Monday, April 27, 2009

More Orientalist Action

A while back I mentioned seeing the exhibition of Orientalist art in the Tate Britain in that London. Now the BBC reports the exhibition has travelled to Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, where the locals can see how crazy Victorians imagined their lives. Interestingly, the BBC also reports that vintage Orientalist art is carrying ever increasing prices in the art markets of the world - you can never really go too wrong with eroticised pictures of dusky native ladies.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

An Unoriginal Thought

Celebrity culture is vile, but people who shite on about its vileness are not part of the solution. Likewise, there is nothing more vulgar than respectable news organs covering what others are saying about celebrities as a way of serving up inane celebrity gossip themselves.

Friday, April 24, 2009

"Under the Guns of the Red Baron"

Under the Guns of the Red Baron: The Complete Record of Von Richthofen's Victories and Victims Fully Illustrated, by Norman Franks, Hal Giblin, and Nigel McCrery

I picked up this book in the Central Library. It is an interesting but grim account of the eighty kills of Manfred von Richthofen, the First World War flying ace better known as the Red Baron. It includes Richthofen’s report on each plane he shot down, notes by the authors on the particular engagement, and then a biographical sketch and photograph of the men who crewed the aircraft downed by Richthofen. The biographical sketches are the grim bit. Most of the crews were killed when their planes were shot down (this was an era before parachutes, so only those who were able to make and survive crash landings lived to tell their tales). There is a certain “tally ho” excitement to accounts of First World War flying, for all the horrific death rates among air crew. Seeing a succession of 20 year old men stare out from black and white photographs brings home the human cost of warfare – they make their own squadron of men who would never return to their homes again.

Richthofen himself met his end while chasing his 81st kill. He had been offered the chance of retirement after downing his 80th enemy plane, but he stayed on, perhaps hoping to reach 100 kills. On the day he died, he made the fatal mistake of chasing an Canadian-crewed plane for too long on the British side of the lines, and was killed either by ground fire or the intervention of another Canadian pilot (we do not know who fired the shot that killed him). He was just short of 26 years of age.

One thing I did not really get from this book was how Richthofen managed to notch up so many kills. His own accounts are a bit vague on things like tactics or manoeuvres, saying instead things like “I saw an enemy plane, I chased it, I shot bullets at it, it crashed into the ground”. He may have been helped by having better planes than his victims (some of the allied aircraft really do sound like flying coffins). He was also helped by poor organisation on the allied side, with vulnerable observer or bomber planes often heading over to the German side of the lines without fighter escort. But it is hard not to believe he had a certain something that allowed him to kill and kill again.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Suicide Machine

I was going to write about J.G. Ballard dying and stuff, but then I remembered that I have not actually read anything by him, apart from one short story. It featured cars and strange eroticism, and was generally a bit weird, so I suppose it works as summary of his life's work. Apart from having seen David Cronenburg's film adaptation of Crash, I am more familiar with music inspired or based on Ballard's writings. Hawkwind's 'High Rise' and The Normal's 'Warm Leatherette' & 'T.V.O.D.' are the real stars here.

I feel like I should actually read one of Ballard's novels sometime, so will probably push for 'High Rise' or 'The Atrocity Exhibition' at the Science Fiction book club tomorrow.

More:
What pop music tells us about JG Ballard (why are all the comments by people called Ian?)

JG Ballard: The music he inspired

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Brave Dog Wins Award for Chasing Away Burglar

Toby the Labrador lives in Barnoldswick in Lancashire. One night, he found that a burglar had broken into the house. To defend his home and family, Toby attacked the burglar. The intruder fought back with kitchen knives, stabbing Toby four times, but the brave Labrador stood his ground, forcing the burglar to flee. Now Toby has been awarded with the PDSA Certificate for Animal Bravery.

Toby's owner, Jonathan Morton, was quoted as saying: "Toby is our hero".

More

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Trip to the Niland: Part Two

What am I talking about? Maybe you should read Part One

Upstairs the exhibition had a sudden attack of non-video art – a couple of posters and models depicting crazy conspiracy theory stuff. I like the mysteriously true end of conspiracy theories (you know, Bohemian Grove, Gladio, that kind of thing). This promiscuously mixed in all that kind of thing with more outlandish stuff about secret rulers of the world and so on. That is maybe the problem with reading about this kind of stuff in an art gallery rather than a book – artworks typically do not feature footnotes.

