It’s a gig at a small and cozy venue. I am standing and chatting with my friend. Suddenly a guy I don’t know appears and gives my mate a hug and greets him. The guy is gone. My friend turns to me, “this guy is my neighbor, I see him very often but this is actually the first time he said hello. I guess that’s just because I am wearing these shoes,” he says and looks down at his converse trainers, something that may identify his belonging to “punk” movement.

There is a Russian saying which may be translated as “they meet you according to your dressing”.  The guy who greeted my friend is not a rare case. People who identify themselves with different movements appreciate when you adopt their style and the outfit is the most direct and easiest way to do so.

Punks and post punks may like converse shoes, metal likers would definitely appreciate some metal bracelets, goths like to be painted in dark colours, hipsters have a taste for glasses and slim jeans… we may continue the list for a very long time, but the important question to ask here is “how much does it really matter to be somebody you want to be?”

The music fashion did not appear from nowhere, in each case it had separate roots, but if back in the period it was just a part of the factors you had to satisfy in order to belong to a certain group, today it might  not be the case. It became just a fashion and a cliché.

Most of us at some point want to be different, but different to a certain degree of level, by separating from others we don’t want to feel abandoned as well, instead we create small groups. And this seems to be especially true when talking about different stylish music movements.

But how does it really make you cool? Does the pair of converse trainers bought for 70 euros in some hipster shop make you punk?

The days when you had to live crappy and unbearable life in order to be considered a punk, hippie or whatever have gone. You may wear converse sneakers, have a tattoo and piercing, but at the same time own iphone and drive a good car. It does not really matter, as long as you wear “proper” outfit the niche society is ready to accept and say hello to you, just like it happened to my friend.

After all, you may chose your style, depending on your music or any other taste, you may try to look cooler to make friends in the circle you really like, but in the end does the clothes make you really cool? And are they are really your friends? Why don’t you check out with some neighbor who is not dressed in “your style?” You never know how cool he can be.

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You are a young person who thinks of himself as someone interested in art (if you are not just imagine for a second). You are taken to a forsaken and forgotten house where you see a lot of different paintings. Before you are asked to express your opinion you are told that they are fake and they have no cultural value. You agree. Straight after this you are taken to an exhibition and told that the works you see here are from the finest artists of the world who are striving for originality. Later you are told that the earlier ones were in fact original, and these ones fake. Your education and etiquette you’ve been learning for years does not allow you to splash the red wine you are sipping straight into curator’s face, but slowly your jaw grows heavy and your polite smile vanishes as you understand that these works look absolutely the same and you have been fooled.

To be honest most of the people would not be able to tell a difference between original and fake work of art if it is done in a good technique. That are the extreme cases when common sense does not work, and I don’t want to speak with you about the topic in this post. The only reason I started the piece this way was to picture how easy it is sometimes to be fooled when something is offered to us “in style” and wrapped well.

What I really want to talk about is about cool and NOT cool guys in the world of modern music. And I won’t even bore you with many examples here, instead we are gonna discuss and compare two bands  briefly.

The bands are: Eels and OK Go. But before you proceed reading can you guess which one is cool and which one is not cool? Give it a short thought…

The cool one is Eels. And if you already guessed this, to be honest you don’t even have to read further. But if you are not  convinced yet, go on, let’s give it a try.

Mark Oliver Everett,  the lead singer and the engine of the Eels happened to get into show business industry accidentally, he did not have acquaintances in the field, rich family or any other helping factors that could easily lead his way to the world of pop music. Despite the fact for years he has been recording music, making no money but bringing joy to himself and some friends around. That was it, until the moment when he by pure chance of leading coincidences got involved in the business. He became popular.

We all know that for a person with no material wealth in background it is easy and tempting to be blinded by the money hundred  thousand of sold album copies may bring. He was cool enough to escape the possibility. When Volvo asked him to feature his song in their advert and offered good money he declined the offer. Since then he has been declining all the commercial offers of the same character. He is cool enough to say no to a temptation like that. Many others can’t.

In his book “Things grandchildren should know” when describing these kind of “rock stars” the reader may  even feel disgust for these guys, as they are touring and selling their music seeing nothing but commercialism in the places they visit and videos they make.

