October 8th, 2010

breaking bad

Two interesting women

Yesterday's poetry event was very small, and I really didn't want to go because I've got a stinking cold now. But then it was brilliant, mainly because I met two interesting women, who made my evening.

I read out the little bit of Neruda translation that I posted here before, and preface it with a little spiel about how much I like him. An Indonesian woman came up to me afterwards, and it turns out she is the biggest Neruda fan ever. She's learning Spanish just so she can read Neruda in the original, and she has set up a Pablo Neruda society in Jakarta (he was Chilean consul in Batavia - now Jakarta - in the 1930s). Very interesting.

The other person I spoke to was a young woman performance poet from N. Ireland who I thought was great. Her name is Catherine Brogan and here is her YouTube channel. I think the best work I saw her do was The Omagh Ah, which is about the bombings. This is a better video of the same poem, but it's rotated 90 degrees for some reason. None of those really capture how energetic and engaging she was, performing right in front of you. Her work is something like rap, but using the rhythm of a Northern Irish voice.

And you might like this one about St Catherine and the pagan martyr Hypatia. I think she is more nervous in that performance than she was last night, because it's a book launch.
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Two films

I went to see two films this week: Buried and The Girl Who Played with Fire.

Buried is a very minimalist film. It is set entirely in a 6-by-2 foot grave, in which an American civilian contractor to Iraq has been interred by kidnappers, who want a ransom. They have left him a mobile phone so they can tell him their demands, and he can try to persuade the authorities to pay up. It's one guy (played by Ryan Reynolds) trapped in a small sandy hole, and that's all you see for an hour and a half.

I like minimalism but this was a bit too sparse for me. Sometimes his light source fails and you are just staring at a dark screen. Rather than entering into the claustrophobia this threw me out of the setting, back into my cinema seat. It's not bad, it's an interesting try, but it's not brilliant.

The Girl Who Played With Fire is the second in the Stieg Larsson trilogy. It's very similar to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but with less extreme violence (it is still quite violent). If you liked the previous, this is really a safe and expected continuation of the series. I enjoyed it. I like the lead character, Lisbeth, better in this one; she seems to have slightly more personal agency, to be more of a subject rather than just an idealised object. I also liked the boxer who helps Lisbeth's girlfriend.