They did have some video pieces upstairs. One that I liked was people in Baghdad making the noise that Tomahawk cruise missiles make when they fly by and then explode in the distance. They should have sold CDs of this, it was great. There was also a conceptually interesting piece in which separate interviews of an Israeli tank crews were shown in screens laid out to show where they would be relative to each other in a tank. It was conceptually interesting, but once you got the idea it was too difficult to really engage with what they were saying, so I left them to it.

The last piece I looked at was again more like a film than an artwork, but it was pretty interesting. It dealt with Auschwitz, and told the story first of all of the first people to break the story of the death camp. They were two inmates who had something to do with the gas chambers (I missed the intro, but they might have been the guys who checked the bodies for valuables; the Nazis disposed of these people every couple of months to keep word of the gas chambers to as few people as possible). They escaped from the camp, and after an arduous journey they were able to get word to the allies, who then basically did nothing about it. Various prominent Jewish figures begged the allied leaders to have the gas chambers or railways into Auschwitz bombed, but Churchill et al. took the line that the best way to help the Jews was to end the war as fast as possible. The film implies that not bombing the camps was Wrong; I believe that this is a more morally ambiguous question. Whatever about that, the aerial photos of the camp (taken by a reconnaissance plane that had no idea what it was flying over) showing the gas chambers with a line of people about to be murdered marching to them was rather affecting.

The lay out of the exhibition is such that it was only by chance that I ended up with Auschwitz, but it works well as an end-point. It maybe also works well that (for me) the exhibition ended with a fairly straight film on this awful subject. It got me thinking also about the whole business of visiting Auschwitz, a place that is now a major tourist attraction in Poland. I am interested in history, even bad history, and I could imagine the camp being a fascinating place to see. But I could imagine two possible downsides to going there. First of all, the place could be so depressingly awful that a trip there would feel like immersion in the pornography of horror – a place you visit not to learn more about the past, but to get a vicarious thrill from contemplating the terrible things that people can do. Or, contrariwise, it could turn out to be a case of Holocaust kitsch, a packaged experience so tacky that it becomes a theme-park of death, distancing the visitor from any understanding of the events that took place there. Has anyone reading this ever been to Auschwitz? What did you make of it?


One final thing - I did not take notes on which artists produced which pieces in the exhibition. The exhibition's website gives the following names of the artists:

Maja Bajevic (Bosnia)
Bureau d'etudes (France)
Paul Chan (USA)
Köken Ergun (Turkey)
Harun Farocki (Germany)
Omer Fast (Israel/USA)
Kendell Geers (South Africa)
Johan Grimonprez (Belgium)
Jamelie Hassan (Canada)
Kristan Horton (Canada)
Abdel-Karim Khalil (Iraq) 
Anri Sala (Albania)
Sonja Savic (Serbia)
Sean Snyder (USA/Germany)
Ron Terada (Canada)

See if you can match them to the described artworks.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Trip to the Niland: Part One

The Model Arts & Niland Gallery is this place in Sligo where they show modern art stuff. In all my time visiting Sligo I somehow managed to miss its existence until very recently. Now a trip to the Niland is one of the highlights of any visit to Ireland's north west.

At the moment, the Niland's normal location is in the middle of a renovation, but the institution is showing stuff in other locations. Their current show seems to be some kind of touring exhibition based on war, terrorism, and that kind of thing. Most of the exhibition is video work of one sort or another. The first piece you see is four screens showing footage taken at two big events in Turkey. One is some kind of army passing out parade, featuring loads of soldiers marching around and declaring their intention to kill anyone who opposes a certain narrowly defined vision of Turkishness. The other is some kind of youth congress, at which a series of cute as a button small children make similarly blood-thirsty promises. Happy is he who is a Turk!

The second piece was by a Bosnian artist. She filmed herself making a series of emphatic statements while in a voice-over the artist repeats the same statements. Sometimes the voice-over is in phase with the on-screen comments, sometimes not. The statements range from the ominous (“I kill people who think differently from me” or “I like to rape women”) to the surreal (“During Ramadan I do not smoke or drink alcohol, but I take ecstasy”) to the somewhat banal, all delivered in more or less the same tone. There are obvious resonances here with the troubled history of Bosnia, the various references to sexual violence or exploitation of women gaining an extra frisson through being said by a woman, albeit one at that point speaking in the persona of a man.

