Movies I've watched recently:
Quite exciting at times paired with a slow pace in every way, this film shows a Swedish detective coming to Norway, trying to solve a murder. The detective is unable to sleep, which is dealt with in an interesting way: is what the detective sees reliable or not, as the film progresses? At times it feels a bit slow, but mostly, I think it works. It's a far cry from stressed-out films at any point, and kept me interested throughout.0.3
A quite nice little film, although too packaged for Hollywood, for my taste; still, it's nicely wrapped up. Quite in the vein of "A Beautiful Mind", it follows the genius mind of Alan Turing as he searches to break the Enigma cipher, i.e. the code machine used by the nazis during WW2. It bounces between Turing's aspergeroid personality, his growing up, his intolerable self, his homosexuality and back, where he faces obstacles, success and, ultimately, death. The obvious irony: he worked to save people from death, but was himself condemned to it, and posthumously "saved" by the UK monarchy, which is a farce and condemnable by itself. All in all: entertaining, and well made.0.3
The long review is here: http://niklasblog.com/?p=170930.3
This is one of the most radiant documentaries that I've seen in years. It deals with how Afghanistan was built-up by a US company in the 1950s, where dams were implemented in order to modernise the entire country. Loads of money was pumped in, but to little avail. The dams didn't work apart from generating insane levels of salt, that only allowed poppies to grow. And that's how the opium and heroin started flowing. Anyway, from the get-go, the documentary shows reality, and - lo and behold - treats the viewer as a thinking being. I wasn't sure what to expect when I saw the start of the documentary, but it's literally plastered with images from reality, and far from only shot by the film makers. The viewer is served a metaphor of Tarkovsky's "Solaris", where the protagonist - spoiler alert! - at the end of the movie no longer knows what to trust. Spoiler off! Anyway, thanks to imagery like this, we know what to know: the banks, the corporations, the governments have created the mess that Afghanistan is currently left in, a state of near-anarchy and corruption, due to its "liberators", who rather are its captors and the reason to why organisations such as IS and cliques like al-Quaida exist. See this. It's eye-opening and commendable. It breathes and lives humanity.0.3
One can tell that Dan Futterman - who wrote "Capote" - has been here. The film breathes where it could have been cramped by excess dialogue or soundtrack, but instead, one gets a seldom seen insight into the head of a wrestler - played by Channing Tatum - who otherwise could have been portrayed as a thick slab of concrete, not to mention his coach - played by Steve Carrell - a rich man who tries to solve his problems (seemingly all based around his will to impress his mother) by throwing money at them. This is a deeply human and somewhat scary film that allows the viewer to make its own mind up. The components really blend to make this film work, and it's very well written, directed, acted and shot. The photography alone makes this film worth watching, but the script brings this to such heights. See it!0.3
February 27th, 2015
Yes. They’re back. And they’re furry.
Super Furry Animals are going to play a handful of dates in the UK in the start of May. Here’s hoping for a coming album and major tour, but until then, they’re reissuing “Mwng” in a deluxe version, which you may read more of here – and pre-order the album.
Here’s “Ymaelodi Â’r Ymylon”, one of the tracks off “Mwng”.
February 23rd, 2015
While this book is similar to that which Gordon previously has published, by means of mentioning art, dropping names and quickly going over events and people, this book has something special in that she goes through her marriage breaking apart due to her former husband’s infidelity; she writes about it in a very going through the motions way, even when describing her own feelings.
One morning I got up to go to yoga. Thurston was still asleep, and I looked down at his cell. It was then that I saw her texts about their wonderful weekend together, about how much she loved him, and his writing the same things back. It was like a nightmare you don’t ever wake up from. At yoga class I was trembling, and when I came home I confronted him. At first he denied it but I told him I had seen the texts—just like in the movies, only this was painfully real. Thurston claimed that he wanted to break it off. He claimed he wanted to come back to our family. In time I found the e-mails and videos from her on Thurston’s laptop, and the hundreds of text messages between the two of them proudly displayed on our monthly cell phone bill. When I confronted Thurston again, he denied it, then admitted it, then promised things were all over between them. It was a pattern that would happen over and over again. I wanted to believe him. I understood that the cigarettes were a mark of some secrecy between them, a ritual and a taboo that could only happen outside the home when no one else was around.
