Hi everybody , it is indeed a black Monday.. I went to bed last night listening to "Girl Loves Me" from his last album and I woke up this morning listening to the radio and I was thinking that it was some kind of bad joke really.. Such a loss .. So I thought that instead of posting a long list of tributes, it was a good idea to post an interview of him and I've added some videos as well.
(David Bowie - 1975 by Steve Schapiro )
Uncut Interviews. David Bowie on Berlin. The Real "Uncut" Version. 2001.
UNCUT: Many reasons have been suggested for moving to Berlin: the local art and music scene, to escape superstardom, for spiritual and physical detox - plus the creative stimulation of being in an isolated, edgy, divided city. Are these theories accurate? Can you remember why the city appealed?
David Bowie: Life in LA had left me with an overwhelming sense of foreboding. I had approached the brink of drug induced calamity one too many times and it was essential to take some kind of positive action. For many years Berlin had appealed to me as a sort of sanctuary like situation. It was one of the few cities where I could move around in virtual anonymity. I was going broke; it was cheap to live. For some reason, Berliners just didn't care. Well, not about an English rock singer anyway.
Since my teenage years I had obsessed on the angst ridden, emotional work of the expressionists, both artists and film makers, and Berlin had been their spiritual home. This was the nub of Die Brucke movement, Max Rheinhardt, Brecht and where Metropolis and Caligari had originated. It was an art form that mirrored life not by event but by mood. This was where I felt my work was going. My attention had been swung back to Europe with the release of Kraftwerk's Autobahn in 1974. The preponderance of electronic instruments convinced me that this was an area that I had to investigate a little further.
Much has been made of Kraftwerks influence on our Berlin albums. Most of it lazy analyses I believe. Kraftwerks approach to music had in itself little place in my scheme. Theirs was a controlled, robotic, extremely measured series of compositions, almost a parody of minimalism. One had the feeling that Florian and Ralph were completely in charge of their environment, and that their compositions were well prepared and honed before entering the studio. My work tended to expressionist mood pieces, the protagonist (myself) abandoning himself to the 'zeitgeist' (a popular word at the time), with little or no control over his life. The music was spontaneous for the most part and created in the studio.
In substance too, we were poles apart. K.'s percussion sound was produced electronically, rigid in tempo, unmoving. Ours was the mangled treatment of a powerfully emotive drummer, Dennis Davis. The tempo not only 'moved' but also was expressed in more than 'human' fashion. K. supported that unyielding machinelike beat with all synthetic sound generating sources. We used an R&B band. Since 'Station To Station' the hybridization of R&B and electronics had been a goal of mine. Indeed according to a 70's interview with Brian Eno, this is what had drawn him to working with me. (QUOTE).
One other lazy observation I would like to point up, btw, is the assumption that 'Station To Station' was homage to K's 'Trans-Europe Express'. In reality 'S to S' preceded 'Trans' by quite some time, 76 and 77 respectively.
Btw, the title drives from the Stations of the Cross and not the railway system.
What I WAS passionate about in relation to K. was their singular determination to stand apart from stereotypical American chord sequences and their wholehearted embrace of a European sensibility displayed through their music. This was their very important influence on me.
Interesting sidebar. My original top of my wish list for guitar player on LOW was Michael Dinger, from Neu. Neu being passionate, even diametrically opposite to K.
I phoned Dinger from France in the first few days of recording but in the most polite and diplomatic fashion he said 'No'
UNCUT: Some biographers speculate the Berlin era was an instinctive reaction to the mid-Seventies ethos of punk rock - dressed down, blunt, serious, doom-laden, emotionally raw. A plausible theory?
David Bowie:Whether it was my befuddled brain or because of the lack of impact of the English variety of punk in the US, the whole movement was virtually over by the time it lodged itself in my awareness. Completely passed me by. The few punk bands that I saw in Berlin struck me as being sort of post 1969 Iggy and it seemed like he'd already done that. Though I do regret not being around for the whole Pistols Circus as that kind of entertainment would have done more for my depressed disposition than just about anything else that I could think of.
Of course, I had met them fairly early on when I was touring with Iggy, at least Johnny and Sid. John was obviously quite in awe of Jim but on the occasion of meeting Sid, Sid was near catatonic and I felt very bad for him. He was so young and in such need of help.
As far as the music goes, Low and its siblings were a direct follow-on from the title track 'Station'. It's often struck me that there will usually be one track on any given album of mine, which will be a fair indicator of the intent of the following album.
UNCUT: Was there ever a serious plan to record with Kraftwerk, as some biographers claim?
David Bowie: No, not at any time. We met a few times socially but that was as far as it went.
UNCUT: Did you cruise the autobahns listening to 'Autobahn' non-stop, as Ralf Hutter once insisted?
David Bowie: Certainly on the streets of LA in 1975, yes. But by Berlin Autobahn was rather last years news. So, in short , no..
UNCUT: Were there any meetings or planned collaborations with other 'Krautrock' bands like Cluster, Neu! or Tangerine Dream?
David Bowie: Not at all. I knew Edgar Froesse and his wife socially but I never met the others as I had no real inclination to go to Dusseldorf as I was very single minded about what I needed to do in the studio in Berlin.
David Bowie: I took it upon myself to introduce Eno to the Dusseldorf sound with which he was very taken, Connie Plank et al ( also to Devo btw who in turn had been introduced to me by Iggy) and Brian eventually made it up there to record with some of them.
UNCUT: Generally perceived as David at his most emotionally honest, but most unhappy. Looking back, is this interpretation accurate?
David Bowie: Yes, it was a dangerous period for me. I was at the end of my tether physically and emotionally and had serious doubts about my sanity. But this was in France. Overall, I get a sense of real optimism through the veils of despair from Low. I can hear myself really struggling to get well.
Berlin was the first time in years that I had felt a joy of life and a great feeling of release and healing. It's a city eight times bigger than Paris remember and so easy to 'get lost' in and to 'find' oneself too..
UNCUT: Is it true that Chateau d'Herouville was haunted by the ghosts of Chopin and George Sand, and David refused to sleep in the master bedroom because it was spooked? Did this affect the record's mood?
David Bowie: It was a spooky place. I did refuse one bedroom, as it felt impossibly cold in certain areas of it. To my knowledge though, the place itself had no bearing on the form or tonality of the work. The studio itself was a joy, ramshackle and comfy feeling. I liked the room a lot.
UNCUT: There are rumours that Robert Fripp was involved, but uncredited. Was he?
David Bowie: No.
UNCUT: Rumour also has it that an alternative version exists with different lyrics - is this true, and if so, why?
David Bowie: If there had been different lyrics to anything, then I'm sure they would have been working lyrics or 'placement' words to identify a melody that I wanted to use. I do remember singing joke words to some of the melodies but I frequently do that when I'm getting a feel for where I want it to go. Tony would have wiped or recorded over them when I put down final vocals. I'm not aware of any existing alternative versions.
UNCUT: The couplet in 'Breaking Glass which begins "don't look at the carpet" - is this a reference to drawing Kabbalistic symbols on the floor in LA?
David Bowie: Well, it is a contrived image, yes. It refers to both the cabbalistic drawings of the tree of life and the conjuring of spirits.
UNCUT: Is it true that 'Weeping Wall', 'Subterraneans' and 'Some Are' were left over from David's proposed soundtrack to The Man Who Fell To Earth?
David Bowie: The only hold over from the proposed soundtrack that I actually used was the reverse bass part in Subterraneans. Everything else was written for LOW.
UNCUT: Widely seen as a more upbeat and positive album than 'Low'. Is this accurate?
David Bowie: It's louder and harder and played with more energy in a way. But lyrically it seems far more psychotic. By now I was living full time in Berlin so my own mood was good. Buoyant even. But those lyrics come from a nook in the unconscious. Still a lot of house cleaning going on I feel.
UNCUT: The album was mostly written in the studio and completed in very quick takes. Correct? Was there an intent behind this method?
David Bowie: A couple were very definitely first and only takes. I think the rest were probably run at two or more times until the feel was right. With such great musicians the notes were never in doubt so we looked at 'feel' as being the priority.
Most of my vocals were first takes, some written as I sang. Most famously 'Joe the Lion' I suppose. I would put the headphones on, stand at the mike, listen to a verse, jot down some key words that came into mind then take. Then I would repeat the same process for the next section etc. It was something that I learnt from working with Iggy and I thought a very effective way of breaking normality in the lyric.
UNCUT: It is often said that the album sleeve was an allusion to Gramatte's self-portrait, or to Heckel's Roquairol - is either of these correct? And did the Heckel painting also inspire Iggy's 'The Idiot' cover?
