TokeZa's inane ramblings about film

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Call Me by Your Name (2017) by Luca Guadagnino

Yesterday, I went to our local cinematheque (Cinemateket), here in Copenhagen, with a good friend, to see the recent Call Me by Your Name by Guadagnino. As a feminist and postmarxist i applaud the recent wave of queer and homoerotic movies, showing multitudes of human behaviour and feelings, not previously showcased for mainstream audiences. Call Me by Your Name arrives in the slipstream of movies such as Moonlight, Blue is the Warmest Color and Stranger by the Lake, showcasing erotic sensibilities of a young Italian during the formative years of adolescens. Call Me by Your Name is reminiscent of the tropes of Eric Rohmers film, and is greatly indebted to the language of French filmmaking, and as a film depicting the troubles of love through adolescens, its certainly a succes.

In a recent article in the film critic magazine Balthazar, an article, argued that the best film were both good and bad and that it was flaws or the things that were not quite on point that made an excellent film. In that sense Call Me by Your Name is nearly to perfect with the perfect family and too indie-sweet, with the soundtrack of Sigur Ros and Sufjan Stevens playing at the right moment. Still it's in my opinion, highly recommendable.

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"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."





Nightfall (2012) by James Benning

In a recent discussion on svingninger.dk, we discussed Bennings films and whether they should be seen at home or in the cinema. While most would only want to see James Bennings film in cinema, I thoroughly enjoy seeing his films in the home cinema, but it requires a certain modus of watching, and years ago we would take downers while watching his contemplative cinema.

The structuralist cinema of Benning earns homage to 70's avantgarde cinema with the like of Chantal Akerman, Michael Snow and Hollis Frampton. As a starting point i would recommend Landscape Suicide, while i think his best films are 13 Lakes, Ten Skies and RR.

I have a small movie club dedicated to films such as Bennings, with an old friend, who also really like ambient music. We have discussed the films and the contemplative way of seeing these kinds of films as an cathartic experience, maybe similar to those experiences people have, when they experience yoga or mindfulness.

Nighfall works best as an art installation, but can in my opinion be viewed at home for meditative reasons.

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First Reformed (2018) by Paul Schrader

This film had been hyped on the Danish forum svingninger.dk, so it was with a high anticipation and expectations i went to see it at the Danish film festival CPH Pix with a good friend. The expectations were definitely met and i regard it as the best American film from 2018. First reformed is reminiscent of Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver and revolves around a spiritual crisis and dives into the increasingly intrusive problems of climate change, albeit inhabited in a discourse of mental health problems and terrorism.

Set aside from the last scene (which does not really make any sense) First Reformed follows the tropes of Taxi Driver and seems like a relevant up to date version of that film, as well as a reflection on alienation in face of the current political problems.






The Swamp (2001) by Lucrecia Martel

After seeing Zama from 2017 i have decided to dive into Martel's filmography starting with the Swamp from 2001. Zama was not an easy watch, but certainly an imposing reflection on colonialism and the heritage from Aguirre: The Wrath of God. In comparison The Swamp is also a provocation to the ordinary viewer. The unstructured narrative with uneven or even imposing soundscapes and the abruptness of the characters actions, makes it a hard but intriguing watch. The film encompasses a dysfunctional family in a heat wave, with a multitude of being situations and relational trouble.

The swamps reminds me of an oppositional modus of Jeanne Dielman, and both films are in my opinion provocations, albeit Jeanne Dielman a more disciplined and successful one. On a theoretical level it reminded me of Gregory Bateson and his cybernetics in the ecology of the mind.