One of the examples of the attitude is recent video from OK Go for a mediocre song called Needing/Getting. In fact it is not even a music video, it is a commercial for Chevrolet. Now, if you judge the video from commercial point of view you have an argument there to say that it is not bad at all.

But if you consider the band to be cool to feature in that, then get lost. Because it is not cool. And it is the shame if you see the number of the views and comments from people like “oh my God it is so cool.”

I repeat, it is not cool.

Why?

Because  all those labour done for setting (more than that, creating instruments years ago), then mishandling them for a 4 minute commercial that will fool hipster slash non conformist youngsters (who in less than ten years time will comfortably sit in their brand new Chevrolets), but make some marketing officer happy and promoted for the creativity, while his boss will be satisfied for the profit made…Are you serious? Do you still want to share that on your Facebook wall and comment “wow, it is cool”?

Or do you really think that setting the instruments, hitting and driving on them really produced sounds for the final recording version? Surprise. No, in fact most of them would have been  recorded in the studio later so that they could fit in your “quality taste”. Honestly, if they just used  the  outdoors recorded version the quality would be crap. The conclusion is that in fact they did not even need to do setting and the only reason to do so was to show off Chevrolet.

The truth at the moment is that OK Go’s (arguably Chevrolet’s, sorry guys) video has more than 13 million views, that is in most of the cases is at least 10 times more then Eels’. But then again, who will be most likely remembered in ten years time? I think you know the answer.

Georgia is a country in Caucasus that boasts of rich and vibrant folk music with arguably the oldest polyphonic traditions in christian world. The country’s representatives are present in world’s leading opera houses and generally music for Georgians is almost as important as religion.

Situated between Asia and Europe Georgia has been always influenced by different cultures, starting from Roman invasions finishing with Soviet domination until recent, the culture has never stayed untouched. Music as a part of culture could not have been remain untouched, Russian, Persian, Arab etc influence will always be present.

Historical trip to the country’s past is not the aim of this post though, the introduction was made to remind the reader the role of the cultural background in regards with music and in this particular case electronic music, that is influenced much by the country’s cultural history.

The post does not and can’t aim discussing the whole spectrum of modern Georgian electronic music, but is rather an introduction to those musicians which are the most interesting and influential performers in the country at the moment.

The generation of the modern Georgian electronic performers is mainly consisting of those who suffered from the worst political and economical crisis in the country’s recent history. Most of them born still in USSR spent their youth in new independent country which still had to fight several wars (including civil war) to come to peace and more or less stable period. In this context making music, especially electronic music was not an easy task to do, but nevertheless the whole generation started to appear….

Here are some,

Nikakoi, also known as Erast (real name, Nika Machaidze) is drum and bass and indietronic performer, but his music is much richer than these two defining terms. His tracks are influenced by oriental, Georgian and Soviet heritage. Listen to Georgianintokyo to feel the mix. Those used to Aphex Twin can also feel the influence in his music,  but instead of blind copy the artist adds his own voice and touch to the tracks,  when speaking about this, particulary the track called Uusmine  comes to mind. Nika Machaidze’s music is strong but at the same time sometimes melancholic and sweet, this is true especially about the tracks performed in Russian, such as this one, Sentimental, featuring Tusia Beridze, whom we are going to mention just now.

Natalie Tusia Beridze, also known as TBA is the only Georgian electronic performer that has been reviewed in The Wire magazine recently and has been described as “The master precision of electronic music pop”.  What about things like bullets, is a very characteristic track for Beridze’s work, by the way the video has been made by already discussed Nikakoi. This comes as no surprise as both of them are part of the Goslab art collective, that consists of various Georgian artists and deals with different media mediums. Here is another example of Machaidze’s and Beridze mutual work, In the White .

Speaking about Goslab Gogi Dzodzuashvili deserves a separate mention.  Post Industrial Boys is arguably the most well known track made by this artist that combines variety of styles as well, to check the difference listen to Ar Daijero ( ironically it translates from Georgian as “Don’t Believe”).

While Goslab focuses on more special listener and is more of experimental character, SvanSikh a music Duo from Tbilisi, consisting of two members Anano sikharulidze and Bacho Svanidze is more mainstream and can be described as pop electronic. Still I got my reasons is a joy to listen to. Magic is another interesting track by the band.

