Montag, 31. Dezember 2012

Best of 2012 - The music.

As last year, here are some of my favourite tracks of the past months, in no particular order:

Xiu Xiu - Born To Suffer (official video)

Julia Stone - It's All Okay (Active Child remix) (no video)

The Walkmen - Southern Heart (live) (no video)

Father John Misty - Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings (official video)

Breton - Edward The Confessor (official video)

B.J. The Chicago Kid feat. Kendrick Lamar - His Pain (no video)

Grimes - Oblivion (official video)

Very notable mentions:

Andy Shauf - You're Out Wasting
Why? - Strawberries
Breakfast - Sweetest Song
Emily Wells - Passenger (Kid Koala remix)
A. David MacKinnon - The Past Is A Foreign Country

Sonntag, 30. Dezember 2012

Best of 2012 - The movies.

Once again, a brief look at the movies of the past year, which in fact is going to be briefer than last time - not least because they just haven't been as good (this is especially true if you consider that three of my top five movies have already been released earlier outside Germany). Due to my prolonged stay this year in two developing countries where cinema culture is concerned - Germany and Thailand -, I haven't yet seen some of the films to look promising. We're not talking "The Hobbit" here, but rather "Lincoln", the new "Les Misérables", "Life Of Pi", "The Master", "Beasts Of The Southern Wild" and of course Tarantino's latest effort "Django Unchained", which I'm getting uncharacteristically excited about.

That's why this list isn't close to being any kind of complete and subject to change, as are the ratings. It is, however, in order of preference. The rules: eligible for this list are all movies that were released in Germany this year, which in some cases is earlier than in other countries, and in most cases, later. Fuck you, dubbing culture. Secondly, only full length feature films (meaning no short movies) are considered. Ratings for movies are always given on IMDb's 1-10 scale, where 1 is an utter and unbelievable abomination, 5 sub-average, 6 slightly above average, 7 good, 8 very good, 9 excellent and 10 a masterpiece.

1. Moonrise Kingdom. Our parents' parents were wrong and Wes Anderson knows it. (I don't like the reading of the movie as our parents being wrong as well, not necessarily because they aren't, but because if they are, where does it stop and where does it leave us?) Also, I still like quirky movies. 10/10

2. Shame. Provocative in theme and execution, "Shame" tells the story of an ambitious young businessman who is addicted to sex. When his unstable sister visits, his world carefully constructed around his secret fractures. They share a tormented relationship, and what exactly is causing the tension between them is alluded to, but we're not presented a resolution. The long shots are only the most apparent aspect of the visual style that Steve McQueen already successfully used in "Hunger" and reprises here. That doesn't come as a surprise, since he's relying on the same crew for his second feature. We also meet Michael Fassbender again, whose performance is so crucial for understanding his haunted character. New is Carey Mulligan in perhaps her most difficult role yet, because it's a break from the quiet and considerate young women she usually plays. Also features an excellent score. 9/10 

3. Drive. Everything has been said already about "Drive", but just let me stress how excited the camera work made me: When it literally takes a drive through the supermarket, following Carey Mulligan around shopping, we're taken shotgun and in a scene normally without tension, all the pressure and direction set up by the action scenes and the driving music (I admit to maybe overdoing the theme) before, is kept up. It doesn't matter that characters don't matter, we're preoccupied with the visuals and the style - although, and this is the problem, at one point the film gets sidetracked by itself. After the initial change in tone more violence becomes just that: more violence, with little artistic value. 8/10

4. Poliţist, Adjectiv (Police, Adjective). See full review here. 8/10

5. Oh Boy. This funny little tale of an aging boy loser without perspective strikes a little too close to home to ignore. It goes for the easy laughs, then for the harder ones, hitting you when you wouldn't expect it, and then some. Beneath, it's somber in tone, increasingly so towards the ending, which in its final break seems perhaps even too dark. Tom Schilling is terrific in this, as is almost the whole supporting cast, each in their own way (and there are a lot). An unexpected gem. 8/10

Honourable mentions (no order in these ones): "Vaterlandsverräter" (8/10 - this would have made my top five, but technically, it was released in 2011), "The Flat" (8/10), "Barbara" (8/10), "Die Wand" (8/10), "Work Hard - Play Hard" (8/10), "The Descendants" (8/10), and "Lore" (8/10).

Biggest letdowns (movies I went into expecting much and went out severely disappointed): "The Dark Knight Rises" (5/10, see full review here), "Intouchables" (5/10, what is everyone about?) & "Argo" (7/10, it's fine, really, but far far far from what reviewers and audiences make it sound like).

Donnerstag, 13. Dezember 2012


(As always, correctly guessing a movie title nets you a cookie.)

Sonntag, 18. November 2012

Über Jörg Fauser.

 "Fauser sah auf den ersten Blick aus wie ein Bankangestellter, das stimmt, aber auf den zweiten Blick sah er aus wie ein Bankangestellter, der abends ins Casino geht, und auf den dritten Blick ging er abends ins Casino mit dem Geld seiner Bank."

