Archive for August, 2012

August 26th 2012

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

Filmwise: The Cannes documentary is undergoing a major reassessment. Like Mesocafé, the lengthy post-production journey is helping make a more nuanced and studied cut.

“‘Ammo!”

The Bank Holiday weekend began with a good dose at the pictures. I watched The Imposter ( Dir. Bart Layton, USA 2012), and The Expendables II (Dir. Simon West, USA 2012). The latter, I will say very little about; disappointing, despite my low expectations. The former, on the other hand, wow!

We really seem to be enjoying a welcome spring of feature documentary filmmakers.

On Saturday, I was in North London to visit a dear friend who has become an expat, working abroad and visiting Old Blighty for the summer break.

After being buzzed into his building, I bumped into a young lady who was busy putting away what seemed like a series of cardboards. Sensing my evident curiosity, she explained, “It’s my photography portfolio. I am applying to a few universities for the autumn.”

I spent a few minutes looking at her photographs, which she kindly remounted on the wall with the aid of Blu Tack.

On learning that I hail from the Middle East, the young lady broke into Arabic. She was from my neck of the woods. As day follows night, predictably our conversation wandered into politics and what’s happening in Syria. Our sense of sorrow and sadness for what’s unfolding in this beautiful country added a sombre note to the meeting.

Meanwhile, my host had lost patience waiting for me at the door of his apartment and took matters into his own hands and hopped into the lift to the ground floor.

On seeing me chatting with the young lady, “I knew you’d made an unscheduled stop by the impromptu wall exhibition!”, he quipped.

It turned out that my friend knew the family of the young lady.

Apologising to him for having held up my commute from the building entrance to the lift, the young lady said to my friend, “I am sorry for keeping him, ‘Ammo (the Arabic for uncle).”

In the lift, I related to my friend how impressed I’d been by the photos.

His only comment, “She called me ‘Ammo!”

Peace and love,

Ja‘far

August 19th 2012

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Filmwise: The Cannes documentary is slowly taking a new shape.

“Diet Coke”

On Friday evening, I waded my way through throngs of office workers pouring onto pavements and street corners to announce the beginning of the weekend with a pint or two. My destination was a small establishment in Shoreditch.

I was invited to celebrate the birthday of a dear friend.

With the night almost at an end, before braving public transport on a Friday night, I headed to the rest room,. The already crammed gents bathroom was made even more cosy by the girth of a gentleman who was attempting to use the hand drier, located as usual inches from the door. We awkwardly maneuvered our respective bodies around the sink, allowing me to break free into the privacy of a Paris-bed-and-breakfast-sized WC cubicle.

Waiting to order my drink at the counter, the gentleman with the considerable presence looked at my lack of physical charisma, and smiled:

“Next time, order a Diet Coke!”, he said laughing.

Peace and love, and Happy Eid,

Ja‘far


August 12th 2012

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Filmwise: The Cannes documentary continues to evolve.

“We didn’t!”

For the past seven weeks, I have been off home broadband. All my attempts to enter the high speed highway have been blocked by a series of diversion between BT and my internet provider.

On what must have been my 12th call to my provider since this debacle began, I finally glimpsed a potentially roadworks-free slip road to the land of movies, news and BBC iPlayer. A BT engineer was booked for the very next day to fix the fault on my line.

At exactly 9 o’clock the next morning, I was in the presence of the man from BT.

“The number you’ve been assigned is already in use; I just called it and someone answered!”

He was not jesting. Not only had my landline and internet provider failed to keep my old number, but they had assigned me a number that was already in use by someone else, or one that was promptly taken over by another provider and connected to a different household.

The young lady in Mumbai seemed quite confused by the situation.

“You don’t have a dialing tone, and the number that you are supposed to have is already in use by someone else!”

“In a nutshell… yes!”

“Let me speak to the BT engineer, please!”

The man from BT seemed to be comforted by the assertiveness of the young lady from my landline and internet company.

“So, you give me permission to connect this gentleman to the number he was assigned, regardless of who is using it at the moment!”

“OK!”

She explained to me that the landline belongs to me, and the fact that another firm had inadvertently connected it to someone else does not change the fact that the line should be installed at my home.

As he was busy attaching his gadgets to my telephone socket, I ventured:

“In the pre-handheld computer days, how did you carry out all these checks?”

“We didn’t!”

Peace and love,

Ja‘far

August 5th 2012

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

Filmwise: More time with the Cannes documentary.

Train driver

En route from work on Monday evening, I was startled away from a sentence in a film magazine by the voice of the train driver. He seemed to be reading from a new script:

“I have just been informed that Team GB has won the Silver Medal in Gymnastics!”

A round of applause from a scattering of supporters in the carriage.

A visiting couple, possibly, from Spain, enquired from the chap next to them the reason for the applause.

“It’s about the Olympics. Team GB has won a medal, I think.”

At the top of my street, I bumped into my neighbour.

“Did you hear about Team GB’s medal?”

“Yes, the train driver announced it…”

“Such a shame to be bumped down to Bronze!”

As he related to me the whole story of how another team’s appeal had led to Team GB being downgraded from Silver and another team being totally knocked out of the winners’ podium, I thought to myself, “I am having a London Olympics Moment!”

Peace and love,

Ja‘far