While Dzodzuashvili, Nikakoi and many other Georgian performers have been known in the country for years, Okinawa Lifestyle was founded relatively recently, but despite the band’s short history their work is already well established on Georgian Elecronic scene. The band was formed in 2009 and consists of two members Davit Datunashvili and Gigi Jikia. Here are some of the  tracks, This is Real, Lisi Lake, You Soft.  Listen and judge yourself, but I personally encounter Royksopp influence here, and it is not bad at all.

To say it again, this post was rather an introduction and I tried to present some of the most interesting Georgian electronic performers, I am sure I missed a lot, so please don’t be too judgmental, but then again if you are interested in more, don’t hesitate to involve in discussion here in the comments field.

For now I am leaving one more Georgian musician (who is currently living in and working in Europe, but still…) his music was hidden for me as well until recent. Here it is, Would you cry?

Characters

Richie – A single guy aiming to hunt

Elisabeth – Sex addict female (professional in everyday life)

Michael – A gay guy who does not really know what he wants from a night out

John – A Macho spending his life in modern hedonism as much as he can

George – Young philosopher

Lisa – A girl who just broke up with her boyfriend and expects fun from a night out

Marry – A single girl from a very good family who subconsciously wants to be raped at least once in her life

Peter – An ordinary guy who finds inspiration in a bottle of Vodka

Act 1. Prelude to the night out

Scene I. John is preparing Richie for the night out 

Richie and John are at John’s, after having a nice dinner they are preparing for the weekend, each on his own, but at the same time they have a great commonality, both of them desire to get laid.

While John is more successful  at doing so, Richie is still struggling and is not good on regular basis at all. In fact he never was successful at one night stands, except for one case when a random girl took him home just because she saw her ex boyfriend kissing different girl in a club. Then she saw another ex lover who was doing the same. When she finally got humiliated like a mat somebody wiped feet on, she decided to pick up the first stranger in the street. The first stranger happened to be a drunk, ugly guy who could not even walk straight. She decided to pick up the second one. The second one was Richie. She took him home and kicked hell out of him on her bed. In fact, he was almost raped. Nevertheless, despite the sexual harrasment it was enough for his ego to feel elevated and awaken hunter instincts.

Now, after dozen night outs in a desperate and failing attempts to hunt, Richie is sitting next to John who is telling him in a semi serious way the following,”Richie, repeat after me, I am a hunter, I am a hunter! Respect the cock and tame the cunt! Tame it, tame it!”

Richie perceives the question as rhetorical and instead of repeating gazes into air, sips white wine and asks John, “what about that girl, Lisa, is she coming?”

-“Lisa, why? She is not good at all, but I think she is coming yeah. But she does not even have  ass or boobs, why do you need her?”

-“Well, she seems to be an interesting person?”

-“Interesting??? Is she a poster or what? My grandmother is an interesting person as well, but that does not make her hot. No girl is good if she does not have boobs or ass, remember that my friend. But if you want to do her, go ahead. I think you have chances.”

-“But did not she just break up with her boyfriend?”

-“Yes, she did, but I don’t think she cares about him more than Hitler did about Jews. She’s annoyed by her ex, so no worries. I will call her and her friends when we finish drinking and are ready to go.”

-“Good, good. Let’s drink up then!”

-“Cheers”.

-“Cheers”.

Scene II. Peter, Elisabeth and Lisa are at the pub 

Lisa enters the pub in the city centre, Petre and Elisabeth are already there. They are not a couple, but just two good friends in platonic relationship who sometimes like top punch each other (literally). Elisabeth never tried to friend zone Peter just because he wanted something else, but it was rather Peter who wanted nothing but a girly friendship with Elisabeth. He was not gay, but he was not big fan of girls either, he was sort of asexual with hipster looks.

Despite this, Lisa somewhat fancied Peter, it was not probably because of his appearance, in this sense he was nothing but an ordinary guy, neither probably because of his brain, in fact he wasn’t smartest guy you can meet, and probably  not because of his character, he was as soft as sponge used 42 times for washing. But at the same time he was not a bad guy at all, he was somewhat nice, but what made Lisa attracted to him was probably the fact that he paid no attention to her as a woman, total neglectfulness. The more he neglected her, the more interested she was in Peter. But he was not neglecting her because he wanted to do so, he simply did not care. Lisa’s mind perceived this in different way.