David Bowie: Heckel's 'Roquairol' and also his print from 1910 or thereabouts called 'Young Man.'s was a major influence on me as a painter. I personally couldn't stand Gramatte. He was wishy washy imo. I have seen the Grammatte in question but no, it was Heckel.
UNCUT: Is there a creative connection between the Brucke school of painting and this album?
David Bowie: Explained elsewhere I hope.
UNCUT: Eno says he and David spent most of the sessions doing Peter Cook and Dudley Moore voices, the recording was a real laugh, and that David was virtually living on one raw egg a day. True?
David Bowie: We certainly had our share of schoolboy giggling fits. I think that 'most of the sessions' is a little bit of an exaggeration. However, Brian and I did have Pete and Dud done pretty pat. Long dialogues about John Cage performing on a 'prepared layer' at the Bricklayers Arms on the Old Kent Road and such like. Quite silly.
I was eating extremely well as my drug intake was practically zero. I would eat a couple of raw eggs to start the day or finish it, with pretty big meals in between. Lots of meat and veg, thanks mum. Brian would start his day with a cup full of boiling water into which he would cut huge lumps of garlic. He was no fun to do backing vocals with on the same mike.
UNCUT: Conflicting stories: "Heroes" was inspired by (a) Two lovers David observed standing by the Berlin Wall, (b) Tony Visconti and Antonia Maass kissing by the Wall, (c) Otto Mueller's painting 'Lovers Between Garden Walls' (d) all of the above? (e) None of these.
David Bowie: I'd prefer Tony to answer this.
UNCUT: Conflicting stories: 'Blackout' is a reference to David collapsing in Berlin, or to the New York City power cut of 1977 - both of these? Neither?
David Bowie: It did indeed refer to power cuts. I can't in all honesty say that it was the NY one, though it is entirely likely that that image locked itself in my head. (you would have to check the date of both the recording and the NY blackout to make an intelligent assumption.)
UNCUT: 'V2 Schneider' - a tribute to Florian?
David Bowie: Of course.
UNCUT: An album which really divides Bowie fans - it is either devout love or total indifference. Can you understand both reactions?
David Bowie: I think Tony and I would both agree that we didn't take enough care mixing. This had a lot to do with my being distracted by personal events in my life and I think Tony lost heart a little because it never came together as easily as both Low and Heroes had. I would still maintain though that there are a number of really important ideas on Lodger. If I had more e time I would explore them for you…but…you can probably pick them out as easily.
UNCUT: Moving away from pure electronic sounds - was this a deliberate strategy to stay ahead of the synthesizercopycat bands who were busy aping 'Low' and "Heroes"?
David Bowie: I think it's the lack of instrumentals that give you the impression that our process was different. It really wasn't though. It was a lot more mischievous though. Brian and I did play a number of 'art pranks' on the band. They really didn't go down too well though. Especially with Carlos who tends to be quite 'grand'.
UNCUT: Was the backwards tape of 'All The Young Dudes' for 'Move On' originally an accident? And does this song have any connection to the unfinished Iggy collaboration 'Moving On'?
David Bowie: Not really an accident but I did stumble upon it. I had put one of my reel to reel tapes on backwards by mistake and really quite liked the melody it created. So I played quite a few more in this fashion and chose five or six that were really quite compelling. Dudes was the only one to make the album, as I didn't want to abandon the 'normal' writing I was doing completely. But it was a worthwhile exercise in my mind. It has the same title as the song I wrote for Iggy. But as the one for Jim was a working title, I passed it onto the Lodger song.
UNCUT: The final refrain in 'Red Money' - "project cancelled". Is this significant? A curtain being drawn on the Eno triptych?
David Bowie: Not at all. Mere whimsy.
UNCUT: What is 'cricket menace'?
David Bowie: Little crickety sounds that Brian produced from a combination of my drum machine ( I would and still do, use one to write with when I'm on my own) and his 'briefcase' synth. You can hear them on African Nightflight.
UNCUT: Moving to New York - had Berlin served its purpose? Was New York chosen for musical reasons?
David Bowie: I had not intended to leave Berlin, I just drifted away. Maybe I was getting better. It was an irreplaceable, unmissable experience and probably the happiest time in my life up until that point. Coco, Jim and I had so many great times. But I just can't express the feeling of freedom I felt there. Some days the three of us would jump into the car and drive like crazy through East Germany and head down to the Black Forest, stopping off at any small village that caught our eye. Just go for days at a time. Or we'd take long all afternoon lunches at the Wannsee on winter days. The place had a glass roof and was surrounded by trees and still exuded an atmosphere of the long gone Berlin of the twenties. At night we'd hang with the intellectuals and beats at the Exile restaurant in Kreutzberg. In the back they had this smoky room with a billiard table and it was sort of like another living room except the company was always changing.
Sometimes we'd go shopping at Ka De We, the giant department store in the Centre of West Berlin, which had the hugest food counters anyone could imagine with displays that are only imaginable in a country which either must have been seriously deprived of food at one time or where the populace just plain likes to eat alot. We'd stock up occasionally on what felt like luxuries at the time like chocolates or a small tin of caviar. One day, while we were out, Jim had come in and ate everything in the fridge we had spent all morning shopping for. It was one of the few times that Co and I were truly mad at him. I could write a lot more on all this…but.
I had not intended to leave Berlin, I just drifted away. Maybe I was getting better. Jim decided to stay on a while longer as he had pretty much hitched up with a girl he's met there and had by now gotten his own apartment, next door to ours.. Then Elephant Man came up, which caused me to be in the US for a considerable spell. Then Berlin was …over.
UNCUT: David and Iggy apparently met Giorgio Moroder during sessions for 'The Idiot'. Was there ever a plan to work with him on that record, or 'Low' or "Heroes"?
David Bowie: No.
UNCUT: Iggy claims 'Lust For Life' was written by David in front of the TV in Berlin, on a ukelele, with a rhythm copied from the tapping Morse Code beat of the Forces Network theme. Is this the case?
David Bowie: Absolutely.
UNCUT: A 'Stage' tour film was shot by David Hemmings at Earl's Court. Why was it never released?
David Bowie: I simply didn't like the way it had been shot. Now, of course, it looks pretty good and I would suspect that it would make it out some time in the future.
UNCUT: The Berlin albums are now widely seen as foundation stones of post-punk/ambient/electronica/world music. Does this surprise you?
David Bowie: No.
UNCUT: Were you aware of their importance when you were making them?
David Bowie: Yes, yes, yes.
For whatever reason, for whatever confluence of circumstances, Tony, Brian and I created a powerful, anguished, sometimes euphoric language of sounds. In some ways, sadly, they really captured unlike anything else in that time, a sense of yearning for a future that we all knew would never come to pass. It is some of the best work that the three of us have ever done. Nothing else sounded like those albums. Nothing else came close. If I never made another album it really wouldn't matter now, my complete being is within those three. They are my DNA.
London, England. The David Bowie mural in Brixton following the singers death.
Hi everybody ! So ET seems to be back, I keep my fingers crossed. And what's up in the world um, you've all heard about this I guess : Deadly Istanbul blast 'caused by Isis suicide bomber'. Senior government official says nine of 10 victims of blast in Sultanahmet district were German nationals yes again.. And I also read this, sometimes you just wonder if you're not dreaming really.. Sean Penn's trek to Sierra Madre left direct trail to El Chapo, Mexico says
Country’s attorney general says actor was under surveillance as photographs reveal Hollywood star turned gonzo journalist was the ultimate tip-off
So I was thinking, between climate change, the wars, the cartel..., I mean, what else ? And I can't make a sad depressing post all the time otherwise you'll run away for good, so today, I found that story, my apologies, it's not exactly tasteful obviously, but I laughed .. And no matter what happens , we can still laugh right ?
And between you & I, what are you thinking when you're looking at that pic um , ha ha ha ! You naughty !
(A vendor sells sausages in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The dish McFeat was referring to is a traditional horse sausage known as chuchuk. Photograph: Evan Harris)
Briton told horse penis remark 'could have led to war' between Kyrgyzstan and UK. Michael McFeat, now deported from Kyrgyzstan, says police told him sausage comparison could have sparked conflict
A British mine worker thrown out of Kyrgyzstan for a remark about a local delicacy has claimed that police warned him he could have sent the country to war with the UK.
Scotsman Michael McFeat, who is now at home in Perthshire, told the Sunday Post newspaper he had been banned from entering the former Soviet country for five years.
McFeat was held by police after posting a picture on Facebook of Kyrgyz colleagues queuing for a chuchuk horsemeat sausage, with a caption comparing it to a horse’s penis.
