My saved links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Movies I've watched recently:

  • Medicinen (2014) - IMDb 1/10

    2016-12-12 19:00

    A car crash where your newborn child dies would be a less hurtful experience than watching this film. I'm kidding, but there is some truth lodged in that statement. This film is very "inspired" by "The Devil Wears Prada". By this I mean Nutley and his writer cohorts have concocted a story about an abhorrent person - played by Bergström, despite many doubts on my site as to what "playing" could be, according to herself - who starts ingesting a medicine that seems to change her life. Naturally, this medicine is a sugar pill. The medicine is also the only thing which is sweet about this film. The script is so poorly written that any, and I repeat, _any_ breathing thing - or dead - could easily excrete something which would improve and best this depressing piece of scatological experience, which all should avoid at all costs. Actually, I could go on forever about how bad everything from the direction to casting, acting, the soundtrack and segues are, but I will not. I refuse to. This is on par with Nutley-Bergström's "Angel", which also marked a new milestone in the string of eulogies to Swedish cinema that seems to be their goal. I'm angry to know the couple seem to use films as an excuse to a) go abroad and senselessly film scenes that have none or very little function for a film and b) have Bergström cry and copulate. Don't see this, even for "fun", which was why I saw it. I will never, ever see this film again, and I hope Bergström-Nutley never, ever make another film, write one nor act in one for the sake of humanity.

  • Yakuza Apocalypse (2015) - IMDb 4/10

    2016-11-26 17:10
    * * * *

    This film stretches beyond a regular action film and even really dips into the true meaning of the word apocalypse, but that's the most positive thing about it. Miike has been taking some major leads from Shakespeare, considering he lived a few hundred years ago, this film is truly not very original. Having said that, it's missing in atmosphere. It doesn't pace well and lost me a bit after 30 minutes and did not win the loss back. Having been Shakespearian before that, this film segues into being laughable and filled with fight (as most films by Miike are). Not recommendable to anyone who doesn't want to dabble in martial arts action-cum-half-assed weird dreaming, having fallen asleep with "Macbeth" on your face.

  • Bridget Jones's Baby (2016) - IMDb 1/10

    2016-11-20 21:22

    David Foster Wallace once used the term "hellaciously unfunny" about something, which is a term clearly applicable for this clownboat. Not only is this a film that overflows with prejudice and crap, be it sexistic, nationalistic or racistic, but it's completely barren where jokes should be. I liked the first film. I didn't like the second film, but this one I really loathe. It shouldn't have been made.

  • I Am Not a Serial Killer (2016) - IMDb 4/10

    2016-08-29 09:24
    * * * *

    This film is succinctly different from most others that are about serial killers in the sense that it's using silence and music well. Apart from that, this is a b-movie in several ways: apart from the two main actors, there's not much to use. The plot is quite simple, but at times I - a serial killer fan, so to speak - drifted away because the film didn't entice me more; the flow of the film feels contrived, making me feeling something that's very different to what often comes naturally when seeing works of directors such as Terrence Malick, Woody Allen and Richard Linklater. Also, the name-dropping of serial killers and such is more effect-seeking than anything else, more about trying to spook the viewer than create solid characters. Still, as a low-budget film, it works in creating a kind of solemn street-life atmosphere, the kind that came natural to director John Cassavetes, that very few high-budget films have. All in all this is not a particularly well-made film, but it's memorable.

  • Leap Year (2010) - IMDb 1/10

    2016-07-31 21:32

    Complete. Waste. Of. Life.


Review: Siri Hustvedt – “A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on Art, Sex, and the Mind”

I’d like to start this review off by stating that I skimmed appx. 25% of this book, as I found some contents to be – to quote David Foster Wallace – hellaciously unfunny.

I’ve not really read Hustvedt before, so this is my first foray into her stuff.

“The truth is always gray,” the artist once said, citing a platitude that is also a color key.

I mainly enjoyed the bits on gender, pornography, and on Knausgaard’s vile statement where commented on the fact that he almost only wrote about male writers in his “My Struggle” with “No competition”…and the essay on suicide, but sadly not much else, really.

This piece was funny:

If Fifty Shades of Grey is testament to anything, it is that millions of middle-class, heterosexual women enjoy pornography with an S&M bent, even if it arrives with sentences such as, “My inner goddess is jumping up and down, clapping her hands like a five-year-old” and “Holy Shit” as frequent textual punctuation.

There’s not much fun in this book, which I think is exactly what Hustvedt intended.

Emily Dickinson wrote poems alone, radical, brilliant verses that burn my consciousness every time I read them. She sent some of her poems to Thomas Wentworth Higginson, an important literary critic of the day. He was not unsympathetic to her work, but he did not understand he was reading the work of someone who had reinvented the English language. He could not recognize her new music. His impulse was to correct her, smooth out the wrinkles. He told her she was not ready to publish.

Go, Dickinson!

