All 23 entries tagged Reviews

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February 29, 2008

Proost!

Writing about web page http://www.uitzendinggemist.nl/index.php/aflevering?aflID=6578043&md5=b7b56b174017d339257144fd25654d81

Zojuist heb ik de VPRO thema-documentaire “Proost” bekeken via Uitzendinggemist.nl. Hierin wordt het probleem van overmatig alcoholgebruik van Nederlandse jongeren behandeld, en wordt kritisch gekeken naar de achterliggende redenen van de explosieve toename van alcoholgebruik van jongeren onder de 16. Ik was onder de indruk van de interviewers, die scherpe en relevante vragen stellen aan de mensen die hier aan het woord komen, en doorvragen als een antwoord zwak overkomt. Zwak onderdeel vond ik wel de slapsticksatire tussendoor die zo in onsubtiel is dat het wat flauw wordt. Maar de hoofdzaak van de documentaire komt heel duidelijk naar voren: Nederlandse jongeren drinken te veel, te vaak en te vroeg, en er wordt veel te weinig aan gedaan.

De documentaire duurt 1 uur en 15 minuten. Als je de tijd hebt, neem dan zeker even een kijkje.


October 26, 2007

Ten Albums That Shook the 1990s

Lo and behold! After due deliberation, I have finally decided upon the ten that will make it till the very end of times. Considering that: more than seven years have passed since the end of last century’s last decade, and it’s about time that we start canonising what’s Eternal & Unwithering; that I love top-ten lists; that music helps us to have a grip on time; that certain tunes make you melancholic since they formed the soundtrack of a particular period; that the nineties as a decade could represent just that interesting fin-de-siècle and fin-du-communisme dynamic…

I have resolved to act as the final arbiter on this matter and to choose the Ten Albums That Shook the 1990s, the Golden Ten, the Final and Authoritative Top Ten List of the 1990s. I shall no longer keep you anticipating.

1. Radiohead – OK Computer (1997)
2. R.E.M. – Out Of Time (1991)
3. dEUS – The Ideal Crash (1999)
4. Air – Moon Safari (1998)
5. Nirvana – Nevermind (1991)
6. Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill (1995)
7. The Cranberries – No Need To Argue (1994)
8. Bush – Sixteen Stone (1994)
9. Radiohead – The Bends (1995)
10. K’s Choice – Paradise In Me (1996)

With a few sidenotes
All albums selected were to have been released and somewhat successful in at least two countries. This, of course, gives more than a slight bias for English-sung music.
Obviously a top ten of occidental, or better said, Western European and Northern American, music.
Despite the presence of American, Belgian, British, Canadian, French and Irish albums, Germany remains notably absent.

Interested to hear your comments, though they shall clearly not tear down the Authority with which these ten albums were carefully selected.


May 14, 2007

Watching the Eurovision Song Contest

Man or woman?Over the last few years, the Eurovision Song Contest has become every time more something I don’t want to miss. Although I already used to watch with mom and dad on the sofa when I was five, I have now made myself believe it has something of a great significance, perhaps even of political importance. So do my friends, although some for reasons of genuine musical interest, something I find kind of hard to grasp, but no matter.

We decided to watch it together – a mixed audience of Spanish, French, Swiss, Belgian and Taiwanese students in a friend’s appartment. Although I arrived late due to some metro issues (the gates refused to recognise my somewhat wrinkled metro card), I managed to see a few of the songs, one of even more appaling quality than the other, and what’s more, with very few songs that stood out for anything.

There are some facts about the Eurovision you might not know, but that I think, if you managed to read thus far, might interest you. Here’s one: the four countries that contribute most to the European Broadcasting Corporation – the UK, France, Germany and Spain – enter automatically in the finals, even if their song is of such poor quality that it didn’t manage to get through the semifinals. I didn’t think the UK’s contribution was too bad though, the others I didn’t see. That brings us to the next fact. France and the UK, most notably the latter, traditionally receive very little to no points; I believe some PhD studies have been done about it.

Fact three. Russia on the contrary generally scores all the top points from its neighbouring countries. Most curious were Estonia’s 12 points for Russia, even though the two countries have a less than amicable relationship lately. Or am I mistaken in seeing politics in innocent pop? One other explanation may be the high percentage of Russian minorities in former Soviet states. In any case, Poland defyingly granted its 12 points to Georgia, new in Eurovisionland, and with an English-lyriced tune. Turkey by now traditionally scores the Netherlands’ and Germany’s 12 points. Only just not enough to make it to the top three.

And to finish this anyway overpoliticed piece in a further political tone: how come Israel participates in the Eurovision Song Contest? It’s not like they haven’t done so for the last x number of years, but geographically they really aren’t part of the European continent. If Israel is in it, shouldn’t Lebanon too, really? I’m sure there’s some politics behind that.