The Bosnian's piece was refreshingly short, unlike the nevertheless fascinating piece that followed, which was a series of three films by another artist. Actually, I only saw part of one of these films, as it was too long to watch all of. It was a series of everyday scenes shot in Baghdad on the eve of the US invasion, a poignant vision of people living lives of a normality that would soon be shattered. The footage was fascinating; shots of two sisters dancing was an image that will live with me for some time. As an art piece it was however a bit problematic. The footage might have been better used as the raw material for a TV documentary rather than something to be shown in an art gallery. I strongly suspect that no one who chanced across this piece stood there to watch the whole 51 minutes, let alone hung around to watch the other long films by the artist that were showing.

The next room had a big sign telling you in English and French that you are now leaving the American Sector, set up so that it was visible through glass windows to people in the street. Although it looked like something you would see in divided Berlin, it was actually placed initially on the border between the USA and Canada. It stood there for just under a week, until complaints forced its removal.

That room also housed a piece by another artist, the accompanying notes for which indicated a certain ambivalence on his part about the theme of the exhibition. The exhibition's broadly post-11-9 sensibility irritated him, as it is not as though extremism and political violence was conjured into the world on that 2001 day – in much of the world people have long had to live with the fear of sudden violent death. This is, surely, an agreeable sentiment, but I am not so sure I liked the art-work that went with it – footage from apartheid-era South Africa of a suspected informer being tortured to death, sound-tracked by Magritte (or was it Matisse?) talking about art.

The next piece was another video piece, consisting of cut together news footage of various terrorist events, intercut with all kinds of funny stuff. The gang was all here – the Mogadishu rescue, Sadat's assassination, lots of footage of planes blowing up, and so on. I was particularly struck by footage of an airplane coming into land, missing the run way, flying into trees, and then (just when you thought that just maybe they might have made a hard landing that some people would get away from) exploding, sound-tracked by disco classic 'Do The Hustle!'. Again, though, it went on a bit, but an art gallery was probably the best place for it, as it was plainly too weird and tasteless for TV. And I now find myself singing 'Do The Hustle' to myself whenever I take a plane.


THUS ENDS PART ONE. PART TWO TO FOLLOW

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Glasgow records

So here are the records my beloved and I picked up in Glasgow. All purchased on CD, unless otherwise stated.

Monorail:
Es A Love Cycle
v/a La Belle Epoque: EMI's French Girls, 1965-1968
Shop Assistants Will Anything Happen
v/a Gather in the Mushrooms: The British Acid Folk Underground 1968-1974**
Mary Weiss (with the Reigning Sound) Dangerous Game** (vinyl)
v/a La Belle Epoque: EMI's French Girls, 1965-1968
Crystal Antlers Tentacles (vinyl, with free download)
v/a Planet Lollywood: The first wave of plugged-in pop at the Pakistani picture house (a Finders Keepers production)** (vinyl)
v/a Waking Up Scheherazade: Arabian Garage Psych Nuggets from the 60's and Early 70's** (vinyl)

Fopp:
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan Sunday at Devil Dirt
Broadcast Tender Buttons

Oxfam:
U2 The Joshua Tree
U2 War
The Breeders Pod

Mysterious:
v/a Smalltown Superupersound On Fire (free with some magazine)

Further discussion of these records to follow in due course.

**My beloved bought this one

Monday, April 13, 2009

v/a "Play Safe"

This is a compilation by Frank's APA pal "Paul". Interspersed among the tunes are snippets from public information films, while some of the tracks themselves seem to use samples from those relics of the 1970s. There are, sadly, no samples from Irish information films, so no "Oh me achin' back!" or "That’s' a sick way to live!" action, but it is great to hear the UK ones again. The Donald Pleasance one in which he is a malign spirit trying to trick children into drowning remains as creepy as ever, but the more comic ones are also entertaining (like the one about how if you polish your floors and put a rug on it then you are asking for trouble ("I'll just go put the kettle - Woaaaah!" ).