He said he believed that the traditional dish was actually a horse’s penis, but the remark offended and angered his co-workers. He told the newspaper that he was smuggled out of the Kumtor gold mine after being informed that an “angry lynch mob” was coming to get him.
After a nine-hour journey, during which he claims the vehicle in which he was travelling was “rammed” by two cars, McFeat was arrested by police at Manas airport near Bishkek and held under racial hatred laws.
“The police told me my act could send Kyrgyzstan to war with the UK,” he said. After a court appearance and an apology, McFeat was driven to the airport to board a flight to Edinburgh.
“I was told there was a 17-page petition demanding I be jailed, and the mine went on strike after I left, so they were making an example of me,” McFeat told the Sunday Post. “I’ve always been up for a joke, but this was one time I wasn’t joking and it’s been blown out of proportion.”
Ouidah, Benin. A voodoo devotee sprays gin over another at an annual festival which attracts thousands of participants and tourists. Photograph: Stefan Heunis
Changhua, Taiwan. A man dries handmade noodles in the sunlight in Fuxing town.Photograph: Olivia Harris
A massive pack of 25 timberwolves hunting bison in northern Canada. The pack force the herd to stampede after hours of harrying them. Their hope is that a yearling will fall behind. This yearling's fate was actually sealed by another member of the herd, which ran headlong into it.
Wishing you all a great Tuesday morning, afternoon, evening, stay safe and good luck for tomorrow !
Hi everybody ! So what's up in the world um ? Well, I can not talk about sausages again today, can I ? Nor snakes , I think that I made a post about snakes recently, so you're going to think that I start to drivel a bit .. I did notice that one :
Why marijuana growers want champagne-like labels for their weed. There are champagne labels for wine and roquefort labels for cheese made in the right regions, so could there be a Humbolt Haze label for marijuana?
Hey that's a good question, isn't it ? Then again, I quit smoking years ago.. But I assume that there's a smoking area somewhere in the local hangout, so let's say that I keep you posted.
And I've spotted also several articles, but now it's time to make that fierce choice, so that portrait / interview stands out. I don't post that many portraits of directors, but this man is a master really, obviously, he isn't as glamorous as Leonardo Di Caprio, but I hope that some of you will find it interesting. I've added a few pics and the time difference has tricked me again unfortunately, so those trailers are probably not new for you, my apologies. So let's go !
(Qi Shu as Yinniang in The Assassin)
The Assassin director: why I gave plot the chop In his new kung fu epic The Assassin, Hou Hsiao-hsien finds new ways to tell a story. He explains why he doesn’t care about pleasing his audience
Hou Hsiao-hsien sits at a table beside the window, gazing out at the narrow street. He has a bottle of water and a packet of lozenges for his throat. His baseball cap is pulled so low that his eyes are in shadow. Jessica the translator says: “Look at the man looking out of the window. Look at the man looking out at the road. Is he suffering from worry, fear or joy of life?” I stare at the director. I stare at the translator. Is the question rhetorical or are they expecting an answer? This interview is not quite five minutes old and I feel we have already wandered some way off the path.
Feted by the critics, lauded by his peers, Hou makes films that pride themselves on being more poetry than prose, more fugue than symphony. He wants to kick away the bricks of conventional narrative and ride the thermals of a purely visual language. “Plot,” he says and shakes his head dismissively. “I don’t think that plot is the only way to appeal to an audience. The audience can catch the message of a film through landscape, character, details.” Then he sneezes like a thunderclap and turns his gaze back to the glass.
Hou’s latest film may well stand as his ideal expression, in that it possesses the weightless, shimmering quality of a dream. Adapted from a ninth-century Tang dynasty tale, The Assassin stars Shu Qi as Yinniang, the “woman in black”, scampering over rooftops and hiding out in fields of gorse. Yinniang, it transpires, is on a mission to kill Tian Ji’an (Chang Chen), the governor of Weibo province, whose very presence maintains a delicate balance of power with the imperial Chinese court. But the way ahead is murky and compromised.
The assassin and her quarry share a cherished, tangled history. And while the film’s basic outline leads one to expect a straightforward martial arts epic, Hou twists the genre into abstract shapes. He conjures up a whirl of inky blacks and midnight blues. It’s a film to get gloriously lost inside. Watching it, I suffered from worry, fear or joy of life.
The director casts an eye around his London hotel room, dabs his nose with a tissue and gently runs me through his creative process. He explains that the original story was incredibly short, about 1,000 words, but that out of this little seed grew a veritable forest. He wound up shooting 440,000ft of film (normally he shoots about 20,000) and then edited on some instinctual, semi-conscious level, pruning back and back until the motion picture emerged. He says he tried to shoot outside as much as possible (the film was predominantly shot in Hubei province), because he liked the wind, the birdsong, the way the sunlight played against the silk dresses.
All the while, Hou is directing his answers to Jessica. She laughs in delight, writes them down on her pad, then relays each response with an air of funereal solemnity. The translation is excellent; it moves at lightning pace. But some of the humour has perhaps gone missing in transit. “I like everything to follow a natural principle,” Hou explains. “People in a kung fu movie should not be able to fly around like birds. So the film should show the real limitations of this world, the real limitations of human beings. Because that, for me, is where the drama arises. It comes from limitations, not from freedom.”
He adds something further. Jessica nods her head. She says: “Director Hou excuses himself for a moment. He needs to go and use the bathroom now.”
The Assassin premiered at last year’s Cannes film festival, where Hou wound up winning the best director prize. The recent Sight & Sound critics’ poll named it best picture of 2015. But where some see the film as paradise, others may balk at its lack of narrative signposts, handrails and lanterns to light the way. As such, The Assassin looks set to exasperate as many viewers as it enchants. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is just how Hou likes it. “I am not shooting a film to please an audience,” he insists, once he has resettled himself in his seat. “I don’t even make films to communicate with an audience. I am the only person who I am speaking to.”
He was born in China but effectively made in Taiwan, fleeing the Chinese civil war with his parents in the late 1940s. As a child he was obsessed with Japanese films, pleading with passing strangers to escort him into the cinema. As a young man he did national service and sold electronic calculators.
His breakthrough films established him as the leading light of the Taiwanese new wave, a master of intimate human dramas that mapped out the edges of wider social upheavals. The semi-autobiographical A Time to Live, A Time to Die (1985), for instance, details the aching nostalgia within a displaced Chinese family. The award-winning A City of Sadness (1989) viewed China’s postwar crackdown on Taiwan through the prism of an everyday household pitching towards tragedy.
He now fears that these early films were too prescriptive, too subjective. These days he is happier letting the story tell itself. He says: “Just a little earlier, we were discussing the window, we were discussing the road. Now, this scene is so ordinary that we take it for granted. But if you sit an actor at the window and have him familiarise himself with the environment, well, then something happens. Some bright, splendid, overwhelming moment that we never expected. I call it unconscious acting. And it’s the only way you can catch that precious moment.”
This can be tough for the performers – he realises that. “I give them the scripts but I provide no instructions. They have to act by themselves. I have never rehearsed. So the actors do suffer. They suffer huge pressure.”
I’m wondering, though, what The Assassin tells us about Hou’s current relationship with China. It strikes me that he has spent his career studying his old homeland from a distance, or from an angle, as though he is unwilling to confront the issue head-on. Here, tellingly, he presents it as a fabulous kingdom of the past: outside history, blanketed in myth. Presumably this reflects his own experience of the place.
Hou pulls a face; he’s not convinced. “When I was relocated to Taiwan, I was just a baby, four months old, so I have no impression of China as my home. Recently [the local Chinese authorities] found my ancestor. They found that my ancestor had migrated from northern China to Guangdong province over 1,000 years ago. So Guangdong province invited me to go back to celebrate this discovery. But I refused. Because the society across the Taiwan Strait is so very different. China is another world. I can’t comprehend it. I was editing A City of Sadness when Tiananmen Square happened. Me and my editor spent every day watching the TV news, crying. We forgot all about editing the actual film.”
Another explosive sneeze. Another glance at the window. He says: “I can take the landscapes, yes, that’s true. The clouds. The lakes. The mountains and the mist. But I can’t shoot stories about the people of China. I can’t impose my own subjective opinions on to people I don’t know. I can never make a film about the relationship between Taiwan and China. That would be too much effort. I am not going to do it.”
Our hour together is drawing to an end. We have wandered off the path and back again, circled around to the exit door. Hou likes to let his films go their own way, tell their own story. His interviews, too, can follow a curiously skittish and freestyle course. They unfurl at their leisure. They take on their own shape.
