Brazilian Movie Night

The movie club members have upped their game and the night has turned into a regular feast. Egyptian movie night set a new (high) standard and so the Brazilians in our group thought they would match it. They toured all of Cairns and found black beans, chorizo and all the other things on the plate that I cannot remember what is called.

Desert was a passion fruit cream. Need I say more?

Then we watched the ultimate Brazilian drama crime thrillers: Tropa de Elite I and II
What a ride! We follow the life of Captain Nascimento from 1997 until today. Captain Nascimento works in a special unit of the Rio de Janeiro police force, the unit who investigates the corrupt police officer – which seems to be pretty much all of them.

Both movies are fiction but they are based on real life in Rio. And it feels real. Needless to say, they are violent. Very violent. But never for the sake of violence or to take away from the story. The main characters are displayed as complex human beings and their development through the years is remarkable.

It has been a long time since I have liked two movies as much as I liked these. They are complex, provocative and gives you plenty to think about. What I really liked about them was that they do not portray anyone as the true hero or villain. There is no black or white – only gray. Gray, which leaves you with an understanding of how complex the issues are and how difficult it is to come up with solutions to the social problems in Brazil. If you can stand violence I recommend you watch these movies. It won’t be long before I have to see them again.

Egyptian movie night (with English subtitles)

That headline will wake up a few people!
Never in my life would I have thought it was a problem to get an Egyptian movie with English subtitles. Or any Arab movie for that matter. It is a HUGE challenge (google it and watch the amount of chat forums that have discussed this issue). But there is a solution, or rather a new initiative, which – as far as we (the movie club members) know – is completely legal: YouTube!

After sweating for weeks over what movie to watch, YouTube solved all our problems. There are heaps of complete feature films available; all you need to do is use the search for “Egyptian movie, English subtitle”. So we were set. This is how we set up the cinema/my living room for the evening

Four people squeeze onto the sofa, four on the floor and three on the chairs. The arrangement on the floor has now been substituted with a queen size air-mattress; we do like our comfort.

Normally everyone brings a plate for the night and we have a mixed meal. This time Mohammed was so excited that he decided to hit the kitchen and to cook up a storm of Egyptian food. The home-made falafel deserves an  exclusive photo, they were so good.

The dip for the falafel was amazing (tahini base with lemon) and so were the eggs with pastrami, the bean stew and the pasta (Lebanese style!). The potato cakes in the front were brought in as an extra treat by our Ecuadorian member. They are called Llapingachos and were a first for me and a yummy one at that. In addition we had Vietnamese rolls and tons of chips and cake. As I said, we like our comfort.

So what movie did we see? The Yacoubian Building based on the 2002 best selling novel by Alaa Al Aswany. If you need a good read, I can definitely recommend it. You could also just watch the movie. On YouTube.

Trying to focus

I’ve learnt that I need to start my paragraphs by summarising the content, so forgive me for stating the obvious: I’m not writing much on the blog at the moment. I look at all my earlier posts and I simply don’t know how I found the time to do them. Between bleaching uniforms for a hard-working Mr Husband (think Italian, think tomato), my own work and all the other little things, life just passes by.

I suppose it is also a mind-set, not only to create good posts for the blog, but also to remember them and then write them down. Right now, the only thing I can think of that happened to me in the last few days is that I was electrocuted by a lemon in Woolies. It really surprised me. I expect static electricity in a lot of places, but not the vegetable section of a supermarket.

But tonight is movie-night and so I am excited and want to share the buzz. We are having Funny Movies From England night, because we in need of a laugh. Writing a PhD is serious business and we often find ourselves in a bit of a gloom. I am serving tacos which has no relation to England what-so-ever, but it means I don’t have to cook, just put out a large amount of bowls with colourful items. We are watching “Saving Grace” and “Four Lions” and I know it is going to be fun. I also know that there are plenty of English movies that are probably a lot more fun that those, but Saving Grace still contains my favourite funny movie scene ever: the store scene. Till next time, have a laugh on me:

German movie night

What can I say: it was awesome!

True to the theme, the Germans arrived with two types of potato salad, knackwurst and hot mustard. I had made a salad and baked some bread and the rest of the group flooded the house with red wine, snacks, cake and icecream. We were as set for movies as anyone could be. We had a list of seven movies, which was expanded to eight after my last post. Tina suggested we see Run, Lola Run (we didn’t see it, but I will definitely have to – thank you for the input – keep them coming). The other seven movies on the list were

Das Leben Der Anderen (2006, The Lives of Others)
Das weiße Band (2009; The White Ribbon)
Die Fälscher (2007; The Counterfeiters)
Das Boot (1981)
Jenseits Der Stille (1996; Beyond Silence)
Der Untergang (2004; Downfall)
Goodbye Lenin! (2003)

This is in no way an exhausted list of great German movies, but it is a start. Hopefully it is also an inspiration to anyone wondering what movies German directors have put on the map. We opted for the last two. Both depict important turning points in German history (the end of WWII and when the wall in Berlin came down); the first is a serious drama, the second a comedy of grand proportions.

