Брат (Brother) [Russia / 1997]

Sergey Bodrov Jr. (1971–2002) plays the role of a young man named Danila Bagrov with a predisposition for lawlessness but nonetheless possessing a degree of morality somewhat superior to most of the people he comes in contact with. He sets out to find his brother in Leningrad, a man which according to his mother is "her only hope" but in truth is a local gangster and killer. Apparently, their father was a thief who eventually died in prison. Not the kind of movie that will stir many laughs or philosophical discussions but it will make you addicted to the atmosphere (aided by a wonderful soundtrack by Nautilus Pompilius) if you have an interest for this kind of cinema. The director is Aleksey Balabanov.

You can see the full movie below (with English subtitles) brought to you by TheMakiNau through Youtube.



As a bonus for my readers I have posted bellow a song from the soundtrack by Nautilus Pompilius. Zver (Beast):


я смотpю в темноту я вижу огни
это где-то в степи полыхает пожаp
я вижу огни вижу пламя костpов
это значит где-то здесь скpывается звеpь

я гнался за ним столько лет столько зим
я нашел его здесь в этой степи
слышу вой под собой вижу слезы в глазах
это значит что звеpь почувствовал стpах

я смотpю в темноту я вижу огни
это значит что звеpь почувствовал стpах

он я знаю не спит слишком сильная боль
все гоpит все кипит пылает огонь
я даже знаю как болит у звеpя в гpуди
он pевет он хpипит мне знаком этот кpик

я кpужу в темноте там где слышиться смех
это значит что тепеpь звеpю конец
я не буду ждать утpа чтоб не видеть как он
пpобудившись ото снастанет дpугим

я не буду ждать утpа чтоб не тpатить больше сил
смотpи на звезду - она тепеpь твоя
искpы тают в ночи звезды светят в пути
я лечу и мне гpустно в этой степи

он уже кpепко спит слишком сладкая боль
не гоpит не гоpит утихает огонь
когда утpо взойдет он с последней звездой
поднимется в путь полетит вслед за мной

когда утpо взошло успокоилась ночь
не гpозила ничем лишь отпpавилась пpочь
он еще кpепко спал когда слабая дpожь
мелькнула в гpуди с неба вылился дождь
I look into the darkness, I see lights.
It is a fire blazing somewhere in the steppe.
I see lights, I see flames of bonfires.
This means that here hides a beast.

I chased him for so many years.
I have found him here, in this steppe.
I hear him howl, I see tears in his eyes.
This means that the beast feels fear.

I look into the darkness, I see lights,
This means that somewhere here hides the beast.

I know he is not sleeping, the pain is too strong,
Everything is burning and boiling inside, the fire is burning.
I even know how it hurts in the beast's chest,
He roars, he croaks, I know this cry.

I'm circling in the darkness, where laughter is heard,
This means that it's all over for the beast now.
I will not wait for the morning, not to see how he,
Waking from sleep, becomes different.

I will not wait for the morning, not to waste energy,
Look at the star - it is now yours.
Sparks are melting into the night, the stars are shining on the way,
I'm flying, and I feel sad in this steppe.

He is fast asleep already - the pain is too sweet,
The fire is not burning anymore, it is dying down.
When the morning comes, with the last star
He will rise to go, will fly following me.

When the morning came, the night calmed down,
It did not threaten with anything, just went away.
He was still fast asleep, when a slight shiver
Flashed across his chest, the sky poured rain.

Translation: kovideo.net


Mahmoud Farshchian (visual) and Farid Farjad (audio)

Mahmoud (left) and Farid (right)
Iranians have proven time and time again that they are one of the leading cultures which shape the world not through weapons but through beauty, not through destruction but through creation, not through theft but through creativity. If not for the "brain drain", the Iranian nation would of been a source of light and reason in the Middle East, at least. In our "globalizing" times, countries of the world must find a way to foster progress and spiritual development and encourage those individuals blessed with various talents to work for their own countries and by doing so, to push and pull all of humankind from all directions towards a common good. Towards a united world enriched with diversity, not a conquered world struggling with stereotypes.    

