparing for a "good life" and in the end of the film, you would see them becoming ready for the end. A film that will unlikely get a general release, but I do recommend it. Or you must see it if you have the opportunity to.
God Told Me
To I mainly chose to watch this film, because of the title, it was Ok, but not great. One could almost describe it as "Questions of Catholicism, made by someone who has taken too much acid."
To Get To Heaven One Has To Die First
The sexiest scene I have seen in a long time. The young man finally gets to have sex, with the girl he has been chasing for some time. He is already married, but is impotent and thereof gets sent to his cousin who is going to help him to get rid of his problem. This this factory girl seems to fix the problem that no prostitute could .
A very different film than Nine Queens, the directors first film. Subtle, but still dense. Really well written and beautifully filmed. All through the film one has a huge sense of sadness as the director died earlier this summer it reminds one of what a great talent we are going to miss. It is a thriller, but so well written and with Ricardo Darín, who has such a huge scene presence. I could just watch him forever. He is one of these understated actors, were you have to be constantly looking so that you are not missing out on an expression, a twinkle or a gesture. Sad.
This woman has written some of my favourite cookbooks. Look into it. Everything that I have made has been wonderful. I was the youngest person attending this talk I think. It was just me and retired house wives, and some man who was pleasing his wife. Claudia Roden studed art, but started to collected recipes obsessively. Always asking people for recipes, what they ate, personal tricks. Slowly it just became her job, a great way to learn a culture and to study human behaviour. I wonder if all that can be studied has been studied. In England at that time they were ashamed of eating. Food used to be in the same category as sex and money. A dirty taboo. She is worred about food loosing its identity in this global melting pot of today's restaurants, where a fusion takes over from regional food, where great traditions and rituals might get lost. I know for a fact I am sick of all these modern restaurants, where you get one calamari or this one place in Barcelona, where I ordered ravioli and got that, one ravioli. You have to be absolutely an innovator to get away with giving people less food than they need, or is that a good thing, to consciously shrink the stomach of the clients? I think soon there will be a revival for good rustic food, like in the good old days. Nowadays she attends Conferences of Pistachios and alike events. I recommend everyone to buy her book Arabesque.