For viewers with an arthouse inclination

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Mirai (2018) by Mamoru Hosoda

Today i went to the local Cinematheque here in Copenhagen with my son to see the latest film by Mamoru Hosoda. Hosoda is a director i have heard of, but i have never seen any of his films, so i was quite excited to see Mirai. As my son noticed Mirai is not plot driven and it is a relatively hard watch for a kid to see, compared for instance to disney or pixar movies. Although my son was a bit bored the first half hour, the film picked up some pace, with some interesting fantasies and magical realism. The film as such is deeply indebted to Miyasaki and films like My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited away, albeit more slower and a bit Ozu like. Hosoda is definitely his own, but seems aware of the japanese tradition of film making. I guess Guaporense could say a lot more about this film than me, but it was certainly interesting.

I will primarily recommend it to older kids and parents, who are interested in japanese culture.

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This is more of a life update. Last winter i finished my second bachelor degree. This time in Social Work, where i wrote about the social workers role in the work with young people with schizophrenia in social psychiatric living institutions. My first bachelor degree was in History and about the Social Democratic Party's Second World War occupation story here in Denmark. As it is i am going to start studying again next Friday. This time a masters degree in Educational Sociology at the university of educational studies (Danmarks Pædagogiske Universitet) here in Copenhagen. The last 6 months i have been working full time in an effort to start a new social psychiatric living institution in the center of Copenhagen, where we started an upturn community and collectives for young people with mental illnesses.

As it is i am reading a lot more than watching film, so i want to use this thread both for (arthouse) films and on reflections on the books i read.

I hope you will enjoy





Englishness and Empire 1939-1965 by Wendy Webster (2005)

This book could be very interesting for some of the English movie buffs on MoFo. For me it was a difficult read with a lot of references that i as a foreigner to english media and cinema did not understand. The book seems well researched but hardly communicated well and the target audience seems to be english academics who are interest in English media history. Nonetheless the focal point of loss of imperial power and its relation to identity, British culture and decolonization is a very interesting subject matter. It was hard to give the book rating and my rating might seem harsh, though overall the interesting subject matter got lost in the communication (or mediation).






Min mor var besat: Da jeg mødte depressionens dæmon (My Mother was Possessed: When I Met the Demon of Depression) by Peter Øvig Knudsen (2019)

Peter Øvig Knudsen is a fairly popular and mainstream writer focusing on a documentary style of writing, though often without references of the sources. He has used a lot of time focusing on the radical left wing in denmark; from old school communists to the squatters of the eighties. This time its a personal story of growing up with a mentally ill mother and then, while writing this book, develop a severe clinical depression of his own. In my opinion the book is far to long. PØK has a tendency to repeat himself when writing about his mother. His historical view of his mothers mental illness as something related to the historical time seems unfounded and a bit ridiculous. I also think i have personal issue with his writing style which as the title implies, is a bit sensationalist. While i am not to fond of this book, certain aspects of his own experience with severe depression is quite captivating. As a manic-depressive who works in psychiatry i lack a more professional view of depression and mental illness, than the sensationalist and action packed description by PØK.






Den nye Internationale: Hvorfor Venstrefløjen skal omfavne Europa og demokratisere Verden (The New International: Why the Left Wing should Embrace Europe and Democratize the World) by Malte Frøslee Ibsen (2019)

A really interesting debate book by a Danish political theorist who among others is inspired by Jürgen Habermas and The Frankfurt School. In times where a no-deal Brexit seems to be a focal point of European politics Malte Frøslee Ibsen offers a view on why the left wing should embrace the European Union and in a democratization effort make a New Internationale. In a Danish context the left-wing, green and red party has historically been against the European Union, but changes towards a more pragmatic view of the European Union is happening and Ibsen seems to be a part of that movement. Essentially this also implies a stance against right wing nationalism which seems to be on a global rise, from Trump to Le Pen. As a former squatter and part of a youth movement for more autonomy I think this change in view of the European project also apply to me and i found the arguments very relevant and thoughtful.