To examplify why I think Hustvedt’s greatness in this book evades me – if it’s there, naturally, which it cannot be for all, I think – here’s an example:

Husserl was profoundly interested in logic and mathematics, and he wrestled with Frege, but he criticized scientific formulations that left out lived experience and relied exclusively on an ideal mathematics in the tradition of Galileo. Nagel’s “objective” phenomenology of the future is one he argues should “not [be] dependent on empathy or the imagination.”199 I would say this is not possible, that empathy and the imagination cannot be siphoned out of phenomenology and the desire to do so demonstrates a prejudice against feeling, which is part of a long rationalist tradition that denigrated the passions. Husserl faced the same problem. He did not advocate a purely subjective or solipsistic theory of consciousness—the idea that each of us, human or bat, is forever stuck in his or her own body’s perspective and can never get out of it. In his late writings, in particular, Husserl offered an idea of transcendental intersubjectivity. What is this? Intersubjectivity refers to our knowing and relating to other people in the world, our being with and understanding them, one subject or person to another, and how we make a shared world through these relations. Reading Husserl is not like reading Descartes, Nagel, or James. Husserl is knotty and difficult. I can say, however, that Husserl’s idea of intersubjectivity necessarily involves empathy, and that for Husserl empathy is an avenue into another person.

Names, names and more names. I mean, I adore Sarah Bakewell’s book on the existentialists of the 20th century (and Hegel + Husserl) but the above just descended into boredom. To me. Still, I’m glad that Hustvedt delved more into the philosopher Merleau-Ponty than Bakewell did at times; still, this essay is another thing entirely than Bakewell’s book.

I’ve got to shout-out Hustvedt as she brings up gender issues:

In my experience, the line that follows “I don’t read fiction but my wife does” is: “Would you sign the book for her?” In other words, a novel can taste bad before it is eaten simply because it has been written by a woman. Of course, I often wonder what those men are doing at my reading in the first place. Why didn’t your wife come? A young man, a writer himself, once said to me, “You know, you write like a man.” He was not referring to the books I had written in the voice of a man, but to all of my work, and this statement was intended as a high compliment. Women are not immune to this prejudice either. A young woman once approached me at an art opening to say, “I never read books by women, but a friend of mine insisted I try one of yours, and I loved it!” I did not feel particularly grateful. A literary editor in New York, Chris Jackson, admitted rather sheepishly in a blog that he could not remember the last time he had read a novel by a woman.

All in all: bits and pieces were good.

View all my reviews

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My saved links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

People getting kidnapped (via Loretta Napoleoni)

I’m currently reading Loretta Napoleoni‘s fine book named “Merchants of Men: How Jihadists and ISIS Turned Kidnapping and Refugee Trafficking into a Multi-Billion Dollar Business“, where quite a bit is dedicated to what is – frankly – the sheer idiocy of people who get kidnapped due to their knowing next to nothing about what they’re about to do. I’ll let Napoleoni do the talking, from the book:

Kevin Dawes’s Libyan experience came to an abrupt end as he decided to leave his katiba but not the Jihadist environment. In October of 2012 he travelled to Syria and was kidnapped by supporters of the Assad regime. It is unclear why he went to Syria; he claimed that he wanted to rescue Austin Tice, an American freelance journalist who disappeared in Syria in August 2012 and was previously a US marine, though Dawes also claimed to be a photojournalist and a doctor on his way to help people in Syria. In addition, people who had met him claim that he was suffering from severe mental health problems including delusions and paranoia. The story of his liberation in April 2016 is so engulfed in secrecy that some people have even thought that Dawes could have been a US spy. This seems very unlikely. In spring 2012 he unsuccessfully tried to raise money through a Kickstarter campaign called Aerial Battlefield Photojournalism. This project was intended to provide a unique view of the war in Syria via an aerial camera drone. The goal of the project was to raise $28,000. However, Dawes was only able to get thirty dollars pledged. So he decided to go to Syria and report from the front line of the war himself.

And that’s how you can get kidnapped. Yah.

On Bowe Bergdahl, the guy who season two of the super-popular podcast “Serial” was all about:

Bergdahl’s story begs several questions: What was a twenty-three-year-old soldier doing alone in the middle of the Afghan desert? How did he get there? And why was he unarmed in a region infested by the Taliban? After his liberation, Bergdahl did not speak to the media, and US authorities did not release any information. Very little was known about the precious hours before his abduction. Privately, however, Bergdahl disclosed the events that led to his captivity to Mark Boal, the screenwriter of The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. Boal approached Bergdahl because he wanted to make a movie of his story. Some of the recorded conversations between them, a total of about twenty-five hours, were used by the popular podcast Serial in its second series. The podcast reveals some interesting and disconcerting aspects of Bergdahl’s abduction. For example, the kidnapping appears to have been the direct result of a twenty-three-year-old soldier who believed that he could prove to the world and to himself that he was a real-life Jason Bourne, the fictional hero of the Bourne film trilogy based on the Robert Ludlum novels. For a start, Bowe Bergdahl admitted to Mark Boal that he had staged his own disappearance. His plan was to walk from his base at Mest to the other, much bigger US military post at Sharana. Sharana is about twenty miles southwest of Mest. Bergdahl thought he could reach it in about twenty-four hours, a rather optimistic forecast. The route is long and difficult, especially in the summer heat, traversing the desert. It is also quite risky. The area is under Taliban control and people travel back and forth regularly. Someone was bound to see Bergdahl, approach him, and discover that he was not a Pashtun but an American. But Bergdahl did not consider these likely outcomes. For him, it was sufficient to be physically fit for the trek, and he was confident that wearing civilian clothes would be a perfect disguise.