(Helmut Krausser über Jörg Fauser)

Sonntag, 11. November 2012

A month of movies: October.

This is the month in which movies we expect much from, such as "Was Bleibt" (trailer) or "Gnade" (German trailer), disappoint, while others, we're talking "Parada" (trailer) and "Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows" (DVD release) now, surprise in the opposite way. And then there's Moonrise Kingdom (trailer), which you need to see, preferably repeatedly. Also do not miss out on "Vaterlandsverräter" (German trailer), and perhaps "Periferic" (trailer), but do give "360" (trailer) a pass. And that is all.

The short -
Go and see: Moonrise Kingdom.
Well worth watching: Vaterlandsverräter.
Also deserving a chance: Parada (The Parade) & Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows (DVD).
Average: Periferic (Outbound) & Was Bleibt (Home For The Weekend).
If you want to see Germans driving SUVs through Northern Norway: Gnade (Mercy).
If you prefer a romanticized India to the real one: Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (DVD).
If you prefer Transformers to Terminator I & II: Terminator Salvation (DVD).
Forget about: 360.

The long -

Sonntag, 28. Oktober 2012

Haew Suwat.

Untitled Untitled Untitled

Dienstag, 23. Oktober 2012

The facts are these, part II.

4. Thais have an incredibly sweet tooth.

5. Traffic in Bangkok is heavy, and it's dominated by motor vehicles to a point where bicycles and pedestrians are excluded from having a good chance to survive. Motorbikes will utilize the little sidewalks that exist. But then again, it's understandable as even the physical exertion from walking will result in a sweat within minutes.

6. There be dragons in Lumpini Park.

7. The King is great, or you're sent to prison.

8. A lot of Thai people don't like whites, but would like to be white. Make sense of that, will you. (Typically, the first time you visit a street or a resort frequented by whites you'll understand the aversion against them. As for all the ads, pop music and films that feature Thais bleached to a degree that makes you think about investing big-time into the chemical industry, it can probably be explained by Western cultural imperialism, indirectly leaking into the country by way of Korea and Japan.)

Samstag, 13. Oktober 2012

Sonntag, 7. Oktober 2012

A month of movies: September.

Let's make this quick: Please, by all means, do yourself a favour and ignore Ted (trailer) even if you like Seth MacFarlane's other productions, watch On The Road (trailer) if you liked the novel (but don't expect a revelation), trust your senses about End Of Watch's trailer and of course, see Take Shelter (trailer).

The short -
Go and see: /
Well worth watching: Take Shelter (DVD).
Average: On The Road.
Forget about: End Of Watch, Ted.

The long -

Dienstag, 25. September 2012

Freitag, 7. September 2012

A month of movies: August.

August might have been the averagest average that ever averaged. I'd advise everyone to steer clear of the last installment of Nolan's Batman, "The Dark Knight Rises" (trailer), but then everyone has either already watched it or will still go to see the mess anyway. And a mess it is, compared with its predecessors and even compared with everything else on offer this month. If you want to see a good action movie, walk past "The Bourne Legacy" (trailer) - an essentially superfluous sequel - and pay heed to the Indonesian "Serbuan Maut" (trailer), which may not be a brain of a film, but technically excellent and unlike the other two, exciting. Other than that, "Tao Jie" (trailer) doubtless is the best movie of this month from an entirely objective point of view (and its festival may count as proof of that), but personally, I took offense at the manipulative quality of its reoccurring emotional appeal. Finally, Woody Allen is insulting his critics in the average "To Rome With Love" (trailer) and Keira Knightley everyone with "Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World" (trailer).

The short -
Go and see: /
Well worth watching: /
Deserving a chance: Serbuan Maut (The Raid).
Average: Tao Jie (A Simple Life), The Bourne Legacy, To Rome With Love.
If you need closure: The Dark Knight Rises.
If you need real closure: Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World.

The long -

Freitag, 31. August 2012

Posing in Cha-am.

Untitled Untitled

Donnerstag, 9. August 2012

Film review: The Dark Knight Rises.

 (this review includes spoilers)

After leaving the "The Dark Knight Rises" completely disappointed, I felt that summarizing what made the movie into a failure so far below the standard of his two predecessors would be difficult, given just how many things were wrong with it. But on closer inspection, brushing aside elements that could be forgiven, ignored or maybe even redeemed by more positive aspects (of which, I might already add at this point, there weren't many), what remained and stood out was the complete lack of believable character motivation. Little of what is done by the film's ensemble can be explained by their personality, by what they are, instead their actions are dictated by Christopher Nolan's requirement to produce a chain reaction of increasingly dramatic scenes.

