Time for reflection as we sit down between buffets. 2018 was a momentous year in several respects, but more on that in later posts. Here, I delve into my “world culture” explorations to, hopefully, give you some inspiration as an alternative to the Happy Holidays fodder.
First up – the Movies
I haven’t watched many Korean films but of those that I have it seems that Korean cinema goers like their slow-burners. “The Handmaiden” is cinematically gorgeous. Slow, as allowed if the visuals offer up a treat, with twists and turns, it is an erotic thriller inspired by Sarah Waters’ novel “Fingersmith”. Set in the 1930s during the Japanese occupation it is a wonderful timepiece. Worth 2 hours of your time.
“Clash” – I may have mentioned this before but I tucked into this for a second time. I love tight writing where the action is contracted and the pace taut. This is a genius example. Shot entirely in the back of a police van during the Arab uprising of 2013 the tension leaps into your living room. As the riots continue and protesters are hauled indiscriminately into the van we see all of Egypt enclosed within the space. A brilliant film.
And finally, “Makala”. This documentary style film left me wondering about the lives of the families depicted for months after seeing it. Makala is Swahili for charcoal. A young peasant wants to extend his house and make a better life for his family. He cuts trees and makes charcoal bricks for burning – loads them onto his rusty bike and walks for days to the market to sell them. Filmed in the Democratic Republic of Congo it is a haunting slice of a harsh life for the poor people in DRC. You think your life is tough.. ?
Moossicc 🙂 –
I’ve mentioned Gaye Su Akyol before. I love the way her songs mix an etherial Turkish majesty with out ’n’ out head on rock music. Her 3rd album, İSTİKRARLI HAYAL HAKİKATTİR (Consistent Fantasy is Reality) was released in November and takes “Hologram Imparatorlugu” to the next level. There is passion and dynamism and sometimes, I suspect, a cheeky wink. The digital version has a booklet with translations. Buy it and impress your friends.
The wondrous Dhafer Youssef released his “Sounds of Mirrors” with Zakir Hussain on tablas, Husnu Senlendirici on clarinet, and Eivind Aarset on guitar. This couldn’t be more different from the bounce and vibe of GSA above. This is music to transport you. To close your eyes to. To lay back and absorb, slowly – in your headphones – be as one. One of the most extraordinary musicians on the planet.
And, Bokante’s “Strange Circles” debut has been rattling my ears since it was released 18 months or so ago. Now as 2018 closes that “difficult second album” emerges into the light. “What Heat” sees the band collaborate with Metropole Orkest to bring us another slice of wrap-around sound and tight rhythms. The beautiful voice of Malika Tirolien, singing in her native Guadaloupien Creole, rides waves of deep bass, lush orchestration, and a pick-and-mix of multi-cultural instrumentation. Another great album pioneered by Snarky Puppy’s Micheal League. As they say, try it for free then support the artists. (I can’t believe how cheap digital recordings are these days.)
Happy New Year to my reader. I’m off to search for more delights from the multi-cultural world that we live in – and if you have any suggestions, please do let me know.