To go short, not much new under the sun. Another edition, another tiny country on the perifery added, another host of strangely glamorous artist taken from an inexhaustable stock – a really wonder what these types do throughout the year – another bombastic song wins the games in a year that won’t be remembered for its extravaganza. Serbia, take it away!


April 27, 2007

Vincent van Gogh, 1853–1890. Een leven in brieven

de Zaaier (1888), naar Japans model Deze week beëindigde ik na lange tijd mijn worsteling door een selectie brieven van Vincent van Gogh, vanaf 1876 tot aan vlak voor zijn dood in 1890. Een worsteling, in de eerste plaats omdat het een lijvig werk is. Vincent was gewend zijn gedachten ruim uiteen te zetten in de brieven die hij aan mensen schreef, bovenal aan zijn broer Theo. Op bepaalde momenten schreef hij dagelijks, soms zelfs tweemaal daags brieven aan Theo. Zodoende komt de lezer over de 583 pagina’s die het boek beslaat veel te weten van zijn ideeën over de kunst en over het werk van schilders waarmee hij bevriend was – schilders als Mauve, Gaugain, Bernard en Pissarro. Het boek beschrijft in die zin tot op bijzondere hoogte jaren gedachtegang verwoord in brieven. De enorme omvang van zijn correspondentie vormt voor kunsthistorici een bijzondere bron. Redacteur van het boek Jan Hulsker spreekt van “een commentaar zo uniek dat er in de kunstgeschiedenis geen vergelijkbaar pendant van valt aan te wijzen.”

Zelfportret 1888De tweede worsteling ondervond ik in de ‘ontmoeting met de kunstenaar’ die het boek biedt. Terwijl men leest, glijden de jaren van Van Gogh’s leven voort, vol moeilijkheden, veranderingen en problemen. Problemen van financiële aard, want door het hele boek (en door zijn hele leven) heen kan Vincent slechts één keer een schilderij verkopen. Vincent blijft vanaf het moment dat hij besluit schilder te worden tot aan het einde toe financieel compleet afhankelijk van zijn jongere broer Theo, die kunsthandelaar is in Parijs. Maar ook sociale problemen, want Van Gogh heeft een moeilijk karakter en is vaak eenzaam. Uit de brieven spreekt een zwaarmoedig en filosofisch persoon; men zou zelfs kunnen spreken van een ‘religieus’ karakter, ook al zweert Vincent het Christelijke geloof in zijn institutionele vorm al in 1880 af. Vele jaren hard werk en conflicten binnen de familie en met andere schilders maken Vincent tot een moedeloos man die zich ouder zegt te voelen dan hij is. “Men zou niet altijd kunnen zeggen wat het is dat je insluit, je ommuurt, je schijnt te begraven, maar je voelt toch ik weet niet welke tralies, welke hekken, welke muren”, schrijft Vincent al in 1880 aan zijn broer. In dezelfde maand tien jaar later, na jaren harde arbeid, het afsnijden van zijn oorlel, aanvallen van waanzin en depressies, pleegt Van Gogh zelfmoord met een pistoolschot. De hele ontwikkeling tussen deze twee momenten zijn te lezen in dit boek.

De Oogst, 1888Waarom pleegde Van Gogh uiteindelijk zelfmoord? “Van alles is aangevoerd,” schrijft de Koninklijke Bibliotheek, “te beginnen met jarenlange ondervoeding, een diepe, aangeboren melancholie, overmatig alcolholgebruik, vooral van het kwalijke absinth, epilepsie, syphilis, paranoïde schizofrenie, of een combinatie van deze mogelijkheden.” De werkelijke reden blijft voor ons een raadsel. Dit boek geeft echter een inzicht in de man en kunstenaar Vincent van Gogh.

Vincent van Gogh: 1853-1890. Een leven in brieven. Uitgeverij Meulenhoff, Amsterdam 1980. 583 pagina’s.


March 03, 2007

Salvador

Daniel and SalvadorThe other day I saw the Catalan film Salvador, set in the afterdays of Spanish Francoism.

This historical film (2006) shows us how the Catalan young man Salvador Puig Antich slowly gets involved in activism of a Catalan-nationalist, anti-Francoist brand, soon after which he gets caught by the police. The half-German, half-Catalan actor Daniel Brühl (Goodbye Lenin!) takes the role of quite normal Salvador, whom however hides one of his activities from his friends: he carries a gun with him and together with comrades robs Francoist money from the banks in order to finance a clandestine Catalan publication.

Once he gets caught by the police, his situation is pretty bad. As he shot an agent out of self-defense during his arrest, his punishment is certain: death sentence. The second half of the film works towards this slow but certain end of Salvador: death by choking. A very impressive but horrible film. In the last scene, riot police violently keeps people away from his funeral.