She writes about Sonic Youth’s last gig ever at the very start of the book, which is very heartfelt and a quite horrid read, but really only when framed by the last part of the book, where she pores through the motions of what happened; how Thurston Moore lied to Kim Gordon and everything they had stopped, but started living again (according to him), yet turned out as a hoax.
She tells of her growing up with a paranoid schizophrenic brother who nobody seemed to get was just that, during the psychedelia-lovin’ American 1960s.
But she quickly got into art, both the visual side and the musical.
For me performing has a lot to do with being fearless. I wrote an article for Artforum in the mideighties that had a line in it that the rock critic Greil Marcus quoted a lot: “People pay money to see others believe in themselves.” Meaning, the higher the chance you can fall down in public, the more value the culture places on what you do. Unlike, say, a writer or a painter, when you’re onstage you can’t hide from other people, or from yourself either. I’ve spent a lot of time in Berlin, and the Germans have all these great words with multiple meanings inside them. A few visits ago, I came across one of those words, Maskenfreiheit. It means “the freedom conferred by masks.”
She writes plainly lovely sometimes, in amidst all of the namedropping and hurt:
WRITING ABOUT NEW YORK is hard. Not because memories intersect and overlap, because of course they do. Not because incidents and times mix with others, because that happens too. Not because I didn’t fall in love with New York, because even though I was lonely and poor, no place had ever made me feel more at home. It is because knowing what I know now, it’s hard to write about a love story with a broken heart.
On thinking back when she met Moore, before 27 years of marriage ended:
Today, when I think back on the early days and months of Thurston’s and my relationship, I wonder whether you can truly love, or be loved back, by someone who hides who they are. It’s made me question my whole life and all my other relationships. Why did I trust him, or assume I knew anything at all about him? Maybe I imposed on Thurston a dream, a fantasy. When I look back at old photos of us, I have to believe we were happy, at least as happy as any two creative people who are stressed out with commitments and fears about the future and what’s next, and about their own ideas and inner demons, ever can be.
And quoting a friend on what being in a band is not:
As J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. liked to say when asked about being in a band, “It’s not fun. It’s not about having fun.”
What is fun, however, is mainly when Gordon writes about the band creating stuff:
Gary Gersh, our A&R guy at Geffen, was disappointed when we chose a black-and-white Raymond Pettibon drawing for the cover of Goo. I’m sure he was hoping for a glamorous picture of the band, something very of the moment, with me front and center. Raymond’s drawings had been slapped on record covers for many bands on the SST label, especially Black Flag’s. We loved Ray’s zines and drawings and in the mideighties I had written about his work in Artforum; the black-and-white cover was based on the couple in Terrence Malick’s film Badlands, while the inside was colorful, a riot of faux-glam goofiness.
In the video for “100%” I wore a bootleg Rolling Stones shirt that said “Eat Me.” As a result, MTV, which showed any number of videos of naked women grinding away, was reluctant to run ours. They felt my shirt sent a bad message to viewers. After the band signed with Geffen, a story came out about an executive there who had sexually harassed his secretary. That was the inspiration for “Swimsuit Issue.” I found it strange that Geffen, like a lot of companies, had a “Secretary’s Day,” but secretaries never seemed to get promoted to anything above that level. The song was meant to spotlight that hypocrisy.
And Moore. Over and over:
Later someone showed me a comment posted on the Sonic Youth website. “She looks like a hot little number,” a fan wrote in. He must have seen a photo of the two of them on some website, or picked up on the gossip going around. He added, “Kim beware, men are pigs after all and more affairs happen at work than any other arena.” Finally, the fan wrote, in a catchphrase he took from The Dark Knight, the second of director Christopher Nolan’s three Batman movies, “Some men just want to watch the world burn.” A few months later, around Coco’s seventeenth birthday, I found out Thurston had seen her again, at a concert he played in Europe, though he had promised his therapist that if she showed up again or contacted him, he would call his doctor and tell me, too. He did neither. I went back to checking his e-mail, where I found several short, porno-like videos that she had sent him. Thurston denied ever responding to them, but sometime after that I found an e-mail he’d drafted to her with a photo of him attached. Maybe he didn’t send it because his vanity got the better of him, or maybe he wanted me to find it. I asked him to move out of the house. The official announcement of our breakup was timed so we could sit down and tell Coco before the news hit the Internet and strangers started discussing our lives. The web is trouble enough, especially when you’re in your senior year of high school and stressed out about college. Even though Thurston and I had separated in August, so far we hadn’t made any public statements, but people were starting to speculate. It didn’t stop Coco from being angry with me for not telling her sooner. Kids believe everything is a family matter and that they should have an equal vote or some control over everything that goes on in their family’s lives. And being a teenager makes everyone doubly self-conscious. We had already more than ruined her senior year of high school. As she had told us, we couldn’t possibly know what it was like to have us for parents. I did feel some compassion for Thurston, and I still do. I was sorry for the way he had lost his marriage, his band, his daughter, his family, our life together—and himself. But that is a lot different from forgiveness.