This is perhaps most apparent in one of the major plot twists towards the end where Miranda Tate, previously a supporting member of the good guys, is revealed as a major villain. It is a twist I did not see coming, true, as I thought it was being set up for another character, but that doesn't make it a good turn-around, for it had no basis in her character or previous actions. Its sole reason for existence was to surprise the viewer. It's an example of the overuse of the surprising plot reversal element which is so often deployed as a superficial surrogate for convincing plot development driven by characters that so often can be found in films of recent years. (For a brilliant counter-example using a staccato of working twists check the 1972 original of "Sleuth" - starring, while we are at it, a Michael Caine at his best instead of in the largely boring roles of the last decade - including the horrible 2007 "Sleuth" remake.) In an attempt to flesh out the background of Miranda Tate by flashbacks we learn that her reason for aiming to destroy Gotham City is basically that Daddy Dearest wanted to do the same. Why she made no move towards that goal in the years before, instead acting as an entrepreneur and the city's benefactor, remains cloudy. Perhaps she wanted to wait and see whether another of Gotham's illustrious array of villains would get to it first.

More problems can be identified, no doubt, and they add up to a careless vision of the world of Batman, which comes as a surprise considering how much work has once again been put by the film's art department and location designers to create a convincing city. Why would Bane, the primary villain of the movie until he's quickly discarded and traded in for Tate in the final minutes, need to acquire Bruce Wayne's fingerprints and assault Wall Street to conduct the transactions that would ruin the billionaire's corporate empire? It seems like a recourse to a 1960's sci-fi view of the future with only giant flashing buttons and a jerky analog computer voice missing from the picture. Why would the criminal mastermind bother to elaborate on his plans in a horrible display of exposition seldom seen since "Star Trek" and "The Lord of the Rings"? And why would Wayne repeatedly fail to mount a wall that looks like an okay exercise for any dedicated free-climber?

Finally, the movie does not only fall flat as a piece of entertainment, but also misses some great chances to relate to our world today and make a statement about it - which is one of the defining features of science-fiction and which has been an important aspect to "The Dark Knight" (although I admittedly made fun of it then). There is a way to do it right, and here the conflict between the rich and the poor of Gotham could have been expanded further, alluding to the real-life background of growing economic disparities and the "Occupy" movement. Turn the clearly evil prisoners we see in the movie into poor and disenfranchised by the "Dent Act" and suddenly the viewers' sympathies will be distributed quite differently. Then make them pull a Reichskristallnacht on the rich and institute mob rule. It'll challenge the filmgoers' expectations and opinions rather than reinforce the well-tested and considerably less well-aged "evil people behave in evil ways, it's like that because other movies have told us so". 5/10

Mittwoch, 8. August 2012

Khlong Toei market.

Untitled Untitled Untitled

Donnerstag, 2. August 2012

Balancing act.

Balancing act.

Dienstag, 24. Juli 2012

Loose ends.

And at the turn of a key, he was at loose ends yet again.

Donnerstag, 19. Juli 2012

Tumble and fall.

I was bored not feeling much like anything, so I got a tumblr. Anyone who has ever heard me talk about the service may shut up now, and in return I promise to never share fonts or pictures with gradient fog or my opinion of either with you. Let me know your tumblr names and I can maybe follow yours.

Oh dear, does this mean I'll start using Twitter soon?

Sonntag, 15. Juli 2012

Thanon Pradiphat.

Thanon Pradiphat.

Montag, 9. Juli 2012

Short Cut #7: "11'09''01 - September 11 (segment 'USA')".

I just learned that Ernest Borgnine, one of the old actors I liked the most, and one of those old actors you are surprised to hear are still alive every year anew, finally died yesterday. An occasion to introduce you to what remains my favourite performance of his, the starring role in Sean Penn's segment of "11'09''01 - September 11" (running at just below eleven minutes), an otherwise mixed bag of a short film collection centered on you might be able to guess what.

 Previous Short Cuts: #1 ("Where Is My Romeo"), #2 ("Bathtub IV"), #3 ("La Vie D'Un Chien"), #4 ("Lucía, Luis Y El Lobo"), #5 ("More"), #6 ("An Occurence At Owl Creek Bridge").

Montag, 2. Juli 2012


*six bottles of water (1,5l)
*a box of margarine
*a bed sheet (aptly, king sized)
*two kitchen sponges
*a glass of "olive pickled green mustard with mushroom"
*a package of toast (whole wheat)
*a toaster (wholesale)
*a yet unidentified fruit
*four small packs of chocolate soy milk (bundled)
*a package of rice noodles
*two bowls (with a flower pattern)
*two plastic bowls (microwaveable)
*a package of dried mushrooms
*1,5kg of rambutan (hairy)
*a noi-na
*two pillow cases
*a pillow
*a bottle of soy sauce
*a package of soup ingredients
*another package of soup ingredients
*a small bag of chili paste (fresh)
*a medium-sized bag of salt (iodized)
*two apples (sour) (imported)
*a bottle of soy bean formula
*a sack of rice (5kg)
*a pear (giant)
Inventing a new life is less complicated (and less expensive) than one might think.

Sonntag, 1. Juli 2012

The facts are these, part I.

1. People in Thailand are obsessed with meat - to the point where they will offer those few products that actually manage to be without animal parts in pork, chicken, tuna and shrimp flavouring. And only in those.

2. Not only every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, every dirty city is dirty in its own way as well. Bangkok's both very (in the streets of the neighbourhood I have seen so far) and not at all (in public buildings such as the airport or the sky train).