Mahmoud Farshchian (محمود فرشچیان) was born on January 24th, 1930 in Isfahan and is considered a master of Persian painting and miniatures. In 2001 a museum dedicated to the artist was inaugurated in Tehran. An excellent site is Farshchian World.

Farid Farjad (فرید فرجاد) was born in 1938 in Tehran. He is a well known Iranian violin player who, with great mastery, combines Persian Folk Music with Classical Western Music.

Both Farid and Mahmoud decided to emigrate to America, their art is nonetheless Iranian at its core and global in importance.


1973 - Maze
1976 - Contrasts in Creation
1982 - Hafez
1984 - Creature of Dreams
1989 - Growth

1988 - Peace on Earth
1993 - Khayyam

1993 - Self Haven
2000 - Golden Tears
2002 - Nocturnal Worship


Stalin and Wells at a cup of tea

A couple of months ago I read an interview between Soviet leader Stalin and the British writer H. G. Wells. As you can see this blog has been silent for some time mainly because of some health problems I had and because I concentrated on studying. Now, with new powers, I decided to start with an article in the "Utopian Dystopia" series about "1984" by George Orwell but as a prelude to that I found this interview quite useful so read it with great attention even if I will publish some highlights in this post. The interview was held in 23 July 1934. To keep things in perspective I recommend you read "The Gulag Archipelago" by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, although not a strict historical-scientific work. I also would like to avoid labeling Orwell as pro-Stalin so I will publish the following quote (Wells however actually admired him in a way):
"One could not have a better example of the moral and emotional shallowness of our time, than the fact that we are now all more or less pro-Stalin. This disgusting murderer is temporarily on our side, and so the purges, etc., are suddenly forgotten." (from 3 July 1941).
Fragments from the interview: [Download the entire interview]

Wells: (...)You and Roosevelt begin from two different starting points. But is there not a relation in ideas, a kinship of ideas, between Moscow and Washington? In Washington I was struck by the same thing I see going on here; they are building offices, they are creating a number of state re- gulation bodies, they are organising a long-needed Civil Service. Their need, like yours, is directive ability.

Stalin: The United States is pursuing a different aim from that which we are pursuing in the U.S.S.R. The aim which the Americans are pursuing, arose out of the economic troubles, out of the economic crisis. The Americans want to rid themselves of the crisis on the basis of private capitalist activity, without changing the economic basis. They are trying to reduce to a minimum the ruin, the losses caused by the existing economic system. Here, however, as you know, in place of the old, destroyed economic basis, an entirely different, a new economic basis has been created (...) .
[Stalin:] What is planned economy? What are some of its attributes? Planned economy tries to abolish unemployment. Let us suppose it is possible, while preserving the capitalist system, to reduce unemployment to a certain mini- mum. But surely, no capitalist would ever agree to the complete abolition of unemployment, to the abolition of the reserve army of unemployed, the purpose of which is to bring pressure on the labour market, to ensure a supply of cheap labour.
[Stalin:](...) as soon as Roosevelt, or any other captain in the contemporary bourgeois world, proceeds to undertake something serious against the foundation of capital- ism, he will inevitably suffer utter defeat. The banks, the industries, the large enterprises, the large farms are not in Roosevelt's hands. (...) Perhaps, in the course of several generations it will be possible to approach this goal somewhat; but I personally think that even this is not very probable.
[Stalin:] But I have some experience in fighting for socialism, and this experience tells me that if Roosevelt makes a real attempt to sat- isfy the interests of the proletarian class at the expense of the capitalist class, the latter will put another president in his place. The capitalists will say : Presidents come and presidents go, but we go on forever; if this or that president does not protect our interests, we shall find another. What can the president oppose to the will of the capitalist class?

[Stalin:] To bring about a revolution a leading revolutionary minority is required; but the most talented, devoted and energetic minority would be helpless if it did not rely upon the at least passive support of millions.


