what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Russians are coming

I have warned that the combination of Bucharest and the small flat is not conducive to thought and blogging. My first day back was spent cooking, arguing and browsing the bookshops – and a small art gallery. This morning I was diverted from the auction which was at 11.00 to one of the films in the special Russian film festival (under the title Vin Rusii) being held here. Days of Eclipse (made in 1988 by Alexandr Sokorov) is one of the most stunning films I have ever seen. Shot essentially in sepia (with occasional colour) and with an amazing soundtrack of asian and western music (fusing in the last few minutes of its 2 hour duration, it is based in the a village in rural Tajikistan – showing (in the words of the Strictly Film School website on which I now draw) “an unassimilated culture foundering in the vacuum of an imposed, meaningless, ritualized order”.
The reluctant witness to this soul-sapping, Dante-esque existential limbo is the young, idealistic physician Malyanov (Aleksei Ananishnov) who, at the instigation of the government in its push to modernize the rural Asiatic territories, relocated from Gorky in order to set up a clinic in the village. Ethnically and linguistically unassimilated into the local culture (and whose advice and medical practice are largely ignored by the impoverished villagers), his limited interaction with the outside world is relegated to the company of other kindred exiles: his suicidal neighbor, an underemployed engineer demoralized by the futility of his unrealized plans and who has been occupying his time by writing journals that no one else reads (a ritual that is paralleled in Malyanov's own perpetual typing of unsubmitted reports to pass the time); his estranged sister who questions his determination in continuing his practice in the village despite the profound isolation and disappointment of his empty, mind-numbing station; a cherubic, lost boy (who may have been abandoned or ran away from home out of hunger or abuse) who insinuates himself into Malyanov's care; his aimless and increasingly paranoid friend who continues to bear the residual psychological scars of generational trauma after his parents were driven from Russia during the Stalinist purges.
Sokorov is apparently one of the heirs of Tarkovsky – one of whose films I hope to see tomorrow. And such Directors knock not only all American but most European Directors into a cocked hat (admittedly I remain so impressed by Tree of the Wooden Clogs that I have managed to get a copy now for Sirnea). The film was not only monochrome but very poor quality; the actors for the most part unknown; and the scenes of poverty (and imbecility) quite distressing – and yet the totality was riveting.

A good discussion about some books on the Chinese future

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