Sunday, 29 January 2017

La Tortue Rouge

a film by Michaël Dudok de Wit

Every ten years or so, Mr de Wit creates a masterpiece. Needless to say, we were looking forward to his first feature film. The problem is to find where to see it.

This morning, Timur discovered that the one and only screening of La tortuga roja on this island takes place today in Monopol at 16:30. Naturally, we had to go there. There were 5 (five) spectators altogether, imagine that. What a crying shame. On the plus side, there were no trailers and nobody was eating popcorn.

Although not as heartbreaking as Father and Daughter, this film still can make you cry. Also, it is impossibly beautiful.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Честная бедность

by Robert Burns and Samuil Marshak
a song by Alexander Gradsky

Burns wrote Is There for Honest Poverty in 1795 and it must have been a revolutionary song at the time. It still is. Nowadays it is used by the Scots in various patriotic contexts but the song says nothing about Scotland and that, dare I say, adds to its universal appeal.

As I mentioned before, Marshak made Burns’ poetry a phenomenon of Russian literature, and Честная бедность is one of the best examples. His translation of “an’ a’ that” as “и всё такое прочее” was a stroke of genius. In the 1970s, the verse “Король лакея своего назначит генералом...” inspired another gem of Russian poetry, Песенка короля by Leonid Filatov. But what about “Бревно останется бревном” (literally, “a log will stay a log”, meaning “the stupid will stay stupid”), one of the most quoted lines of Russian Burns? Actually, Burns did not say anything of the sort. This is pure Marshak.

Alexander Gradsky recorded a song utilising a fragment of Честная бедность on his 1987 album Утопия АГ.

Robert Burns
Is There for Honest Poverty
Роберт Бёрнс, перевод С.Я. Маршака
Честная бедность
Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an’ a’ that?
The coward-slave, we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a’ that.
Кто честной бедности своей
Стыдится и всё прочее,
Тот самый жалкий из людей,
Трусливый раб и прочее.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
Our toils obscure, an’ a’ that;
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
The man’s the gowd for a’ that!
При всём при том,
При всём при том,
Пускай бедны мы с вами,
Богатство — штамп на золотом,
А золотой — мы сами!
What tho’ on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey an’ a’ that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine,
A man’s a man for a’ that!
Мы хлеб едим и воду пьём,
Мы укрываемся тряпьём
И всё такое прочее,
А между тем дурак и плут
Одеты в шёлк и вина пьют
И всё такое прочее.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
Their tinsel show, an’ a’ that;
The honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor,
Is king o’ men for a’ that!
При всём при том,
При всём при том,
Судите не по платью.
Кто честным кормится трудом, —
Таких зову я знатью!
Ye see yon birkie, ca’d a lord,
Wha struts, an’ stares, an’ a’ that;
Tho’ hundreds worship at his word,
He’s but a coof for a’ that:
Вот этот шут — придворный лорд,
Ему должны мы кланяться,
Но пусть он чопорен и горд,
Бревно бревном останется!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that:
His riband, star, an’ a’ that,
The man o’ independent mind
He looks an’ laughs at a’ that!
При всём при том,
При всём при том,
Хоть весь он в позументах, —
Бревно останется бревном
И в орденах, и в лентах!
A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an’ a’ that,
But an honest man’s aboon his might,
Guid faith he mauna fa’ that!
Король лакея своего
Назначит генералом,
Но он не может никого
Назначить честным малым.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
Their dignities, an’ a’ that;
The pith o’ sense, an’ pride o’ worth,
Are higher ranks than a’ that.
При всём при том,
При всём при том,
Награды, лесть и прочее
Не заменяют ум и честь
И все такое прочее!
Then let us pray that come it may —
As come it will for a’ that —
That sense and worth, o’er a’ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that;
Настанет день и час пробьёт,
Когда уму и чести
На всей земле придет черёд
Стоять на первом месте.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s comin’ yet for a’ that,
That man to man, the world o’er,
Shall brithers be for a’ that!
При всём при том,
При всём при том,
Могу вам предсказать я,
Что будет день,
Когда кругом
Все люди станут братья!

Monday, 23 January 2017

La La Land

a film by Damien Chazelle

If you can forget or ignore its mildly right-wing narrative, what with Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) being a white savior (of dying art of jazz?), an alternate ending which isn’t any different to the “real” ending except for a man Mia (Emma Stone) is happily married to, and that impossibly embarrassing scene in planetarium, you can actually enjoy it. I did. The thing is, the whole point of La La Land is to be steeped in nostalgia for the Golden Age of Hollywood, so implicit racism, sexism and heteronormativity are, as it were, just a part of the package. Otherwise, it’s a pleasant, feel-good musical, with the lead couple who actually can sing and dance (and, in case of Gosling, play piano). Another Day of Sun and The Fools Who Dream are probably the best songs there.

