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keane

Lodge Kerrigan's third released film (a fourth one was reportedly scrapped after completion), 'Keane' offers an intense and often agonizing glimpse into the life of a mentally ill father. The title character is brilliantly portrayed by Damian Lewis, relentlessly followed by a hand-held camera which hardly loses sight of him during the whole film.

Keane - 1

The story is ambiguous in its documentary-like realism. A clearly disturbed man wanders around a New York bus station looking for his abducted daughter. As we follow him around the streets and transportation hubs of the city, muttering to himself in anguish and self-medicating with alcohol and drugs, we begin to doubt his motives. By the time he meets a woman who has a young daughter herself, there is no telling what will happen.

But as a relationship, fleeting but genuine nonetheless, develops between Keane and the woman's daughter, it becomes clear that whatever happened before, and in spite of his illness, his intentions are good, and he would probably make a better father than the girl's ever had.

Keane - 2

Never explaining anything, 'Keane' makes for some uncomfortable viewing, but is ultimately compassionate as well, showing a man traumatized by loss and guilt over his missing daughter. In the end, it doesn't really matter whether his loss is delusional or not - it is painfully real.

ahmet abi

Ahmet Abi - 1

Ahmet Abi - 2

Apparently this weird, tucked away illuminated sign in Rotterdam is an art project by Arno Coenen. The text is based on a Turkish poem by Edip Cansever called 'The Voice of Blood in my Handkerchief' ('De stemmen van bloed in mijn zakdoek').

nieuw dier

Just this once, let me recommend you dust off your television, plug it in and turn it on on Sunday Friday evenings to watch the anarchistic Pythonesque comedy of 'Nieuw Dier'.

the falling eye

Interesting exhibition of Saskia Olde Wolbers' video art, titled 'The Falling Eye', at the Stedelijk Museum.

In all four pieces shown, dreamlike images combine with a voice-over narrating bizarre and complex stories. In Trailer (2005), for example, a man in an Ohio film theatre watches a trailer about a Hollywood actress who disappears in the Amazonian jungle after a plane crash and gets addicted to a rare hallucinogenic plant, to the point where the species dies out. From watching the trailer, the man realizes the actress is his mother.

Saskia Olde Wolbers - Trailer

The link between images and story is tenuous: we see the arenas in which the story takes place, but never the characters. The strength of the pieces lies in the surreal beauty of the images. The camera moves languidly through underwater worlds dripping with paint. A cinema, a jungle, a hospital - all transformed into viscous living spaces.

Saskia Olde Wolbers - Placebo

Though no doubt there's a lot of meta-theoretical commentary going on here about storytelling and the relation between fiction and reality (it's Art, so there must be, right?), these pieces work best taken at face value. That is, just sit back and watch these breathtaking glimpses of a far-off dreamworld, and try not to wonder what it all means. If you do, it becomes a bit silly - and more than a bit pretentious.

More images here.

orchestra baobab

Recorded in 1982 and rereleased in 2001, 'Pirate's Choice' is the legendary album by Senegalese band Orchestra Baobab, the resident band of night club Baobab in Dakar throughout the '70s.

Their music has been called Afro-Cuban-Caribbean fusion, which at least sums up some of their influences. Songs in both French and Spanish as wells as Wolof provide frameworks for extended jamming and some of the most mellow guitar solos ever.

Orchestra Baobab - Pirate's Choice

Highly recommended!

Also: the album's rerelease sparked a reunion of the band and a new album: 'Specialist in all Styles'.

de zee die denkt

'De Zee Die Denkt' ('The Sea That Thinks') is a weird, thoughtprovoking film about itself and about a script writer struggling with the question of what the 'I', the self, really is. Like a Zen koan, the film tries to unsettle the viewer's expectations and thinking patterns. It abounds in visual puns and clever trickery, Escher-like impossibilities and meta-play.

The Sea That Thinks

The story, or really the discussion, draws heavily on Buddhist philosophy, which asserts that all reality, including the self, is illusory, and it is people clinging to their ego that causes their suffering. The script writer in the film tries to get his mind around this idea, but he gets stuck in a kind of Cartesian paradox: for all his lofty ideas, there is still an 'I' who is having them.

The whole idea that we are an 'I', a somebody, is an illusion. I think.

Ultimately, the film doesn't really get beyond this paradox. (In the context, you might say it doesn't succeed in transcending it.)

Its greatest merit is in having found a playful form for some difficult, abstract ideas. And it still offers much food for thought (leaving aside the problem of the 'I' who's doing the thinking).

flash nostalgia

The preliminary polls are over, but you can still vote for 'The Most Influential Flash Site of the Decade'. The archive of yearly winners, from 1996 to 2006, makes for some nostalgic surfing.

Though my personal favorite, in terms of influence, is not on there: Hi-Res' 'Donnie Darko' site.