The music is mostly of the primitive electronic sort you got back in the 1970s – BBC Radiophonic Workshop stuff and people like Belbury Poly knocking them off. The title music to Children of the Stones gives Donald Pleasance a run for his money in the race for maximum creepiness, but a shiver of nostalgia went up my spine when I heard the music for Words & Pictures again. Maybe the next disc in this series will include some of the songs from this programme ("Chicken and chips! Chicken and chips! Everybody here loves chicken and chips. We eat it all day, never throw it away, we all love chicken and chips" etc.)

Incidentally, it you are interested in public information films, check out Staplerfahrer Klaus. It is a German public information film about forklift truck safety, but it carries a message we can all live by.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Extremely Important News Item

President Obama has picked his puppy, a Portuguese water dog named Bo. However, Bo is reported to have been a gift from Senator Edward Kennedy, and is thus not a rescue dog.

Bo has apparently made no "toileting errors" nor has he gnawed on any White House furniture, thanks to extensive conditioning from Senator Kennedy's army of dog trainers.

more

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Shake That Devil

This is a CD that came my way before Christmas as part of a CD/Tape swap among former activists of the Bowlie forum. I somehow managed to lose it almost soon as it arrived, but I discovered the other day that I had cleverly ripped it to iTunes first. In fact, I discovered this when it came up on shuffle, and I can say that, yes, this compilation is deadly, featuring loads of fun sounds like a bit of the Valerie and Her Week of Wonders soundtrack and similar bits and bobs together with various world musicy sounds (including that Group Doueh lot of crazy fellows from the Western Sahara that have already been mentioned). Deadly stuff. I must try and get the disc's compiler to join Frank's APA.

image source

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Franz Ferdinand "You Could Have It So Much Better"

For instance, by buying a different album. I picked up this with Portishead's Third, thinking that if Franz Ferdinand's first album was so good then their second must also be pretty kicking. Sadly, no, this is a good illustrator of why it is usually best to avoid second albums, with all the songs sounding distinctly like FF by numbers tunes that were not good enough for the first album. It is not completely offensive to the ears, but it is all a bit average.

Brave Dog Rescued

Oliver is a twelve and a half year old Springer Spaniel. On February 24th he had got lost while out walking with his owners and three of their other dogs. However, on the 2nd of April a man found Oliver in a property eight miles away form his home. He was apparently very hungry and dirty, and is pleased to have been reunited with his family. Sources close to Oliver report that he does not plan to wander off while on any future walks.

image source

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Japan: the world's greatest country

Have you ever found yourself thinking that it would be brilliant if cafés laid on cats for you to play with? I know I have. Apparently there are loads of these cat cafés in Japan. I am so there.

hat tip

Ergodos Festival: Off Grid

One interesting thing I heard about from the website of the Journal of Music is this Ergodos Festival, a nine day festival of weirdo music running from the 17th to the 25th April in Dublin. It features a variety of events, from gamelan music in the National Concert Hall to a performance by forward thinking fiddler Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh in the Unitarian Church. In the post budget financial nightmare that is today's Ireland, you may be too po' to afford the cost of tickets, in which case you could enter a competition to win a pass to all events in the festival. I'm so fly that I have already bought my own ticket to the whole thing.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Portishead "Third"

This is of course Portishead's third album, the one that came out last year. I saw it in a two-for-fifteen sale in HMV and decided to give it a go. I have, sadly, only managed to listen to it once or twice. This is not a reflection of this record's quality, more on the extent to which I am being swamped by new music at the moment. Initial listenings suggest that Third is a total classic – if you like doomy and claustrophobic music.

People had said that this was influenced by the likes of Sunn-O)))) and all the crazy metal that Geoff Barrow releases on his own label. I do not really set this myself. A more obvious context for this would be Massive Attack's Mezzanine, but without in any way sounding like a retread of that work. Whatever its influences, this is a very engaging record, one I can see myself listening to this a lot over the coming year.

Image source

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Steve Reich "Phases"

Basically, this is more Steve Reich than you can shake a stick at – five CDs worth of stuff recorded on the Nonsuch label, being sold in a small box for €19.99. If this is not a bargain then I do not know what is. The two biggies I recognised by name are Music for 18 Musicians & Different Trains, though I bet that people who know about these things would know of many of the other tunes here. There is so much stuff here that I have only managed to listen to everything once, but it is all great. I was particularly struck by Different Trains, both the locomotive rhythms that Reich conjures up and the subject matter it evokes. The latter becomes apparent the moment you see the titles of the piece's subsections: 'America -Before the War', 'Europe – During the War', and 'After the War'. You don't have to be a genius to work out to where the European trains are going and whom they are carrying there.