Menneskekød: grotesker 1910-1920 (Human Flesh: Grotesques 1910-1920) by Anders Jørgen Mogensen (editor), Andreas Bylov Jensen (editor) (2019)

A collection of short stories focusing on horror and pulp from the start of the last century. A lot of the stories are not on par with other books by this publisher and the quality is changing, mostly towards sub-par stories. I cannot really recommend this to other than people with a personal interest in Danish litterature from this period.






Digte 2014 (Poems 2014) by Theis Ørntoft (2014)

An excellent selection of poems with an encompassing critique of civilization related to a personal 30-year crisis. My favorite selection of Danish poems read this year.





Spørgsmålene (The Questions) by Majse Aymo-Boot (2012)

The Questions (2012) are a piece of doubtful and lyrical questions, which starts a wave of thoughts in the reader. Recommended for danish readers.





105 variationer (105 Variations) by Peter-Clement Woetmann (2015)

I really want to like 105 variations, since i am a friend of Peter-Clements brother, but i really disliked both this and Bag bakkerne, kysten from 2017. As it is I have reserved his brothers collection of poems; Af det almene (From the normal) from 2018. Recommended to more political oriented poem readers.





White Girl by Christina Hagen (2012)

The most provocative selection of poems i have read in a long time and it might be one of the most interesting lyrical pieces of what i have read. Its an anti-elitist and anti-PC piece of expression which i am not sure i am supposed to like. Really relevant in these safe space times.






Over os hænger en vidunderlig sol (Above Us Hangs a Wonderful Sun)
by Majse Aymo-Boot (2014)


A short but difficult with a floating narrator. The story is set in late childhood which is quite relatable to Aymo-Boots The Questions from 2012. A pretty obscure but really good Danish novel.





The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon (2000)

The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon is a huge undertaking and highly relevant for me, both as a manic-depressive and a mental health specialist. My only critique is that Andrew Solomon wants to do too much. The book is simply to big and some of the chapters are not that relevant. The book could have been better angled and edited. Nonetheless it is one of the better books about depression from a writer who himself have experienced severe depression.





Relikvie (Relic) by Julie Mendel (2017)

Recommended by my girlfriend if you want to read about loneliness and moving to another country. For me it felt a bit flat and i could not really relate to it, though i am hardly the target audience of this book.





The Book of Frank by C.A. Conrad (2009)

A very interesting selection of queer poems by American writer C.A. Conrad. Some of them are outright surreal, but also quite funny. For me it bore resemblance of Frank O'hara and In Memory of My Feelings.

Highly recommended.






Baxter, Vera Baxter (1977) by Marguerite Duras

Duras is one of my favorite female authors and as a director i have seen India Song, which was a very special experience. Baxter, Vera Baxter is also a very special cinematic experience with an interesting use of sound in relation to the mise-en-scene. The film is contrived, but in a good way, where you can sense the originality of Marguerite Duras. The narrative is rather bleak with near no emotional contact between the characters, which creates a rather powerful atmosphere of solitude.

Highly recommended






Nathalie Granger (1972) by Marguerite Duras

My girlfriend and i saw yet another Duras film. This time Nathalie Granger from 1972. The film is set in a somewhat atypical family with two mothers and two children, where one of the children; Nathalie Granger, is a somewhat problematic and violent child. As with Baxter, Vera Baxter from 1977, there is an emotional detachment and distance. A somewhat troublesome situation is controlled with an emotional distance with a focus on routines in everyday life. In some aspects it really reminded me of the later Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles from 1975 by Chantal Akerman. Both film serves a feminist outlook with mothers in the dominant, albeit distanced, role. Nathalie Granger has a quite special or maybe even odd appearance by Depardieu which exposes the male character as quite fragile and uneven, compared to the more dominating and masculine females of the movie. Gender roles are subverted and redistributed in the rutines of everyday life.

