Month: November 2013

Strange Weather

Will you take me across the channel,
London Bridge is falling down,
Stranger woman tries to save,
What a man will try to drown,
And he’s the rain they predicted,
It is the forecast every time,
The roses die because depicted,
And I believe that Brandy’s mine

All over the whole world,
strangers talk only about the weather,
all over the world, it’s the same, it’s the same

and the world is getting flattered,
and the sky is falling all round,
oh and nothing is the matter,
for I never cry in town,
and I love like I lost my dear,
its pleasure, where its doubt,
and I never buy umbrellas,
cos there is always one around,

and you know that it’s the beginning,
and you know that it’s the end,
once again we are strangers,
as the fog goes rolling in

and for a long time there was no change,
but at once, there comes, and
goes the fire, wind is blowing out,
it’s the same, it’s the same,

and as for all and good, the wind
blows again, and again,
it’s the same, it’s the same

and no spark, will come down,
no hay is there to burn,
only, the only part left,
it’s the same, that was before,
and none will come to see,
what happened in the dark,
as for once and ever, the wind,
is gone, and wont come again
to see the same,
and old, it’s the shame,
it’s the same

The Perfect Coffee

He is fed up with the situation, fed up of wandering around. This to him unknown city didn’t seem to be inviting to him to join. It didn’t want Quinn to take part. Although he had seen most of what there was to see, he still hadn’t got a sense of the city. He couldn’t visualise a map in his mind. No sense of orientation, no spatial organisation presented itself to him. It was a sunny day, a seemingly prosperous day. But he was tired. Quinn had the urgent wish to walk into a small café, which he spotted in a side alley. The dark brown wood on the outside seemed inviting to him. There was no name written outside, but there was a small bell above the door, which made a sound as he walked through the door. 

As he sat down at the counter of the café, he looked at the blackboard on the wall and started to read the in chalk written menu. “I don’t know what I want!” Quinn said. “Well, you see what kinds of coffee we offer, and if you don’t like them, I guess I can make almost every drink you could want,” was the instant reply of the girl behind the bar, who seemed overconfident in saying so. “I don’t doubt you can. Usually I seem to know what I want to drink when I decide to go to a café, but just now, as I walk down this alley, I only had the desire to come in here, into this café.” The girl behind the counter seemed slightly irritated by this reply. “I don’t mean to be a difficult, neither am I one of those creeps hanging around in a café and trying to flirt around. I don’t even do chitchat with people around me, usually. I simply had to come in here. I am tired of walking around in this city that I don’t know. A little overwhelmed I feel, you could say. Surely you can guess that I am not from around here. Yes, you are right. I hope I don’t bore with my talk. I am usually the quiet type that orders, drinks his coffee, smokes his cigarette and is off again. But somehow that doesn’t work for me today.” 

“Don’t worry about me. But tell me; can I help you with some nice coffee? It might make you feel better about; well about whatever you might need to feel better about.”

“It certainly would. But as I said I don’t really know what I want. I don’t want anything that is written on that chalkboard. This is not the first café I have been to today. I had cappuccinos, café lattes, and about half a dozen espresso. Maybe that’s even the reason I talk so much. I almost feel I have to be apologetic about myself. You don’t know me, I don’t know this place very well, and I don’t even have a clue who you might be, but I seem to let out this stream of words without hesitation.”

“I am Alice. Nice to meet you. Perhaps that makes you feel a little easier about being here, feeling a little less apologetic about yourself, and about choosing a coffee you like to drink?”

“Hmm… I appreciate that very much. I am Quinn by the way. Now that we know so much about each other”, he says with a shy smile on his face, “maybe you can help me out. I don’t want to repeat that I don’t know what I want, but this is actually the case.”

“Well, now that you have come into my café by some apparent desire of yours”, she says with a cheeky grin, “and obviously being the only customer, why don’t you choose something, why don’t you tell me you favourite kind of coffee and I’ll give it my best shot in order to make it the best you have had.”

