Hype: Super16/Black Heart

If you’re in Copenhagen and looking to do something on Thursday, go to the opening of this year’s crop of films by the Super16 group of independent filmmakers. It’s at the Dagmar Theatre and runs from noon till midnight.

The usual full disclosure: the director of one of the films — Black Heart — Ada Bligaard Søby, is a friend of mine. But that doesn’t prevent her from being incredibly talented. Really, go see for yourself. I’ve just watched Black Heart (produced by Morten Kjelms Juhl), and it’s a both ominous and touching piece of documentary reconstruction. It’s hampered somewhat by it’s use heavy handed allegory, but it never becomes a real problem — this is acutely poetic filmmaking in the tradition of the French New Wave. Don’t take my word for it — go see for yourselves!

Picks of the Week (American Politics is Weeeeird)

The picks of the week from around the web.

  • Al Smith Dinner 2008 (above). It took me a while to believe this was recent, and for real. But it was. McCain is actually funny!! Obama tries. And the atmosphere is congenial. A weird moment in the exciting — and on the Republicans’ part — farcical presidential campaign. Oh, and Obama mentions Jor-El, so there’s your comics link for the week!
  • Other hilarious, related moments from the past few weeks: The Daily Show on casting Obama as a terrorist’s pal, Chris Rock/Bill Maher on the first debate, and Jack Cafferty on the almost surreal Katie Couric interview with Sarah Palin.
  • And then, of course, there’s this. Which just boggles the mind. Not to mention this, which is your hip hop link for the week.
  • These have been your picks of the week. I’m sorry 🙂

  • Oh, wait a minute, there’s also this.
  • The Metabunker Open for Comments!

    Just finished this article that Tom linked to (thanks, Tom!). It’s by Andrew Sullivan, a former editor of The New Republic, and it’s on blogging as a way of writing and creating a community. It’s rather utopian, but in that good, inspirational way, and it’s made me return to these thoughts I’ve been having about blogging the Bunker. Basically, I don’t do enough of it.

    Sullivan argues strongly in favour of the instant quality of blogging — the live writing — and distinguishes between that and more considered, formally judicious, as well as longer, writing. Thing is, I kind of like the latter, even on the web, despite being aware that most people don’t have the patience to read at least longer pieces. At any rate, I don’t do enough of the shorter, more instant kind of writing here and will endeavour to do this more in the future, all the while maintaining the more traditional pieces as a central element of the blog.

    Another thing Sullivan extolls are the virtues of keeping one’s writing open for instant commentary. I have resisted this because I used to run and moderate a discussion forum at the now discontinued Danish comics site rackham.dk and that eventually soured me on the whole exercise. I’m afraid this kind of thing almost invariably means diminishing returns. But Sullivan has me thinking I should perhaps try it again, in this slightly different form, so from today I have opened this site for comments on a probationary basis.

    So, you know, feel free to comment!

    Alton Ellis RIP

    alton_ellis.jpgA true legend of Jamaican music passed away last week. Alton Ellis, Mr. Soul of Jamaica, the King of Rocksteady, is gone after an extended bout with cancer that had been in remission for a while, allowing him to return to the stage as late as last year. I never got the opportunity to hear him perform live, but sure have appreciated his records for the last few years since I got into ska and rocksteady for real.

    What an amazing singer. He doesn’t have the rudeboy charm combined with occasional, dreamy vulnerability of a Desmond Dekker, but he makes up for this with sheer confidence in his delicate, unadorned voice, bordering on the nonchalant, hitting the occasional note off key for emotional resonance, and he conveys pain and heartbreak much more intensely. Few singers sound as earnest as him, and in this he touches upon the power of soul.

    Efterklang (Better than That)

    natasja_shooting_star.jpgShooting Star — Natasjas posthumt udgivne engelskprogede album — er resultatet af en række uheldige sammenfald, ulykkeligt tynget af hendes tragiske død sidste år.

    I modsætning til hendes ligeledes posthumt udsendte, mesterlige dansksprogede album fra i fjor, I Danmark er jeg født, var Shooting Star åbenlyst ikke grydeklart som album, og det kan mærkes. Det består af en skønsom blanding af ældre numre, tre af dem endog gengangere fra hendes første engelsksprogede skive, Release fra 2005, lidt nyere materiale hentet andetsteds fra, og sidst men ikke mindst en håndfuld spritnye skæringer.

    Producenterne, Pharfar og Peter Skovsted, har gjort deres bedste for at få en helstøbt plade ud af det forhåndenværende, og der er for så vidt ikke noget at udsætte på deres indsats, der skaber en vis sammenhæng i en samling numre af ganske forskellig karakter. Problemet er — desværre — hovedsageligt materialet selv.

    The Financial Crisis 101

    For those of us who have a hard time wrapping our heads around what exactly the underpinnings of the current financial crisis are, I will continue my recent spree of linking to the New York Times (yeah, I know, not exactly the best kept secret when it comes to sources of information, but anyway). This introduction is quite good.

    And for comics fans who read Danish and aren’t already aware of it, daily newspaper Politiken‘s most recent and rather promising new cartoonist, Philip Ytournel, did a delightful summary in comics form last week.

    Picks of the Week

    The picks of the week from around the web.

  • Congrats to Paul Krugman! This year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for economics, Krugman is an economics professor at Princeton and has done groundbreaking research. We mortals however know him best as the New York Times‘ most consistently excellent op-ed columnist, so what better way to celebrate than read his latest column, on the British bailout plan?
  • Old School (mostly for our Danish readers). Finally on the Tube: DR’s great documentary on the origins of hip hop in Denmark: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Lidtekstra baggrund her.
  • New York Times. Michael Pollan, one of the best writers on the intersection of food/culture/politics these days, offers up a stirring policy manifesto.
  • Shuffling it Right

    Forty years ago, British modern dance was essentially nonexistent. Today several of its choreographers are internationally renowned, among them Michael Clark, Akram Khan, and not least Richard Alston, artistic director of London’s first (and still foremost) centre for modern-dance training, the Place. Alston trained at the Place himself, as a student in the ’60s, and created his first dances there. Forty years on, Alston has conceived a new program for his Richard Alston Dance Company that is partly a retrospective, partly an offering of new work, as a kind of reverse present in honor of his 60th birthday.

    Simply titled 40/60, the show premiered last week in London and is now on a short UK tour through the fall. The company’s performances last week at the Cambridge Arts Theatre provided eager audiences with the chance to see anew—or indeed to encounter for the first time (the stalls at Tuesday’s show held a conspicuously youthful crowd; a dance school mass-booking perhaps?)—the vital place that Alston holds in British dance history. Other choreographers’ work might be more theatrically interesting, more morally charged, and certainly more “cutting edge”: it is hard to find anything even mildly provocative about Alston’s work, unless you are a pre-adolescent girl set atwitter at the mere sight of toned thighs in tights. But none more than Alston can convey such a relentless, expansive delight in dance-making itself. Inherent to his style is a joy in the body’s sheer expressive range, manifest (in his best pieces) in masterful footwork, rich ensemble patterning, high-stretching lines, and sharp, precisely delineated individual performances. Plenty of these qualities were on display in 40/60, and both the new offerings and the retrospective survey struck high notes of invention and charm.