Thursday, 26 April 2012

Parallel Scars

Interview Magazine: Model Jamie Bochert and fiancé Michael Pitt (remember him as Henry from Dawson's Creek?) trek to the Moroccan desert to shoot a short film and channel Philippe Garrel's 1972 feature La Cicatrice Interiéure (The Inner Scar). 

For Interview Magazine, photography by Jamie Bochert - full shoot here

The Inner Scar saw Nico, the depressed siren of Velvet Underground, crossing out-of-this-world landscapes as a female Petit Prince on crack. Nico's son also appears in a scene, leading her on a white horse through desert dusk while she sings All that is my own.

Nico: My only child & All that is my Own, from La cicatrice intérieure

At the time of shooting Nico was going out with the film's director, Philippe Garrel, whose son Louis later starred in Bertulucci's exquisite Dreamers (2003) alongside - Michael Pitt. Closed circuit? And à propos legendary Italian directors, Nico in Fellini's Dolce Vita

In any case Bochert's contemporary take on the film is less deranged nudist hippie, and more pseudo-goth fashionista. Which, thank you Jamie, reflects 2012 pretty accurately.

Here the source of inspiration in full.

IN FULL: La cicatrice intérieure (1972) by Phillippe Garrel

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Happy Easter, Cry Baby

As is appropriate for a lapsed-catholic slavic-melancholic family, we spent the evening of Easter Monday at the ballet. Four hours of Bach's Saint Matthew Passion is enough to make you feel like you've caught up on a year of mass going. In the case of the Hamburg Ballet, directed by ueber-choreographer John Neumeier, it is also enough to make you feel like neither faith nor words are needed to have a celestial experience.

This was the second time I saw a ballet directed by Neumeier, and the second time I produced tears from watching movement. But in the crucial moment the solution prepares to roll down my face, I think of the opening scene of Almodovar's Talk to Her and self-consciousness becomes a dam.

Don't let that stop you.

 Opening Scene of Pedro Almodovar's Hable con ella (Talk to Her); with dancing by the Pina Bausch's Tanztheater Wuppertal

John Neumeier, Saint Matthew Passion - Blute nur, du liebes Herz

John Neumeier, Saint Matthew Passion - The Last Supper scene

Monday, 2 April 2012

An Orthodox Riot

The last day of my trip to Jerusalem was a Saturday. Shops were shut, public transport stopped, and deserted streets whispered “Shabbat”.

On an aimless walk I felt like a pagan in Ghostville, and then I sensed trouble. Wailing, distressed and heavy like elephant lamentation, resounded through the air. I walked up a hill and came upon Israeli soldiers in a brawl with Orthodox Jews. Men and boys in black scurried along the pavement, screaming in hypnotic unison. As cars passed, the noise grew more passionate and soldiers pushed kippa-clad boys away from the street.

"What the devil is going on", I asked a bystander.

“They are enforcing the day of rest, shouting ‘purity’ in Hebrew. Driving your car is forbidden."

I looked on in disbelief. A black SUV stopped in the middle of the scene and a sturdy Arab got out, brandishing a fist. Commotion ensued. Trembling with adrenaline, I took this picure when a boy pointed at me and shrieked, making heads turn.

This chaos is a regular occurence on the fringes of Mea Shearim, the city's Hassidic district. State authorities dispatch soldiers to protect its citizens, including less traditionalistic Jews, from the orthodox zealotry. Software engineer Neta S. from Tel Aviv told me: "On a weekend trip to Jerusalem we got lost with our car, and our GPS directed us past Mea Shearim. Groups of men shouted at us and we got scared they would attack. It felt surreal."

The ultra-orthodox make up a tenth of Israel's population. Exempt from military service, 60% of male Hassids live off state subsidies for full-time Torah study. Maybe this helps to explain excess energy on a Saturday, or the wrath against the feeding hand of a secular military state. And with a birth rate of 7.9 children per family, the Hassids' political influence is growing just as their upkeep is becoming increasingly unsustainable for Israel's economy. A situation heading for escalation.

After more screams and scuffling, I watch the Arab man get back into his car and drive off. Slowly the sun withdraws from the city as the groups disperse. Silence returns to the streets. For now.