Imagining the unimaginable, Juche United Korea

Reminds me of George W. Bush for some reason.
The gap between North and South seems so deep and wide from outside that a union  would come as an almost unthinkable event. First we have living standards far from being similar, then we have culture, equally incompatible. For the two countries to unite, sadly, some kind of event of cataclysmic proportions needs to happen, I don't see any other way for the two very different peoples of the Korean Peninsula to sit at the same table without ultimately feeling the magnitude of their differences.

How would a Juche South Korea look like? This question shows I have a lot of spare time today but for entertainment purposes let's proceed.
- Your Samsung Galasy S III will get a forced update with all the works of Eternal President Kim Il-sung, 100 volumes of wise thoughts from the founder of the largest maximum security prison on Earth.
- There will be a five year plan to make the South as prosperous as the glorious North. Food rations will be implemented in order to stop waste while all excess food will be divided brotherly among the top members of the Workers' Party of Korea.
- The body of "eternal leader" Kim Jong-il would be enshrined in the building of the National Assembly in Seoul.
- The Ryugyong Hotel will finally be finished.
- A Museum of Love and Cooperation marking the moment of unification would be made with the voluntary help of thousands of South Korean businessmen.
- Your Kia will come, as a standard feature, with a plastic statue of Kim Jong-un next to the driver's seat, in this way his great mind and spirit will guide you to your destination better than a GPS.
- Due to the enormous insanity that would follow in the Korean Peninsula, the Chinese People's Party will dissolve and America will turn fascist.
- Pizza will be outlawed.
- All citizens would be cut off from the Internet and instead, added to the Kwangmyong where they will be able to deepen their research of the exterior, barbaric world with no fear of being deceived by deviant thoughts. (1)
- South Korean cinema will learn how to make scenes of thousands of people crying simultaneous like their life depended on it.
- The border will not be opened immediately, oh no... a decade or so would have to pass before the South catches up with the North, otherwise North Koreans will realize they live in hell and South Koreans will know where they are headed. 

To be honest this is nothing to joke about and I sincerely hope that North Koreans will be freed from their prison as soon as possible. For a hands on approach to the Juche republic you can read this article by Marc Bennetts on his Deeper than oil column on RIA Novosti. 


Around the World in 7 Notes: Georgia, Nino Katamadze

From Russia we will go south, along the eastern shores of the Black Sea where Georgia will welcome us. You all know about the armed conflict between these two neighbors but their socio-political relation during Soviet times is not to be neglected either (for history buffs). Never been there but the pictures look nice, anyway, I searched hard for something appropriate, musically speaking, and I think I hit Jackpot. Nino Katamadze is a Georgian jazz singer with great success in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. In fact Russia is what made her an international success. 

The song you are listening to now is called "Autumn" and it's the 9th track from her 2010 "Red" album. Regarding the lyrics, they can even be gibberish cause I don't understand a single word, can't even make out the verb from the noun. I admit however that Georgian is on my list of languages I want to learn right between Tagalog and C++.  All jokes aside, this song and her voice hooked me instantly. Her very emotional style with an intensity that has the power to overwhelm your own feelings is a true gift. Jazz is the perfect medium, in my opinion, to achieve such a thing. 


Jack Vettriano (visual) and Suzi Quatro (audio)

All right, since from today I'll change the day when the Duo is published from Monday to Friday I say let's get wild, I have a feeling Duchovny would like this post. For the musical side of things I selected Suzi Quatro with the song entitled "Love Touch" from her 1991 album "Oh, Suzi Q". The song is written by the Bolland brothers who also wrote "Rock Me Amadeus" for Falco and "In the Army Now" for Status Quo. I found it suitable for the images which will follow.
Official site: http://www.suziquatro.com/

Jack Vettriano (Scottish painter) is not very loved by art critiques, some of whom go so far as not even considering him an artist. I don't want to enter into a polemic right now with where I think they are wrong but I will try to do Vettriano some justice. First of all, art developed an impressive array of forms in which it was molded with time and especially during the last two centuries. I like what Vettriano does because it lacks that useless complexity often appreciated in art by art critiques. The artist clearly and firmly expresses his admiration for a vintage and slightly pop influenced world.  His works are sensual and sincere, offering a world of intense love (either erotic or romantic) to the viewer in purely modern "genre" scenes (with people doing everyday things).
Official site: http://www.jackGallery vettriano.com/

If you have someone special, try to have an intense and also calm life together, live it to the fullest, there's no second chance.