I really liked both. Der Untergang is rather heavy as it depicts the last days of war in a very realistic fashion. It shows the desperation of the losing side and the actions this leads to. There is no glory, no forgiveness. What makes it so scary in my mind is that, deep down, we know that this is not just about the Germans. This is the story that we do not hear from any war… the horrible tale of the losing side.

I had seen Goodbye Lenin! before and I remembered it quite well. At least I thought I did. Because despite remembering a large proportion of the details, they came together as a completely different story the second time, which led to a very different perception of the ending than the first time I saw it. That was SO weird. Now I’m not entirely sure what the movie is about – though it is still a really really good movie and you should see it if you haven’t already.

I don’t know what will be on the next program for movie night. A few suggestions have been up in the air, mostly related to the nationalities of the movie club members. Egyptian movie night, Brazilian movie night, Peruvian movie night…. let us know if you have any suggestions – themes, movies, the likes!

Movie Club

We have made a movie club! That is my colleagues and I.
It is a really simple club, not much organising really. We meet at my house, bring food/drinks/snacks along and watch a couple of movies together. The whole intention behind the club is that it is to be easy, cheap and just as much about the company as the movie. Most of us are non-Australians, so we are in the process of creating a social life here. Coming together to share food and a movie is great for this.

The first time we met, we decided to watch a Danish action comedy called I Kina spiser de hunde (I had a lot to do with this choice, I will admit that) and the latest movie by Almodovar – a thriller called The Skin I live In. This was a really good start as we now have a better feel for each other. It seems that no one in the group is especially sensitive – to anything really.

The second time we met was last weekend. Cairns was host to the travelling film festival and we grouped up across interests and met in smaller groups during the weekend. I did a marathon on Sunday, where I saw three movies, all which I can highly recommend. Festivals are great for this really – they have gone through a lot of trouble selecting the movies to begin with, so they are almost always entertaining.

The first movie I saw was a documentary on a 1970s singer called Searching for Sugarman. The story is unbelievable, it really is, and the music is fantastic. It was definitely worth the ticket. I don’t want to reveal the story, for two reasons: if I give you the short version the movie sounds so uninteresting it would turn you off. If I tell you the interesting part, you know the plot. BUT, definitely say yes if someone invites you.

The second movie I saw was a Chinese drama about growing old called A Simple Life
Also this was a great movie, playing on the whole spectrum of emotions. It was funny, we laughed out loud many times, reflective, intense and of course sad. My Chinese companion and I cried at the end, so much so that the tissues needed to come out of the handbag for a good noseblow.

My personal favourite was the last movie I saw. It was a Lebanese comedy drama about a group of women, who try to ease religious tensions between Christians and Muslims in their village. It is called Where Do We Go Now and is so funny that my face produces a massive smile, just thinking about it. This movie is not a massive block buster, which is a real shame. It should be. I encourage you to go and look for it, ask for it, drive far to see it and bring your friends. It is worth it.

Tonight we have movie club again. The two Germans in the club will be away for a while (one has fieldwork in Papua New Guinea for 9 months and the other is off for a job in Georgia) so we have decided to do a German movie night. We have listed seven amazing German movies for selection and will decide on the final two tonight. I’m excited. I will let you know how it goes!

Inuk

Last night I went to the movies. There is a new movie out, Inuk, about the struggles to find identity in today’s Greenland. The movie has won tons of awards on international film festivals around the world and had world premier to the public here in Nuuk last week.

The movie touches something universal about identity, fear and loss of self. The name, Inuk, is singular for the word Inuit, which mean people or humans. It is also the name of the main character.

I had so many reflections on the movie afterwards that I couldn’t sleep. It was such a powerful experience. Apart from being a well told story, the cinematography was amazing. It adds to the experience that I am here, that I currently walk around in the scenery. The initial part of the movie is filmed in what looks like Nuuk and it was so much fun to sit in the local cinema and hear the reactions from people. There was a lot of giggling and chit-chat the first half hour. When the movie finished, the audience broke into spontaneous applause. I understand why. I would go see it, if I was you.