“Oh Lisa, lisa,’ says Peter seeing her coming into the door, “come join us, Elisabeth is telling a very interesting story.”

Lisa with a grin on her face approaches the table, takes off her jacket, hangs it on the chair, sits herself and gives Elisabeth curious look.

-“No, no, it is nothing special, Peter is exaggerating, I was just telling about that guy I met last week in the club, I went out on my own, just needed some energy, he was not bad at all… anyway, how are you my dear?”

-“Oh I see, I am perfectly fine, but tonight I think I need some energy as well,” Lisa gives Peter slight look, he does not notice it and says, “Good, good, so we are all ready for a great night out tonight, let’s get drunk”, he raises pint of beer, meets Elisabeth glass which is in the air as well, says “cheers” and sips the liquid.

-“I am gonna order gin and tonic for myself,” says Lisa and leaves the table for a while…

Act II. Night out

Scene I. Early Birds

George was always an early bird when it came to parties, whether club night or flat party this young philosopher was dying to be the first one at the event and this did not seem to bother him, on contrary he was never bored but seemed to enjoy solitude.

This time he brought Marry and Michael with him. These two did not seem to enjoy almost empty club, Parnasus. While Marry was polite enough not to say anything Michael decided to express himself.

“Why did we have to come early Georgie?”

“Don’t worry Michael, this way we can relax a bit before all others arrive,” George replied in a calm and confident manner.

“Could not we relax at home or somewhere else? I did not come here to relax, I came here to have fun, and I can’t have fun when there are no more than ten people in the club including four barmen and two guys in the toilet who want to wash your hands for a considerable amount of change.”

Instead of replying George decides to walk away and head towards bar for an order.

Marry tries to calm George down, “George it’s ok, don’t worry, people will start coming soon you know, some of our friends will be coming soon as well, I just received text from John and Lisa, they just met with couple of other friends, so they should be heading here soon. You know John, don’t you?”

-“Yes, of course I do, I hope they are not too late.”

Narrator’s voice

At this point the author is losing interest in the story, he does not feel motivated and does not know how to lead the narrative. He does not know what to do with damn Peter, Elisabeth, John or whoever.

To be more precise he may lead the story till the end. e.g. In the morning different comic or entertaining situations can be made up.

Lisa may end up with Peter in the bed, but Peter is so drunk that he cannot do anything and falls asleep on her. Left with no choice she has to sleep under him.

The gay Michael fancies Richie, he talks to him hours in the club. Richie does not realize Michael is gay and instead thinks he is just a friendly open minded guy who invites him to the drink and like Tchaikovsky a little bit too much. When Richie finally leaves Michael gets drunk and starts to text him, “I wish you came with me to my place and spent a night with me, you smelt so good.” In the morning when seeing the texts Richie feels shocked, while Michael is ashamed as he has never been before.

Marry does not get lucky, she can’t hook up with anyone and goes home and starts to listen to The Smiths.

George gets drunk but instead of dancing and relaxing starts to think on the dancefloor, tries to understand every single person in the club, finally goes home, tries to write something a la Schopenhauer but finally surrenders and falls asleep on the sofa.

John and Elisabeth discover each other and spend a lovely shagging night together.

This and other scenarios might have been developed and written, but to be honest who cares about a cliche night out somewhere we don’t even know. And even though different variations for the ending can be made to be honest the outcome won’t vary too much as a result…

The story seems boring now, what’s so special about this night out and these people? While each of them thinks he or she is unique and good enough to constitute a short story, the author finds out that they are millions like them all over the world.

They are not really special, they are just stamp models of the modern society where young person has to go out not just because he wants but because he HAS TO go out. Forced hedonism turns into terrible routine.

These youngsters are too boring to do something really special, to go out beyond the borders of normal. There is nothing outstanding  in remembering years later how they got drunk, happened to be in a bed with a random person, MOST OF US HAVE DONE SOMETHING SIMILAR!

But sometimes as it seems most of us forget the fact, we live to the rules of others, in fear of being ridiculed, abandoned, misunderstood and so on, and this does not concern only night outs, there are numerous other conditions in our lives that are mere repetition of others behavior.

In fact, we are not afraid to be like others, the biggest fear is to be different, to face challenges that might make us feel uncomfortable and draw to challenges.We are living in boring times, truly unbearable lightness of being… But that’s another story…for now let our characters party and have a nice weekend. They need some privacy there.