When Steve Reich was approached to be the subject of the Living Music festival in 2007, he agreed to come along as guest of honour on condition that no music by Phillip Glass was included in the programme[citation needed]. I suppose Reich and Glass are probably the two giants of 20th century Minimalist music, but my thinking now is that Reich is a far more interesting composer. Listening to the tracks here, there seems a much broader range to his musical palette. With Glass, on the other hand, everything really does kind of sound the same*, so had the two gone back to back the comparions would very much have been in Reich's favour.

While this Reich collection is very extensive, it does not quite include everything noteworthy the great man has composed. There is no 'Clapping Music' or 'Street Life', but in 'New York Counterpoint' it has the tune that The Orb sampled to produce 'Little Fluffy Clouds'. Famously, when this was played to Reich by The Wire for Invisible Jukebox he said "Who was that again? I'll have to get my lawyers onto that one".


* Although, bizarrely, the radio has just played some Glass organ piece that did not sound that much like what I think of as classic Glass (i.e. it does not sound like anything from Koyaanisqatsi)

Saturday, April 04, 2009

One City, One Voice

The Dublin City Library Service has been doing this One City, One Book thing over the last couple of years, where they gamely try to get everyone in the city to read the same book over the course of April. This year the book is Dracula, by Bram Stoker. Dracula is so associated with the cinema that it is easy to forget that it is based on a novel written by a Dubliner.

I am hoping to re-read Dracula this month, though the City Library Service are a bit short of copies. Dracula is an odd book, a strange mix of genuinely unsettling horror and pulpish action. Its attitude to sexuality, particularly female sexuality, is the kind of thing you could base an entire academic career on. While it has its ups and downs, there is something memorably creepy about its best passages; I am thinking in particular of the opening chapters, where the English lawyer finds himself gradually learning the truth about his Transylvanian host, or the various entries in the log of the ship that is carrying the vampire to England. That last section ends with the unforgettable image of a storm-blown ship crashing to shore, the captain lashed to the wheel, a dead man with a crucifix round his neck.

The IFI is getting in on the act by hosting a Gothic film weekend from the 17th to 19th of April. Some of the films they are showing look unmissable. Aside from Murnau's Nosferatu a film that repays endless viewings*, they are also showing Countess Dracula, with Ingrid Pitt (easy tiger) playing Erzebet Bathory, the Blood Countess. They may perhaps have sensationalised the story somewhat, but it is still based on an actual historical noblewoman who actually did bathe in the blood of virgins – can this be sensationalised? The other fascinating film on the programme is Blacula, a blaxploitation horror film; what's not to like?

One somewhat annoying feature of One City, One Book this year is that the Dublin libraries seem to be a bit short on copies of Dracula. Maybe this is the curse of picking a book that people might actually want to read, but there never seem to be any available for borrowing when I go looking for them. Oh well.

More details on One City, One Book

image source

*bizarrely, this has become the film that I have seen the most number of times, largely because I never turn down an opportunity to see it.

Friday, April 03, 2009

City Hall Wants Your Badge: Sunday Morning with Ensemble Avalon

You know the way my beloved and I sometimes go to those free midday concerts on Sundays in the Hugh Lane Gallery? Well you would, if you read my blog and the various pieces we have written for Frank's APA. For reasons that are still mysterious, these concerts have been moved form the Hugh Lane to City Hall, much closer to where we live. I don't know if you have ever been to Dublin's City Hall – as a building, it reminds me of that Onion article about the stoner architect who designed a building consisting entirely of foyers. City Hall seems to be one big foyer, and it is not at all clear from it where the good folk of the Corporation do their important city government work.