The film-maker hauls himself to his feet and holds his hand out to shake. But Jessica remains seated. She is still scanning her notepad, checking for any loose ends she has not yet relayed and ticked off. She says: “Director Hou has never ever rehearsed. He throws his characters into a situation. He has them immerse themselves and improvise. The man at the window. That fascinates him.”
Young, idealistic – and dead: the Mexican mayor gunned down on her second day. Gisela Mota, 33, was shot in her own home just after taking office as her town’s first female mayor. Her death highlights organised crime’s grim hold on politics.
Hong Kong bans import and export of ivory. Activists welcome ‘historic’ move to crack down on trade that is seen to help fuel rampant elephant poaching across Africa.
Waldstatt, Switzerland. A Silvesterchlaus (New Year Claus) holds on to his hat during heavy winds on his way to Waldstatt to offer best wishes for the new year, following the Julian calendar. Photograph: Gian Ehrenzeller
Wishing you all a great Wednesday morning, afternoon, evening and good luck for tomorrow !
I have never heard of this director, but he appears to be an enigmatic, interesting figure. If his films do, in fact, carry his personality, we may be in for a treat. Thanks for the article, and such a shocking, sad thing that happened in Mexico. heartbreaking.
I have never heard of this director, but he appears to be an enigmatic, interesting figure. If his films do, in fact, carry his personality, we may be in for a treat. Thanks for the article, and such a shocking, sad thing that happened in Mexico. heartbreaking.
Hi Panerai, regarding Hsiao-Hsien Hou, if you want to discover a bit more of his work, you might want to try "Millenium Mambo" first, which is still my favorite movie, then again, copies are hard to find.. That could be an interesting request to make in fact as an upload.
and concerning Mexico, yes, after watching "Sicario" , you could think that, ok it's a bit too much perhaps? But in fact, truth is stranger than fiction...
As for today, well hi everybody by the way ! So you've all heard this by now I guess ?
Alan Rickman, giant of British screen and stage, dies at 69. Much-loved star of stage, TV and films including Harry Potter and Die Hard – and owner of one of the most singular voices in acting – has died in London.
Well, I start to think that number 69 is cursed at the moment..? So instead of posting another obituary, I thought that it would be more fair to him to post some videos, because after all, some of his characters were the ones that we loved to hate so much.. He has such an incredible voice indeed.
Apart from that, here is now :
Oscars 2016: full list of nominations All the nominations for this year’s Academy awards, which take place at the Dolby theatre in Hollywood on 28 February.
(And that will be all for today, because it's going to be a long post..)
Bridge of Spies
The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Adam McKay, The Big Short
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
Lenny Abrahamson, Room
Best original screenplay
Bridge of Spies - Matt Charman, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
Ex Machina - Alex Garland
Inside Out - Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley. Original story by Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen
Spotlight - Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer
Straight Outta Compton - Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff. Original story by S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff
Best original score
Bridge of Spies - Thomas Newman
Carol - Carter Burwell
The Hateful Eight - Ennio Morricone
Sicario - Jóhann Jóhannsson
Star Wars: The Force Awakens - John Williams
Best adapted screenplay
The Big Short - Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
The Martian - Drew Goddard
Room - Emma Donoghue
Brooklyn - Nick Hornby
Carol - Phyllis Nagy
Best production design
Bridge of Spies - Adam Stockhausen, Rena DeAngelo and Bernard Henrich
The Danish Girl - Eve Stewart and Michael Standish
Mad Max: Fury Road - Colin Gibson and Lisa Thompson
The Martian - Arthur Max and Celia Bobak
The Revenant - Jack Fisk and Hamish Purdy
Best supporting actress
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Rooney Mara, Carol
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
Best supporting actor
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Best costume design
Carol - Sandy Powell
Cinderella - Sandy Powell
The Danish Girl - Paco Delgado
Mad Max: Fury Road - Jenny Beavan
The Revenant - Jacqueline West
Best original song
Earned It, Fifty Shades of Grey
Manta Ray, Racing Extinction
Simple Song #3, Youth
Til It Happens To You, The Hunting Ground
Writing’s on the Wall, Spectre
Best animated film
Boy and the World
Shaun the Sheep the Movie
When Marnie Was There
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom
Carol - Ed Lachman
The Hateful Eight - Robert Richardson
Mad Max: Fury Road - John Seale
The Revenant - Emmanuel Lubezki
Sicario - Roger Deakins
Best animated short
Sanjay’s Super Team
We Can’t Leave Without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow
Best make-up and hair
Mad Max: Fury Road - Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damien Martin
The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared - Love Larson and Eva von Bahr
The Revenant - Sian Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert Pandini
Best visual effects
Ex Machina - Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett
Mad Max: Fury Road - Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams
The Martian - Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven Warner
The Revenant - Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron Waldbauer
Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould
Best sound editing
Mad Max: Fury Road - Mark Mangini and David White
The Martian - Oliver Tarney
The Revenant - Martin Hernandez and Lon Bender
Sicario - Alan Robert Murray
Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Matthew Wood and David Acord
Best short film
Everything Will Be Okay
Best sound mixing
Bridge of Spies - Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Drew Kunin
Mad Max: Fury Road - Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo
The Martian - Paul Massey, Mark Taylor and Mac Ruth
The Revenant - Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom and Chris Duesterdiek
Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson
Best short documentary
Body Team 12
Chau, beyond the Lines
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
Last Day of Freedom
The Big Short - Hank Corwin
Mad Max: Fury Road - Margeret Sixel
The Revenant - Stephen Mirrione
Spotlight - Tom McArdle
Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey
Best foreign language film
Embrace of the Serpent
Son of Saul
Wishing you all a great Thursday morning, afternoon, evening and good luck for tomorrow !
Yes, two great losses in such a short time and under such similar circumstances. May they rest in peace.
Oh, by the way, I found a copy of Millenium Mambo. I'll tell you I thought once I've seen it.
Hi Panerai, I really hope that you'll enjoy that movie as much as I do.
And hi everybody, so it's Friday, at last ! And what's up in the world um ? I did read a lot this :
#OscarsSoWhite used to be a joke, now it’s a rule Two years in a row, the twenty acting nominees have been all white, reflecting a sinister side of Hollywood and what happens when an industry lacks diversity. And also this : No votes for Suffragette ... this year's failed Oscarbait. As Carey Mulligan’s period biopic and other films from Cate Blanchett and Will Smith show, not all hotly tipped films can be winners with the Academy.
Well I tend to think that the most important thing is that we all actually see those movies, and we do fortunately.
So I'll post a most disturbing article, because I know that all around the world when you desperately need money, you do those drug trials...
French drug trial leaves one brain dead and five critically ill Ninety people took some dosage of experimental drug being tested for Portuguese pharmaceutical company Bial
One person is brain dead and five others are seriously ill after taking part in a drug trial for Portuguese pharmaceutical firm Bial at a clinic in north-west France.
The French health ministry said the six male patients aged 28 to 49 had been in good health until taking the oral medication. They started taking the drug on 7 January. One person started feeling ill on Sunday and the other five afterwards. The brain dead volunteer was admitted to hospital in Rennes on Monday. Other patients went in on Wednesday and Thursday.
Pierre-Gilles Edan, head of the hospital’s neurology department, said one man was brain dead, three others were suffering a “handicap that could be irreversible” and another had neurological problems. The sixth volunteer had no symptoms but was being monitored.
The French health minister, Marisol Touraine, said 90 people in total had taken part in the trial and received some dosage of the drug; others had taken a placebo. All trials on the drug have been suspended and all volunteers who have taken part in the trial are being called back.
The ministry said the test was carried out by the Biotrial clinic for Bial, which “specialised in carrying out clinical trials”.
The trial was intended to test for side-effects of the new drug but all trials at the clinic have been suspended and the French state prosecutor has opened an inquiry.
Touraine said the drug was a so-called FAAH inhibitor meant to act on the body’s endocannabinoid system, which deals with pain. Earlier reports suggested that the drug contained cannabinoids, an active ingredient found in cannabis plants, but the minister said it did not contain the drug or any derivatives of it.
Touraine said the study was a phase one clinical trial, in which healthy volunteers take the medication to “evaluate the safety of its use, tolerance and pharmacological profile of the molecule”.
Medical trials typically have three phases to assess a new drug or device for safety and effectiveness. Phase one entails a small group of volunteers and focuses only on safety. Phase two and three are progressively larger trials to assess the drug’s effectiveness, although safety remains paramount.
Testing had already been carried out on animals, including chimpanzees, starting in July, Touraine said.
Bial said it was committed to ensuring the wellbeing of test participants and was working with authorities to discover the cause of the injuries, adding that the clinical trial had been approved by French regulators.
