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The Oscar Oracle
You do not have to watch the oscars anymore...
It is that time of the year again. The months in which suddenly everybody considers himself a movie critic. During which everybody appears to have watched the same movies, that all turn out to be “must sees”, and they keep being recommended to you by many different people. “Because”, the argument goes “these movies has received eight Oscar nominations, you can’t miss it!”.
Personally, I have always found it a bit strange that only a few movies out of the enormous amount that are released every year appear to stand out in so many different ways. Most of them always being American, or at least English spoken movies that are all released during the same months of the year. They generally have big budgets and a good advertising campaign. And when the list of the Oscar nominations is being released, I am never really surprised by the kind of movies I see in there.
For years, I have never given the Oscars a lot of attention. Most nominated movies were not really my style, and the whole concept was also not really my thing. But the last few years, the Oscars have been changing. They do try to keep up with modern society, and the attention has shifted and a more diverse range of movies have been given the chance to go home with one of those strongly desired golden statues.
The first movie I was surprised to see all over the nominations list this year is Roma, a black and white picture telling the story of a middle class family in Mexico City during the seventies. I had already seen some of Alfonso Cuaróns movies before and was greatly impressed by both Gravity and Children of Men. In combination with my particular interest in the Latin American continent, I had high hopes for this movie and was really excited to go and see it. I even went to the real cinema, despite the fact the movie had its release on Netflix. So did I like the movie? Not really. It was slow, in a way American people always think European cinema is slow. It didn’t have a strong plot. It didn’t give me the view of Mexico City in the way I had hoped for. But it wasn’t bad either. The acting was very good, I can’t deny that. But the fact that I speak Spanish was the way this became noticeable to me. But do I think the movie will win Oscars? Yes. I think it will be one of this years big winners. Why? Several reasons. For the fact that it is an “arthouse movie”, and just so different from other movies that have been nominated. However, I find it a bit strange, and even slightly unfair, that this movie has been nominated in both the categories “Best Picture” and “Best Foreign Language Film”. This last category already needs to be shared by so many movies from all over the world, so wouldn’t it be a bit strange if Roma won both of them? So from my perspective it would be the most suitable if this movie won the “Best Foreign Language Film” Oscar, and leave the “Best Picture” one, to another movie. But maybe then it will also win the most desired of all Oscars: the “Best Director” one. Because looking to that nominations list, Cuarón does stand out in there.
So then, what movie will win the “Best Picture” Oscar? Despite the fact the bookmakers do single out Roma as the best option, I still don’t want to believe this. Because what about Black Panther? Hollywood's newest attempt of making a mainstream movie with a more coloured cast? Wouldn’t that be an original turn of events, to have a superhero movie win this price? I think the movie itself really does a good job at breaking stereotypes and I enjoyed watching it a lot. The special effects and the visuals were good and the storyline wasn’t too predictable. I think it would be good for the Oscars, and the industry in general, to see this movie win a price like that. But will it really happen? small change. Because, next to of course competing with Roma, there is also another movie in the list that really drew my attention: The Favourite.
Lately with Lone
Last October, I had to leave my house...
Bunny with her shit
Last October, I had to leave my house at the Van Breestraat in Amsterdam, due to renovations. But I have returned to the palace on earth I can call my home again. I often call it a palace (paleisje) because it’s the opposite of what you would expect from a student home, considering it has two living rooms, two bathrooms and a garden. Before the home improvement I lived at the palace with just one roommate, but now we have a new one.
Two weeks ago I re-entered my house with a lot of stuff and the hangover of the year (already). As I walked in, I noticed a weird stinky smell. I couldn’t tell if it maybe was the new roommate I didn’t know yet. As I continued my journey to my bedroom, I tripped over something warm. It actually really was the new roommate: a bunny. Bunny’s tend to shit everywhere, which I didn’t know but found out after dropping my stuff in my bedroom and walking on my carpet with shoes on, and also after turning on the lights in the living room and witnessing world war fucking three at the wooden floor. Disgusting. Done looking at her shit – I call it a her for now – I took a glance at her face and she’s not even that cute. Like, you would expect a bunny to be really fluffy with its ears up in the air ready to make you say “awwww”, but this bunny looks like it’s done with life, ears down, outdated fur and all. I wasn’t blown away by our first encounter, since she purposely made me trip. But I don’t live in spite.
