Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Even so, the encore was a beauty. The band started to play La cumparsita (what else), then the dancers came back to the scene. Then one of the dancers — I think it was Yanina Fajar, who is also the choreographer of the show — invited the bandoneon player, Hugo Satorre, for a dance. He was hesitating; it looked like he never danced tango before. After a few steps, he retreated back to his bandoneon. OK, maybe they do it every performance and this is just a part of the show, but it was so touching and erotic and as spontaneous as Argentine tango should be.
Monday, 28 September 2009
Imagine the present-day Iphis and Ianthe writing their slogans in bright red colour on the walls of public buildings in Inverness. (By the way, the word slogan indeed comes from Scottish Gaelic and means “battle cry” — I just looked it up.) Girl Meets Boy is a love story. You wouldn’t expect a book from Ali Smith which is not a love story. It is also about politics, women’s rights, and water. It reads like poetry.
Metamorphoses is full of the gods being mean to people, raping people then turning them into cows or streams so they won’t tell, hunting them till they change into plants or rivers, punishing them for their pride or their arrogance or their skill by changing them into mountains or insects. Happy stories are rare in it. But the next day dawned, and the whole world opened its eyes, it was the day of the wedding. Even Juno has come, and Hymen was there too, and all the families in Crete were gathered in their finery for the huge celebration all over the island, as the girl met her boy there at the altar.
Sunday, 27 September 2009
According to Wikipedia, “there are at least 24 film versions of The Hound of the Baskervilles”. Most of these adaptations are British and (curiously) German movies. For me, the one and only “true” version is the 1981 Soviet film, featuring incomparable Vasily Livanov OBE as Sherlock Holmes, Vitaly Solomin as Dr. Watson and Nikita Mikhalkov as Sir Henry Baskerville. Where the movie deviates from the novel, it does so in a way that Sir Conan Doyle would approve. For instance, Holmes tells Watson that detectives possess special sensory organs on the tips of their ears. Throughout the movie, Sir Henry is fed porridge which he hates. And so on. The mystery of Sir Henry’s boots (“But why didn’t you buy black boots? Why, Sir Henry?”) remains unresolved, which only adds charm to the story.
Thursday, 24 September 2009
The second album by Lhasa is a work of beautiful melancholy. I love her voice. Her Spanish singing is full of passion; in English, she sings with cute accent; but I like her French songs most. They are sensual, restrained, ironic. Best of all, La Confession.
Je n’ai pas peur
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
I like to think I’m stronger now
Victim of common sense
The truth is that I know I still
Confuse the past with the present tense
Condensing what we had
To a single frame
That sticks in my mind
When I try to move on
The same image comes back every time
Just back from Oi Va Voi gig at The Junction. I first saw them at the same place almost two years ago. The band, fronted by the (beautiful) singer Bridgette Amofah and the (stunning) violinist Anna Phoebe, is as good as back then, but the programme is mostly based on their latest album, Travelling The Face Of The Globe. (Amazingly, they even were selling the vinyl in the foyer.) From new songs, S’brent (sung in Yiddish by Amofah) was my favourite. Even though the new album, as a whole, is more consistent than the previous two, it was material from their first album, Laughter Through Tears — Yesterday’s Mistakes, Gypsy, Ladino Song and, of course, (encore!) Refugee — where the band was especially shining and the audience went wild... well, by Cambridge standards anyway. The instrumental Crimea just has to be seen live.
Sunday, 20 September 2009
No more gigs is planned for a month or so.
Saturday, 19 September 2009
I hope that the DVD box sporting the quote “Charming, romantic comedy — The Sun” (yeugh) won’t put you off. Maybe not your typical romantic comedy, but Italian for Beginners, written and directed by Lone Scherfig, is a wonderfully funny and touching movie. Sure, there must be viewers who find it boring or depressing: it is almost completely devoid of both violence and sentimentality. (Well, there was violence behind the scenes: “There was some disagreement about the accentuation of a hymn. Pastor Wredmann got rather physical. He pushed the organist over the balcony.”) But it has life, death, funeral (x 3), love (x 3), some very Danish humour and, of course, Italian. Low budget, great result.
Friday, 18 September 2009
This is a delightful little book. And yet, reading it, I could not help thinking how much better it could have been. In the Introduction, the author states that “there will be none of the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet”. It’s a shame, considering that throughout the book he endeavours to reproduce the nuances of English pronunciation by means of... English spelling, which, as he points out himself, is less than adequate for the task (see The Logical Fallacy in the last chapter). For instance, according to Taylor, the RP speakers say bath as barth and castle as carrsel — I bet this description makes little sense for those who actually can pronounce r. Or take the schwa, “the most useful and common vowel of all”, which is now and then represented with uh rather than with ə. Elsewhere, the book in not free from linguistic speak, so we meet “flat a”, “rounded u” and “glottal stop” quite a lot. And so on, and so forth.
Perhaps the printed page is simply a wrong medium here. What we really need is an audiobook, preferably narrated by somebody like Rory Bremner (who wrote a foreword) or Hugh Laurie. That would be a bestseller.