Every year, thousands of volunteers, often students looking to make extra money, take part in such trials. Mishaps are relatively rare, but in 2006 six men were treated for organ failure in London after taking part in a clinical trial into a drug developed to fight auto-immune disease and leukaemia.
The men now apparently have a higher risk of cancer and autoimmune diseases tied to their exposure to the experimental drug.
Dr Ben Whalley, a neuropharmacology professor at Britain’s University of Reading, said standardised regulations for clinical trials were “largely the same” throughout Europe. “However, like any safeguard, these minimise risk rather than abolish it,” Whalley said. “There is an inherent risk in exposing people to any new compound.”
Jakarta, Indonesia. People hold banners stating they are not afraid, at a rally a few days after the terrorist attacks. Photograph: Oscar Siagian
Villagers in Krasnoilsk, western Ukraine, celebrate Malanka, the old New Year’s Eve. According to the Julian calendar it falls on 13 January, and is marked with two days of festivities to symbolise the release of spring.
Misty Copeland, New York City, 2015. Photographer : Annie Leibovitz
I might make a short post tomorrow if I find something interesting otherwise I'll be back in here on Monday. I wish you all a wonderful week end, take care, stay safe.
Hello Thalestris, Pan and all just wanted to add this
Truly saddened by the loss of another Great British Actor Alan Rickman
His presence on the screen and his voice so unique.... well it just made you fall into a trance... I could watch him over and over.
Even though he actually never started his film career till the age of 41 in the hit movie Die Hard... he certainly made his presence in every other movie he was cast in with outstanding performances playing some evil characters
But as Severus Snape we got to see another side of him... something which i think fans would agree the storyline was sheer bloody marvellous. Who would have thought that Snape actually was a good Wizard with a heart full of love for Harry and his mum
Harry Potter thank you for casting him as Severus Snape, my favourite character.. he made those movies magical
The world has lost a remarkable actor and no one will ever replace him... A great friend and teacher to so many actors, young and old.
Quite fitting that his long time friend Kathy Lette preferred to think of him wearing Harry Potters Invisible Cloak rather than deceased
Just a note also to say that Season 3 of the British hit show Peaky Blinders will hopefully be returning in April... Can't wait to see it, been waiting very patiently.
One of the best... if not the best British Dramas ever
Hi ange, yes I was just reading again some of the tributes and I found Emma Thompson's one :
Emma Thompson collaborated with Alan Rickman on multiple projects including "Sense and Sensibility", Rickman’s directorial debut, "The Winter Guest", and "The Song of Lunch" – in which they also play a one-time couple.
Writing on Thursday, she spoke of her immense sadness at Rickman’s death, having “just kissed him goodbye”.
“What I remember most in this moment of painful leave-taking is his humour, intelligence, wisdom and kindness,” she wrote. “His capacity to fell you with a look or lift you with a word.”
Emma Thompson continued: “I couldn’t wait to see what he was going to do with his face next … He was the ultimate ally. In life, art and politics. I trusted him absolutely. He was, above all things, a rare and unique human being and we shall not see his like again.”
And just like you, I look forward to watching "Peaky Blinders" again, I'm a huge fan !!
And today, um, hi everybody by the way, well it's a short post, no bad news, because we all need a break and the movie trailers addicts are going to be happy, because I did find a few as well, so let's go !
Crush of the week: Oscar Isaac A frenzied and hysterical adoration of the American actor is under way. Yes, the communal crush is in full swing
The internet’s cycles are as old as the internet itself: we discover something en masse, fixate upon it, and then, inevitably, cool towards that thing. With the notable exception of cats, it happens for everything from pastries (bless the Cronut) to diets (hello, 5:2!).
But have you heard the one about the internet’s latest boyfriend? The wheel of fortune has landed its arrow on Oscar Isaac, and a frenzied and hysterical adoration of the American actor is under way. Yes, the communal crush is in full swing.
Here’s what we know about Isaac, 36: he was born in Guatemala and raised in Miami in a Christian home. He played in punk bands as a teenager, living a “straight edge” (ie no drugs) life, before drama school and Shakespeare in the Park.
But I knew none of this when I first saw him in 2011’s Drive, in which he played the no-good but incredibly magnetic husband, Standard. It’s a supporting role, but Isaac shone: his face has a remarkable sincerity (great for playing both heroes and villains), and a natural Pacino-esque intensity.
And, yes, he is very handsome, with soulful eyes, a strong jawline, and boing-able curls. You can see why JJ Abrams cast him as dashing hero pilot Poe Dameron in the latest Star Wars film – and why the internet wants him to be in a relationship with every one of his co-stars, from Lupita Nyong’o to John Boyega.
Off-screen, he exudes natural charm, like the time he turned the head of his Poe Dameron doll to face Nyong’o while she spoke in a joint TV interview, and there was a swooning outbreak. Next up is a role in the latest X-Men movie. Long live the internet’s boyfriend.
Taiwan elects first female president. Tsai Ing-wen wins historic victory as voters express dissatisfaction with economy and outgoing leader.
Iran releases Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian in prisoner swap with US. Reporter held for more than a year is freed on day nuclear deal set to be implemented, along with three other dual nationals.
Bat eared fox cubs in Masai Mara, Kenya. Photograph: Charlotte Rhodes
Wishing you all a great week end, have fun, take care ! And I'll be back in here on Monday !
Hi everybody ! I hope that you've all spent a nice week end ? So what's up in the world? Well, it's been a while since I didn't mention the every day life of our nasty little friends , the viruses.. This one is really bad.. I let you read carefully. I've added a few pics, and unfortunately , I don't have new trailers today, I've been too greedy last week, so we'll have to wait a little bit for new ones.. So let's go.
First case of tropical zika virus linked to serious birth defect found in Texas Experts ‘deeply concerned’ about spread of mosquito-borne disease in US after Texas woman contracted virus in El Salvador, where zika has become epidemic
A little-known mosquito-borne tropical virus that scientists believe could be connected to a serious birth defect reached the mainland United States this week, one of what is expected to be an increasing number of cases.
Officials in Harris County, Texas, said that a middle-aged woman who had traveled to El Salvador was diagnosed with zika virus, after she developed a rash, fever and joint pain.
Experts told the Guardian that the case is “deeply” concerning, because of the possibility that local mosquitoes could contract the disease along the American Gulf coast, where the subtropical climate could be conducive to the disease’s spread.
“For every case that’s been picked up there might be a dozen more across the state of Texas, or maybe 100 more that we’re not diagnosing,” said Dr Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, an expert on subtropical virology, at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas.
Health officials in Harris County, which already boasts robust mosquito monitoring programs, said the disease is so new that no rapid test for mosquitoes is currently available, and one isn’t expected for several months. The officials also did not know how long after infection a patient may be able to transmit the disease to local mosquitoes.
Dr Umair A Shah, executive director of the Harris County department of public health, said, “It’s probably not a case of if we get zika in our native mosquitoes, it’s probably a case of when we get zika in our native mosquitoes.”
Zika is a subtropical virus transmitted by the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, part of a group of diseases known as arboviruses, short for arthropod-borne viruses.
The virus was first recognized in Uganda in the Zika forest in the 1940s. Though it causes fever, rash and joint pain, it is was not considered a menace until a connection between microcephaly and zika was discovered in Brazil.
Virologists said zika has already reached “epidemic” proportions in El Salvador, where doctors were able to isolate the virus in some children suffering from microcephaly.
“We’re deeply concerned about the zika starting a transmission cycle here in south Texas,” said Dr Nikos Vasilakis, an arbovirus researcher at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. “Not long ago, dengue and yellow fever were endemic in the area, [in] Houston, Galveston … Both the climate conditions and human density exist to allow circulation of the virus,” Vasilakis said, naming related viruses.
Vasilakis, who studied zika with the Brazilian health ministry in December 2015, said that an estimated 1.5 million people have been infected in Brazil, possibly leading to the recent spate of an estimated 3,000 cases of the ordinarily rare birth defect. By the Centers for Disease Control’s estimate, the rate is 10 times the average for cases of microcephaly. Brazilian health authorities cited just 147 cases of microcephaly in 2014, and 167 cases in 2013, according to the New York Times.
“What we’re looking at now [in Brazil] is the avalanche. In the clinics we see anywhere from 10 to 15 cases a day [of microcephaly],” said Vasilakis. “Last year, we’ve seen about 3,000 cases of microcephaly, which is an extremely, extremely sad condition.”
But little is known about zika and its connection to microcephaly. The CDC reported that “some samples” from children born with microcephaly tested positive for zika, while “several” did not.