I almost accepted the fact that this bunny occupies one entire living room now and marks its territory with shit, but later that week, me and my roommates (there is actually a real person who’s our new roommate) found out the worst thing about having a bunny. Mice like hay. Bunny’s live in piles of hay. You can do the math. So, yesterday one of my roommates screamed at the top of her lungs as if she’d seen a ghost, but it was worse than that: there was a mouse. In a lamp. Connected to the ceiling, which made it a floating mouse. You could see it’s ass up in the air, and that ass was going crazy because of the heat of the lamp. It was like a shell-shocked exorcist mouse. Real creepy. Now that I think of it we could’ve turned off the light. But okay. Lucky for us helpless women in this household, we got men on deck and they removed the exorcist mouse out of the house.
In summary, I’m not sure if me and this bunny are a match made in heaven. I think It’s going to be survival of the fittest from now on in the palace. Pray for me.
Bunny on her throne
Kat vs. Culture: Chapter 4
“A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people”
Part X: Brief Encounters of the Pointless Kind
Scene 1. Bus stop. Around 2 AM.
My hands were frozen solid but that did not stop me from forcing them to roll me a cigarette. I still had 12 more minutes until my night bus came. I’d need my nicotine, goddamit!I
licked down the paper. With great strain I had managed to craft something resembling the long lost and partially deformed sibling of a Marlboro and started trying to light it in spite of the gusts of wind hitting me from every which way.
Out of the corner of my eye, behind the disappointing sparks of my leopard print lighter, I noticed a scraggly man on a bike stopping in front of me. I turned around ready for a late night confrontation but he just looked over and did the universally accepted ‘give me a cigarette’ hand gesture. I started explaining that it would take me time to roll it and that I actually would rather not, but he just stared at me with a glazed yet desperate sheen over his eyes.
Maybe sympathy took hold, maybe I still had 10 minutes to wait and I decided it was warmer to be distracted; I started rolling him a cigarette.
Looking over at me begrudgingly getting my filters out, he decided to fill the silence.
“Do you smoke coke” he asked in a tone that sounded more like survey than proposition.
“Do you mean crack?”
“Yeah, crack. Do you smoke crack?”
“Good for you,” he tracked off, turning away from the streetlight.
“You know,” he said, snapping his head back towards me “it’s bad to smoke coke, don’t do it, before I started I was in such good shape, I was really so serious, I cared so much.”
There was a long pause. I tried to support his misguided vulnerability with an understanding nod.
He took a deep breath and shook his head.
“But I fucking love coke! It’s the best thing I ever tried. Weed? You smoke weed? Weed was NEVER for me, but smoking coke, smoking crack, sorry.”
He put his palms up in an apologetic shrug.
“Thats what I love, I’m gonna get home, it’s gonna be so good!”
I licked the edge of the paper and pressed it down.
“Here you go, enjoy.”
I handed him my thoroughly limp creation.
“Oh, I will,” he replied with the confidence of a made man as he shakily got back on his bike and jangled on into the night.
Scene 2. Albert Heijn. Around 9 PM.
I dragged my feet down the medicine aisle. The common cold has never felt more deadly. Nose running, eyes tearing up. Not looking my best, let’s put it that way. Looking through the cough medicine on offer, I started kneeling down like a feral animal to examine every flavor. Did I want cherry? Did I want classic? Capitalism has blessed us with so many choices!
On the security cameras I imagine it looked like something akin to an interpretive dance set in the times of cholera.
As my arm extended out like a Tim Burton tree towards the paracetamol, I noticed a respectable-looking middle aged woman coming up next to me. Now, contrary to popular belief, I might act like an animal sometimes but I am mostly civil as far as daily life goes. So, in accordance with common courtesy, I straightened out, not wanting to nudge her in the midst of my fever-induced frenzy.
She stopped her cart and looked over at me, assessing my pitiful appearance. Then, without missing a beat, she let out a sigh and said something to me in Dutch.
“Sorry, english,” I replied weakly through my sniffling.
“Oh,” she gave me an encouraging smile. “I said – it’s always better to know for sure.”
At this point, I was very confused. I didn’t know if she was just a new age enthusiast repeating what she read in a self-help book or a psychic offering to share some insight about my ultimate demise.
I stood there looking at her, a little bit paralyzed, not sure how to tie a nice bow to finish off this strange interaction. She wasn’t looking at me, her eyes were transfixed on the pharmaceuticals. I slowly followed her gaze through the shelves and down to the pregnancy test section.