That odd feature is not particularly relevant to the concert we attended, which was by this lot called the Ensemble Avalon. They were playing pieces by a number of composers, all of which seemed to be about nautical or marine themes. These were not particularly Eno-esque tunes evoking an oceanic world of polymorphous absorption. Instead, Lizst's Hero & Leander, about two lovers separated by the Hellespont, features a terrible storm that drowns one of the lovers, while Rachmaninov's Etudes-Tableaux op.39 starts off by evoking a seagull (a sinister omen of ill-fortune) only to progress also to a musical recreation of a storm's terrible fury. All of this was accomplished by three musicians playing violin, cello, and piano, and accompanied by the usual fidgety children to which had been added the extensive noise of traffic (City Hall, unlike the Hugh Lane, is on a main thoroughfare, and being an all foyer building, the concert area is much closer to the outside).

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Journal of Music...

You may have known the Journal of Music in Ireland. This publication is no more, having mutated in the all-new Journal of Music. Whereas the original publication looked at brainy music in Ireland (or looked brainily at music in Ireland), the relaunched Journal of Music is adopting a more international perspective. My big worry with this is that this could mean a loss of focus and lead to the journal needlessly replicating the work of other publications. We'll see. Anyway, the relaunched journal is out this month. It is already available online, presumably with the print issue hitting the shops soon. The issue appears to come with a CD compiled by the Improvised Music Company, showcasing the current state of Irish jazz.

edit: see comment for further information on the CD that comes with the Journal of Music, as well as a concert next week to promote it and a jazz-related radio show.

I say, Young Man!


The BBC reports that the fellow on the right is "claiming to be injured". More bizarre, perhaps, is the sudden outbreak of formation dancing by the cops on the left.

see more pictures

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

NCH Action: Leos Janácek's "Glagolithic Mass" & Ludwig van Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony

Our pal Leedy was singing in the Glagolithic Mass – not on her own, but as part of a choir. But what is a mass when it is being glagolithic? That I cannot tell you. Oh wait, no, the programme says it is derived from the Latin word for the Old Church Slavonic language in which Janácek decided to render the text of his mass, as a way of making it doubly incomprehensible. The programme helpfully gives translations (in English) of all the Old Church Slavonic stuff the choir are singing, so I now know that Bog seems to be the Old Church Slavonic for God, while Gospod is the word for Lord. But what does Sabaoth mean? It is helpfully translated here as… Sabaoth. Now, you might wonder why I am fixating on this one word, but it is one I have seen before – in the works of Howard Phillips Lovecraft. In his short novel The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, the villainous wretch who has, from his essentiale saltes, been resurrected at one point mutters "Per Adonai Sabaoth – " when trying to protect himself from being turned back into a pile of saltey nuggetes. Could it be that Janácek was himself a servant of dark forces, that his Glagolithic Mass is a sacrament not of Good, but of Evil?

Whatever about its possible status as a portal into our universe for obscene deities from outside time and space, the Glagolithic Mass is also interesting in how little mileage it gets from its lead vocalists. One of the lady singers barely sang anything at all, while the other leads did not really do that much, making the achievements of the main choir that bit more noticeable. The other fascinating feature of the piece was its wonderful false ending. I mean, it's a mass, so when they reach the The Mass is over, go in peace – amen bit you do rather think "Well that'll be that then", even if the Mass is being sung in Church Slavonic or Aklo or whatever they call it. What you do not expect is a crazy organ solo. I cannot but think this might prove the solution to the problem of falling church attendance.

The Eroica symphony of Beethoven, meanwhile, is a very famous piece of classical music, so famous that I was surprised not to recognise it from an ad or film score. Famously, it was originally meant to be dedicated to the French general Napoleon Bonaparte, seen at the time as a hero of the Enlightenment and a man who was sweeping away the dark forces of illiberalism that had been holding back Europe; but then, when Bonaparte declared himself Emperor Napoleon, Beethoven tore off the dedication from the score. The music is very impressive, though at first I was having some problems getting to grips with it. The last section, though, is astonishing. Beethoven seems to really know how to build to a finish, and the musical spectacle was well counterpointed visually by Andreas Delfs giving us loads of crazy conductor action.

Q: Are We Not Men?

I've just been to see Il Divo, the exciting Paolo Sorrentino film about Giulio Andreotti, a shady Italian politician. I may talk about it at greater length in the future, but for now let me say that I recommend it highly. I don't think you would need to know anything about Italian politics to enjoy it – I thought it was excellent, and had never heard of anyone in it apart from Andreotti himself (and Aldo Moro, but he is not in it that much). The film is on in the IFI till the 9th of April. I reckon the lush cinematography would make this one worth seeing on the big screen.