Two documentaries that I really enjoyed recently:

Jiro Dreams of Sushi was suggested to me by a colleague. The documentary explores the life and craft of Jiro, a sushi chef in Japan. I found its overall of theme of perfection and dedication to one’s craft fascinating:

The wife has been volunteering at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam and had picked up two tickets for the screening of Search for Sugarman at Pathé Tuschinski yesterday. The Pathé Tuschinski is in a striking little building that is a lot bigger inside than the façade lets on. The decor is reminiscent of the Art Deco style of the 1920s which is not surprising considering that it opened in 1921. While the wife’s mind kept going to The Shining, I kept thinking of the fictional theatre in The Inglorious Basterds.

The documentary tells the story of the search for singer, songwriter Rodriguez. An entire generation in South Africa grew up listening to his music (“to many of us South Africans, he was the soundtrack to our lives”) but hardly knew anything about the the man behind the music (many thought him dead). It was a classic case of reality being stranger than fiction. I wondered if such a search would have been possible in the pre-internet days.

It also kept reminding me of Philip K. Dick’s novel - Flow My Tears The Policeman Said. In the book, an actor suddenly discovers that he is no longer famous and hardly anybody knows him.

P.S. There a scene in the documentary where one of the people looking for clues to Rodriguez’s whereabouts in his lyrics, pulls out an old Atlas to show the location of Dearborn’. The Atlas initially opens on the map of a random country. Both me and the wife recognised it to be the map of India in less than the 1/10th of a second that it must have been on the screen. It’s a map you grow up looking at in school and later in newspapers, news telecasts, weather forecasts and who knows where else. So may be the split-second recognition is not all that surprising.

P.P.S. At the dinner after the documentary, I mused if something I did 10 yrs ago has made me a celebrity in some random part of the world and I just don’t know about it yet. The wife jested that perhaps my poems have been translated into some obscure language and have become a runaway success there. I tend to agree. Usually things get lost in translation, but in case of my poems the source material is in such a bad shape, that it might actually have gained something in being translated.

November 25, 2012