3. "The World Meteorological Organization has named Bangkok the world's hottest major city" (Douglas, Andrew, 2012: Bangkok, Off The Grid). This does indeed feel accurate.

Samstag, 30. Juni 2012

Neue Ufer.

June 30th, 2:45pm, Leipzig/Halle - Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, 2:15pm, July 1st.

September 30th, 11:30pm, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi - Leipzig/Halle, 1:50pm, October 1st.

Do expect pictures, and perhaps stories, if I ever survive transferring at Atatürk International in Istanbul - which is where I'm posting this from. I'm starving, and the cheapest food I could possibly get are gözleme at 3,50€ a piece. Anyone who has ever bought a gözlem outside an airport knows I'm getting the short stick here.

Dienstag, 5. Juni 2012

A month of movies: May.

This month, the good comes in two forms: The more or less easy, as in "The Descendants" (trailer), "Tomboy" (trailer) and "Shame" (trailer) and the vastly more difficult, but all the more rewarding "Poliţist, Adjectiv" (trailer) and "Faust" (trailer). The bad is just very simple and on a slippery slope of not good enough ("The Help", trailer), touching not half as funny as intended ("The Dictator", trailer, and "Religulous", trailer, and finally reaching plain horrible ("Immortals", trailer - just why did I see that movie again?).

The short -
Go and see: Shame.
Well worth watching: Poliţist, Adjectiv (Police, Adjective), The Descendants (DVD) & Tomboy.

Also deserving a chance: Faust (DVD).
If you're white and in need of cheering up: The Help (DVD).
Forget about: The Dictator, Religulous (DVD), Immortals (DVD).

The long -

Freitag, 25. Mai 2012

Eurovision '12.

It's Eurovision time and I should know better, but I go there and do it again and again and again. For the third year in a row, the line-up manages to underwhelm, but at least it's not as bad as last year's. The results are in and listed in alphabetical order of the countries involved, because it's not exactly as if the artists involved are actually involved, or artists for that matter. Be there tomorrow and be there with beer.

Albania. The kids in the video are giving me major creeps (one of them looks a bit like a Grey) and Rona Nishliu opening her mouth wiiiiiiiiiiiiide, thinking she can sing (she can't), isn't much better. I am still puzzled about what's lurking in her hair, waiting for its moment, waiting to make its move...

Austria. Can Trackshittaz, Christina Stürmer and the one person everyone always mentions in lists of bad things that are originating from Austria (like this one) be outweighed by Kaiserschmarrn, Most and Linzertorte? And why do foods and drinks seem to be the only good thing about the country, and why do they always have to be used in arguments to make up for everything else? Did not qualify for the final.

Azerbaijan. Keep hugging yourself, because I'm not going to do it.

Belarus. It's Riley from Season Four of "Buffy"! This first impression is only strengthened by the outfits and the naive self-appreciation. Lite not only in sound, but also in performance and in the ability to raise any kind of reaction above or below a hearty "bleh". Did not qualify for the final.

Belgium. When you said you love me, I'd probably yawn. Bonus points for ogre face at 0:58 minutes and capturing the essence of my spirit to engage in unholy rituals at 2:38 minutes. Did not qualify for the final.

Bosnia & Herzegovina. The moving piano has been done before by Vanessa Carlton, but I like the added idea of the assembly hall. Musically, little more than a solid ballad that does neither excites nor offends. 

Bulgaria. The background track has serious chance of growing on me (minus the common drum sequence), but all I grow upon hearing Sofi Marinova sing is cancer. Did not qualify for the final.

Croatia. Several men were made to undress to provide enough cloth for Nina Badrić's dress. They were then forced into a low-gravity chamber in order to float around naked and think about what the producers wanted to signify. First results are due to be published in the next issue of Nature. Did not qualify for the final.

Cyprus. Comb your hair, young lady. There's a deep gulf between sound and video here and I do not want to visit the mind in which both come together beautifully.

Denmark's navy does need to revisit their uniform design, methinks. But what we have here is an okay pop song with definite winning potential.

Estonia. A classic ballad that is the opposite of riveting. Your best chance to go to the fridge to grab another drink.

Finland. This is a pretty good pop song in a language I cannot understand, which is, as a general rule, how I like my pop songs. Did not qualify for the final.

France. I don't think I get the video, but that's nothing compared to France not getting Eurovision or its taste even remotely right for how many years now?

Georgia. Anri Jokhadze looks like the lovechild of Udo Kier, H.P. Baxxter and Kiefer Sutherland and as such, deeply upsets me. His music is equally upsetting, yet in a completely different way. Make of that what you will but I'll go and make myself a sandwich. Did not qualify for the final.

Germany. [Space intentionally left blank, for lack of reaction.]

Greece. When singer Eleftheria failed time and time again to not mention the social, economical and political crisis in her country, her producers rewrote the song to say "Ah-ah ah-oh-oh" and made her dance like a maniac pretty much everyone else who ever followed a choreography. Wins the men's vote (and I have to admit, the way she pronounces "addictive" has a certain appeal), but that's always been Greece's specialty.

