Tag Archives: documentary

Wonder(full) Rodriguez

This blog became two years old the other day. If it could take a voice, I imagine it would take the voice of Sixto Rodriguez and say, “Thank you for keeping me alive!”, in the same simple, clear and vibrato way as Rodriguez welcomed his fans at his ‘resurrection’ concert in S. Africa in 1998. 

So two years in, Thank you Escape for making some sense out of me. Thank you all. 

And yes, I Wonder. And I thank you for Wondering:

The first song I ever heard of Rodriguez was this very “I Wonder”. It was summer, I was in a bar above the sea, on a starry night. Its style and his voice amplified the evening breeze. Shazam, beautiful shazam app, helped me ‘tag’ the song and led me to Sixto Rodriguez’ limited discography. 

searching-for-sugar-man_no__11608

Then, recently, I watched the documentary film “Searching for Sugarman” (2012) about the weird story of Sixto Rodriguez. Rodriguez, living in Detroit, made a couple of albums as a young musician at the end of the ’60’s beginning of ’70’s that didn’t do well. With his music career not going anywhere, he spent his life working as a builder in constructions.

Parallel to his low expectations life, from the ’80’s onwards his records became popular and loved in South Africa. There, for the anti-apartheid white youth of South Africa, he became a symbol; he was actually considered bigger than Elvis. And although we are talking about the final years of the 20th century, Rodriguez was living in Detroit poor and unaware of his success in some other part of the world, while in South Africa he was believed to be long dead. The rumour had it that he had heroically committed suicide on stage. That was the case until he was ‘discovered’ alive in the 90’s, thanks to the internet, to an equally big surprise to his South African fans and to him and to his family and friends. As a S. African article put it during his first ‘resurrection’ tour there in 1998 that attracted more than 50.000 people: “The US zero – the S.A. hero”. How can you not ‘Wonder’?

Here is the ‘Searching for Sugarman’ documentary film (duration: 1hr 26mins):

 

And I wonder,

I want to keep wondering

and I want to keep on sharing my wonders and my wanderings with you on ‘Escape’

How wonder-full ..!

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Henri Cartier-Bresson: Yes, Yes, Yes

Henri Cartier-Bresso, photo by John Loengard

Henri Cartier-Bresson, photo by John Loengard

“Freedom for me is a strict frame, and inside that frame are all the variations possible.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson

In a 1971 taped interview, rediscovered in 1991 at the International Center of Photography (New York) archives, Henri Cartier-Bresson talks a bit about his take on his photography. Simple and real. “Yes, yes, yes”, as he says echoing someone else…

cartier-bresson

“Poetry is the essence of everything, and it’s through deep contact with reality and living fully that you reach poetry. Very often I see photographers cultivating the strangeness or awkwardness of a scene, thinking it is poetry. No. Poetry is two elements which are suddenly conflict — a spark between two elements. But it’s given very seldom, and you can’t look for it. It’s like if you look for inspiration. No, it just comes by enriching yourself and living.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson

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Leonard Cohen: The Poet

leonard cohen

 “A heavy burden lifted from my soul,

           I heard that love was out of my control.”

                                                    Leonard Cohen

I started this day by watching a 1965 film about Leonard Cohen (via OpenCulture). A young Leonard Cohen. In the film, Cohen is portrayed mainly as a poet, as a literary man. So that got me going and I started looking on the web about his poems and his quotes and I bumped into plenty of interesting material.

“If you don’t become the ocean, you’ll be seasick everyday.”

Leonard Cohen

At some point in the film, at 20mins into it to be exact, Cohen explains how he got to move to Greece, to Hydra. He says he lived in London at the time. It was winter, it was gloomy, rainy, and he had a cold, when he bumped into the Bank of Greece, the title of which was etched in marble on the building facade. He walked in and the man behind the counter was wearing sunglasses. Leonard felt, and I am quoting him, that this was “the most eloquent protest against the entire landscape.” That was the beginning of his affair with Greece.

Here is a page from the Leonard Cohen Files website, an incredible database, with Leonard’s photos & poems from the island of Hydra (click on image to access the link):

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen Poems & Photos from Hydra

“Reality is one of the possibilities I cannot afford to ignore.”

Leonard Cohen

Then, at 26mins into the film, he recites from his poem/song “True Love Leaves No Traces“, where he beautifully says:

                        “As the mist leaves no scar

                         on the dark green hill

                         so my body leaves no scar

                         on you nor ever will

                         When wind and hawk encounter

                         what remains to keep

                         so you and I encounter

                         then turn then fall to sleep”

Leonard Cohen, “True Love Leaves No Traces”

Love and Leonard…. In this realm, it is an all together different song I wanted to share with you here, the ‘A Thousand Kisses Deep’:

“When you’re not feeling holy, your loneliness says that you’ve sinned.”

Leonard Cohen

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Francis Bacon: The Optimist

“Great art is always a way of concentrating, reinventing what is called fact, what we know of our existence – a reconcentration… tearing away the veils that fact acquires through time.”

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon was born like today, 28th October, in 1909 and died in 1992. He is probably the only ‘shock’ artist I like. Here is a link to an 1985 documentary about him, his work and his views. I think in this just short of an hour film you can see the man, who claims to be “an optimist for nothing” and to have no thoughts on the meaning of his individual works.

http://www.ubu.com/film/bacon.html

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Beauty in the sky

Every summer I cannot decide if I prefer full moon nights or the dark starry ones. The truth is I care not choose, I love both. In this sense I love August, a month with magical full moon(s) and star-dotted night skies.

This is an iphone (hipstamatic) pic I took of the full moon rising a couple of nights ago on the beach (almost) in front of my house in Kolymbithres, Paros.

And here is a video – guide for spotting celestial objects in the summer night sky (english with Greek subtitles.) Thank you Silina for sending me this video!

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Looking at how CERN is looking for Higgs

Excellent documentary by BBC on the research that goes on in CERN. Hearing people that either do research there or that their theories are being tried out in this mega-lab made me feel very appreciative of the commitment that has gone into CERN. A huge idea, a huge place, a huge cooperation existing in order to try out ideas (usually called ‘theories’).

This documentary was produced earlier this year, before CERN scientists announced that they have found something that could be the Higgs boson. But it is recent enough to give you the feeling that we are about to have news… and beyond that, it gave me an idea of how that huge organisation – (even logistically) on terms of research, budget, equipment and of course of scope – goes about trying to prove modern physics and mathematics.

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Richard Feynman – No Ordinary Genius (full version BBC doc)

This is a BBC Horizon documentary on Richard Feynman, this beautiful man full of curiosity. I love how in pictures of him shown on this doc he looks younger as he grows older.

Horizon: Richard Feynman – No Ordinary Genius (full version) – YouTube.

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Jorge Luis Borges, The mirror – documentary on Vimeo

Jorge Luis Borges, the mirror

A documentary on Borges. At the very beginning it sounds a bit too “proud” for the man about to portray, but very quickly it becomes interesting, informative and engaging.

Here is a Borges quote from an interview of him featured in this doc:

“Reality is a combination of perceptions, emotions, feelings, distractions, dreams and surprises. That is reality” 

(via Jorge Luis Borges, the mirror on Vimeo.)

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