“Although we don’t have a direct connection yet, we have a lot of indirect evidence, and some direct right now, to point that zika is responsible for that,” said Vasilakis. Nevertheless, the CDC recommends pregnant women avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, as did Harris County, though the county purposely omitted the disease’s possible connection to microcephaly in a press release.
“The Gulf coast is uniquely vulnerable to arboviruses because we have at least three different species [of mosquitoes] that transmit arboviruses,” said Hotez. “The other is the subtropical climate, and the third – the one that people don’t typically appreciate – is poverty.
“When you go into the poor areas of Houston, you see absent screens, absent air conditioners, and tires along the side of the road filled with water,” an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes, Hotez said. “It looks like the global health movie you show [medical] students.”
Once a little-known virus, epidemiologists are now working feverishly to determine from where and how the virus came to Brazil, and how it came to be so easily spread. Some scientists theorized that it was introduced to Brazil during the 2014 World Cup in Rio, while others believe that the disease was introduced from French Polynesia or Chile’s Easter Island.
The first Brazilian case was reported in May 2015, according to the CDC. By New Year’s Eve 2015, the CDC reported that Puerto Rico had the first locally acquired case of zika, meaning it was contracted within the US territory rather than being brought in by a traveler to the island. The disease has also been reported in Mexico, Caribbean nations and Latin American countries, Vasilakis and the CDC said.
“This is quite a large epidemic, so another question is how did this get so big so fast? And no one has the answer,” said Hotez. “There’s nothing really published, most of what we’re going on are World Health Organization alerts.”
Hotez suspects that a genetic mutation in the virus may be behind its more recent rapid spread, but frustratingly, scientists don’t have any conclusive answers.
“Zika is a very obscure virus,” Hotez said. “Up to 2007 there were less than 20 documented cases of zika infection in humans. After 2007, in south-east Asia, Micronesia, we started seeing the first reports of large human epidemics, so we don’t really know what is happening … We don’t really know why this is happening, why the global spread is taking place that fast.”
Both Hotez and Vasilakis recommend intense surveillance to stop the disease from spreading within the US, and that a vaccine should be developed.
Hong Kong bookseller's daughter dismisses Chinese TV 'confession'. Angela Gui claims father, who published gossip books on elite, had not voluntarily surrendered but was abducted.
Spike Lee to boycott the 2016 Oscars over lack of nominee diversity. Do the Right Thing director received an honorary Academy Award in November for his services to film-making, but says he will not attend the main ceremony.And Jada Pinkett Smith suggests boycott of Oscars over lack of diversity. Actor uses #Oscarssowhite hashtag on Twitter to ask if ‘people of colour’ should avoid this year’s ceremony to protest against white-only list of Academy Award nominees.
David Bowie: astronomers give the Starman his own constellation. Scientists have registered a constellation shaped like a lightning bolt in honour of David Bowie and his out-of-this-world talent.
Falkirk, Scotland. A child runs in the snow at the Kelpies. Photograph: Andrew Milligan
Havana, Cuba. A taxi driver waits for passengers. Photograph: Alexandre Meneghini
Viña del Mar, Chile. A surfer trains in the Pacific Ocean during a heatwave that has brought temperatures up to 36C (96F). Photograph: Rodrigo Garrido
Wishing you all a great Monday morning, afternoon, evening and good luck for tomorrow !
Never imagined the virus would reach that far. It has yet to be accurately proved, but studies strongly point that the Zika virus directly contributes to microcephaly in babies during pregnancy. Another great and informative post. Keep it up, dear girl. Oh, and wonderful shots as always.
Never imagined the virus would reach that far. It has yet to be accurately proved, but studies strongly point that the Zika virus directly contributes to microcephaly in babies during pregnancy. Another great and informative post. Keep it up, dear girl. Oh, and wonderful shots as always.
Hi Panerai, yes just like you, I had no idea that it has spread that far... I'll keep you posted if I read anything new regarding that matter.
And hi everybody ! So what's up in the world, well I did read a few interesting things, but I saved that article, because it's always good to keep in mind that yes indeed the super rich own the planet and destroy it as well.. I've added a few pics and one music video: RIP Glenn Frey And regarding the movie trailers, don't worry, I'll post a few soon for sure, promise. So let's go.
We’ve been conned by the rich predators of Davos They write their own tax laws; they buy their own politicians. No wonder the wealth of the very richest people on the planet is ballooning (Aditya Chakrabortty)
As metaphors go, this one takes some beating. This week, some of the richest people on Earth will gather high up a snowy mountain in the world’s biggest tax haven. Most will have paid big money to attend the three-day meeting in Davos: the most exclusive memberships cost somewhere in the region of £100,000 each. From there, they will relay thoughts on global risks and opportunities to the ski-jacketed press corps. They will talk about gender inequality and technological innovation. The message will go out: however turbulent the global economy, it is being capably stewarded.
These are our economic elites as they want the rest of us stuck on the flatlands below to see them: big-thinking, well-intentioned, hard-working – and thoroughly meritocratic. This is also how they justify the mammoth rewards they enjoy: we sweat for it; we’re worth it. The follow-up is usually only implied, but it is the one that underpins the entire system: put in enough hours and this could be you.
Set against that promise the finding from Oxfam that 62 billionaires have more wealth than half the world’s population – 3.5 billion people – share between them.
Ponder those numbers for a moment because they make up possibly the most grotesque ratio in the world economy today. Go through the 62 richest people and plenty of names jump out to show that any notions of meritocracy are a big fat lie. None of those 3.5 billion men, women, boys or girls will be born into a fortune such as that enjoyed by the Waltons of Walmart fame, in which just six people own $149bn. Nor will they ever get to be a Saudi royal such as Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, worth $26bn.
I could pull out plenty of other names giving the lie to the complacent notion that this is the era of the self-made plutocrat. The top of the money tree is still festooned with inheritances. Just look at the widow of chocolatier Michele Ferrero, Maria Franca Fissolo, who at 98 is the fifth wealthiest woman on the planet; the offspring of the Lidl and Aldi dynasties and the three Mars siblings who are worth $80bn. One doesn’t need to be a Bolshevik to see that many of the world’s super-rich are recipients of dumb luck, born into the right family at the right time.
But that grotesque index tells us that something else has gone badly wrong. At the start of this decade, 388 billionaires owned as much as half the world. By 2011, that number had plunged to 117. Last year, it had fallen to 80. In other words, in the five years since the world recession, the very richest have grown inexorably wealthier. And that’s not because the global economy is booming, as every worker on a pay freeze and every family seeing their benefits cut knows. It’s because we are living in a period of trickle-up economics, in which the middle- and working-classes have handed over money to those right at the very top.
The 80s were the decade of trickle-down economics, with Thatcher and Reagan cutting taxes for the richest and promising that everyone else – from Easington to Port Talbot, Pittsburgh to Milwaukee – would soon feel the benefits. By contrast the past half-decade has been about trickle-up economics, in which the world’s most powerful central bankers have launched policies that have been explicitly about boosting the fortunes of the richest. The disbursement of thousands of billions in quantitative easing both in the US and the UK from 2009 onwards was meant to raise asset prices – and assets are by definition in the hands of the wealthy.
No wonder the Bank of England admitted that 40% of the gains from its £375bn QE programme went to the top 5% of British households. No wonder Stanley Druckenmiller, the billionaire hedge fund manager, labelled QE: “The biggest redistribution of wealth from the middle-class and the poor to the rich ever.”
The figures prove him right. According to the Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez, between 2009 and 2012 the top 1% of American households took 91 cents out of each extra dollar that the country earned. The other 99% of Americans had to share the remaining 9 cents between them.
This didn’t happen in a fit of absent-mindedness. Rather, decades of burgeoning inequality – of the Davos set scooping more and more of the gains from growth – have enabled the super-rich to pretend that their narrow sectional interests are what’s good for the world economy. Policies as manifestly unfair as QE would never have happened in a fairer economy – the UK and US would have relied instead on public investment and government programmes.
Massive inequality has allowed the 1% to buy political influence as never before in postwar history. Indeed, the super-rich now practically write their own tax laws – such as the way senior executives of Britain’s biggest businesses were invited by George Osborne to advise on overhauling corporation taxes. They get to ensure that tax havens are treated with due leniency, all the better to hide their trillions in them. They buy their own politicians, as with the shadow-bankers who funded the Conservative election campaign or the billionaire Koch brothers using their fortune to tip the US presidential contest. Indeed, the more ambitious decide to become politicians. Think not just of Donald Trump but former bond trader turned media mogul turned mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg.