Hungary. Someone in Budapest has a grey day, and we are forced to witness it: This is like watching German television. There's nothing quite like the feeling of having wasted three perfectly good minutes, except perhaps the thought that several people invested a lot more time into this garbage.

Iceland. Gréta Salóme's and Jónsi's (not of Sigur Rós, mind you) massive jaws may only be seen in half light. Their Amy Lee-like UTTERLY DRAMATIC singing (if you don't notice, they will throw in a LOOK OF DESPAIR and the ARMS LIKE WINGS for good measure) engulfs an okay string solo.

Ireland. Again!? There's something about Jedward, and it's not the music. If you're that close to the waterline, why won't you take just another step or two? Please?

Israel. Easy-going and catchy and not creepy. What could possibly go wrong? Something did, apparently, because it didn't qualify for the final.

Italy. She's hardly reuniting soul with Eurovision, but her voice can be appreciated and the tune is catchy. The song wouldn't be any worse off if it finished a minute earlier though, as it suffers from the same-multiple-endings-and-yet-again-the-chorus-syndrome as most entries do.

Latvia. Watch the audio track mismatching the video 0:31 minutes into the song and you'll know everything there is to know about it. Did not qualify for the final.

Lithuania. I can see you peeping below your blindfold! If in doubt, rip it off, do a cartwheel and thus better accompany the music which just sped up a bit. You could swear this shit is planned.

Macedonia. Feeling hand, the grab of power and a tense closing of eyes (and the skillful combination of all elements). You've got your video standards down, and your song doesn't outright hurt, but how will the Greeks feel about you further fueling the Macedonian naming dispute by calling yourself Kaliopi? Huh? HUH?

Malta. "Hey, look at me." I'd rather not, thank you. But much more to the point: I'd do a hell lot not to have to listen to you. Quite possibly the worst and most annoying and ah crap, I'd rather not continue to write but just punch you. P.S.: Your heart is slightly to the left of center of your torso.

Moldova. Why did they have to ruin the perfectly good wind instrument band by having Edward Norton wear suspenders and sing?

Montenegro is little more than a beautiful seaside resort and Rambo Amadeus the embarrassing uncle from the 80's that the tourism office which runs the country doesn't want to be seen by visitors. That's why the sent him far away, to Azerbaijan. No one expected him to enter Eurovision and the massive public relation disaster that will unfold in the weeks to come, essentially crippling the country's economy. Did not qualify for the final.

Netherlands. Nice flame .gifs, Joan, but this isn't Geocities. You might have had something there, if you took the annoying wannabe-country-style away and replaced it with... well, something else. Did not qualify for the final.

Norway. Ricky Martin, or worse, or why would anyone spend time producing something like this when they might as well read a book?

Portugal. I was wondering what the bodyguards were about until they raised their microphone. When whatever they did wasn't quite audible, I went back to wondering what the bodyguards are all about. Did not qualify for the final.

Romania. Plastic girl feat. shiny city and gay leprechauns. There's also Rick Astley in there, and bling, and bagpipes, and none of it makes sense.

Russia. Do they know what they're doing? Does anyone?

San Marino's entry looks and sounds like a Weird Al parody, but I'm afraid they're being serious about the dangers of... the Internets. Oh-oh-oh! Did not qualify for the final.

Serbia. A ballad, and not the worst I ever heard, up until the two-pointer and confetti rain, evoking the specter of Eurovisions past. Past, my dear, past. Bonus points for the fitting generic Serbian haircut.

Slovakia. This year's token guitar rock entry in the spirit of Bon Jovi with a video repeatedly making light of its own tone and look of seriousness because, we get it, Eurovision is about fun and stuff. Heaven help me. Did not qualify for the final.

Slovenia. I was about to lash into the singer's weird headdress when the camera panned and revealed that she wasn't actually the singer singer, leading that is. Tricky! Her background singers look like they got cancerous shower caps on though, and the lighting engineer a fancy for making you blind. Did not qualify for the final.

Spain. Mega. Split. Jump. Blown hair. A general throwing about. For a song this slow, the video offers quite the choreography and attempts to reconcile both through slow-motion. The jury is still out on the verdict though, because it went to see "Black Swan" again instead.

Sweden. This is what Robyn might sound like if she was shit. Winner of the "It's Poetry Because It Rhymes"-award and, sadly, most likely top contender this year.

Switzerland. If the singer didn't look as much as a douche as he does (and didn't move like one too), this might have been not much more offensive than your standard radio rock. Which is pretty fucking offensive to the ears, come to think about it. Did not qualify for the final.

Turkey. Mr. Bonobo reveals the similarity of Eurovision acts like none other this year. His song and video is the ultimate amalgam of all entries and thus can't be any better than their average - which is low. He will still win the women's vote and may be in for an upset.

Ukraine. I thought Melania Thornton died in a plane crash? A decade ago? If this is her undying self I finally have found one good argument against the ubiquity of zombies in today's pop culture.