Riders on the storm
Into this house we’re born
Into this world we’re thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An actor out alone

                                         – Riders on the storm, Doors –

The game is called Life. The number of the players is unlimited, but it is not your option to start one. The players are chosen randomly without their own consent.

You start the life as baby, that’s a name humans give to a player who just entered the game. That’s the first level of your play and is in fact is quite easy. You don’t have much to do, as other players who are called your parents are taking all the necessary care of  you, they are on much higher level and it’s one of their obligations. Parents can differ in many ways, though they are on a much difficult level, some of them are better prepared, while others less.

In some cases you don’t have parents at all, to be more specific technically you have them, but they failed the level and cannot take care of you. Most of them do rarely proceed to the next level, but if they do that’s mostly because of cheating.

So, if your biological parents did not succeed that means that your first level is becoming tougher and you have to tackle a lot of problems that many others don’t.

In cases when your childhood (baby period) is easy you want to advance to the next level as quick as possible (when you reach certain level you wish you returned to the first one).

The next level starts in school. Though it is just the second level it is a tricky one. Indeed school period is one of the most painful parts of the game that prepares you to the highest levels. The school is a model of a human society of a higher level, but the main difference is that unlike the higher one, the rules don’t apply here and most of the children do whatever they want without any restrictions.

Most of the people hate school, but when they advance to the next levels for some reasons they remember classmates (other players from second level) with sweetness and regrets. If later they see each other on a street, they warmly hug each other and say they should definitely meet up for a party or something else. This rarely happens though and the meeting is soon forgotten.

The next level is adolescence. That’s when your hormones (programmed for the most in the beginning of the game) start to flourish and give you tough times. Different players chose different strategies.  Some start to think they are different (more advanced) from others and start to get interested in the things many of the same level players are not curious about. This level is a very difficult one and in some cases even causes some players to lose the game.

Further level is when a player (called humanwithin the game) graduates from University, college or simply starts a work (later as you progress you have new challenges, but level mainly stays the same till the end of your game). Work is a form of occupation invented by humans, normally you would have five working days, that’s the period when you act and pretend to be serious trying to solve problems which seem to you hugely important (of course from Universal perspective and remembering that it is just a game that barely means anything, but for humans for some reasons its hugely important). On weekends normally you would expect to relax and sometimes even act as if you are still on the first level.

Human beings have different kinds of work. You may be a lawyer, a cab driver, a politician, a carpenter etc But in any case the same rule applies to any of them, you have to keep calm and pretend that if not your job and the human race, the universe, would stop to exist.

Politicians, especially head of the states (groups created by humans as well) take their jobs even more seriously than others. In some cases they even forget that they are just players.  They take decisions to put different players at risk, sending them for instance to wars. War is a part of the play which in many cases causes death (quitting without a consent)  of a player. Strange enough in most of the cases the players go to wars voluntarily and believe politicians, which would never put his own game at risk and enter war zone.

The players are divided into males and females. Just because historically (chronology of the game) by a total chance players chose to play male role turned out to be more aggressive the game is mainly patriarchal. But at the time some of the strong players more and more often join female side and situation starts to change.

It is important to mention also that game does not end, at least it has not ended yet, but there are predictions that at some point it will.

So, at the moment the game is continuous. But at the same time, though it does not finish collectively, it ends for a specific player. Humans love to think that generally it is 100 (they simply love this number) earth years, but in fact in most of the cases it is much less.

People (collective name for humans) also have money and economics,  which constitutes important part of the game, it is a value that may be exchanged for different goods, but at this point its importance is hugely overrated and many chose to collect money for the sake of collecting it, rather then enjoying privileges it may give. In some cases the privileges also derive from a dictate, rather than a personal belief that one may need certain good.  If you are good cheater you may get away stealing billions in some cases even from  nations (big group of people), if you are a bad cheater who goes for smaller amount, you may end up in prison (a place where powerful people keep away other players from their societies).

People also have various forms they have to deal with in everyday life, which they call feelings. Some of the most important ones are – Love, Friendship, Hate, Sorrow, Faith etc

Most of them are irrational, which means pragmatism in many of these cases may be put aside. Probably the most important out of these is love, it is a feeling that derives from affection to another person for what he/she  despite the norms of the society is with good and bad points. For instance a person loved by another may be on contrary hated by a bigger group, so, no universal law applies in this case.