“I somehow expected you would urge me to choose, but I have another suggestion. I see those shelves behind you. I see those different brands coffee beans. I see the different kinds of flavours; vanilla, liquorice and all those berries. I can smell cinnamon sticks, cardamom seeds, and the sweetness of brown sugar. I can smell freshly ground coffee. I can almost touch the texture of the different kinds of filters. Therefore, wouldn’t it be best if you make me the one coffee you can do best. Give me, don’t make me choose.”

“Listen Quinn, this is not my first day behind the counter. Until now I have managed to satisfy any request from any customer. You might be a visitor, but you don’t look like one. You haven’t found this café accidently, but you are not the guide-book-travelling type. You mean what you say, but you don’t know what you want. I’ll bet whatever you wish; I will be able to do it for you.”

“You see, that’s not the problem and I don’t want to say it again. Let me tell you what I want you to do. Look at me…”

“I am”, she replied quickly and starred right in his eyes. 

“Look at me. Look at me very carefully. Then look inside. Look through me. My name is all you need to know, it’s almost too much already that you know about me. Make your own picture of me. Find out about me. Use your senses. Don’t ask but tell me what you find, and then according to your judgement, you will make the perfect coffee for me.”

“If you give me some insights about your preferences of milk or soya, strong or weak, that kind of thing, than I will fix something for you. I mean everybody has their own little favourites, right?”

“Don’t ask, but tell!”

An awkward moment of silence occurred, as Alice realised that Quinn’s proposal was meant serious. In her mind she accepted the challenge, even though she was not sure if it was a challenge or his sincere wish. Regaining her focus she took a deep breath and did what he had suggested. Her eyes move away from his and started circling around him.

“The dark coffee stain on your white shirt tells me about drinking habits. You walk and drink your coffee at the same time. The second stain tells me that you do drink a lot of coffee. Apart from your coffee stains, you seem neat and tidy. You like to finish what you have started. You dress simple but elegant. I had noticed your shoes already when you came in. Pale yellow; quiet walk; they seem comfortable. I think you care a big deal more about your shoes, than about your shirts being white. You are not the purest of guys. You like to know the road ahead of you. That might even be the reason you came in here earlier. You didn’t know anymore what you were heading towards. Your eyes look tired. The rings underneath them seem to underline your exhaustion. Despite your tiredness, there is a touch of a sweet smile left on your face. Bittersweet, but maybe more bitter than sweet.”

Alice had turned around and began to make Quinn’s coffee. Quinn turned around. He didn’t want to watch her, but only listen. After she had finished making the coffee, she handed in over to Quinn. He smelled it and slowly began to drink.

“I taste vanilla. Not the essence, but the actual vanilla. The coffee is strong, it’s a double espresso. The milk you have warmed and mixed with cardamom before coffee was poured into it. The foam is gentle and not too much. The circles on top of the foam were made with another shot of espresso poured into it. Then you finished it with cinnamon sprinkled on top. This is my coffee you saw in a takeaway cup. That is me.”

Until Monday

It was earlier this year that on my birthday, when I was occupied with different things, someone in a women’s prison in Siberia was concerned and thought about the state of our democracy. Although I am not important in this matter, but simply the author of these words, this situation is a metaphor for what is wrong with our conception of the world. And unfortunately it is true.