And but a few days later I found myself visiting myself that same cemetery, the largest of Barcelona, the cementiri de Montjuïc. A friend had passed me a map of this impressive city of the dead, with names and places of famous people buried there. Among them politician Francesc Macià, painter and sculptor Joan Miró, and also… Salvador.

We went to look for his grave. We found it all the way uphill, away from the downhill entrance. Among a flat block of graves, five high and some twenty-five graves from left to right, there it was, inconspicuous: Salvador Puig Antich.

An impressive moment: among all these people, names of unknown lives, a young man with his story: murdered by a bloody regime for an unjust cause.


February 19, 2007

All of Sudden, Manu Chao!

Manu ChaoAt times, a city like Barcelona has some amazing surprises for a simple student.

An average Sunday afternoon, bumming at home. Nah, not even that average cause it rains outside, so a game of football in the park is not an option. I check an email from a friend, she writes: “How´s Barcelona, been chilling with Manu Chao already?” I text an Erasmus friend to see what her plans are for the night, and she happens to write back: “Manu Chao is playing in the city today, tickets are only 10 euros! Wanna come along and see if there are any left?” I agree to come along but with little hope.

When my Argentinian artist housemate comes home and hears about the gig, he gets near-hysterical. Where? What time? He happens to have worked with Manu Chao three years ago! So off he goes, straight away! To call me an hour later, saying that it´s cool, we´re all on the guest list!

Yesterday night we saw an amazing gig. Rumba with frighteningly fast guitar solos on the nylon string. The tightest reggae, some ska, hiphop, a lot of energy and above all the infectuous enthusiasm of Manu, so close to his audience. He´s got a very special appearance, very charismatic.

And my housemate, the painter… later told me he met up with the band earlier on and even had dinner with them. I guess that right remained exclusively reserved for the artist among artists.


November 23, 2006

Borat, the Film

Borat, from the Glorious Republic of KazakhstanYesterday night I saw this film the posters of which are really all over the city. After the initial hilarity and dicks-and-prostitute-laughter, I stayed behind with only one burning question, that kept me thinking through the night and into today.

Is this all fiction, or is it real? Or is it a mixture of the two, and if so, which parts have just been written like a screenplay. Just to clarify myself for the less comprehending reader. I do off course know Borat is actually a British Jewish guy and all, and that the parts in Kazakhstan are in fact filmed in Romania, but…

- does Borat really go out in the arena to pervert the US national anthem?
- does he really invite a hooker to a dinner party, or is even this dinner party fake?
- ...etc. etc. etc.

Some people might say that it doesn´t matter very much, but it changes the whole significance of the film! If most of these parts are real, than it gives an interesting look at the inner workings of the USA. If not, than what the hell (if anything at all) is Baron Cohen trying to show?


November 20, 2006

Geweldige website

Writing about web page http://www.bergh-brandkasten.nl/

Bergh BrandkastenDit bedrijf verdient een Gouden Apenstaart voor hun voortreffelijke website.

“Sinds de oprichting van BERGH BRANDKASTEN BV is BERGH BRANDKASTEN gespecialiseerd in brandkasten. De brandkasten worden in de volle ranche van brandkasten geproduceerd in `s-Heerenberg, gemeente Bergh.”

[...]

“Omdat BERGH BRANDKASTEN alle brandkasten zelf produceert kunt u de brandkasten bij BERGH BRANDKASTEN laten produceren zoals U de brandkasten uitgevoerd wilt zien. Voor vragen over brandkasten e-mail BERGH BRANDKASTEN: info@bergh-brandkasten.nl.”


November 13, 2006

Someone's Life

Writing about web page http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielzolli/

Andorra de VeillaWho is Daniel Zolli? The truth is, I don’t really know.

This is how the internet works. I know he is male, 23, and comes from Wroclaw, Poland. But I don’t really know who he is, or rather, I really don’t know who he is. All I assume is that he likes to travel, and that he takes really good photos if they are really his.

The photos on the webpage I’m reviewing here are taking in, among other places, the Ukraine, Spain, Germany, Georgia (and I don’t mean the American state) and Spain. They feature nature, cities, people, things. As much as their theme is dispersed, all photos are united in the use of colour and kind of travellishness.

The photo posted here shows us a downtown street in Andorra de Veilla, Andorra’s capital.


October 24, 2006

Het snelle leven

Writing about web page http://www.ted.nl/v5/?item=490

De tijd staat niet stil in het Gooi. Filmmakers en vrienden Onur Yilmaz (regie) en Xander Bruins (camerawerk) maakten onlangs de korte film Het snelle leven die een kleine internethit aan het worden is.

In Het snelle leven toont wigger Maddogg – “double D double G, je weet tsoch!” – (Florantijn van Spronsen) zijn leven en zijn passies: hiphop en straatracen. Maar ondertussen voelt het kleine Eemnes benauwd krap voor iemand met zijn urban style.

Ga dit zien en vergeet vooral niet de interessante posts eronder te lezen!


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