My greatest achievement for the month of February (brace yourselves for a good one) was equaling my best score at Oscar predictions, primarily as I placed all my chips, like a risk loving poker player, on Parasite winning big- the best bits of the ceremony itself, which I perversely insist on watching live, were Bong Joon Ho being genuinely delighted, possibly a bit tipsy and having an awesome interpreter whose calmness, competence and composure are absolute #lifegoals. Speaking of composure, hats off to Hildur Guðnadóttir as well, who proved that you can be overwhelmed, charming and coherent all at the same time- she won for Joker (about which, as a film, I am conflicted) but Pitchfork generously made a compendium of her impressive work here.
Riding the waves of non-Hollywood cinema, I ended up at the Finnish and Czech film weeks, incidentally both held at Toldi, where you can take your Staropramen in with you, which is a nice plus. The films themselves weren’t bad either: from the Finnish camp, Tyhjiö (Void) a rather experimental but intriguing relationship/writer’s block drama, and from the Czech camp, Teroristka, a surprisingly entertaining black comedy about a retired schoolteacher who takes justice into her own hands. The slightly outre nature of both works is reflected by the fact that neither trailer has English subtitles, so you either take my word for it and try to catch them at some outre festival, or immediately undertake learning Finnish and/or Czech.
Musically speaking, noted cook Grimes (currently pregnant, here go my hopes of seeing her on Sziget down the drain) finally released her much awaited Miss Anthropocene album and a rather atypical acoustic piece inspired by Lil Peep’s passing, which I first found somewhat flimsy but then walked around with it as a constant ear worm companion for days. Christine and the Queens played with the EP concept and released a frankly fabulous video for La Vita Nuova, Rodri Brooks went mysterious and Welsh (which is kind of the same thing anyways), The Strokes released a neat video for their long awaited new single and then another one in quickfire succession for the even better sounding Bad Decisions, Perfume Genius gave us the intoxicating Describe, Tom Smith’s hands were back in action in the new Editors video, and Noga Erez had people walk up a scenic staircase, which is a sure winner with me. Another sure winner is somebody by the name of Luka, and, somehow sliding over into the literature section, please revel in the below tiny desk concert with Lebanese band Mashrou’Leila who make me very happy to hear them but very sad I did not take those Arabic classes more seriously.
At the beginning of each year I decide to read some of the books idling away in my ever growing stash, so I finally gave Robert Kaplan’s Eastward to Tartary a go- his trip at the end of the 90s takes him from Hungary to Turkmenistan (through, among others, Lebanon, hence the connection above) and is an intriguing snapshot of a time that is now slowly becoming history, sprinkled with some eerily correct intimations of what would become of the region. Elena Ferrante’s latest, The Lying Life of Adults, which will be published in English in June accompanied me on a train ride, and, as any insta-spammer worthy of her name, I felt compelled to put a shot of it on my feed, which resulted in a probably well meaning random stranger spoiling the end, a little, so I will keep totally quiet about the plot, but mention that Ferrante’s writing remains as fluid and immersive as ever. Nothing can spoil Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous though, as it has no plot to speak of, and it’s an exquisite pleasure steeped in lush language and feeling, uplifting even when devastatingly sad. And for those interested in shorter reads, here’s a Murakami short story in its entire digital splendour.
The bits and bobs section is framed by a sorry attempt at panorama photography while running and some cute artwork from a randomly found passage in Budapest and contains a few less frequented travel destinations for these turbulent times, the adventures of a clumsy penguin, the trailer of Wes Anderson’s, as always, star-studded French Dispatch and the biggest problem with Brexit
This here is what I shall call the January leftovers bit, as I discovered that amid the unforgivable procrastination that lead to one month being skipped altogether, I had a second procrastinating entry I completely forgot about, and shall redeem here. Football topics: I chuckled at this Scandi noir take on the Zlatan statue debacle, some Dybala love (if Juve sell him, my faith will be strongly tested) and an intriguing analysis of football rivalries, of which I thought one of these days as I was about to crack some fairly gratuitous Man United bashing joke to the colleague sitting right behind me, and who happens to be their fan. Non football topics: an article about collectors of book inscriptions which I read right after finding what seemed to be a shopping list in a second hand book of mine (plus a London train ticket I assume was the bookmark) an a very charming (as always) Tan French showing us around his home.
And now- bad phone photography, including some footage of rotten quality from an excellent Editors gig at Vienna’s Gasometer (yes the hall’s tallest gentleman was again in my straight line of sight), and a more sedate affair with Tycho in Budapest’s Akvárium (the only reason the hall’s tallest gentleman wasn’t in front of me was that I was in the first row.).