Recommended for fans of Duras

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El-haimoune (Wanderers of the Desert) (1986) by Nacer Khemir

In our bi-weekly movie club Klub Aurora we have started to delve into African film, starting with the first movie of Nacer Khemir's Desert Trilogy from Tunisia. First of all it was a bit of a tough watch due to missing some of the cultural codes from Arab countries in the eighties. The story centers around a small village in the desert and the conflicting modes of spirituality and modernity, here centered on Nacer Khemir as the visiting teacher. Later the conflict revolves around the spiritual wanderers of the desert and an officer of the state investigating the missing teacher (Nacer Khemir). Overall the narrative seems labyrinthian with different modes of spirituality, for instance represented by djinns and broken mirrors, set in relation to a misunderstanding modernity, represented by the officer. A lot of the narrative where a bit lost on me, but nonetheless interesting. Aesthetically El-haimoune where quite minimalistic with som beautiful decors and settings (One of the members of Klub Aurora mentioned masonry work of the village). A bit of a hard watch but definitely recommended. Next time we are watching a film from Morocco






The Book of Questions by Edmond Jabès (1963)

I really disliked this poetry collection, though there might be something cultural that i did not understand. It was a collection i found at my local library at random and i am not sure i can recommend it unless you are interested in jewish culture and history.





"Det stopper kværnen i mit hoved": Om kunst i psykiatrien og Kunstcentret på Sct. Hans Hospital ("It stops the grinding in my head": About art in psychiatry and the art center at Sct. Hans) by Jeppe Kruse (2014)

A really interesting subject, which i am personally interested in, but a rather poorly written book and a poorly defined subject matter. The book was quickly read, but my expectations were not met.





Der er ingen ærlige digte om døde kvinder (There are no honest poems about dead women) by Audre Lorde (2019)

I have been rather interested in intersectional feminism and had pretty high expectations for this selection of poems by Audre Lorde. The poor translation, however, made it a rather irritating experience and i am definitely considering reading something by Lorde in her primary language. I can not recommend this specific poetry collection but overall i think Lorde is interesting.





Havbrevene (The Sea Letters) by Siri Ranva Hjelm Jacobsen

This is a Danish novel about a personified Atlantic Ocean and a personified Mediterranean who are sisters and writes letters to each other. A somewhat interesting idea, which in my opinion, is a bit too "cute", and also too short. My favorite thing about the book was the illustrations by artist Dorte Naomi.






On the Political (2005) by Chantal Mouffe

I read this for my university class in Theories of Educational Sociology and wrote a lot about it in Danish. Mouffe partly inspired by Antonio Gramsci and cultural Marxism wrote a topical book on the political situation today partly inspired of criticism of "The Third Way" and the postpolitical situation in the nineties. A very inspiring book, especially if you want to understand the Syriza and Podemos movement, as well as the Trump Presidency.





Den korsfæstede budding (The Crucified Pudding) (2016) by Simon Grotrian


I picked this up from my office after i learned that Simon Grotrian had died. The title seemed intruiging to me, though the subject matter did not really matter to me. The languaged seemed private and felt offputting to me.





Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide by Kay Redfield Jamison

As a former social worker in a psychiatric living instistution as well as a manic depressive (such as Kay Redfield Jamison) i found Night Falls Fast very special. One of the main forces of Kay Redfield Jamisons books is her liteary knowledge in connection with mental illness, as well as her timely used stories from her own life. Higly recommended.





Berlin (2018) by Jason Lutes

As a former history student mainly specialising in the history of the twentieth century, I found the interwar period extremely interesting. In terms of film i higly recommend Berlin Alexanderplatz by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. In relation to the time period and epic scope of the narrative I find Berlin by Jason Lutes comparable to Fassbinders long film, and they are both masterpieces within their artform. Berlin by Jason Lutes has been the only graphic novel i have read this year, but it has certainly been one of the best i have read in my life.





Natural History by Reijo Kärkkäinen and Zven Balslev

A silkscreened artist book in a limited edition by a finish artist and Zven Balslev, who i have tattoo by and have worked with on musical productions. It is pretty much a Copenhagen phenomena, but if you are interested you could check out Cult Pump at Instagram.