United Kingdom. A message from the 60's: We want our dust back and I'm sorry, but black pudding is out, will you have a roast beef instead?
Best unintentionally amusing video: Croatia.
Most enjoyable song: Finland.
Additional endurable songs: Denmark, Israel.
Potential winners: Sweden, Denmark.
Most overused cliché in performance: Dramatic (and possibly painful) closing of eyes.

Montag, 21. Mai 2012

...und in der Nacht.

...und in der Nacht #1. ...und in der Nacht #2.

Montag, 14. Mai 2012



Samstag, 12. Mai 2012

Camouflage cat can't.

Camouflage cat can't.

Donnerstag, 10. Mai 2012

Film review: Poliţist, Adjectiv (Police, Adjective).

Literally half of this film is spent watching Cristi, a policeman investigating a teenager who smokes and shares joints, waiting. Waiting for the object of his observations to move, waiting for a new development in the case, waiting for his co-workers in the police station to do their job. The tedium becomes tedious also to us, our expectation of the pace picking up frustrated again and again. But what better way to showcase the absurdity of bureaucracy, grinding slowly and with little aim, especially when it's as anachronistic as in the Romania depicted here?

When Cristi requires archival information about the suspect he needs to enlist two colleagues for help. One has planned her day around her lunch break, which she intends to extend by meeting her boyfriend, and the second is busy all day supplying IDs to a seemingly endless queue of citizens - who, by the by, appear to be used to the circumstances that leave us bewildered and anxious, as everytime they're on screen they are seen patiently waiting their turn. He practically needs to beg his two co-workers for the assistance they're paid for to give. Hours later, Cristi gets to shuffle through the papers he requested and we witness him writing his report - again, on paper. The computer on his desk is little more than a prop, as is the inspector who shares an office with him: He's never shown doing anything else but reading newspapers.

It's both an accusing and at the same time despairing account of a transitional country that hasn't left its totalitarian background behind yet. When in the end Cristi makes a stand and attempts to convince his superior not to pursue action against the kid's minor trespass - which will land the teenager in jail for several years - he is berated and disparaged for not following the letter of a law that is as outdated as everything else we see. Interestingly, we come to understand that his eventual submission is not only to the old mechanics of total state power, but also to the pressures of the new system: If he didn't comply he were to lose his job. His qualities as a free-thinking and free-willed individual are at best not wanted and at worst implicitly dangerous to the system he's part of. The director Corneliu Porumboiu's Romania is dirty, wet and depressing, the images constantly overlaid with a tint of cold blue. It's a dull place far from the European Union and far from Europe. 8/10

Mittwoch, 2. Mai 2012

A month of movies: April.

Do yourself a favour and see "Carnage" (trailer) if you want to laugh and cringe and sit still in horror, "Work Hard - Play Hard" (trailer) if you work in a shared office environment, "Drive" (trailer) if you care for style, "Barbara" (trailer) if you'd like to see the other side, "Le Havre" (trailer) if the idea of Kaurismäki in France excites you and "Le Gamin Au Vélo" (trailer) for a revisit to a movie classic. Do yourself the favour and see "The Tree Of Life" (trailer), if you have the patience to sit through thirty minutes of confusion coming in the form of directorial hubris to enjoy two hours of directorial brilliance. Do yourself a favour and watch films, for they can be fucking good.

Oh, and don't bother with "Intouchables" (trailer).

The short -
Go and see: Carnage.
Well worth watching: Barbara, Le Havre (DVD), The Tree Of Life (DVD), Drive, Le Gamin Au Vélo (The Kid With A Bike) & Work Hard - Play Hard.
If you need to reassure yourself in your middle class: Intouchables (The Intouchables).

The long -

Dienstag, 24. April 2012

Paths, part II.

Paths #2.

Paths #4.

Paths #3.

Paths #5.

Montag, 16. April 2012

Paths, part I.

Paths #1.

Donnerstag, 12. April 2012

Patterns repeat.

Patterns repeat #1. Patterns repeat #2.

Sonntag, 1. April 2012

A month of movies: March.

If January didn't hold enough George Clooney as George Clooney for you, "The Ides Of March" (trailer) should do the trick. It is amazing how single-sided his œuvre is, and it is even more amazing how much he nevertheless still manages to entertain. In other movies that everyone else has already seen months ago, but yours truly hadn't until now, I present the equally simple (in a different way!) yet equally effective "Midnight In Paris" (trailer), the try-a-little-too-hard "Incendies" (trailer) and the amazing "La Piel Que Habito" (trailer). As far as actually giving you ideas for new films goes, do give the small German production "Kriegerin" (trailer, ignore the awesomely retarded international title) a chance. It is not without flaw, but showcasing some real acting talent in the person of Alina Levshin that with any luck we'll be hearing more from.

The short -
Go and see: La Piel Que Habito (The Skin I Live In) (DVD).
Well worth watching: Midnight In Paris (DVD).
Also deserving a chance: Kriegerin (Combat Girls), Incendies (DVD) & The Ides Of March.