After a player quits the game, the award is not clear in some cases. Though people may remember a good player and pay tribute to him after life, for himself, the future is unclear.

There are many versions for humans what happens after the game, some think there is heaven (created by a God, which humans think created everything in the Universe), others assume one will return in a form of different player, some would like to think there is nothing after the game.

But in the end most of them agree that in fact it is a big mystery, because after all, they really enjoy the game even though none of them chose to play it in the beginning.

A guy with a haircut reminding that of Mr. Spock from Star Trek asked me if that would be all right if they featured my girlfriend in a new video from Bernstein. Mr. Spock said in the video she would be tied to a wall, being whipped by a guy dressed like a demon.

Holding my girlfriend by a hand he looked like a gay snake whisperer.  He was equally disgusting to those other two guys that were also present in the room. In fact it was not that much of disgust but something rather parodic about them, they reminded me of that “nazi” guys from Big Lebowski.

The worst thing though was that they had my girlfriend and is if  in act of final humiliation against me they were asking what I was thinking about this nonsense.

It was my fault, I should have noticed that something was wrong when several days ago she told me she got an offer from Bernstein. Bernstein was a new fashionable and trendy indie filmmaker popular among those hipster kids who thought they knew all about art just because they were attending art school classes wearing torn trousers bought for a higher price than good Levi’s jeans. I don’t even know why the style was still called indie, as it was almost as much popular as East 17 in early nineties.

Anyway, she said Bernestein wanted her and excited about news she was almost shaking. I prepared her tea and said I would support her till the end.

So here I was in a supporting role standing in front of bunch of snobs seeing my girlfriend all excited about the project which saw her nothing but a sex slave in a totally anti feminist video. The decision was already made as I could figure it out, so the question in my address was nothing but a total formality, nevertheless despite their total indifference I decided to have a little bit fun here.

“And what does that represent, is it any kind of symbol in that video, could you explain me the meaning?” I started.

“Ehmm, you know it is a very good question, but it is not that easy and evident, you see in art you should have this ambiguity which does not directly point you to a problem, but in fact it leaves it upon you to decide…” Mr. Spock said.

“Basically you want to say that the video makes no sense,” I continued rhetorically.

I could see it in a slight blink of his eyes that he was irritated by my remark, but instead of reacting he pretended as if it was absolutely perfect, this was something very characteristic to the people of his circle.

“That was something funny”, he said, “but I am sure that this comment is nothing else than just a good joke from you as I know you really appreciate true art.”

Now he was trying to make a fool of me, making me bow to his remark and retreat, but instead I said, “In fact I have no understanding of art, I simply don’t know anything about it. Well, I know a little bit about guys like BigAssO you know.”

Either pretending not to understand whom I really meant, or really lost, he said, “Who is BigAssO, is he a conceptual artist? I’ve never heard of him.”

These guys were ridiculous, they reminded me of that famous story when Japanese tourists started taking pictures of a radiator in London’s Tate Modern, thinking that it was another exhibit. In fact the radiator was nothing else but a radiator.

These sort of guys would easily mistake a piece of shit to art and vice versa, and the worst thing was that the industry was full of guys like these. The only difference between these guys and the tourists was that the Japanese ones were explained later that it was just a radiator, while nobody took care of these folks.

“Yeah, definitely conceptual artist” I said, “I am surprised you have never heard of him, I thought guys like you should definitely know him.”

“I will look for more on him,” Mr. Spook told me, “Anyway, what do you think? What do you think of the new video?”

Hearing these words I saw my girlfriend with eyes full of expectations and hope, so instead of answering the question I turned to her and asked, “Well, what do you think darling?”

In hurry she started an answer, “…erm… I think… I think it really sounds cool, and I think it would be wrong for me to say no, I think I should give it a try, ermm…”

Hearing this, I gave her a smile, put my jacket on and hurried to leave. “Good luck with that” I said and left with mixed feeling of bittersweet. Bitter, because it took me a long time to come here to this point to understand that I was seeing totally wrong girl for me. And sweet just because now I was free!