Cosmic Pessimism (2015) by Eugene Thacker

I genuinely disliked this book for its philosophical argumentations and aphorism on what could be characterized as a depressed world-view or being-in-this-world. I have a hard time coping with people who revel in pessimism for instance like Emil Cioran in "All Gall Is Divided" from 1952, which Thacker seems to be inspired by. If you are into existential crises per se, then you might find it interesting.




The next four books are four poetry collections ranging from the distasteful to the really clever, which was made with some real ingenuity.



Live or Die (1966) by Anne Sexton

I was a bit ambivalent towards these poems by Anne Sexton, which in some ways were bordering the same problems i had with Cosmic Pessimism by Eugene Thacker, but on the other hand the poems were really well written. Not the best poems i have read this year, but certainly not the worst.





Kunstens regler (The Rule of Art) (2019) by Jens Kæmpe

I dont like to berate stuff i dont like but this poetry collections was really distasteful and hopeless. By far the worst book i have read this year and hopefully it will not be translated.





Af det almene (By the Common) (2018) by Lars-Emil Woetmann

I had Lars-Emil do a poetry reading from "Af det almene" to one of my receptions. I find his poems both a bit odd as well as quite exciting and i am really curious on what he will be up to next. In this poetry collection i found the jury service poems the most interesting





Don't Call Us Dead (2017) by Danez Smith

A really clever selection of poetry, which i failed to grasp several times, though it was still extremely interesting. Just by the fact that i am neither gay/queer nor a person of colour or from the US, makes it kind of revalating to read these poems. Higly recommended to those living in the states.




A ranked list of the books i have read so far this year:



International Novels (outside of Denmark):

1. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann (1912)
2. The Rings of Saturn by W. G. Sebald (1995)
3. Solaris by Stanislaw Lem (1961)
4. Occurrence in the Immediate Unreality by Max Blecher (1936)
5. Suicide by Édouard Levé (2008)
6. Flush by Virginia Woolf (1933)
7. Autoportrait by Édouard Levé (2005)
8. The Street by Crocodiles af Bruno Schulz (1933)
9. The Blindfold by Siri Hustvedt (1992)
10. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (2010)
11. Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor (1952)



Danish Novels:
1. Over os hænger en vidunderlig sol (A Wonderful Sun Hangs Above Us) by Majse Aymo-Boot (2014)
2. Ansigterne (The Faces) by Tove Ditlevsen (1968)
3. Den, der lever stille (The One, Who Lives Quietly) by Leonora Christina Skov (2018)
4. Havbrevene (The Sea Letters) by Siri Ranva Hjelm Jacobsen (2018)
5. Drømmeflygtningen (The Fugitive of Dreams) by Lillian Jacobsen (1978)



International Short Stories:
1. Something Will Happen, You’ll See by Christous Ikonomou (2010)



Danish Short Stories:
1. Efter solen (After the Sun) by Jonas Eika Rasmussen (2018)
2. Åndeverdenens dårekiste (The Madhouse of the Spiritworld) by B. S. Ingemann (2018 edition)
3. Rædselsrealisten (The Horror Realist) by Jakob Hansen (2018 udgave)
4. Forgribelser (The Trespassings) by Preben Major Sørensen (2017)
5. Menneskekød: Grotesker 1910-1920 (Human Flesh, Grotesques from 1910-1920) by Anders Jørgen Mogensen (Red.) and Andreas Bylov Jensen (Red.), (2019)
6. Nærvær og næsten (Precense and almost) by Svend Åge Madsen (2000)