Thursday, 17 September 2009
I doubt that Coen brothers would define their 2000 film as a musical comedy. But comedy it is, and music undoubtedly is one of its main heroes. The music also has acquired a life of its own, with Grammy-winning soundtrack album and live performances of real-life Soggy Bottom Boys and things like that. The opening song, Po’ Lazarus, sung by chain gang in the movie, was originally recorded back in 1950s by Alan Lomax as it was performed by real prisoners including James Carter. Aside from music — if such thing is possible here — great story, performances and dialogue (“We thought you was a toad!”). A film to enjoy again and again.
Saturday, 12 September 2009
The 1980s was not the best decade for rock music, but it certainly was the golden era of music video. And there is no better video from ’80s than Peter Gabriel’s classic Sledgehammer, animated by Aardman. According to Wikipedia,
Gabriel lay under a sheet of glass for 16 hours while filming the video one frame at a time.I just love stop-motion films.
Friday, 11 September 2009
I guess it was hard for a girl to grow in Jaffa in early 20 century. Especially to grow while being called all sorts of names, like ‘carrot-head’, ‘Tamara another one’, ‘Tamara rooster’, ‘daughter of a hyena’ and ‘your ma is your grandma’. Especially when the said grandma, out of love to Tamara, tries to convince her that she is ugly and does not allow her to wear any pretty clothes, saying that those are “for whores”.
An enchanting book by Shifra Horn, far from being depressing, is very optimistic. At times, it is really funny too.
Wednesday, 9 September 2009
The latest film of Almodóvar features his dream team of fabulous women from Volver, including (of course) Pene Cruz, Blanca Portillo, and Lola Dueñas. It is all top quality stuff, even though by the second half of the movie I wished it was a bit shorter. The scenes of “revelations” did not reveal anything that I haven’t figured out already. The (writing of) vampire sequence it hilarious, and final scenes make you want to watch director’s cut of fictitional movie Chicas y Maletas (a ruder version of Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios?), starring Cruz and Carmen Machi as Chon, “una concejala de asuntos sociales”.
Yuri’s got a brand new MP3 player, 8-Gigabyte Sandisk Sansa Clip. It is small, black and beautiful. It does not need a separate charger since it can be charged via USB. Even before he’s got it, Yuri drafted the list of albums to put onto it. (That’s what we did on Monday.) Here it is:
Tuesday, 8 September 2009
With all due respect to Jean-Luc Godard, I think that Two or Three Things I Know About Her is not his best movie, and certainly not “one of the ten greatest films ever made”. Saying that, it is well worth watching. I liked acting there, especially when Juliette (Marina Vlady) and other women characters talk straight to the camera giving us various bits of unsolicited information. One of the best scenes is the one where Christophe reads aloud his essay on Friendship.
Sunday, 6 September 2009
Music by The Real Tuesday Weld (London), animation by Alex Budovsky (New York). According to Budovsky,
This film is about The Great Revolution of the British Cuckoos, who bravely took over London, forcing all the people to move inside the cuckoo clocks.
Saturday, 5 September 2009
Another good thing about Arco Iris events is that I get to know places in and around Cambridge that I would never visit otherwise. Today we played from 3 pm at a street party on Norfolk Terrace, a small street parallel to Norfolk Street. It was really great family atmosphere, with doors open, food and booze on the tables outside, people actually dancing to our music. (Some kids were even bouncing, but that’s because there was a bouncy castle.) The coziest gig so far.
Friday, 4 September 2009
I guess it is difficult not to fall in love with (music of) an artist whose records are named Aye, Fifa and Djin Djin. But it is impossible not to fall in love with (music of) somebody who records an album called Oyaya! This was the first album of Angélique Kidjo I heard. I fell in love with her music and language (Kidjo invented her own language with words like Batonga) instantly. Five years later, I got hold of almost all her records, but Oyaya! remains on top of my desert-island record list.
Thursday, 3 September 2009
The Holy Grail may be not as coherent as Life of Brian; it is more like Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a series of rather disjoint sketches interspersed with crazy animations of Terry Gilliam and shouts of “get on with it”. I have this two-disc box set, with second DVD full of assorted junk including the LEGO version of Knights of the Round Table song (with a guest appearance of an ex-parrot). Still, I prefer the original: you can’t do facial expressions with LEGO.
We’re Knights of the Round Table
Wednesday, 2 September 2009
Over the years, Zap Mama recorded a number of great albums but their self-titled debut remains my favourite: funky all-girl a cappella singing at its best. As much European as African (in the States, this album was re-issued as Adventures in Afropea, Vol. 1), they even have a go at the Spanish Renaissance hit Din Din.
Tuesday, 1 September 2009
“That’s the Time Leap. Time is irreversible, right?”
“Time doesn’t rewind.”
“But you rewound it. You leapt through time and returned to the past.”
“It’s not that unusual. It happens a lot to girls your age.”
Do yourself a favour, watch this animation in Japanese. Even if you, like me, do not understand Japanese, the voice intonations of characters there — and especially Makoto — are priceless.