Monday, May 26, 2014

Žedno Uho Festival - Lawrence English and Hauschka @ Teatar &TD

I like Žedno Uho Festival (Thirsty Ear Festival).

There usually are some performers I know in the lineup but what I like most about TEF is the rest of them; the unknown but mastefully curated. I feel that every time I buy a ticket and commit to attending TEF I buy a ticket into broadening my mind. I learn A LOT and I feel there A LOT and I see A LOT of performers with passion and ethics that constitute healthy and exquisite craft. That's why I bought the ticket early this year (it was number 4) and why I was eagerly waiting for TEF to start.

As life is what it is I was not able to attend all of intended program but the parts I was able to see looked like this.

Day 2 took place in Student Center in Downtown Zagreb, in Teatar &TD and it was said that it will start in quarter past 8 p.m.

It was still sunny and beautiful and I used this opportunity of visiting "the city" to take care of more concert ticket purchases. I came to Student Center early and I had time to bask in the setting sun and intoxicating smell of linden trees.

At 8 I went in and bought myself a beer. It was draft and properly cooled and in that moment tasted nothing short of liquid happiness. I mingled a bit and watched the audience gather and soon ambled after them to Semicircular hall. In the middle of the small hall there were two tables with equipment and around them were some bean bags and chairs and some empty space to sit on. Everything was really close and comfy and people sat here and there and it felt very homey. Lawrence English, really handsome guy that seems to have excellent people skills, gave us couple of instructions and a small interlude to what is he going to play for us; Almost Nothing by Luc Ferrari. Audio started and transported us to Vela Luka.

This audio piece is not music but mixture of sounds that I believe all of us know since this is a part of audio picture of every small town (and suburb) in Dalmatia. It is so "true to the source" one can literally discern what every particicular sound is and this composition flows like a movie in one's mind eye.

Beautiful and quite therapeutic, I might add, because for the duration of its performance I felt completely out of Zagreb and May and forgot that it was a worknight and that tomorrow there is still Friday to tackle.

When it finished we emerged from the darkened hall into the path outside where evening was just stretching her paws and we meandered back toward the main hall.

Hauschka begun around 10-ish, a little later then expected, because of a mishap with his luggage. He apologized and was very polite and endearing and then started to play. He was my main reason to come to TEF as I fell in love with his music first time I heard it. I listen to it often when I'm home but I was wary of how this would be as a visual experience. My fears proved immaterial as soon as we went in into the Hall, prepared for a sitting concert, with piano center stage and large screen showing the artist and the inside of his instrument.

In every song there were knickknacks used and put into or onto the piano, making noises, tones and sounds complementing and completing the music. Sound was terrific, artist in good spirits, audience interested and receptive.

It was excellent and I enjoyed it immensely. Hauschka talked and gave us some insights into his creative process and his personality. I nodded and smiled and was a few times caught in a whirlwind of imagination. He was captivating both talking and playing and I loved how he came across both in mastery and humility.

In the end, as an encore he played a song after dropping a bunch of small balls into the piano and this was the most thrilling thing I ever saw during a live performance. Artists are usually quite concerned with how things will go and want to avoid unpredictability at all cost but this song - it was just the opposite! It was both celebration of skill and of randomness.

Just like life is.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Warm Bodies

Sometimes I feel that every time I’m having a bad day the Universe just gets up, off its ass, and cranks out personalized calm-bringer. Like Warm Bodies.

Original movie poster

I absolutely love this movie and now, after reading through a throng of very silly reviews, I thought to add my two cents to the pot.

Why do I love this movie and what is so special in it?

Well, three things: presentation, intelligence and emotion


This is not a zombie movie.

Warm bodies is a story of zombies for just as much as Star Trek is a story of aliens or Cars is a story of automobiles. They are all stories of people, of humans presented in different packaging material to accentuate one or the other aspect of humanity.

Exceptional thing in Warm Bodies is that such a powerful iconography is used to prepackage our humans one has to actually get involved with a story to be able to accept that there is no suspension of disbelief to be used in regard with creatures. Movie is filmed beautifully, with great photography, color, costumes and scenes. It all looks fully saturated, rich, beautiful and - effortless. There is not a scene or minute in this film that does not stay in the pace of the movie and that has any kind of atmosphere but that of perfect sync. It flows beautifully from scene to scene never losing momentum and showing great cohesion.


There is nothing in this world I love as much as intelligence. Understanding the mechanics of the world and using this understanding to put selection of parts in new organizations to showcase understanding the mechanics of the world - can there be any more beautiful way to celebrate intelligence?

This is not a zombie movie.

It already says so in the promotional blurb: “After a highly unusual zombie saves a still-living girl from an attack, the two form a relationship that sets in motion events that might transform the entire lifeless world.”

There is a part in Pratchett’s Thief of time where Susan, grade school teacher and Death’s granddaughter interacts with her pupils:

Miss Susan held up the cardboard clock and said: 'Who can tell me what this is?'
A forest of hands shot up.
'Yes, Miranda?'
'It's a clock, miss.'
Miss Susan smiled, carefully avoided the hand that was being waved by a boy called Vincent, who was also making frantically keen 'ooo, ooo, ooo' noises, and chose the one behind him.
'Nearly right,' she said. 'Yes, Samuel?'
'It's all cardboard made to look like a clock,' said the boy.
'Correct. Always see what's really there.'

Always see what's really there.

Both the writer and the director have gone to great lengths to put everything we need to understand this movie right in front of us and - more often than not - to verbally confirm it. This movie is an allegoric presentation of current society, biased commentary advocating particular way of life as functionally better than other options. Humans, corpses and boneys are not different species. They are all humans and the thing in which they differ is - caring (or empathy, as many existing psychological and philosophical theories already postulate). Further away people get from sense of empathy, less human they become. If you are unsure how this looks and works just have a look around you and you will surely see all of these three “species”.


What I love most in this movie is relationships. I was already impressed with director’s view of relationships in his previous movie 50/50 and Warm Bodies show similar, even nicely profiled connectedness. There are no crazy plot twists, no unexplainable behaviors defying logic, no stupid tricks to fit square pegs into round holes.

Just life.

Friendship, longing, concern, overwhelm-ness, pride, shame, attraction, care - they are all shown just like they appear in life and through them the story is progressed. We do our best, in real time, and we hope that our best will be enough. Other people still have to notice, understand, interpret our behaviors and react to them for any interpersonal action to happen. It is pure bliss seeing how meticulously this mechanics is shown - and how effortless it looks. Voiceovers not being narration but a stream of thought works miracles in making this story engaging, understandable and warm.

It seems that empathy, just like romance (and punk! :D), is still not dead.