All entries for Monday 07 May 2007

May 07, 2007

Mediterranean Union

Writing about web page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediterranean_Union

It would seem that M. Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France to be, has the vision of a Mediterranean Union, that would comprise Maghreb, Machrek, Turkey and some European states. He sees it as a sort of “replacement deal” for Turkey – which he doesn’t see as part of the EU, despite the long negociations that have been going on.
During the pre-second round debate, he stated that Turkey’s membership to the European Union would mark the death of a politic Europe, and advanced that Turkey was not geographically part of Europe. Whilst I am not much in favour of Turkey’s membership as of now, the reason for my position is that I think the 27-strong Union is not ready yet to get another member – I am not opposing Turkey’s membership in a certain future; I do not know enough on the country’s politics/economy to judge on the matter.
However, I know what view I have of Europe – today’s European Union is hardly more than a economic union, with the added advantages of free circulation of people and Erasmus. Its body has only fines as a means of pressure towards “rogue” members – it is definitely not a supernation or a political Europe. The Europe that I wish to see is a supernation, a political Europem with a strong executive body. I wish to see a Federal Republic of Europe. Now, whilst my view on this may not be shared (and is probably not) – a Mediterranean Union would be the death of this dream and of a political Europe:
How do you expect, if you want Europe to be a political union, to have half its member be part of another union; it is hard enough as it is to combine being a member of NATO and of the EU at the same time. So, M. Sarkozy, by allegedly wishing to save the political Europe, is undermining it.
I can’t wait to see what his proposed “mini-treaty” for Europe is… (oh boy England is growing on me, I’m already sarcastic!)


Dreamgirls

Movie image
Title:
Dreamgirls
Rating:
3 out of 5 stars
_Dreamgirls_ is on tomorrow at the Student Cinema. I watched it last night – and the word that comes to mind is uneven.
Weirdly enough, it’s not even a matter of “the actors are good, but the photography is not, or the writing”. No. Every role there is in movie-production is uneven in this movie.
  1. Let’s start with the story – the movie opens on a concert, sort of the début of the Dreamgirls, a trio of singing girls; and it moves on following them to their final concert (how original!). In the middle of this comes the ransom of glory, and the evolution of relationships within the diva-becoming trio and with the manager (a flirtatious man…). Without giving away more of the “plot” – at one point the movie splits between two storylines, one concerning Effie, one concerning the other Dreamgirls. The latter is, well, poorly done – hackneyed if you wish. If you want to watch a movie about the consequences of power and business-music, watch Ray. If you want to see flirt between artists, and the consequences of drugs, watch Walk the line – both of which are excellent films. The only original aspect of this storyline is that it tackles the influence on music itself of business-led music.
    The Effie storyline, however, is far more touching – and well done. And at least you can follow the change in her personality. Mind you, it is quite a simple storyline, but it is also original as it focuses on the What happens after?
  2. Cast. Every performance was uneven, generally getting better towards the end of the movie. Beyonce was particularly appalling in her moments, but also very good at times. She was, in my opinion, a controversial casting choice, considering her own history within Destiny’s Child – which echoes a bit in the film. There is an exception to those uneven performances:
    Dreamgirls won the Oscar for “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role”, for Jennifer Hudson as Effie. And it was deserved – her acting was simply fabulous all the way through, and she has a great voice. Only for her, it is a movie worth watching.
  3. Photography and directing. Well. Again, uneven. There are some bits which are overdone, some that feel just fine. What they got approximately right, though, is the changing of times. Well. Approximately: you can feel a scene is in the nineties/eighties/seventies/sixties but at times they chose a scene that was reminding of the wrong period… The editing cut, however, was wrong for the middle one hour of the film. I’ll come back to it in my conclusion.
  4. Music. Now when I watched it – in the beginning of the movie, I thought “what a fantastic music!” And it is true for most of the movie. Some songs are poor, though – but nothing quite as wrong as Beauty school drop-out from Grease. So yeah, if you can’t watch the film tomorrow, at least get by any (legal) means of your choosing, the soundtrack.

The main problem of this film, is that it doesn’t belong in the drama category but still tries. It is as though the director was undecided whether he wanted to make a documentary, a TV soap, a musical, or a movie. It feels like a documentary most of the time – but just lacks the narration. It feels like a soap at times, but this never lasts. And this is not just down to the director – the acting goes on accordingly, and so does the music (!)

Conclusion? Dreamgirls is a nice movie, worth watching – at least for the music and for Jennifer Hudson’s performance; but not a masterpiece. It helped me spend a not-too-bad evening last night (see previous entry) but not enough to keep me off drinking a bit afterwards.

Upcoming movies at WSC:
  • Apocalypto on thursday
  • The Last King of Scotland on friday 6.30 and 9.30
  • Rocky Balboa on sunday and tuesday
  • Epic Movie on thursday
  • The Perfume on friday 6.30 and 9.30

The future of France

Writing about web page http://www.lemonde.fr/web/portfolio/0,12-0@2-3208,31-906324@51-906165,0.html

Disclaimer: all this blog, including this entry, reflects my opinion. I appreciate that some don’t agree with me, and I certainly hope I got my facts right. Correct me where I’m wrong.

When I thought about this particular entry, I wanted to give it a title that said bugger, only stronger. I stopped short of using a certain four-letter word. So what triggered my announcement? Simply a figure: 53.06%.
That’s how much of the French population voted for the (very) right-wing candidate to presidency, Nicolas Sarkozy. Why is this bad? Let me introduce you to the person:
  • Recently, he rejected the heritage of May ‘68, and its participants – including social progress.
  • During the campaign, he defended the idea of a “gene” for homosexuality, paedophilia, etc. – saying some people are intrinsically bad. Even though, to my knowledge, he didn’t mention it, cleansing is not far away.
  • How will it happen? Kärcher – that is one word that will go down in history with him. On a visit in Parisian suburbs when he was the chief of police a couple of years ago, he declared he intented to clear off the “scum” with a “Kärcher”, designating by scum a part of the youth. This is believed to have led to the riots from 2005.
  • He believes in “chosen immigration”, and sees nothing wrong in arresting a grandfather who is an illegal immigrant (so far, nothing wrong) in front of his granddaughter’s bloody school
  • Under his rule as chief of police, the number of violent crimes has gone down a bit – but the violence rate up. Now I’m no expert, but if it’s not meddled with figures, then the violence must come from people who uphold the law. Or are supposed to.
  • He has taken a lot of ideas from the French BNP.
  • He is known for a quick temper.

Now, what is the future of France? Well look at the pictures on the link. That happened right after Sarkozy was elected. And you know the worse part? People knew it would happen – and lots of policemen were sent. Look at picture eight in particular. Last night, over a hundred cars burnt in Paris (source – france2).
So that is where France is going. Violence. And escalation. Sweepstake as to when the newly-elected president will decide to take “special powers”? Not that there’s much to win.
Sarkozy will not celebrate the end of WW2 tomorrow – he is going on a retreat to “inhabit” the post of President. Where? Oh, just in Corse – where another ambition-driven (I nearly wrote lunatic) ruler comes from – Napoléon.

Last night, for the first time in my life, I was ashamed to be French.


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