Friday, 20 January 2017

IV Festival Flamenco Romí

At last! The fourth edition of the Festival Flamenco Romí, previously limited to Tenerife, arrived to Gran Canaria. This year, both islands hosted the festival, in Auditorio Teobaldo Power (La Orotava) and Teatro Municipal Juan Ramón Jiménez (Telde). I kind of knew about it, because last December I saw a poster advertising the festival and I can’t just walk past a poster that has the name of Jorge Pardo on it. I was not so sure about Telde though. And then I forgot all about it, until last Saturday morning, when Tamara asked me if I were interested in it at all, since our friend Anna Villacampa apparently was going there too. And so, as a last-minute decision, I took a bus to Telde.

Indeed, Anna was there, even though I couldn’t find her name in the online program. It turned out that she and our very own Ballet Español de Javier del Real were hidden under the moniker “artistas invitados”, as if the rest of the artistes came all way down here uninvited. By the way, this is the first time ever I bought the ticket to see Anna in action, and I must add that her Saturday performance was even more scintillating than “usual”.

The last time I saw Jorge Pardo was in 1996, when he was playing with the Paco de Lucía sextet. I still remember his flute solo (and when I say solo, I mean everybody else just walked off the scene) as a high point of the show, which is really difficult to imagine now considering that the whole concert was quite a high point, but there you are. So this time, when everybody else just walked off the scene, I knew what to expect... and I’m glad that Señor Pardo has proved me wrong, for it was still unexpected. Not sure how to describe it but for a moment I thought that Paco himself was on stage (playing flute? and why not). Later, when the band came back, they performed Sólo quiero caminar. Thank you, maestro, for the time travel!

IV Festival Flamenco Romí
Teatro Municipal Juan Ramón Jiménez, 14.02.2016

    Jorge Pardo: flute, sax
    Josemi Carmona: guitar
    José Manuel Ruiz “Bandolero”: percussion
    Pedro Jiménez: piano
    Jonathan Muñoz: bass
    Saray Muñoz: cantaora
    Saray Fernández “La Pitita”: bailaora
    Vivi Cadiz: cantaora
    Enrique Piculabe: cantaor
    El Ballet Español de Javier del Real
    Anna Villacampa Gómez: bailaora

Sunday, 15 January 2017

El beso del canguro: Vida de Lázaro y de sus fortunas y adversidades

by Eugenia Rico

I chose this book for my Christmas holiday reading (dark, cold nights in Brussels suburbs) by employing my favourite strategy, viz. opening it at a random page and reading one paragraph. This one:

La isla de Fuerteventura es hermosa pero reseca como el coño de las viejas. Allí me mandaron a hacer el servicio militar y allí aprendí lo que es la sed.
Now that made me curious. Is there anything else he’s got to say about Fuerte?

Not much, it turned out. Inspired by Lazarillo de Tormes, the 16th century classic which I never read, this is a modern-day take on the picaresque novel. Lázaro dreams of travelling to Australia but instead goes wherever life takes him, to Barcelona, Madrid, Córdoba, Fuerteventura... I guess the story could have taken place elsewhere in Spain or beyond. Except Australia, that is. (Eventually the author grants Lázaro his wish, but, in a clever move, his adventures down under won’t commence until after we close the book.) Anyway, we don’t get to see much of Spain through the eyes of our hero — nicknamed Ojos de Lluvia, Eyes of Rain, by one of his lovers — for he is far too busy to indulge in sightseeing. Lázaro appears to be a loving and lovable boy, to the extent that prostitutes in Fuerteventura entertain him free of charge. I wonder if the author ever met her protagonist, for some of his adventures are so unbelievable they only could have occurred in real life.

I loved the language of this book. With intermediate-level Spanish, you won’t have too many problems reading it. I needed to consult the dictionary now and then though — I had no idea there were so many synonyms for prison and recreational drugs!

Sé que todas las heridas cierran pero a menudo cierran mal, y que todo el mundo se enamora al menos una vez. Y sé que a ti también te llegará. Creo que no merece la pena querer a quien no te quiere, que debes luchar por quien amas, que es mejor llamar por teléfono que esperar a que te llamen y que si no luchas a muerte por la persona que te importa luego no tienes derecho a quejarte. Me gustaría que besases con los ojos abiertos y decidieses con los ojos cerrados. Creo que las cosas son mucho más fáciles de lo que creemos. Creo que es posible un mundo mejor y me gustaría que tú fueras una de esas personas que luchan por ello. Creo que no puedes llorar toda la noche ni reír todo el día. Sé que cuando te canses de llorar te darás cuenta de que tienes enfrente a alguien capaz de hacerte sonreír. Creo que sólo existe el ahora y que es nuestra obligación y nuestro derecho disfrutarlo.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017


by Angela Carter

On the first attempt, its strange, viscous language stopped me one-third-way through. A year and a half later, when the nights became longest, I unearthed this book and resumed reading. It gave me nightmares. The stories feature solitude, mirrors, incest, rape, murder and execution, in a variety of combinations — at times delicious, at times revolting. My three favourites are Penetrating to the Heart of the Forest and Master, both taking place in some Márquez-esque selva, and a delightfully gothic horror of The Loves of Lady Purple. Next time I need some verschrobene texts to keep my English students suitably bamboozled, I know where to look.