B.I.F.F Day 4

I had a pretty mixed experience yesterday at the Bangkok International Film Festival. I only saw two movies, one shitty and one great, but mostly kept wishing I could re-watch I Killed My Mother. Tonight is my final film, Mammoth, which will probably play to a very packed house. It’s been really fun to attend a major film festival, and a cheap one at that (ended up being ~$2.60 per film).

Jamila and thre President - Poster4Jamila and the President / Jamila dan Sang Presiden

Country: Indonesia
Director: Ratna Sarumpaet
Length: 97 mins
Grade: D

Synopsis: “Jamila is a prostitute serving a life sentence behind bars. She surrenders herself to the authorities after admitting she killed a high-ranking minister, and refuses to be represented by any lawyer or request a plea to ease her sentence. The controversy spreads all over the nation, followed by a reaction from a militant group forcing the government to give the death penalty to Jamila. The prison slowly reveals Jamila’s story: she is a victim of child trafficking, a crime that has become a custom in many places. Jamila represents millions of children who has been sold in the name of poverty and the lack of education.”

Weighty, important subject matter does not necessarily mean a weighty, important film. Jamila and the President is overwrought, daytime soap opera material. Good production values can’t hide the fact that there’s nothing at its core except a poor script overacted by melodramatic people. Sarumpaet adapted the screenplay from her own theater play and this is very obvious in a few key scenes that don’t translate well to film at all. Most characters act illogically and unrealistically, and by the end I cared little about or for any of them. My bad experience with this movie was not helped by subtitles that were poorly translated and written in large, Comic Sans font.

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Uno Más Día

Happy 09-09-09! At 09.09pm on 09.09.09 I was eating dinner with two friends and we actually noticed the clock in time. Salud! We were celebrating the completion of another day of lesson planning and teaching. I was celebrating with a copa de vino blanco… except they brought it warm, with ice. That’s a first for me. But we are all excited to be wrapping this class up since we have very little to do tomorrow except teach our last lesson and then just party on Friday.

I have to mention how awesome my “high intermediate” class was last night. These students are pretty close to fluency, so you can talk at a normal pace with natural language and we dispense with the endless repetition that’s so key to lower-level learning. They mostly need help with confusing phrases, idiomatic expressions, connotations, etc. The lesson was prostitution so I started my class by doing a “word web” eliciting words they’d expect to hear in a discussion:
“Bitch!”
“Whore!”
Which may be true, but I was more looking for “red light district.” I think the only phrase that was totally new was “curb crawler,” which I think is a pretty archaic expression for someone who prowls along looking for “street walkers.”

But then we also talked about how prostitution is a “complex” issue, also known as “tricky,” “muddy,” complicated,” “thorny,” or “gray” issues. As opposed to “straightforward” (this was a new word, surprisingly), “simple,” “black-and-white.” We then went over a sheet asking, “Should we legalize brothels?” with a pro/con perspective. I pulled out trouble words/expressions like “consensual,” “condone,” “plain fact,” “devil’s advocate,” and “abysmal” (which I had a lot of fun explaining). For a word nerd, getting to talk about connotations and natural usage was really interesting. Both the pro/con view approached the issue differently, so we discussed various angles on an issue: political, scientific, moral, practical, experiential, etc. With almost all the other classes we try to only teach such a limited number of words — tomorrow I’m introducing just four new vocab — so it was very refreshing to work with a very wide lexical set.

Oh, for what’s worth: 8/9 students — including all the old women — were fully in favor of legalizing brothels & prostitution. The last lady was a bit on the fence and just wanted to remind us to “keep the moral argument in mind too.”

A Young Person’s Guide to OMGWTF

Alpha Sigma hosted a used book sale this week to raise money for the org — and we earned enough extra to buy a llama, a goat, and two chickens through WorldVision. We named them Kierkegaard (llama), Nietzsche (goat), Plato and Aristotle (chickens), which is sure to thrill the 3rd world family that receives them.

I got a couple books out of the sale as well. One is titled 50 Days to Welcome Jesus to My Church: A Young Person’s Guide. On page 11, however, is a young person’s guide to something very, very different.

The verse accompanying this illustration was Matthew 6:4 “…and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” I assume they meant my Roman Catholic father.

Books are neat. You should read one. These nerds agree:

Breece D’J Pancake + Kevin Keck

Breece D’J Pancake (pictured right ->) was an up-and-coming young writer 30 years ago who killed himself with a shotgun at age 26. What he left behind was The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake, published posthumously in 1983. Today I stumbled upon The Honored Dead, a short story from Pancake that I’d recommend for your Sunday reading.

I also wanted to mention an essay by Kevin Keck that I came across a few weekends ago. I found it via a Largehearted Boy feature on Keck’s book Oedipus Wrecked, an apparently quite-dirty chronicle of the author’s sexual misadventures. One of the chapters is titled “Cherry Picker” and Keck wrote an essay for LHB about some of the backstory and context (follow all that?). I haven’t even read the chapter (or book) this is based on but I thought the essay was really great and was quite affected when I first read it. With permission from LHB and the author himself, I present for you a slightly-NSFW-but-really-good-untitled-essay by Kevin Keck:

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A.C. Newman is a Superstud

It’s true, I’m somewhat on a New Pornographer’s kick. Did you know their frontman has an awesome solo album out? No, you didn’t. But he does. For your listening pleasure: A.C. Newman’s “On The Table” (4.5meg .mp3). Try it, you’ll like it.

Hey this is positive: I finally finished Paul Feig’s Superstud: Or How I Became a 24-Year-Old Virgin. I’d recommend it if you woke up this morning with a desire to read a painfully awkward coming-of-age story about the (non)sex-life of a geek.

Now see a George Bush doll become an Emperor George II doll.

Happy ‘The Homeless Man Went To Her High School’ Day!

p.s. – on a different note, has anybody out there read Mister God, This Is Anna by Fynn?