The great mistake made by the mainstream left and right, even by NGOs such as Oxfam, is in imagining that the super-rich, now enjoying such massive riches, are somehow playing by the same rules as the rest of us. That they are “wealth creators” providing jobs and investment for the rest of us, or that they might give up their tax havens. If that ever were the case, it isn’t now. A tiny minority has gained from massive tax cuts and legislative leniency about where they shove their money. They have siphoned off gains in salaries and profits wherever possible and enjoyed hundreds of billions flowing into their asset markets. Meanwhile, the rest of us who provide the feedstock for their revenues see our welfare states hollowed out, our wages frozen and our employers failing to invest. But none of that matters very much in Davos.
Glenn Frey, Eagles guitarist, has died at the age of 67 in New York.
The founding member of the US rock group had been suffering from intestinal problems for several months and had surgery in November. Frey co-wrote and sang some of the Eagles’ best-known songs, including Heartache Tonight, Take It Easy, and Lyin’ Eyes, and co-wrote Hotel California and Desperado with Don Henley.
Guizhou, China. A man makes ‘matang’, a traditional candy, in preparation for the upcoming Chinese new year
Kabul, Afghanistan. A boy watches as his flock of domesticated pigeons flies over the roof of his home
Photograph: Ahmad Masood.
Wishing you a great Tuesday morning, afternoon, evening and good luck for tomorrow !
And another attack ... : Pakistan attacks: at least 30 dead in terror raid at Bacha Khan University
Dozens injured as security forces battle gunmen who stormed campus in Charsadda. So I'm saying hi to our ET friends from Pakistan today, it's just so sad really.. And I'm also saying hi to our ET Japanese friends, but my apologies, because I can't speak Japanese I'm afraid.. But I'll be posting an article about Japan indeed today, and I've added a few pics and some movie trailers. So let's go.
Japan to drop the swastika from its tourist maps The symbol, used in Japan to denote Buddhist temples, has been deemed confusing and will be replaced by a pagoda
Japan is to drop the use of the swastika and other confusing symbols on maps for foreign tourists following complaints that they are offensive or hard to understand.
With Japan due to host the Rugby World Cup and the summer Olympics in the next four years, the country’s Geospatial Information Authority has released a new set of pictograms it believes will clear up any misunderstandings among overseas visitors.
The chief culprit is a symbol closely resembling Nazi Germany’s swastika, which is used to indicate a Buddhist temple. The swastika will be replaced with a three-storey pagoda symbol when the new designs are unveiled at the end of March.
Others have simply left visitors flummoxed. They include a simple “X” – meant to represent two truncheons – for a police box that will be replaced with a saluting officer, and a cross that is supposed to symbolise a church but which could be mistaken for a graveyard.
“Japan needs to create an environment where foreign visitors can easily use transport and find accommodation,” the GSI said in a report quoted in the Japan Times. “For that purpose, it is especially important to disseminate multilingual maps that are easy for foreigners to understand.”
Japan is expecting an influx of foreign tourists for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and for the Tokyo Olympics a year later.
But a weaker yen and relaxed visa regulations for visitors from China and other Asian countries have already sparked a huge increase in the number of visitors, new tourism ministry figures show.
A record 19.74 million people visited Japan last year, the ministry said this week, an increase of more than 47% from 2014. The number of incoming tourists outstripped the number of Japanese people going abroad for the first time, it added.
Inbound tourism suffered in the aftermath of the March 2011 tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster, but it now looks likely that Japan will achieve its target of 20 million tourists next year, four years ahead of schedule.
The decision to replace the swastika came after the GSI polled more than 1,000 people from 92 countries, including tourists, embassy officials and exchange students, about the clarity of 18 symbols commonly used on maps.
Despite the swastika’s origins in the ancient language of Sanskrit and its centuries-old association with Japanese Buddhism, the GSI found that many tourists still associated it with the Nazis.
Known as manji in Japanese, the swastika-like symbol used in tourist maps is in fact slightly different from the one preferred by Nazis. The legs on the former run anti-clockwise; in the latter, they flow in the opposite direction.
The changes will not apply to Japanese-language maps, and there is no suggestion that the temples themselves should remove manji from their premises.
The swastika wasn’t the only source of confusion. The research revealed that the symbol for a hotel, a capital H inside a circle, looked too much like the sign commonly used for a helipad, while the traditional symbol for a post office was similarly baffling.
Some of the old symbols will be retained, however, including the mark for an onsen (hot spring), which some have jokingly pointed out could just as easily represent a bowl of steaming miso soup.
Of the 18 existing symbols, six will be replaced when the changes go into effect in the spring.
The decision to ditch the swastika drew criticism on Japanese social media, with some arguing that it should be retained, and that tourists educate themselves about its centuries-old connection to Buddhism.
One Twitter user blamed the change on “ignorant” foreigners, while another wondered if Britain would contemplate ditching the Union Jack because it happened to be displayed by a terrorist.
A tweeter based in Scotland agreed: “It is sad that Japan feel the need to censor the swastika for tourism when it had much nobler connotations pre-Nazism.”
The GSI conceded that the revamp was not to everyone’s liking. “Japanese users are divided in their opinions on the new symbols,” Takayuki Nakamura, a GSI official, told the Japan Times.
“Some say we should change symbols for Japanese-language maps at this opportunity, while others say the traditional symbols should stay. Either way, it will take a while before any changes are made, as we need to coordinate with related government agencies.”
Port-au-Prince, Haiti. A police officer helps a child afflicted by teargas during a protest against President Michel Martelly’s government. Photograph: Dieu Nalio Chery
São Paulo, Brazil. A demonstrator holds a banner during a protest against fare increases on public transport Photograph: Andre Penner
Peru sacks top anti-logging official. Dismissal of Rolando Navarro has led to claims he was sacked after pressure from the timber industry.
Indian state decides coconut trees are no longer trees but palms. Goan authorities remove the coconut from their official list of trees to make it easier for them to be cut down by farmers.
Wishing you all a great Wednesday morning, afternoon, evening and good luck for tomorrow !
Hi everybody ! Ouh that was some icy day here brrrr .. Anyways, so I've been really serious the past few days um? So today, I'll let you breathe in and breathe out a little, just a short article , a few pics and some trailers, you'll find amongst them some of the documentaries nominated at the Academy Awards. So let's go !
James Franco's porn drama The Deuce gets HBO series
Having successfully got past the pilot stage, HBO have now picked up the New York porn industry drama The Deuce as a full series. James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal star in the show, with Gyllenhaal also a producer and Franco an exec-producer. Writer and showrunner David Simon (The Wire) is the driving force.
The Deuce concerns itself with the porn industry in the 1970s and 1980s, centred on New York and, in particular, Times Square in its former more scuzzy incarnation (if you want that in movie terms, it's the Times Square of The Exterminator rather than of The Amazing Spider-Man 2). Franco will play twin mobsters Vincent and Frankie Martino, while Gyllenhaal is a hooker called Candy, seduced from the streets into the newly legalised and rapidly expanding porn business. It's Boogie Nights with the Krays. Or something.
George Pelecanos (also The Wire) will be pitching in with Simon as a writer and producer, with their usual suspects Nina Noble and Richard Price contributing scripts too. The cast beyond Franco and Gyllenhaal includes Gary Carr, Margarita Levieva, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Emily Meade and Dominique Fishback.
The Deuce's pilot episode is currently listed as being in post-production, with the full series presumably coming together over the course of this year.
Washington DC, US. A homeless person sits in a subway station near the White House. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque
Will Smith has confirmed he will not be attending next month’s Oscars, joining his wife Jada Pinkett Smith in a boycott over the Academy Awards’ all-white nominee list. Smith, speaking on Good Morning America, said that diversity is “the American superpower” and that attending the Oscars, given the lack of it among this year’s nominated performers, would be “awkward”.
Harbin, China. The eyebrows of a pedestrian are covered with frost in Heilongjiang province, where temperatures have plunged to -30C. Photograph: Zhang Qingyun
Wishing you all a great Thursday morning, afternoon, evening and good luck for tomorrow !
Hi everybody ! And it's Friday, hurray !! So what's up in the world, well, first that long interview of Mark Ruffalo. I actually could have entitled it : The Crush of the Week in fact. I've added a few pics and you'll have lots of trailers today, some are probably more recent and commercial, but I've added also a few indie movies ( last Palme d'Or in Cannes .. ). And that will be probably my last post for the week, because I'm celebrating my birthday this week end, so I doubt to be able to think straight ,so it's better to avoid a disastrous post ha ha ha.. I'll be back in here on Monday. So let's go.
