Weekly Summary of Cultural Events 25 Feb 2018

It hasn’t felt like a quiet week, with so much to catch up on after our short Irish holiday. However, there are only a few things to report on the cultural front.

I forgot to mention that we saw Black Panther while we were in Ireland and were wowed by the beautiful landscapes, costumes and actors and actresses. As an anti-monarchist, I found the macho posturing associated with becoming a king a bit silly, but was delighted that T’Challa was truly great because of all the women surrounding him. There is a ‘Which Black Panther character are you’ quiz doing the rounds at the moment and it didn’t surprise me that I came out as Nakia (although I was secretly hoping for Shuri). As an anthropologist, it was also fascinating to see how they tried to incorporate many different African traditions and cultures in the film, and show the rich diversity of the continent.

I saw another, very different film on Thursday at the Austrian Cultural Forum: Life Guidance by relatively young director Ruth Mader. It is a Black Mirror meets Wim Wenders kind of world, where capitalist consumption has reached its peak. The elite live in immaculate houses decorated mainly in white and beige, the men all wear impeccable suits, the women pastel or white, and everyone is in pursuit of excellence and self-improvement. It is the Communist utopia really (especially when the schoolchildren start singing about ‘fulfilling your full potential’), except it’s capitalist. But when the leading man, Alexander Dworsky, is quite content with his life and doesn’t want to strive to be even better, the private company (outsourced by the government) Life Guidance comes to call to ‘motivate’ him to fit in. This film has just the right level of sinister foreshadowing and is great in concept, but somewhat jerky in execution, with abrupt transitions from one scene to the next, which makes it hard for us to fully sympathise or understand.

In one of the funniest scenes from the film, the businessmen referred to the Life Guidance agency are all learning arts and crafts to develop more holistic skills. As a corporate trainer, this had me in giggling fits.

If you are keen on German language films and other events, the Austrian Cultural Forum offers an excellent selection of free events – and has a little library in its chic Knightsbridge mansion.

A few book acquisitions this week too: Our friends at Alma Press were having a sale on, so I couldn’t resist and bought some much-‘needed’ volumes of Bulgakov: The Diaboliad and Other Stories and Diaries and Selected Letters. Then, since I seemed to be on a Russian binge, I also bought two by Turgenev: A Nest of the Gentry and Fathers and Sons. I was also sent an ARC of Our House by Louise Candlish, which I’ve already read, as it makes a psychologically tense and murderous mockery of divorce and our British obsession with property prices.

Coming up next month, there will be a Women of the World festival at London’s South Bank from March 7th to 11th, including debates, theatre, activism, speed mentoring, workshops and much more.  Meanwhile, the British Film Institute is continuing its in-depth Ingmar Bergman season throughout March. From the 21st of March to the 1st of April BFI Flare will show the best new and classic LGBTQ+ films from around the world. I’ve got my eye on God’s Own Country, a love story between an English farmer and a Romanian migrant worker, starring Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu.

12 thoughts on “Weekly Summary of Cultural Events 25 Feb 2018”

    1. The premise is much better than the execution (like so many books and films nowadays), but I don’t regret watching it. The cool detachment is also typically Austrian, to my mind.

  1. I find the premise of Life Guidance really interesting, Marina Sofia. And having done my share of workshops, I found that bit you shared very funny, even though the film is, I’m sure, darker than that. Glad you had a chance to fit in some film. And those books – well, who on earth could resist?

    1. There is a very funny anti-capitalist rant at some point in the film which mentions coffee capsules and self-improvement coaching and (although I am guilty of both) I burst out into nervous laughter.

  2. Friends loved the Black Panther movie, especially the role of women.
    By the way, I am for the right of every child to fulfill his/her potential. I may be a Utopian, but I support that view. I think it’s a human right, not only the right of the wealthy, but for everyone. It’s a crime to me that so many children on this wealthy planet are hungry, homeless, without medical care or education, are victims of war and dislocation. It’s just morally wrong.
    So, I have ethics about children. It tears me up to see children without their essential needs met or fleeing wars or hungry or sick or orphaned or being trafficked. It seems to me that children do have the right to grow up and live good lives.
    I’ve always believed this.

    1. I couldn’t agree more, Kathy. Now that I have children of my own, I feel even more that ALL children should be protected and lead good lives, not just my own.

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