This may become a series if anyone finds these at all useful, so let me know.
Today, in “Sarah Recommends,” we have:
In the category of movies, Sarah recommends that you watch Underground. Underground(Serbian: Подземље, Podzemlje) is a 1995 award-winning film directed by Emir Kusturica with a screenplay by Dušan Kovačević. It helps to know some general Serbian history before watching this movie, but you could still gain something without knowing. The movie spans a long period of wars for Yugoslavia– WWII, the Cold War, and the Yugoslav Wars. The movie centers around two best friends., Marko and Blacky. When it starts they are carefree, and enjoying life. Then the Germans invade. The main characters are wanted because they are communists, and they go into hiding underground in a shelter underneath Markos’ grandfather’s house. Marko moves his own younger brother, a stuttering zookeeper, along with his money; Blacky, Blacky’s three year old son Jovan, and various others into the shelter. He stays above ground with Blacky’s mistress Natalija. For whatever reason, whether to keep Natalijia for himself or to keep the fame, money and power to himself, Marko maintains a farce that the Germans are still occupying the country even after Tito comes to power. He keeps the basement dwellers making arms for him that he continues to profit from, not for the resistance, just for profit, and then later as a profiteer in the Yugoslav wars. He has his Grandfather slow down the clock, so eventually the denizens of the underground believe they have been there 15 years, when in fact it’s been 20. Then the monkey uses the man-made tank to bust through the walls and escape, at which point Ivan goes after him and Jovan and Blacky go to single-handedly defeat the Germans. The whole movie is symbolic, and full of satire, and the end particularly is surrealistic. A brass band following Blacky around provides not only the soundtrack to his life, but an excellent movie soundtrack. Underground is simultaneously the funniest and the saddest movie I have ever seen.Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times nailed it when he called Underground a “sprawling, rowdy, vital film laced with both outrageous absurdist dark humor and unspeakable pain, suffering and injustice.”
Books: Man in the Dark, by Paul Auster
In the category of books, Sarah recommends that you read the 2008 novel Man in the Dark, by Paul Auster. Man in the Dark is more accessible than the last Auster book I read, Oracle Nights, where half the story takes place in footnotes. That said, it is still very much a postmodern novel and sometimes a bit much to wrap your mind around. It’s a story about a man (August Brill) who used to review stories for a living who tells himself stories at night when he can’t sleep to keep his mind off of the real story of his life. In one of these stories he tells himself at night, a version of the United States exists similar to ours, except 9/11 never occurred. Instead, New York seceded after the 2004 elections and a terrible civil war ensued. The main character in this story, is brought from our world to this world in order to complete a mission to put things aright. His mission, in fact, is to kill the man telling the story, to kill August Brill. It’s things like this that make the novel post modern, but at it’s heart, Man in the Dark is a love story. The real importance of the stories is how they intersect with Brill’s real life, and how he cannot use them forever to avoid his real life. In his real life, his wife, whom he divorced then got back together with but never remarried, is recently dead; he has broken his hip in a car crash; his daughter is recently divorced; his granddaughter’s husband has been murdered in Iraq; and there are three generations embodied in the three people living under the same roof. It is a love story to life, even though he is often times disillusioned with it, it is clear that Brill has loved deeply in his life, and in spite of regrets, continues to do so, now with his family and the memory of his wife.
CDs: Madvilliany, by Madvillain.
In the category of CDs or music albums, Sarah recommends that you listen to the 2004 album Madvilliany, by Madvillain. Madvillain is an American underground hiphop duo consisting of MF DOOM (MC) and Madlib (producer). Why should you listen to this? In one track, they rap over accordion music. Need I say more? I mean really. Seriously. Okay, I’ll say more. This is smart rap, with great flow, great lyrics built from a wide and varied body of knowledge, and a unique sound. This is the rap with alter egos, with heroes and villains and a story line. The only hiphop that is of that vein that I have seen make it to the main stream is Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool. Madvilliany won’t be found on any top 8 at 8 radio shows, but it has met with great critical acclaim and has shown up in various underground type spots, i.e. on the Boondocks cartoon, etc.
Random: La Prima Mr. Smooth Coffee beans
In the category of random, Sarah recommends the Mr. Smooth blend of coffee beans from La Prima espresso roastery that is carried by Simpatico Espresso.A wonderful mix of Indonesian coffees that feature low acidity and an earthy, good body.