Neighbourhood watch March 15, 2007Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
No, not the local news. Although our sleepy street has seen a bit of excitement of late. As I trundled home, drink perhaps taken, some night or other not that long ago, the police were present in considerable numbers at our local brothel. And they weren’t there to avail of its services, as surely they’d have come in an unliveried car if they’d wanted a bit of paid slap-&-tickle. No, there’d obviously been an incident.
I let my imagination – a feeble tool – run wild. The shutters had been blown out or smashed in. It looked like there’d been a fire. So I imagined that a dissatisfied customer was so livid at the service he’d got, or at his own performance, that he’d come back with a Molotov cocktail and hurled it through the brothel window. Or perhaps a new range of sex-toys had just arrived and they’d had a lot of clients that day and it had wrought havoc with the wiring… And sure enough the Russian and I even saw a headline about it – Feuer im Bordell – the next day in the local paper, the story going on to reveal, unmythically, that it wasn’t a case of dissatisfied customers or short-circuiting dildos but the dim owner of the ‘brothel-like establishment’ – I didn’t know the Germans went in for that sort of euphemism – had thrown a lit bit of paper in the bin. Honestly, madams nowadays. (Still, only 20-something, apparently. Once she learns about pyrogens, she might win Businesswoman of the Year one day.)
So, anyway, I’m not going to tell you about that. But it is local today. One for the Berliners.
Cinema has reappeared on the horizon, perhaps with the spring. And money worries having subsided for a second so that recreation can be allowed to take its natural course. Whereas, say, a week ago, if I was ever to walk past our video-hire place, I’d have been too consumed with worry about something or other to even consider wandering in, now the Russian and I, making the most of our short-term membership of the petite bourgeoisie, can wander past at a lazy amble, laden down with bags of uninteresting shopping – darlings, I bought some trousers that make me look like Sherlock Holmes. I was aiming to look like a hopelessly cool Berliner I met at a party recently. An English friendess was in town and she invited me to the people she was staying with. And the Berliners were all so cool and all had job titles I didn’t understand, like Media-based Vice-Consultant, and my friendess and I got hammered on vodka and DANCED while the Berliners sat coolly by taking opium and being artistic. And one of the vice-consultants was wearing trousers. And I bought the same ones. And look like Sherlock Holmes – and say, “Oh, shall we go in and argue for forty minutes about what film both of us can bear to watch?” And there are two sickeningly beautiful gents working there too.
So we finally saw Das Leben der Anderen (The Life of Others), Germany’s Oscar-winning film. Have folk seen it? Can they let me know what they think, if so, as I’d like to know what opinion I’m meant to have of it and can’t make my own mind up, obviously, as I have no mind. But, going out on a limb, I’d highly recommend it. Thankfully, I didn’t know till after it was over that the director – a Wessi called the German equivalent of Sebastian Farquhar Urquhart Farquharson Farquhar III, and with the heritage to match – was wellesianly young when he made it, as that would have made me want to slash my wrists doubly much, in addition to the content. In case folk don’t know the film, it’s the story of a Stasi agent and the couple he observes and how that ‘relationship’ evolves. It is a work of fiction, of course, but the word on the street is that it has won praise from yer actual East Germans for being an accurate portrayal of Stasi operations. My cry-count was two, but I can cry at ads, so that’s not much of a recommendation. And it’s full of Trabis and Wartburgs.
So it got film back on the agenda. “Darling, we’re going to the cinema,” I said forcefully yesterday. Then, having moved away from the mirror, I went to find the Russian at his perch in front of his computer and gave a more human version of the same exhortation. Just down the road from where we live is Kino Krokodil, a cinema specialising in Russian/Soviet/that-part-of-the-world films. And the website revealed that, yesterday, Krisana was showing. “Darling, it’s Latvian. It’ll be brilliant.” It was the worst film I’ve ever seen. And makes you realise that Kaurismäki is properly fucking brilliant to make a film with two words of dialogue and nothing at all happening interesting to watch. Anyway, you’ll be happy to hear, Berliners who think of nothing but spending their time at Kino Krokodil, yesterday was its last showing. I review the films that you can’t watch.
But, Berliners, and people elsewhere with access to an awfully posh video-store, there are some other films that you should drag yourself along to. And Kino Krokodil is so tiny and cosy and old-fashioned – Berlin Diary should pop along and take some of his nice photos of the old machinery on view as you walk in – that it really only is as much effort to go there and watch a film as it is to go and put the kettle on. So go and see…
From Saturday 18th-Thursday 22nd – but don’t go every day, as that would be bonkers – Москва слезам не верит (Moskva slezam ne verit) (Moscow doesn’t believe in tears) which, I think, was the only Soviet film ever to win best foreign-film Oscar, which Russians are chuffed to bollocks about. To be honest, I’ve never been able to see what the fuss was about. (With the film. Not it winning the Oscar. I’ve already got my acceptance speech ready for when I win an Oscar. I plan to cry three whole times.) But it’s a film that Russians can practically quote from start to finish and is on TV at least eight times a day. A single-mother who makes it big in the big city and her travails, and the travails of her life-long girlfriends, as she does so. Thursday 22nd, Sunday 25th, Monday 26th, Wednesday 28th, Маленькая Вера (Malen’kaya Vera) (Little Vera), which I haven’t seen, but about a teenage girl, Vera (which means Faith), who rebels in the late Soviet era. It’s got miniskirts. It’s got hair-dye. It’s got fishnets. And on Tuesday 27th, В той стране (V toj strane) (In that country) about grim family life in a desolate village in the north of Russia.
And, darlings, so many more. We’ve missed Eisenstein’s Strike. But if you’ve got nothing against subtitles, get ye to Kino Krokodil or your posh video-store immediately.