The Singing Butler
All Systems Go
Back Where You Belong - 1996
Right Time, Right Place - 1993

Yesterday's Dream

Betrayal, No Turning Back, 2001

Dance Me to the End of Love


The Rum Diary

In a very vintage and alcohol vapor filled atmosphere of 60's Puerto Rico, an unsuccessful writer sets out to try to become somewhat successful by joining a rag tag band of journalists at a local daily newspaper. I found the first fifteen minutes abounding with clichés and characters drowned in their own self pity, guides to a world on the brink of collapse. Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) is the writer in question and he will experience all sides of the island, from a five star hotel to prison, from flirting with the fiancée of a big shot to visiting a hermaphrodite witch doctor.

Leaving all the eccentricities aside, this movie deals with a fundamental (and growing) problem, the divide between the rich and the poor and how these two worlds rarely meet, separated by fences and guards or by fear and ignorance. When they indeed meet it's all very "Nitzschean", the powerful rule the weak, sometimes the powerful are the ones with the money, sometimes not.

A great movie overall, you need to see it.

I find this trailer not very representative but we have to make do with what we have.

Directed by Bruce Robinson ; Based on "The Rum Diary" by Hunter S. Thompson ; Starring: Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Rispoli, Amber Heard, Richard Jenkins, Giovanni Ribis ; Year: 2011


Around the World in 7 Notes: Kino - Peaceful Night

I listen to much Russian (and Soviet) music even though I just now started to learn the language. There is something about Russian music that fascinates me... my life, in a way, gravitates around music and in the same time it's also surrounded by music. People stop at the surface and are quick to judge, to label, to feel they are themselves superior (through this) because... well... they can't be "superior" in other ways. This is why I listen to music, and why I consider it to be like the air I breathe, like the blood that flows through my veins, it doesn't judge and never lies.

Russian music from the 70s and 80s, first underground and then starting to rise to the surface due to the reforms of Gorbachev opened the way for an astonishing series of bands and songs. 80s USSR was going though profound changes  and bands from the second half of that decade show us perfectly how life was like. Music was a way for the youth to shout their frustrations and expose their dreams.

Kino - Peaceful Night (English translation)

Rooftops are shaking under the pressure of days
A shepherd in heaven hereds the clouds
A city shoots its lights into the night
But strong is the night, great is her might

Those who got to bed, good night, good dreams
I've been waiting for this time and here it is
This time has come
Those who ere silent started to talk
Those who've got nothing to wait, mount their horses
You won't catch up with them, no, not now

Neighbors come, they complain they hear hooves clicking
They can't fall asleep, it disturbs their dreams
Those who've got nothing to wait for take off
And those who were saved-they are safe

The leader of Kino was Viktor Tsoi (21 June 1962 – 15 August 1990), remember this name cause it's the name of a hero.

Крыши домов дрожат под тяжестью дней,
Небесный пастух пасет облака,
Город стреляет в ночь дробью огней,
Но ночь сильней, ее власть велика.

Тем, кто ложится спать -
Спокойного сна.
Спокойная ночь.
Тем, кто ложится спать -
Спокойного сна.
Спокойная ночь.

Я ждал это время, и вот это время пришло,
Те, кто молчал, перестали молчать.
Те, кому нечего ждать, садятся в седло,
Их не догнать, уже не догнать.

Соседи приходят, им слышится стук копыт,
Мешают уснуть, тревожат их сон.
Те, кому нечего ждать, отправляются в путь
Те, кто спасен, те, кто спасен.
- Original Russian lyrics, Кино - Спокойная ночь

The song is the fourth from the 1988 album entitled "Gruppa krovi".