Mark Ruffalo on Spotlight: ‘The whole of Boston was complicit. Everybody looked the other way’ Oscar nominated for his role as a investigative reporter in Spotlight, the indie fixture-turned-Avengers-superstar talks about the power of the press, Bernie Sanders and life as the Hulk
“I feel bad for the Republicans,” says Mark Ruffalo. “It’s an untenable situation for them in a lot of ways. The people who are clear-headed and really do hold conservative values are on the outs.” The presidential election is rumbling along and Ruffalo – ever the actor – is not above a bit of kindly empathy. “What’s driving the party at the moment is nothing other than fear and xenophobia, and a kind of paranoia that is not sustainable. You can’t govern with it.”
With a record of activism alongside a high achieving acting career – which includes such imperishable indie classics as The Kids Are All Right, Zodiac and Margaret, no one can have much doubt where Ruffalo’s political sympathies lie; in 2010, a flurry of stories claimed that Ruffalo was on a terrorism watchlist. He wasn’t – and isn’t as far as he knows – but crinkly of eye, tousled of hair and mumbly of speech, Ruffalo is not afraid to step up to the plate. He collars interviewers on the red carpet, and uses his Twitter feed (with more than two million followers) as a platform for his outspoken support for Democrat maverick Bernie Sanders and the climate change movement. Trump, he says, is “an interesting blip” in a country that is undergoing “kind of a correction”. Money has “corrupted the political system”, which has lost its credibility “on both sides of the aisle”. To Ruffalo, the Republican frontrunner “is playing into all the ugliest aspects of the fear that has been fomented by the media and the politicians themselves”; in contrast, he says, Sanders is offering “a reimagining of the basic premise of what America is”.
Ruffalo is back on the cultural radar because he has just been Oscar nominated for his role in Spotlight, an appropriately angry hand-grenade of a film that takes its title from the special investigations team of the Boston Globe, and chronicles its celebrated 2002 exposé of clerical sex abuse in the city, and subsequent cover-up. Ruffalo plays reporter Mike Rezendes as a twitchy, dogged, loose cannon of a journalist. Hair brushed forward, loping from courthouse to record hall to lawyer’s office, Ruffalo’s Rezendes is the bloodhound of the Spotlight team.
Ruffalo explains he spent a good while with the real-life Rezendes, who is still at the Boston Globe – going to his home, shadowing him at work – which, he says, “proved a real, great source for me”. Rezendes was working on another big, long-term story at the time, about the state psychiatric hospital at Bridgewater: “the guards kept killing all of these inmates”, he says, and Ruffalo says he was right there when it was breaking. “It’s the investigative reporter’s version of a ride-along to a drug bust. So I got to see him action.” So it was exciting, right? “Uh,” he considers it, “it was mostly working the phones.”
To its credit, Spotlight doesn’t try too hard to overdramatise the mundane working life of most journalists, even if Ruffalo does get a high-volume “This is bullshit!” scene, where he butts heads with his editor. Ruffalo suggests that he was trying to channel what he calls the “sense of righteousness” he saw in the real Rezendes. “He has that sense of social justice. It’s a drive thing. It was really interesting to see it in action within the institution of journalism.
“I don’t know if it’s always like that, but I know it’s true for Mike, he sees what he is doing is for the good of the public. For the Globe, there is a sense of, ‘I am going to take this motherfucker down, cos he is a bad guy.’ To be a great investigative journalist you have to have a kind of tenacity that doesn’t respect stature or title. It doesn’t keep them from going after the truth; that’s what great journalism is.”
Ruffalo is acutely aware that the exact time-frame that Spotlight describes – mid-2001 to early 2002, encompassing the 9/11 attacks – is a pivotal one for journalism, the intersection of the old print era and the new frontier of the digital age. In some ways, Spotlight is a paean to journalism’s archaic methods, as it lovingly dwells on microfiches, card indexes, picture folders and clippings files. “It’s a hell of a lot easier to do a word search than to go through a stack of clippings. It’s a totally different thing.”
The demands of the digital age, with its data dumps, clickbait and 24-hour news cycle, is also something that interests him, and not just because of Spotlight. “I do think there’s a scramble right now – where does long-term investigative journalism go in an age when papers are starting to phase out that aspect of their work, and when people’s attention spans are shorter?” For Ruffalo, “investigative journalism is the way news is meant to be, to get to the bottom of something, without editorialising. And I love that.”
Well, it’s not every day you can feel proud of your profession, even if talking to film actors isn’t quite in the same league as processing Wikileaks or being shadowed by the Russian security services. But Ruffalo boosts his point by likening Spotlight to a cop movie – or, at least, his character to the one he played in the David Fincher movie Zodiac, about the 1960s serial killer, which also dabbled in gloomy, morally ambiguous newspaper detective work.
Ruffalo is careful, though, to make sure he – as well as the film – isn’t seen to knock the Catholic church itself, even if he did publicly issue an open invitation for the Pope to watch the film. Like many of the journalists in the film, Ruffalo grew up a Catholic, but lapsed as his political consciousness took hold. “The thing about this story is, the whole city was complicit. It wasn’t just the police and church: it was police, church, legislative branch, the Globe. Everybody at some point looked the other way.”
At 48, Ruffalo now finds himself in an enviable position: a well-earned reputation as an actor’s actor, with auteurs on his CV such as Fincher, Scorsese (Shutter Island), Michael Mann (Collateral) and Jane Campion (In the Cut); but also a reputation as a bit of a thinking woman’s crumpet. When I put this career-profile combination to him, he lets out a sheepish giggle and snorts. “That’s my sweet spot right there!”
Ever since he made his mark as Laura Linney’s unreliable brother in You Can Count on Me, directed by Kenneth Lonergan in 2000, Ruffalo has come to represent a particular type of literate, socially concerned US independent cinema. He makes a lot of films, but chief among his more recent roles are the genial, supportive sperm donor in The Kids Are All Right, and a genial, supportive wrestling coach in Foxcatcher. “My list of criteria,” he explains, “starts with the part: is it something that scares me, or challenges me, or gets my motor going?”
Then, in 2012, Ruffalo turned up as, of all things, the Incredible Hulk in the blockbuster comic-book hit The Avengers. Why? “The Hulk was one of my favourite TV shows when I was a kid, and that character was really interesting to me, and how we deal with anger.” He said he initially turned the role down, but changed his mind after spending “hours and hours” talking it over with the director, Joss Whedon. “I thought, unless we could do something that added something worthwhile to this story, I am not the right guy. But he convinced me.”
In any case, he says, “as an actor I like fucking with people’s preconceived notions. I don’t like being put into any kind of a box. But, in the end, it was down to the material.”
The presence of Ruffalo in The Avengers may have been part of the ongoing indiefication of the superhero movie, but it also meant he had to change his own way of working, after allowing himself to be locked into a series. “I made a commitment to myself that I would never do a job without reading the script first. But now I am in a franchise, it’s like I’ve got to do them. But the good thing about Marvel is that we can have a dialogue about it. They don’t just hand the script to you and say, ‘here it is’. I get to work with them on it.”
Ruffalo’s unflashy acting style also means he has practically perfected the art of the supporting player: lead roles, George Clooney style, just don’t seem to be his thing. Is he the ultimate team player, the consummate ensemble man? Ruffalo mumbles a bit: “I wish my career had more of a strategic point of view than it did. I find it more interesting, working like that. Not to take away from what George Clooney does, or being a lead, but I just go where my heart takes me. I mean, I love acting. Like I said before, the priority is the role. Is it something I haven’t done before, or that speaks to my heart in some way. That can take me into any kind of movie.”
“You know,” he continues, “when you are young, you just take whatever they give you. As you get older and more established, you are able to ask questions. I am lucky that I have a good sense of people, and sense whether I am going to be able to work together with someone. For me, trust is really about being heard.”
So with his third Oscar nomination in the bag – all for supporting actor, naturally – is he pleased with the way things have gone? Again the sheepish laugh: “I’m pleased, but also nervous. I’m just waiting for the hammer to drop on my head.”
Mogadishu, Somalia. A woman walks past vehicles damaged after two suicide bombings targeted a popular beach hotel and a restaurant killing at least 20 people. The Islamist group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack. Photograph: Said Yusuf
Kasserine, Tunisia. Demonstrators clash with security forces after gathering to protest against unemployment and poverty. Photograph: Mohamed Khalil
Ouidah, Benin. Locals perform at the annual voodoo festival to commemorate those who lost their homelands and their freedom to the African slave trade. Photograph: Akintunde Akinleye
Virginia, US. Shelves are empty as shoppers stock up in preparation for Winter Storm Jonas in Alexandria, south of Washington DC. Photograph: Michael Reynolds
Wishing you all a great week end, have fun, stay safe !