Let me explain.
Someone puts his/her life in danger for the continuation and improvement of our society. A society we commonly believe to be more or less ideal, a society we believe to be the best at the moment (cause we do not know any alternatives). You and me too, we believe so too. Deep inside we share these thoughts. 
But lets come to the critical point. It was my birthday. Yes, of course I do agree with our liberal values, and I would sacrifice anything for it as well, of course. But, you know, not today, it is my birthday, and my best friend comes to visit me on my birthday. That is really special to me. I don’t really want to think about all that nonsense today. And on top of that it is Saturday. So come on, let’s give it a rest. I have been working so hard all year. I didn’t even celebrate my birthday in the past five years.
But the lady in that Siberian prison wasn’t really concerned about my birthday. I am sure if I had told her, she would have given me a pass. But she didn’t know. Neither did she really care, I guess. Because, she has spent her birthday there in that Siberian prison.
Coming back to the metaphor. Yes, you too, you really care about that state of our society. You really care about equality and democracy and all the other values that we still hang on to, even though they are only illusions.
We care, but not today, because it is my birthday. I would like to celebrate it, and care about the rest of the world tomorrow again, then when I wake up and had my coffee. 
I would like to care about it, but then when it suits me best. It is understandable of course. I should take some time off too. Everybody has to. Sure they can relax in a Siberian prison on a Saturday morning.
Well, we all care. We are all socialists at heart, but its weekend. You can’t really blame me for all of that. No, because you are just like me. But our children will do blame us. So at least be prepared. Let’s accept that job, let’s say we were busy, too busy to understand that we had a chance. Until Monday.

India

Dear friends of 1030films,

After traveling around the north of India for two months, I have started to upload some photos documenting my trip and the things I see in this incredible country. I will keep updating this page once in a while. Have a look if you are interested.

Best wishes to you all!

https://plus.google.com/photos/107430652239829940927/albums/5943145439728802449

James Bond meets art-house cinema

What would have happened if Akira Kurosawa had made “You only live twice”, the 1967 adaptation of Ian Fleming’s spy novel? The Japanese film industry was troubled at that time and Kurosawa had earned plenty of international recognition. It was the time when he opened up to opportunities from abroad. Why did the producer duo Saltzman and Broccoli not approach Kurosawa and ask him to collaborate on the latest James Bond film that was set in Japan anyway? Bond was booming internationally and incredibly hyped in Japan. Wouldn’t it have been the best opportunity to boost and draw attention to the national film industry? Couldn’t Kurosawa have merged commercial and artistic film?
Well, we can’t ask them anymore, because they are all dead, and the reasons for why it did not happen are obvious. Money, narrow-mindedness, and more money. But we live in a world where we like to imagine what-if scenarios; dreaming about something that did not happen, but would have been such a revelation. Isn’t that what cinema is all about? Imagining different worlds?
What do we have today? What has happened to James Bond? The late 80’s and especially the Pierce Brosnan years were extremely action-fuelled, but low in content. Less and less exploration and too much explosion.
Ian Fleming’s hero always has been a commercial success at the box office, and the many explosions were a huge part of that success. It is not difficult to understand that explosions, intensified slow motion, and exaggerated sound made James Bond what it is today. But lets just imagine what the world of James Bond could be like, if there had been a different influence years ago.
Just imagine a newspaper headline in 1966: Akira Kurosawa to direct latest James Bond picture “You Only Live Twice”. A year later people storm into the cinemas and see Maurice Binder’s iconic title sequence followed by Kurosawa’s name appearing on screen. The audience witnesses a slow-paced exploration of the relationship between Bond and his enemy Blofeld. The original novel by Ian Fleming featured a maze-like garden in which Blofeld strolled around with his Samurai armour that protected him from all poisonous plants. Kurosawa might have turned this garden into a reflection of his soul and a portrayal of the character’s sensibility. He might have created a villain that is surrounded and determined by evils of nature from which he has to protect himself. Not with dynamite, but rather with patience and spirituality Bond would have overcome the dangers of the garden. Kurosawa might have explored cinematically the inner struggle of Bond with shadow play and rain downpour.
Just imagine what impact this could have had on the distinction of commercial filmmaking and art-house cinema. He could have created an early fusion that would have speared us the horrors of 80’s hard-boiled heroes. The cinematic world of James Bond seems so unquestionable and is set in a well-selling scheme. But it is actually so easy just to imagine how much richer and more significant this series could be in terms of cultural exploration. I am not trying to neglect the impact the films had on the general mass culture. But can you imagine a headline tomorrow saying: BBC announced James Bond mini-series for next autumn – directed by Lars von Trier, Pedro Almodavar, and Werner Herzog. Well, I am a huge admirer of the books and films, but I can imagine that. There is still the chance – You only live twice.