With the end of the year and most of the acclaimed international film awards behind, but still waiting for The Academy Awards in couple of months, the time has come to summarize the films which made an impact on spectators in 2011. Here are some of the most significant films of the year.

Kirsten Dunst who played main role in Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia probably would barely imagine that her hardest “role” as supporting actor was still to come later this year. And that was late spring, when she had to make and effort not to bite her nails, while sitting next to the director who shocked film elite all over the world by saying that he understands Hitler.

We all know what happened later, Trier was condemned, became persona non grata in France (until recent when the ban was lifted), causing sound and fury in international press.

Lars Von Trier defended himself, saying that he did not mean to hurt anyone and generally tried to prove that he is not a bad guy at all. But then the wide audience saw the film, truly misanthropic one, where Kirsten Dunst voices Trier’s thoughts by saying “The Earth Is Evil.” Trier has never been known as philanthropist, but Melancholia is a true culmination and strip of the director’s desires and apathy against human race.

Unlike Lars Von Trier, another acclaimed director Woody Allen after drifting somewhere between comedy and drama (Cassandra’s Dream, Match Point, Vicky Christina Barcelona) decided to focus on and return to playful comedy since then, presenting audience with Midnight In Paris this time. As the name suggests the story is taking place in France capital, where an aspiring writer encounters himself in magical world filled with acclaimed artists of the past who used to live and create art in Paris of 20-ies.

2011 was also a breakthrough for 3D technology. The innovation first used in cinematic sense by James Cameron in Avatar almost two years ago and seen mostly as an effective adaptation of sci-fi stories seems to escape niche as Wim Wenders (The Million Dollar Hotel, Wings of Desire) applied the same technology to a ballet documentary Pina. More than that, even earlier another acclaimed German director Werner Herzog premiered his documentary Cave Of Forgotten Dreams using the same tool.

Martin Scorcese went even further, the director who managed to release two films (George Harrisson: Living in the Material World and Hugo) in the same year, after the success of his latest adventure 3D said his previous films such as Taxi Driver might have enjoyed the format as well and now he considers filming all of his future films in the 3D comparing the tendency to technicolor revolution of the past.

While Scorcese is making future plans Harry Potter fans all around the planet saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, enjoying the final part this summer both in 3D and 2D. As expected the last screening of Joanne Rowling’s adaptations from the very first weeks made it to the highest-grossing films in cinema history outrun only by Titanic and Avatar. Just after the release critics started question the future of the young actors. Taking into consideration the film’s success in past years it is hard to imagine that Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and other actors that shaped Rowling’s magical world can escape “Harry Potter” label. On the other hand the fame brought by Harry Potter guarantees safe place and numerous offers to the actors in the nearest future at least.

After three-year pause in role of a director George Clooney at last returned with The Ides Of March, and it is no surprise that his fourth feature film is another political story about a newbie staffer who runs a campaign for a presidential candidate from democrats. The film continues traditions of George Clooney stories of corrupt and complicated world of political games and the director constructs the film in best traditions of drama. Ryan Gosling’s (who plays main character) acting is superb and deserves a mention as the actor managed to make significant appearances in three films this year. Adding to his account a romantic comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love. and Drive, the winner for Best Director in Cannes festival, it will be no surprise if Gosling enters the battle for the best actor of 84th Academy Awards.

When talking about the Academy Awards Iranian film, A Separation from Asghar Farhady deserves a mention. The film is a drama telling a story of a divorce in Iran, but instead of blaming any of the sides director portrays both husband and wife in neutral way so that it is impossible not to sympathize any of the sides of the conflict. The film’s success in numerous film festivals including triumph at Berlin Film Festival can serve as an indicator that A Separation most likely will be main contestant for Best Foreign Language Film nomination, especially after Spain decided not to submit The Skin I Live In, the latest and brilliant work from acclaimed Pedro Almadovar. The film is based on Thierry Jonquet’s crime novel, which tells a story of a surgeon experimenting with his “guinea pig.” The main character is played by Antonio Banderas, whose breakthrough started after appearance in Almadovar’s Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down. Those familiar with the film will find it not surprising why the director chose particularly  Banderas to play main character in his latest motion picture.

While the Academy Awards are still ahead, the most prestigious European Awards held in Cannes earlier this year highlighted and awarded The Dardenne Brothers’ The Kid With A Bike, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Once Upon A Time In Anatolia, Michel Hazavanicius’ The Artist in various nominations, but the most prestigious, Palme d’Or award went to Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, aesthetically beautiful and visually stunning film featuring Brat Pitt and Sean Penn in leading roles.