On the night of June 29, 2009, Bergdahl snuck out of the camp and began his trek towards Sharana. Just like Jason Bourne, Bowe Bergdahl acted alone. During the previous days he had sent home most of his possessions to prevent anybody from checking them, and he had withdrawn $300 in cash from his account, money he thought he might need during the trek. He had taken a compass and a knife with him, but he had left behind his night vision goggles, his weapons, and his radio. When he reached the desert, he suddenly realized what he had done. The magnitude, and perhaps the stupidity, of his plan hit him. Unlike the hero of the Bourne movie series, Bergdahl panicked. Though he wanted to go back, he judged it too risky to do so at nighttime. The sentinels would have shot at him not knowing who he was. But above all, he was concerned about what would happen to him once his superiors realized that he had left his platoon without permission. To the army, he was already a deserter.

Listening to Bowe Bergdahl, one cannot help but think how naïve his plan was and how delusional the sergeant was about his “mission.” He admitted to Boal that he wanted to prove to himself and to the world that he was a super soldier, someone like Jason Bourne, an imaginary character who singlehandedly could expose a major weakness of the military system. Instead, he behaved stupidly, and was kidnapped and held hostage for almost five years. DUSTWUN triggered a massive search that cost the American taxpayer millions of dollars.

Even though I can absolutely sympathise with testing one’s own environment, so to speak, I think Bergdahl managed to pull off some really stupid shit.

“It’s easy to feel invincible, even with death all around,” Steven Sotloff, also kidnapped and beheaded by the Islamic State, wrote to the Middle East editor for Newsweek. “It’s like, ‘This is my movie, sucker—I’m not gonna die.’” However, this feeling of invincibility is exactly the behavior that gets one kidnapped and killed.

Even though their deaths are not funny at all, it’s just a display of what utter folly leads to.

In the trailer for the HBO documentary about James Foley, Jim: The James Foley Story, people like Sotloff, Ottosen, and Foley are presented as journalist-martyrs. The message is that without them we would not know the horrors of the Syrian Civil War. But this is not completely correct. We celebrate them not because they showed us the tragedy of Syria but because they were kidnapped and, in the case of Sotloff and Foley, beheaded by the Islamic State. The proof is that the public did not know who they were before their abduction, as their articles did not appear on the front pages of any distinguished newspapers. Likewise, today the public is still unaware of the names of the freelancers who are reporting on the Syrian conflict, or even most of the names of abducted journalists who remain in captivity!

The disturbing news that made us aware of the existence of people like Sotloff, Ottosen, and Foley wasn’t the news that they reported, but the news of their abductions and their deaths. Professional journalists understand this. Marc Marginedas, also held hostage by ISIS, said that he did not want to discuss his abduction because he is not the news; the news is what is happening in Syria. Nicolas Hénin, another journalist and hostage held captive by the Islamic State, warned readers of his book, Jihad Academy, that he did not write about his captivity, of his interaction with “The Beatles”—the British-born jailers of the foreign hostages held by the Islamic State—and his fellow hostages, but about what is happening in Syria and the Middle East, because even while held hostage he did not stop being a journalist.

In the account of his capture published in the New York Times,206 Padnos admits to having fallen into a trap because he was very naïve about the jihadists, the insurgency, and the Syrian conflict. Reading the article, one has the feeling that, though he was knowledgeable about the history and culture of Islam and he spoke Arabic fluently, he did not understand the complex politics of the region nor the shifting alliances and loyalties of the Syrian war by proxy. Unlike many other kidnapped journalists, Theo Padnos was lucky. His kidnappers were from al Nusra and not from the Islamic State: they wanted money, not his head. He was also lucky because Dave Bradley, a Washington, D.C. entrepreneur who owns the media company that publishes The Atlantic, got personally involved in the release of the American hostages held in Syria.

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Morrissey, Huey Newton and more manliness

He’s just posted the above montage of Huey Newton with Moz’s latest album. That’s partly why you should love him…even though he makes it hard with idiotic statements like “Farage is a great educator”.

Huey Newton was one of the greater Black Panthers. He, unlike Fred Hampton (who was assassinated by the FBI and Chicago police), was more of a fighter than a thinker, even though he had some massive ideas. If you want more on what the Black Panthers brought to their communities, like free education, free daycare and democracy, check out the newish documentary named “Vanguards of The Revolution”.

Also: this morning Mia noted that our letterbox was completely askew. A couple of screws had fallen out from the plate that attached to the door, so I jammed it straight and fastened the screws.

I never thought I’d say anything like the above; I almost felt like fucking John Wayne when writing it. HA! Seriously, though, I didn’t think I’d make it work but it did. Suddenly my self-confidence is renewed where it comes to home repairs.

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