All in all: a trip through music and love and disaster and building yourself back together; it’s an honest trip, but should have been a little more constrained and without all of that name-dropping, but then again, it wouldn’t have been Moore’s story without that.
February 22nd, 2015
February 21st, 2015
There’s a good interview published in Jacobin, where Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian talk. Here’s a short snippet on Chomsky’s view on the environment in the near future. Read the entire interview here.
There are a couple of questions I want to close with, actually from our latest book, Power Systems. I ask you, “You’ve got grandchildren. What kind of world do you see them inheriting?”
The world that we’re creating for our grandchildren is grim. The major concern ought to be the one that was brought up in New York at the September 21 march. A couple hundred thousand people marched in New York calling for some serious action on global warming.
This is no joke. This is the first time in the history of the human species that we have to make decisions which will determine whether there will be decent survival for our grandchildren. That’s never happened before. Already we have made decisions which are wiping out species around the world at a phenomenal level.
The level of species destruction in the world today is about at the level of sixty-five million years ago, when a huge asteroid hit the earth and had horrifying ecological effects. It ended the age of the dinosaurs; they were wiped out. It kind of left a little opening for small mammals, who began to develop, and ultimately us. The same thing is happening now, except that we’re the asteroid. What we’re doing to the environment is already creating conditions like those of sixty-five million years ago. Human civilization is tottering at the edge of this. The picture doesn’t look pretty.
So September 21, the day of the march, which was a very positive development, an indication that you can do things, it’s not a foregone conclusion that we’re going to wipe everything out, that same day one of the major international monitoring scientific agencies presented the data on greenhouse emissions for the latest year on record, 2013. They reached record levels: they went up over 2 percent beyond the preceding year. For the US they went up even higher, almost 3 percent.
The Journal of the American Medical Association came out with a study the same day looking at the number of super hot days that are predicted for New York over the next couple of decades, super hot meaning over ninety. They predicted it will triple for New York, and much worse effects farther south. This is all going along with predicted sea-level rise, which is going to put a lot of Boston under water. Let alone the Bangladesh coastal plan, where hundreds of millions of people live, will be wiped out.
All of this is imminent. And at this very moment the logic of our institutions is driving it forward. So Exxon Mobil, which is the biggest energy producer, has announced — and you can’t really criticize them for it; this is the nature of the state capitalist system, its logic — that they are going to direct all of their efforts to lifting fossil fuels, because that’s profitable. In effect, that’s exactly what they should be doing, given the institutional framework. They’re supposed to make profits. And if that wipes out the possibility of a decent life for the grandchildren, it’s not their problem.
Chevron, another big energy corporation, had a small sustainable program, mostly for PR reasons, but it was doing reasonably well, it was actually profitable. They just closed it down because fossil fuels are so much more profitable.
In the US by now there’s drilling all over the place. But there’s one place where it has been somewhat limited, federal lands. Energy lobbies are complaining bitterly that Obama has cut back access to federal lands. The Department of Interior just came out with the statistics. It’s the opposite. The oil drilling on federal lands has steadily increased under Obama. What has decreased is offshore drilling.
But that’s a reaction to the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Right after that disaster, the immediate reaction was to back off. Even the energy companies backed off from deep-sea drilling. The lobbies are just pulling these things together. If you look at the onshore drilling, it’s just going up. There are very few brakes on this. These tendencies are pretty dangerous, and you can predict what kind of world there will be for your grandchildren.