The towers of Babel

Pieter Brueghel the Elder, 1563

Marten van Valckenborch, ca. 1600

Abel Grimmer, date unknown

Lucas van Valckenborch, 1595

Pieter Brueghel the Younger, ca. 1595

Hendrick van Cleve, 16th century

Lodewijk Toeput, ca. 1583-1587

Tired of hearing about Greece?

Just look at it instead. Here is a selection of photographs I took during a short trip in May to the island of Crete.

More from me here.

And seeing the morning break, Scheherazade fell silent...

As promised (to myself) I'm back posting more regularly and trying to overcome my writing insecurity. Last weekend the 33rd edition of the Munich Film Fest ended and here is what I got to see. (Click on the pictures to watch the respective trailers.)

by Naji Abu Nowar | Jordan, Katar, UAE, UK | 2014
* * * * *
During the Q&A with the director, he explained that the film takes place during the Arab revolution, when the borders were defined which basically originated the conflicts we have until today in the Middle East. Those same borders also extinguished the nomad way of life of the Bedouin tribes. For the acting in this film the director recruited in most part actual descendants of the last Bedouin tribe in Jordan, freeing them from unemployment and extreme poverty. Being this the director's intended message, the film itself fails to support this awareness in a more obvious manner. It's rather detached from all this and focuses on its own narrative and related values.

Mænd og Høns (Men and Chicken)
by Anders Thomas Jensen | Denmark, Germany | 2014
* * * * *
Although this pitch-black comedy unfolded in a very entertaining and creative way, lastly it was too easy to digest and not too challenging (a similar issue I had while watching this director's previous film Adam's Apples). Nonetheless, it was funny, absurd, political incorrect and filled with insinuated repugnancy. Also: Mads Mikkelsen.

La Tête Haute (Standing Tall)
by Emmanuelle Bercot | France | 2014
* * * * *
This was picked as the opening film in Cannes, since not so many female directors have received this privilege in the past. It's a stirring drama about social welfare and the judicial system that supports delinquent youth. The performances were fantastic, considering it was the debut for some of the actors, most notably by newcomer Rod Paradot with his violent outbreaks on screen. Also: Catherine Deneuve.

The Overnight
by Patrick Brice | USA | 2015
* * * * *
Let's do some namedropping here as well: Taylor Schilling (Orange is the New Black), Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) and Jason Schwartzman (I don't really have to explain where you have seen this guy, do I?) in a clever and tightly constructed sexual comedy. A lot more could be said and analysed here, but fortunately there are already professionals to do this kind of thing, so read this nice review here instead. I just found that the humour in this film managed to remain fresh and never tiring.

As Mil e Uma Noites: Volume 1, O Inquieto
(Arabian Nights, Volume 1, The Restless One)
by Miguel Gomes | Portugal, France, Germany, Switzerland | 2015
* * * * *
Arabian Nights is an ambitious opus by Portuguese director Miguel Gomes, divided into three films/chapters. This is not a literal adaptation of "The Arabian Nights", it merely adopts its structure and main character Scheherazade as the storyteller. The tales are based on actual events that happened in Portugal after a socially unjust government implemented the harsh austerity measures imposed by the infamous Troika. In a mix of fiction and documentary, these movies make a poetic diagnosis of the current political and social situation in the country. It's an eccentric collage of metaphors and fables that traverse the real and the surreal.

As Mil e Uma Noites: Volume 2, O Desolado
(Arabian Nights, Volume 2, The Desolate One)
by Miguel Gomes | Portugal, France, Germany, Switzerland | 2015
* * * * *
The second volume was certainly my favourite as it contained two of the most striking and gripping stories: The Tears of the Judge and The Owners of Dixie. From the film: “It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that a distressed Judge will cry instead of giving out her sentence on a night when all three moons are aligned. A runaway murderer will wander through the land for over forty days and will teletransport himself to escape the Guard while dreaming of prostitutes and partridges. A wounded cow will reminisce about a thousand-year-old olive tree while saying what she must say, which will sound none less than sad! The residents of a tower block in the suburbs will save parrots and piss inside lifts while surrounded by dead people and ghosts; including in fact a dog that…”. And seeing the morning break, Scheherazade fell silent.

As Mil e Uma Noites: Volume 3, O Encantado
(Arabian Nights, Volume 3, The Enchanted One)
by Miguel Gomes | Portugal, France, Germany, Switzerland | 2015
* * * * *
I chose to make a crazy experiment and spend a whole hot day of summer in the cinema watching the three films, so at this point it was getting a bit tiring. Specially since this last chapter had a longer and slightly exhausting tale about men teaching birds to sing. But altogether it was a worthy journey and it pleases me to see Portuguese cinema still going strong. (Plus, the film Cavalo Dinheiro (Horse Money) by Pedro Costa won this year's award for best international film.)