When Horses and Bison Ruled Europe: Werner Herzog’s ‘Cave of Forgotten Dreams’

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Watched Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010), a documentary about the oldest known painted images. They were found in Chauvet, which is in Southern France, and have been dated some 25-33,000 years old. This place radiates with beauty. An exceptionally sacred area.  Belying the myth of the “caveman,” the images left behind by these ancient artists are evidence of a spiritually sophisticated culture, which likely possessed a complex oral and ceremonial tradition, in which the great animals depicted on these cave walls were immensely powerful and revered beings.

‘Eye of the Needle’, or ‘The Spy Who Pretended to Love Me’: If James Bond were a Nazi agent and played by Donald Sutherland

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When I recently found a pocketbook edition of Ken Follet’s Eye of the Needle, I was reminded of Richard Marquand’s 1981 film, starring Donald Sutherland and Kate Nelligan. The story is an intimate one, involving a Nazi spy trying to escape with info about the Allied invasion at Normandy, but who gets swept up in the life of a lonely woman and her family off the coast of Scotland. At the same, the film evokes the epic sweep of one of David Lean’s grander endeavors. Richard Attenborough’s work also comes to mind. Obviously, I liked this movie.

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Desert Botanical Garden

For most visitors, the Desert Botanical Garden is a part of the Papago Park area that conjoins Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe.  Moreover, it sits as an oasis, where one can escape the surrounding world of freeways, strip malls, and other features of urban sprawl.  For the Akimel O’odham, or Pima, the Desert Botanical Garden is a reminder of when the land was theirs.  Nearby is the Salt River, or Onk Akimel, which is where the First People—referred to as the Huhugam—constructed one of their many canals.  Eventually, the canal-based civilization that the ancient O’odham created would give way to the more modest villages that Spanish, Mexican, and American migrants encountered throughout more than a century of colonization, which culminated in southern Arizona becoming a part of the United States in 1853, when the Gadsden Purchase was made.  Since then, as the Akimel O’odham land holdings shrunk under the steady flow of settlers entering the Phoenix Valley, the surrounding towns grew into cities, leaving only small pockets of pristine desert behind.  The Desert Botanical Garden, although the product of modern park management, is nonetheless a pleasant diversion, in which one can catch a glimpse of what was once here long before the first subdivision was built.  Please click on the photo to see more images:

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If you ever met your doppelgänger, what would he think of you?

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Spent my evening watching Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Doppelgänger (2003). It’s about an inventor (Kôji Yokusho) suffering from an acute creative block, who encounters his double. What results is a scientific breakthrough, the price of which is murder, not to mention the inventor’s sanity. The story is a dark comedy, which is a complete departure from the kind of films on which Kurosawa built his reputation, namely ‘Cure’ and ‘Pulse’.  At the same time, Doppelgänger clearly exhibits Kurosawa’s fascination with the paranormal.