The long -

Sonntag, 25. März 2012

Montag, 19. März 2012

Full circle.

day 23 / yerushaláyim_al-quds (₪37) / an addiction to baklava / haifa (₪42) / a tale of three central bus stations / isfiya (₪7) / a return / david eizan observation point night camp // day 24 / don't smoke camels in the karmel / sus scrofa (deceased) / get lost / ein hod / 18km / pizza crazies (and beer) // day 25 / get lost again / ofer or a shower / fallout / blue screen / 18km / telimon hill night camp / the howl // day 26 / ein zur (tourists) / hirbat akav (tourists) / binyamina (forlorn) / beit hanania night camp (not a kibbutz) / 16km / negotiations (cockroach, the salver and the attempt of a bypass) / jisr az-zarqa (arabian knights) // day 27 / caesarea / and back / 13km / a quick exit (via etc.) / tel aviv / the moment when you refer to a shower as the shower / beach & lobby & airport night camp // day 0 / ben gurion international (₪65?) / interrogation / up in the air / berlin //

Sonntag, 11. März 2012

Desert sessions, part III.

day 20 / ein gedi (₪44) / a warning of flash floods / beach house / 33% of salt (on everything) / the attraction of buffets / beach party // day 21 / wadi david / wadi arugot / long trails aren't (10km?) / they took my baby away and _ it // day 22 / masada (₪15) / rebel rebel (66 AD, priceless) / roman ramp (73 AD, epic) / tourist trap (2012 AD, ₪27) / ein gedi (₪18) / breaking the waves (swallowing the water is dangerous and prohibited) //

Mittwoch, 7. März 2012

What would Jesus do?

day 16 / the cake's no lie / a survey among fourteen professors says / roman stone / more cake // day 17 / some more cake / yagur (₪27) / 6km / david eizan observation point night camp / vulpes vulpes / supermarket superstar // day 18 / après nuit le déluge / isfiya / haifa (₪7) / yerushaláyim_al-quds (₪44) // day 19 / bethlehem (₪7) / taxi taxi taxi taxi no for fuck's sake / sisters of mercy / in the cold of night //

Donnerstag, 1. März 2012

Frontline Assembly.

day 13 / kiryat shmona (₪47) / hitchhiking is allegedly easy / dafna night camp // day 14 / i put forward the argument that hiking is infinitely easier than hitchhiking / nimrod / quietschviecher (procavia capensis) / to the front and back / 10km? / there's mines in the area not yours / autobahn (5km) // day 15 / banias bridge breakfast drive-by / i'm on a tank / 8km? / senir / fencing yourself in makes for bad escape routes / afula (₪32) / na'tzeret_al-nāṣira (₪11) / haven (fauzi azar inn) //

Donnerstag, 16. Februar 2012

The Jerusalem Syndrome.

day 11 / be'er sheva (₪17) / yerushaláyim_al-quds (₪26) / panic in the streets of / expect the expected (abraham hostel) / a mountain of olives / giant falafel are giant // day 12 / patterns repeat / watch your head (citadel hostel) / the dividing wall / an orange mt. zion / jameson & araq / there's streaks of light in the night //

Mittwoch, 15. Februar 2012

Desert sessions, part II.

day 5 / all the pretty horses (₪rip-off) // day 6 / guns girls & falafel / 18kg / 7km / tumuli !tumuli // day 7 / (don't go chasing) drywaterfalls / 15km? / camelus dromedarius // day 8 / the fog / 20km / sapir / eilat (₪44) / leave on the bright lights // day 9 / when you start separating the people from their seas what have you got? / the middle-aged boy dives into the sea / a mind forever foraging // day 10 / if you're a mountain goat i'm a mountain lion / meriones sacramenti? / checkpoint correspondence chess / 13km / mitzpe ramon (₪44) //

Samstag, 4. Februar 2012

Desert sessions, part I.

day 0 / berlin / coffee / interrogation / 13kg / up in the air / tel aviv / rain / dirt (florentine district) / dirt (florentine hostel) / noise (florentine hostel dwellers) / sleep never comes to you // day 1 / jaffa_yāfō / the middle-aged boy and the sea / bābā ghanūj / anger management / - ---- ---- --- -- --- -- -- / day-z // day 2 / rain / rain / be'er sheva (₪17) / desert / rain / mitzpe ramon (₪17) / desert / rain / home (green backpackers hostel) / pasta / stories from the crater // day 3 / 15kg? / capra nubiana / makhtesh / hyaena tracks? / shen ramon skilled hikers only / serenity / 22km / water (6km) ice cream (₪10) / saharonim night camp // day 4 / well-established knowledge supported by personal empirical research (deserts do get cold at night) / har & ein & khan saharonim / alectoris chukar (sinaica?) / horseshoe canyon / heat / hypohydration / sunburn / tumuli !no tumuli / 15km? / hitchhiking home / stories from overseas / more pasta crackers coffee //

Montag, 30. Januar 2012

Somewhere over the rainbow.

This space may get a little quiet for a month.

January 30th:
Berlin Schönefeld, 11:35am - 4:30pm, Tel Aviv Ben Gurion.

