A Father, running from the darkness of the past, takes his Son from Moscow to try to reach the Qırım/Crimean town of Коктебель (Koktebel, also known as Planerskoye). With no money, the winds of fate are their guides (the wind which also aids flight). The father (played by Igor Csernyevics) was a aeronautics engineer, and through the Son (Gleb Puskepalis), there is consistent reflection on the implied freedom of flight. Indeed the boy has the ability to "see from above", like a bird looking down on us.
Talking of the effortlessness of the Albatross, the future transformation of a worm into a butterfly (of which the father knows the latin name), and of the old monument to gliders at their final destination of Koktebel; the present (of no money, little food and the threats of the road), is subtely transformed into a journey of hope. The characters they meet reflect on the warmth and humanity (if not mixed with paranoia in the case of the alcoholic Dacha owner; yet even he keeps his humanity intact) that is present even in the tough, cold and harsh economic climate represented here.
The Directors, Boris Khlebnikov and Aleksei Popogrebskii, measure perfectly the rhythms needed to allow the story to grow. Using just the right blend of stoic determination and magic (magic realism anyone?) for their storytelling, I was captivated. The slight detachment from their characters, and the sparsity of emotional heaviness is perfect in maintaining and driving the metaphorical base of the film intact. As an example, the relationship that develops between the lonesome Doctor and Father, is handled in a perfectly elliptical way, we don't see but we (and the Son) understand perfectly. Indeed much of the film involes understanding without explicit instruction. The camera suggests us a direction.
And so it it is the cinematography of Shandor Berkeshi that is utterly captivating. With a warmth and patience, he gives us a Sea deep and rich with images. For example, as the Father repairs the roof of one of the characters (the alcoholic Dacha owner) they meet, he throws the old metal down to the ground. As it falls, the camera focuses on each piece as it drifts and glides to the Earth and the theme of flight and freedom implies itself against the present servitude they are performing working for some money.
The understated, patient poetry of these wonderfully delicate images gives us the guides to know the protagonists and the the journey on which they travel. The camera is used to give us suggestions, never impose on us some absolute reality; yet those suggestions are lyrical and beautiful.
See individual entry…
I've seen the words "Our City" used many times after the bombings in London. Each time I see or hear this, I think to myself that it was "Their City" as well. Because the bombers were British. As British as I am. That is the problem. These Brits, who by all accounts were well regarded of, felt strongly enough that violence was the only way to make their statements heard. That they were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, kill themselves for whatever they believed in. Suicide bombing is the tactic of the hopeless and weak; if the terrorist threat was really some enormous powerful international force, they would surely do more than launch these desperate tragedies.
My real problem with those words is that it reinforces the reasons why someone can do that — tribalism. The collective "we" have a general strong instinct to form groups (tribes as I call them). It is perhaps why a British Muslim who sees pictures of mutilated children and tortured prisoners may be willing to override his national instincts with religious ones. Why they then see other members of the same country as the "other" (even though linked to by many strands of their identity). By saying "Our City", we reaffirm that this is a tribal war; we obscure subtlety of identity in drum-rolls of patriotism (wherever that patriotism may lie). We reinforce the problem, not alleviate it.
The stupidity of the British bombers is that their targets were utterly misconceived, their tribalism blinded them to the implications of their action. Of those that died in the tunnels and streets of London, the majority would have probably been opposed to the illegal and unjustified invasion of Iraq; to the death of thousands of Iraqi's, to the torture by US and British troops of detainees; to the use of cluster bombs in residential areas and the whole catalogue of horrors the Military machine promulgated in the name of liberation.
What options did we have in this "democracy", was my passionate voice heard; could the bombers have used a different route to defend their ideas? Sadly the answer is no. The Government was willing to go to War irrespective of public opinion. It lied and cheated its way to join the killing fields. The sadness and hopelessness I felt after those massive demonstrations may well have been converted in the bombers into a dehumanising obsession.
Some of my closest friends in life have been 2nd Generation Pakistanis. I have been to Mosque with them, and spent evenings discussing in prayer circles. I wish more people could experience the warmth and openness of the Muslims I know. My fear is as the Government finally gets the chance to strip away more civil rights, soon I will not be able to discuss any of this. The Government wants to make incitement to terrorism a criminal offence. Does me saying, "I understand why someone may do this" give them grounds to arrest me (even if I cannot accept the methods they used)? If I leave myself open to the position that Palestinians may have no other way to fight the absolute power of the Israeli military than through the tragedy of suicide bombing (even though I see how nihilistic and futile it is) — does that make me one of "them"?See individual entry…
Extremists have today indiscriminately attacked Milan and its residents. These monsters targeted groups with little justification from their stated goals. Hijacking an agenda of fear, their prejudice and racism drove them to take full advantage of their power.
I'm talking about the Italian Police, who in an ominous foretaste of what may come, have started arresting Gypsies, drug addicts, immigrants and potential petty criminals while claiming they are working for the good of National Security:
Police reportedly raided several Gypsy camps and other deprived areas.
Of those arrested, 83 are said to be non-EU citizens. Deportation orders have already been issued for 52 of them."Charges are mainly related to crimes like burglary, theft, evading home arrest and infringement of drug laws," Col Piccino was reported by daily Corriere della Sera as saying after the arrests.
Italian Police are well-known for the fascist elements within them, and it seems that some attack on Gypsies and immigrants is fair game for them. When I visited Milan a few years ago, I remember bars in which cocaine use was prevalent, but I doubt these drug infringers were targeted; they were all Italians working for Banks, Law firms and other respectable professions.See individual entry…
Blood and bone mingled with metal and concrete as London, the multi-faceted Metropolis I call home, was finally attacked. Watching from my Window and on the flickering computer screen, the attack which had been inevitable unfurled its wings over the City. Media Talking heads (specialists in terrorism who seems to know about as much as our Cabbies [black taxi drivers] do...) spitted out rather meaningless statements as people tried to grasp at the logical from the ineffable. Such attacks are simply horrific and shocking. All those close to me are safe, although one friend was close by when Kings Cross (long time home; and close to my heart) was hit. I feel no fear for my own safety (statistically I'm sure crossing the road is far more dangerous), but I feel a big fear for the aftermath.
A few desperate individual with little power to engage in a sustained attack will cause a large Political aftermath. I can see the fight to maintain Civil Liberties (which is supposedly part of the culture they attacked) will become harder. The Government will knee-jerk into leading a nation of greater repression. ID cards will jump back up the agenda, allowing State control with little other benefit.
I was disgusted when Blair attempted to make political capital out of this. To paraphrase that Vulture:
These people are despicable, for when we have be trying to eradicate global poverty, to combat Aids and to save the environment and make the world a better place, these barbarian attacked with brutality.
As we know full well, their Debt relief is simply more of the same Sovereign interference and market led privatisation through the back door. Giving with one hand (after bleeding Nations dry with exorbitant compound interest on loans given to Dictators), they will keep taking with the other as Markets open ripe for plucking by European and American Companies. Real moves on climate are nothing more than hot air, itself only contributing to global warming. For Blair to try and sell these bunch of Arch-cronies as compassionate savers of the world1, when talking about the horrific bombings was sick politicism.
How many people still believe in such pathetic non-crusades as that of fighting "Terror"? What a joke. Fuck political and religious extremists (including Neo-cons and opportunists like Blair and Berlusconi into the heady mix of Nationalist and religious fundamentalism) of all forms.
1 Though Blair is a master orator, the Vulture's pauses and furled brow when giving his statement were near perfect.See individual entry…