Oh she thinks that’s what I’m here for…
Almost too-naturally, I started thinking of the quickest way to explain that my eyes are not watering at the prospect of child-bearing but that it is, in fact, due to me getting a cold from chainsmoking on my balcony. But, alas, there seemed to be no viable option.
So, I decided to keep it casual.
“Yeah, maybe next time.” I brazenly reached down to get the lemon Coldrex.
“But thank you.”
Scene 3. Cafe The Minds. Around midnight.
“What is this place,” I asked like a Dorothy fresh off the tornado.
The two burly men playing pool looked up but didn’t say anything. Finally, a man decked out like a Hell’s Angels alumnus slowly turned around on his barstool.
“This,” he said in a surprisingly soft voice “is the last anarchist bar in Amsterdam”.
I tucked a strand of bright orange wig hair behind my ear and looked down at my friend. She, in turn, gave me a drunken nod to indicate her absolute neutrality.
“Well then, sounds like the place to be.”
We walked in and plopped our things down on two barstools at the far side of the room. The Stone Roses were quietly playing on the stereo. My friend, slightly slurring her words, told me to order drinks while she went to the bathroom. I smacked my gum in compliance.
The bartender was a tattooed man in his forties or fifties who was purposefully avoiding eye contact with me. His head was shaved except for a small square right above the center of his forehead which was half-heartedly spiked up. I respected the style, it gave him all the symbolic convictions without the necessity for any tedious upkeep.
I leaned over across the bar and gave him the cheesiest smile I could muster. He raised an eyebrow, almost surprised that I had enough courage to ask him for something.
“Hi, can I please have two ciders?”
He rolled his eyes.
“We don’t sell cider,” he growled back.
“Ok then we’ll have two glasses of red wine,” I said pretending not to notice his agitation.
“Oh and can I pay by card?”
He sharply exhaled through his nose, which I thought was a nice dramatic touch.
“No, we don’t take cards,” he pointed above a stack of glasses. “There’s a big fucking sign right there that says NO CARDS.”
“Okay, okay, Jesus, I got it”
He turned around in a huff and I sat back down quietly, not wanting to annoy the sole bartender of the last anarchist bar any further than I already had.
The man that I originally spoke to came up next to me.
“Don’t let Walter intimidate you, he’s a nice guy but he doesn’t like me either sometimes.”
I turned around to face him, he had warm eyes and a grey beard, like a cross between my grandfather and Ozzy Osbourne.
“Really? Why doesn’t he like you?”
He leaned in. “Well, every time I’m here, I ask him to put on The Carpenters.”
“You know The Carpenters?”
“Yeah, of course, Karen Carpenter,” I replied pulling at the fine strings of my pop culture knowledge.
“How could I not, she’s a legend.”
He looked kinda proud of me. It kinda made me want to cry.
“Yes, yes, that’s right, Karen Carpenter.”
Walter came back with his signature disapproving look and set two glasses of red wine down in front of me.
“Walter,” I squeaked in the most joyfully American accent you can imagine.
“Why don’t you want to put on The Carpenters?”
His eyes softened and he gave me a very restrained grin.
“I’d put them on, I have no problem with them,” he started out defensively.
“We just don’t have any Carpenters.”
“So you’re telling me that if I brought you the CD, you’d put them on?”
Jude is here to answer your most urgent question, so if you want some advice don't hesitate just to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
My heart is broken. For a while now too.
I am still in love with my ex. We broke up 2 years ago. I want to try and get him back, but I don’t know how. Do you have any tips?
Dear Mr/Ms Earthling,
The ice is thin.
Chances are slim.
This week we are going to berlin.
Just ask him.
In a few days, my internship is going to start. I’ll be working from 9 till 5, so I can’t really waste too much time. Should I isolate myself? Or should I just stop complaining and go to the borrel?
Thank you in advance.
For me this question is rhetorical. I will always put everything aside to go the borrel.
Thats why I refuse to give a in depth answer. You have hurt my feelings.
I want to protest during the climate demonstrations. But I am intimidated by all the hilarious signs. I am not funny myself so I can’t come up with a witty statement to put on a sign. Do you have some tips maybe.
Your secret admirer
Dear Ms. Admirer,
Not everyone has the skill of being humorous.
If it doesn’t come naturally it will take years of intensive training to become a true jokester.