February 27th:
Tel Aviv Ben Gurion, 7:05am - 10:20am, Berlin Schönefeld.

Perhaps the noise will increase a little afterward.

A month of movies: January.

This month's episode of "Ben very unsurprisingly falls for a perky and well-calculated movie" is featured by "Beginners" (trailer), which everybody else has seen a year ago. On the completely opposing side of the spectrum is the excellent war (not anti-, not pro-, but challenging) documentary "Restrepo" (trailer, which makes it look a lot more light-hearted than it is) that everybody who can stomach it should see before feeling qualified to engage in any kind of serious discussion about the war in Afghanistan. The rest is quickly told: Sean Penn as Robert Smith in "This Must Be The Place" (trailer), George Clooney as George Clooney in "The American" (trailer) and nuclear waste as a future liability in "Into Eternity" (trailer).

The short -
Go and see: Beginners (DVD) & Restrepo (DVD).
Well worth watching: /
Also deserving a chance: Into Eternity & This Must Be The Place.
Average: Trust (DVD).
If you're into George Clooney looking constantly stressed: The American (DVD).

The long -

Samstag, 21. Januar 2012

Journalismus, oder: Warum Zeitungen in Untertiteln die Beantwortung von Fragen in Aussicht stellen.

Der aktuelle an Relevanz kaum zu unterbietende Journalismusersatz auf ZEIT Online (und offenbar auch der gedruckten Ausgabe vom Donnerstag) könnte ebenso mit "Warum früher auch im Kapitänswesen alles besser war", "Wie wir kurz vor Redaktionsschluss gemerkt haben, im Reiseressort fehlen noch ein paar Zeilen und bis Hamburg-Rahlstedt ist es doch gar nicht so weit" oder "Weshalb wir unsere Leser nicht ernst nehmen" untertitelt sein. Karin Ceballos Betancur faselt sich in Rage über Ehre, Verantwortung und große große und kleinere große Schiffe und findet dabei in Uwe Bech, "Kapitän vom alten Schlag", und einer mit Pathos schwanger gehenden Sprache willfährige Kollaborateure.

Angefangen mit der Charakterisierung des Kapitäns als trotz einer 48-jährigen Dienstzeit in sein Fach in fundamentalen Punkten betreffenden Rechtsfragen unbewandert, aber immerhin und immerzu (und immer wieder:) ehrenvoll, die im Stern-TV-Beitrag vermutlich mit Klaviermusik unterlegt worden wäre, während eine Off-Stimme erzählt, was wir sehen; über die zahlreichen Fragezeichen im Text, die einen Hinweis darauf geben, dass der Artikel vielleicht auch in Interviewform hätte veröffentlicht werden können müssen sollen (oder ganz ehrlich: besser gar nicht); bis hin zu der Fakten schaffenden Wortwahl, die zeigt, dass die Unschuldsvermutung zumindest nicht im Qualitätsjournalismus gilt - auch wenn sich die Autorin vergeblich mit Wendungen wie "wenn es stimmt" oder "Meldungen, die ihn der Feigheit bezichtigen" aus der Doppelrolle der richtenden Anklägerin herauszuwinden sucht. Zwischendrin, und überall: Die Egalitäten in Szene setzende Adjektive und sprachliche Bilder aus der Alptraumwelt des "Traumschiffs". "Bech sieht noch immer aus wie ein Bilderbuchkapitän, mit kräftigen Brauen über blauen Augen und noch kräftigerem Händedruck. In seiner rauen Stimme klingt der Norddeutsche durch, aufgewachsen ist Bech in Hamburg-Ottensen, wo die Nebelhörner der Schiffe nachts wie streunende Tiere rufen." Das steht da wirklich so, und das schmerzt.

"Als das Gespräch zu Ende ist, wartet der Kapitän a.D. noch einen Moment an der Tür seines Hauses. Mit verschränkten Armen sieht Uwe Bech dem Taxi nach, das in falscher Richtung in das Ende der Sackgasse fährt. Mit verschränkten Armen sieht er dem Taxi entgegen, als es nach einem Wendemanöver erneut sein Haus passiert. Der Kapitän wartet ab, bis das Taxi auf Kurs ist. Dann geht er ins Haus und schließt die Tür." Als der Artikel zu Ende ist, kann ich ein Würgen und die Autorin die Verschriftlichung des Wunsches, fortan historische Liebesromane bei Bastei Lübbe zu veröffentlichen, nicht länger unterdrücken.

Aus der vielleicht schon zu lange vernachlässigten Rubrik "Zwei Minuten Hass". Früherer Beitrag: "Tatort, oder: Warum mein Kopf schon ganz wundgefasst ist.".

Mittwoch, 18. Januar 2012

Walking the right of way.

(As always when I don't tell, you may try and guess what movie the still is from. Prize's a cookie.)

Montag, 9. Januar 2012

We need new stories.

This broadcast is briefly interrupted by Tumbler content on account of yours truly seeing "Beginners" last week.

The regular schedule will resume shortly.