Album cover - Gruppa Krovi


Przemyslaw Stradczuk (visual) and Firma (audio)

(left) fragment from "A" by Stradczuk, (right) Rocca
In 2001 a local music television channel showed a clip from a band I never heard of before called Firma. The song "La Orbire" was revolutionary for Romanian standards at the time so it was obvious to stir my curiosity, however not the interest of record companies. Two years had to pass in order for the band to release their first album (with the same name), so in 2003 I finally managed to see what Firma is all about. The song you will listen to is not  "La Orbire" but a largely instrumental piece called "Pe Marginea Prăpastiei" (On the Edge of the Abyss). I choose this because of both aesthetic and practical reasons, no need to worry about a language barrier while at the same time giving a sneak peek at Rocca's voice at the end of the song, it's also my favorite song from the album, after "La Orbire". The band members are: Daniel Rocca (voice), LiX (guitar), Sorin Erhan (bass) and Cristi Raducanu (drums).
Respect the artists, buy their work.
"Thought you said you wanted pleasure,
thought you said you wanted to forget about yourself
to forget about everyone else. 
Don't worry, my friend.
You've got all the pleasure you need
On the edge of the cliff." 

Przemyslaw Stradczuk, or Bucz, so as to keep things simple, is a Polish artist currently living in the United Kingdom focused on photography and photomanipulation. I see his work as rather dark but not macabre, some images can be mildly disturbing for the casual viewer and this is the reason I searched for music which is somewhere at the middle with one leg in the land of thought and introspection and the other in our "normal" world. There is a (what I call) rock n roll attitude in the first four images, a type of nonchalance, which gives great personality to the photos. The last two images go very well together and you don't need me to point out the religious aspect in them... although being in a period of intense religious studies I may surpass the most indulgent limits of subjectivity in this matter, even in art. Stradczuk's art makes me question myself and encourages me to seek answers; I don't know where you aimed but that's where it hit. His facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Przemyslaw.Stradczuk.Photography and deviantART: http://bucz.deviantart.com/
Enjoy and remember, respect the artist, buy his work.



"(...) This earth will grow cold one day,
not like a block of ice
or a dead cloud even
but like an empty walnut it will roll along
in pitch-black space . . .
You must grieve for this right now
--you have to feel this sorrow now--
for the world must be loved this much
if you're going to say "I lived". . ."

- On Living by Nazim Hikmet


Maayke Klaver (visual) and Faith Assembly (audio)

Maayke Klaver (left) and Mark Stacy (right)
Faith Assembly is a synth-pop project of Mark Stacy started in 1991 but which, in spite of 20 years of (more or less) consistent activity, did not manage to break through the wall dividing underground and mainstream. This simple fact doesn't mean that Mark doesn't do a good job in arranging notes and instruments it just means that Faith Assembly did not develop the personality to stand up to related projects like Depeche Mode or Gary Numan. The song you will hear is, in my opinion, the best from their sixth album entitled "Descent into Madness" and released in 2008. "Amnesia" has a wonderful orchestration with the guitar definitely adding much value to the song along with the clean voice of Mark. Their official website is here: http://www.faithassembly.com/ . Respect the artists, buy their work.

Maayke Klaver is a biology student and nature photographer based in Wageningen, the Netherlands. On her website she states:
With my photography I try to transmit feelings and memories rather than reality as the human mind perceives it. I hope you will enjoy my colorful planet.

And now that we introduced ourselves let's get to know each other better. What I love at Maayke's photos is very difficult to put into words because she doesn't try to make art with a political or philosophical theme. Don't be fooled, this doesn't mean that her work lacks depth, on the contrary, Maayke succeeds in showing us nature like we rarely (and some never) see, and this is a hard task. Simply pointing your camera and pushing a button doesn't do, you need something more, much more, you can call it talent or you can call it creativity (because the image needs to be processed), no matter, Maayke Klaver has both talent and creativity along with eyes to see the beauty in this world. I will let the images speak for themselves because words are useless when confronted with this beauty. You can visit her official website here: http://www.maaykeklaver.com and also her deviantArt page: http://maaykeklaver.deviantart.com/
Respect the artist, buy her work.


Golden Hue


Fade Away

Illuminate my World

Lost Soul

Moments Passing

Out there Somewhere

Towards The Light