Apocalyptic, funny, ironic and many more other adjectives are not enough to characterize films that came out in 2011, in general this was a year of a good cinema which will definitely have a say in the history of cinema.


Having in account Golden Berlin Bear and several other important international film awards A Separation, a work from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi claimed one more in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia on Thursday.

Asghar Farhadi, who wrote, produced and directed the film, personally accepted Best Feature Film Award at the fifth annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

Taking into consideration films from other acclaimed Iranian filmmakers, such as Jafar Panahi, which due to their nature are even sometimes banned in the country, Farhadi focuses on universal topics and portrays Iran in a way that possibly may surprise western audience.

In “A Separation” we don’t see women who are to be stoned, fights against brutal regime or other alike topics, instead the director shows us tragedy of a family that might have happened in any other far more democratic country of the world.

From the very first scene of the film Farhadi drags us into situation where we cannot choose a protagonist, as it starts with a trial scene where we see spouses trying to convince judge in rightness of their personal decisions to keeping their only child. Simin (Leila Hatami) wants to leave the country, while Nader (Peyman Moaadi) prefers to stay and look after his father who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Both of them want to keep their daughter with themselves. And both of them are right in their own ways. Unsolvable dilemma follows the film till the end.

As film goes on we are introduced to new characters, which bring their problems and views as well, A Separation voices different characters and shows the picture from different views, it is indeed a film without a protagonist.

Though the film does not address global, national problems of the country it does touch topics such as separation between different classes and even different attitude towards women depending on the class they come from. For instance, Simin clearly comes from higher society, she is independent, makes decisions on her own and is never forced to do anything beyond her will from her husband. On the other hand, Razieh (Sareh Bayat) who works in Simin’s husband’s house is not even aloud to dine with her spouse and his friends, she is also highly religious and follows all the rules.

Though the second, Razieh’s example is closer to what we are used to see about Iran, the director of the film shows that the image of a woman in the country is not that homogenous and undisputed.

Asghar Farhadi indeed created universal, realistic story in a style comparable to the Italian neo realism masterpiece Bicycle Thieves, and what really deserves a mention is that the film despite a simple plot manages to keep the audience engaged in a story of separation till the end.

A Separation is out now and available on DVD

Introduction

Life is good when you are a child… well in most of the cases and it does not really matter under what political government you are born, unless it is a radical one practicing genocide or cannibalism against own population.

In all other cases you are under a warm wing of a caring parent who will make sure that you don’t grow up before the time.

So I guess the life of a soviet infant was not that different to that of a western child. Though the life at the age of 3 or 4 for me was no different to that of a someone else of the same age in another corner of the earth, the impact the environment had on me and those of the same generation would stay within us till the end of our lives.

It was 1984 when I was born, I had to live 7 years more to experience the fall of Soviet Union and birth of a brave new world in Georgia, but by that time of course I had no idea what is the difference between capitalism and communism, what really Soviet Union meant and what will happen after “Perestroika.” Though those of my generation don’t really remember what Soviet Union was, they still have a kind of scar left which will always remind of a different epoch and times.

Our minds don’t have records of memories of infamous “Brezhnev Kisses,” success stories of Soviet industry or Cosmos.

We remember other things, simple things, my brightest memory of childhood for instance links to that moment when my great grandfather presented me a robot, real one, it was amazing for me by that time, that was my childhood, “Perestroika,” Soviet Union, and god damn everything else. I loved my robot as much as I love this memory.

But again, despite this our generation will carry a seal on its arms saying, “Born in USSR,” carrying genetical memory that is so different to that carried by those born after the nineties.

Apart from mentioned robot I can hardly remember a thing I was attached to me the way that could remind me of Soviet Union itself (and surely robot does not remind me of that either), and I can say with almost hundred percent certainty that for those born in 1984, 1985 or 1986 there is no many of these kind of objects, but while we don’t remember them we have a different experience, experience of witnessing new objects coming later, when the “iron curtain” finally fell in 1991 and opened for some stunning and for some shocking view from the windows.

Banana and Coca – Cola were the first things to shock us – children!

To be continued