Sunday, 24 November 2013

Warsaw Shore

I feel sullied. I have been seduced - no, flashed - by Poland's possibly lowest-quality import ever: MTV's Warsaw Shore.

Yes, it's true. Massive posters of Polish fake-tanned people look upon the whole city. At first this may have been funny, but now it is getting hard. Why are they so Orange? Why are they screaming? Is it because they are cold? Or in pain?

This photo is extra-small for your own protection

It is this intrigue which led me to watch the first episode. Yes, this might seem like hypocrisy. But I had to see it for myself. It despaired me much, and I threw away my laptop after fifteen minutes.  How long will you last? You won't need to know any Polish to see it, the participant's body language is so expressive. But just in case you wonder - bzykać is a contemporary word for copulation.

Beach-goers on Warsaw's Shore in 1930

Meanwhile, scandalized viewers have started a campaign to remove the biggest poster that entirely covers the facade of the historical Smyk department store. So far 15,000 people like "Remove the Warsaw Shore banner from Smyk". One commentator added as an afterthought: Remove Warsaw Shore from television. 

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Natural Selection

Katarzyna Przezwańska whispers where others scream.

And yet, walking through the endless rooms of the "Britsh Britsh Polish Polish" show at the Ujazdowski Castle for Contemporary Art, it was she who made me stop the longest.

Because perfect things don't need much adjustment. 
Because her changes are so delicate and so appropriate, you don't wonder why; 
you wonder how. And so did I.

In the end, I sat down and watched her filmed impressions of Sao Paulo. Leaves dancing in the wind, water reflected onto the ceiling of an Oscar Niemeyer, a man dancing in the street. It's like I had travelled with her. Or she for us. All in silence. 

Friday, 15 November 2013

Mais Oui Bowie

Question: Is it wrong to be obsessed with an 80's track sung by an actress? 

Answer: Not when the actress is Isabelle Adjani, the songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, and the topic David Bowie's beauty

The possibly grooviest triumvirate of talent ever makes "Beau Oui Comme Bowie". The song's wordplay is hypnotic like a spell, and it's riff isn't letting me go this week. And that curious nonchalance of Ajdani's moves...

Isabelle Adjani, Beau Oui, Comme Bowie, 1983

If this isn't enough for you, get your fix here: Adjani's entire album, filmed as a track-to-track 45min. music video. Grotesque and fabulous are the first words to come to mind.

Isabelle Adjani, full album & video


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Sorrow and Bleakness, The Good Kind

It is getting colder and greyer, and maybe a black-and-white film about a young nun in 1960's Poland isn't what you feel like to take the edge off. You might want to make an exception for "Ida".

This week, on a particularly dreary day, I went to see the latest film by Paweł Pawlikowski. It is essentially a journey: Through urban and rural landscapes, into a family's past, right down to the deeper, darker corners of the soul.

Slow and subtle, the film feels like one astonishing cliché-free improvisation. I cried unscripted crocodile tears at the least dramatic moment, and recounted the plot scene-for-scene upon coming home.

Which is why the juries at the London, Warsaw and Toronto Film Festivals were right to shower the film with prizes. If you're in for some beautiful sorrow, "Ida" will deliver the fix. 

"Ida" trailer in English

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Syria: Not Forever

This blog started over two years ago with a post of my photos from Syria. The civil war was just starting to be called that, and memories of the nation's quiet surface were still fresh.

Today 'Syria' is a political synonym for urgency, escalation and diplomatic conundrums. Which makes these snapshots from December 2010 - a foreigner's naïvely curious glances - living relics: Meaningful, superfluous, and like everything else, endlessly subject to what comes after.