International Poems:
1. The Book of Frank by C.A. Conrad (2009)
2. Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith (2017)
3. Excess – The Factory by Leslie Kaplan (1982)
4. Himlenes bog (Le Livre des ciels) (The Book of the Skies) by Leslie Kaplan (1983)
5. Live or Die by Anne Sexton (1966)
6. Der er ingen ærlige digte om døde kvinder (There are No Honest Poems About Dead Women) by Audre Lorde (2019 udgave)
7. Sigøjnerne & andre fortællende digte (Gypsies and other poems) by Aleksandr Pusjkin (2018 udgave)
8. The Book of Questions by Edmond Jabès (1963)



Danish Poems:
1. Digte 2014 (Poems 2014) by Theis Ørntoft (2014)
2. Ideale begivenheder (Ideal Events) by Signe Gjessing (2016)
3. Det 3. årtusindes hjerte (The Third Millennium Heart) by Ursula Andkjær Olsen (2012)
4. White Girl by Christina Hagen (2012)
5. Af det almene (By the Common) by Lars-Emil Woetmann (2018)
6. Spørgsmålene (The Questions) by Majse Aymo-Boot (2012)
7. Force Majeure by Zven Balslev, Jonas Okholm Jensen og T.R. Kirstein (2018)
8. Den korsfæstede budding (The Crucified Pudding) by Simon Grotrian (2016)
9. Relikvie (Relic) by Julie Mendel (2017)
10. 105 variationer (105 Variations) by Peter-Clement Woetmann (2015)
11. Skygger paa jorden (Shadows on the Earth) by Tove Meyer (1943)



Essay Collections:
1. In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays by Bertrand Russel (1935)
2. The Drowned and the Saved by Primo Levi (1986)
3. Forfatterens død og andre essays (The Death of the Writer and other Essays) by Roland Barthes (2004)
4. Against Everything: On Dishonest Times by Mark Greif (2016)
5. Bidrag til en nær bykritik (Contributions to a Near City Critique) by Bypolitisk organisering (2018)
6. Welcome to the Desert of the Real: Five Essays on September 11 and Related Dates by Slavoj Zizek (2002)
7. Fame by Andy Warhol (2018 udgave)
8. Cosmic Pessimism by Eugene Thacker (2015)



Psychiatry:
1. Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide by Kay Redfield Jamison (2000)
2. The Reflecting Team by Tom Andersen (1994)
3. Borderline Personality Disorder and the Boundaries of the Schizophrenia Spectrum: Conceptual trajectories, core psychopathology, and differential disarray by Maja Zandersen (2018)
4. The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon (2002)
5. The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise by R. D. Laing (1967)
6. Min mor var besat: Da jeg mødte depressionens dæmon (My Mother was Possessed: When I Met the Demon of Depression) by Peter Øvig Knudsen (2019)
7. ”Det stopper kværnen i mit hoved”: Om kunst i psykiatrien og Kunstcentret på Sct. Hans Hospital ("It stops the grinding in my head": About art in psychiatry and the art center at Sct. Hans) by Jeppe Kruse (2014)



History:
1. Englishness and Empire 1939-1965 by Wendy Webster (2005)



Politics and Political Philosophy
1. On the Political by Chantal Mouffe (2005)
2. On Civil Disobedience and Liberal Democracy by Tine Hindkjær Madsen (2019).
3. Den nye Internationale: Hvorfor Venstrefløjen skal omfavne Europa og demokratisere Verden by Malte Frøslee Ibsen (2019)
4. The Politics of Aesthetics by Jacques Ranciére (2000)

Educational Sociology:
1. Uren pædagogik by Lene Tanggaard, Thomas Aastrup Rømer og Svend Brinkmann (2011)

Biographies
1. Mayhem by Sigrid Rausing (2017)



Artist Books
1. Pulp Magma by Zven Balslev (2017)
2. Péché Mignon by Anne Van Der Linden (2019)
3. Pisdrøm by Zven Balslev (2019)
4. Natural History by Reijo Kärkkäinen og Zven Balslev (2019)
5. Gadens parlament by Malene Meisner (2012)

Graphic Novels:
1. Berlin #1-3 by Jason Lutes (2018)