Chanie Rosenberg

The Personal and the Political

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Review of 'The Country Under My Skin', Gioconda Belli, Bloomsbury £7.99

This is a wonderful autobiography, which I unreservedly recommend as a great work of art. Gioconda Belli was an upper class girl living in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, who enjoyed all the privileges of her class. But then, in her early twenties, after a youthful marriage and two children, she broke from her family's political outlook, deciding instead to join the fight for her country's freedom from the dictator Somoza, and so joined the underground Sandinista movement in the early 1970s.

Hitting the Right Notes

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Review of 'Werckmeister Harmonies', director Bela Tarr

This film is directed by an acclaimed Hungarian film-maker, Bela Tarr, whose work was recently celebrated with a retrospective at the National Film Theatre in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. A more appropriate title would be the name of the novel it is based on, 'The Melancholy of Resistance' by Laszlo Krasaznahorkai, as that is what the film is about.

Migrating Across the Waves

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Review of 'Welcome to Paradise', Mahi Binebine, Granta £12.99 and 'The Broken Cedar', Martin Malone, Scribner £12.99

Both these new novels are about faraway people. 'Welcome to Paradise' is about North African would-be emigrants waiting through the night on a Moroccan beach for the moment their trafficker decides it is safe to cross the Straits of Gibraltar. 'The Broken Cedar' is about the effects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on everyday Lebanese life in 1994, before the Israelis leave Lebanon, and an act of horrifying violence this gives rise to in the past of Khalil, who is an electrical shopkeeper catering to the needs of United Nations troops on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Beautiful Picture

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Review of 'Frida', director Julie Taymor

Frida Kahlo was an extraordinarily colourful character--in her own right as a popular and unconventional painter, but also as the wife of one of the greatest modern painters, Diego Rivera, and sometime lover of one of the greatest Russian revolutionaries, Leon Trotsky. It is therefore no accident that her life has been celebrated in many books and plays. This rendering, 'Frida', directed by Julie Taymor with Salma Hayek as Frida, is a very worthy addition to the list.

A Thin Line Between Love and Hate

Issue section: 

Review of 'Caught in the Crossfire', Alan Gibbons, Dolphin £4.99

We read about politics, we participate in demonstrations, strikes and all sorts of other activity in opposition to the system. But how different people react to it in all aspects of their daily lives is something beyond our immediate experience, except for a particular oppression we may personally suffer. But an insight into these real life experiences and emotions, which can dominate people's lives, rounds out and enriches our intellectual and political understanding. That is where novels come in.

Document of Brutality

Issue section: 

Review of 'Footprints', director Ben Hopkins

'Footprints' is a documentary film about cluster bombs, concentrating on their effect in Afghanistan today and Laos in 1969. That year Laos, a small country bordering Vietnam, had an amazing 19 million cluster bombs dropped on it, more than those dropped on all countries during the Second World War. The characteristic of cluster bombing, besides directly killing people on a vast scale, is that up to 30 percent do not detonate, but settle underground and last for decades.

Shaken and Stirred

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Review of 'Outlying Islands' by David Greig, Royal Court, London

Plays premiered at the Traverse Theatre at Edinburgh's Festival Fringe are generally well worth seeing, and 'Outlying Islands' is no exception. The storyline starts simply. Before the Second World War two enthusiastic ornithologists are sent by the 'Ministry' for a month to monitor the migratory and nesting habits of birds on the furthermost small empty island north of Scotland--empty, that is, save for the leaseholder and his niece. The plot then develops along two paths which have little connection with one another, though enacted by the same personnel.

Wheels of Change

Issue section: 

Review of 'Beijing Bicycle', director Wang Xiaoshuai

It is always refreshing to see a film from a part of the world whose traditional culture is so different from that of the west. But Chinese tradition is being pressed hard by the lure of modern western values and desires, introduced by the country's rapid economic growth and integration into world markets. This growth necessitated a massive influx from country to town during the last two decades--about 100 million people.

Love Story South of the River

Issue section: 
Issue: 

Review of 'Vincent in Brixton' by Nicholas Wright, Cottesloe Theatre, London

In case you didn't make the connection, 'Vincent in Brixton' is indeed about Van Gogh. But it is not about Vincent the famous painter who only decided to become an artist at the age of 27 and shot himself at the age of 37 (in 1890), but Vincent aged 21, who was transferred by a Dutch art dealer's firm to work in its London branch. He rents a room in a Brixton house with a Mrs Loyer and her daughter, and another lodger, Sam.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Chanie Rosenberg