My advice is to start as soon as possible with this training. Maybe next year you will be able to make a somewhat funny and provoking sign. You are hopeless for this year.
With love, but not too much as I don’t want to give out false signals,
This Month On-Screen
Festivals and Exhibitions
The Pink film days (“Roze filmdagen”)
This film festival takes place in Amsterdam, but doesn’t start until the 14th of March. Still, the ticket sale commences on the 22th of February and, due to the growing popularity, I decided to already include it in this months newsletter. Last year, the festival drew around 10.000 visitors and a 125 movies from 40 different countries were screened.
The festival lasts eleven days and centers around Het Ketelhuis, in the Westerpark. The movies that are shown are both fictive and documentaries, and they all have LGBTQ+ related themes. Even though in its early days the festival used to screen porn movies and very experimental films, now it also tries to focus on a bit more mainstream audience, that does not necessarily have to be part of the LGBTQ+ community.
This film festival also takes places in Amsterdam, mainly around the theatres of Kriterion and Rialto. Through the lens of around 30 filmmakers the diversity of contemporary Asian cinema is shown. All movies have been selected because of their specific artistic view. This years geographical focus lies on the country of Indonesia, but movies from other countries (such as Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong or Korea) also made their way to the festival.
Every year, the festival also has a central theme that narrows the movies that are shown a bit down. This years theme will be the “young, rebellious, creative generation”. Apart from this theme, the movies that are screened are very diverse. Both blockbusters and arthouse movies will be shown, and even some documentaries.
Next to the screenings, a wider program is developed that will give the festival goer a better view of the Asian contemporary culture. This program constitutes of an Asian food bazaar and several themed debates and masterclasses. Also the makers of the movies will be present during many screenings, which will have Q&A sessions beforehand.
Tickets for the films cost 8,50 per screening.
Connecting time in the Moco Museum.
Entering the exhibition of this American artist feels like stepping into an alternative reality. By trying to combine architecture, sculpture, design and film, Daniel Arsham has brought to Amsterdam something very interesting to see. The exhibition consists of various rooms containing interactive installations. The most special one is the artist's newest, that was never shown tot the public before. It is called the Calcified Room, and resembles the interior of a cave, scaled with minerals.
What to Watch?
Blockbuster of the Month: Greenbook
Greenbook will potentially win the oscar for best picture this year and for a reason. Greenbook is a story based in the USA during the 60s about the unlikely friendship between the Italian-American bouncer Tony Vallelonga and the African-American pianist dr. Don Shirley. Tony Vallelonga aka Tony Lip temporarily loses his job and is asked to become the personal driver for the pianist Don Shirley during his tour through the south of the USA. Greenbook is an interesting and creative combination between humor, strong language, racial issues and true friendship. Throughout the tour Tony’s view of black people drastically changes and he really starts to become supportive of of his new found friend. I would recommend this film to everyone and it definitely deserves her nomination for best picture.
Surprise of the Month: Capernaum (Capharnaum)
Capernaum is a Lebanese-French-American film that surprised the mainstream public. Capernaum is a story about a 12 year old boy named Zain who rebels life by suing his parents for abandoning him when they are in prison. The reason Zain is suing his parents is especially interesting. In his own words; he is suing his parents for giving him life. It’s an emotional journey of a young boy who questions his own existence.
Netflix Newest: Sex Education
Netflix has launched her new British comedy in the form of a new age hilarious sex education that goes by the same name Sex Education. The story is about a teenage boy named Otis with a sex therapist mother who teams up with a high school classmate to set up an underground sex therapy clinic at school. It already sounds like something that should go wrong. What makes it even more interesting is that Otis himself is a virgin, so he gives advice about things he hasn’t experienced himself. With the help of his old and new friends he slowly finds out how to help his school with their problems and to help himself with his own problems. Sex Education is a fresh new version of teaching the younger generation about sex and all that comes with it. Go and check this series out for sure!
Golden Oldie: Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo
Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo aired in 2007 on Jetix, it wasn’t fully broadcasted. After the first season it got cancelled, because many complaints from the parents at home. The impossible adventures of Bo-bobo are full of intense character, a lot of action and weird phenomena. When you hear the plot of the series it becomes clear why there is some sort of shock surrounding the series. The story is about a warrior who fights by using his nose hair to defeat the evil empire who wants to turn the world bald. It will probably sound like a strange concept to most people, but believe me when I say I would recommend this Golden Oldie to everyone.