Saturday, 29 September 2007
Apparently I am wearing the (coffee) pants in out relationship, and he's hopelessly girly.
Several things are worth noting. Firstly, the tickets were ludicrously expensive (21 francs each!), which is not really surprising but still worth being horrified by. Secondly, english really seems to be the main language of the ZFF, which I appreciate but I am still sort of outraged on behalf of Switzies. Freundschaft was obviously in german (with english subtitles), but the short film before it (which was this extremely explicit and funny cartoon about one girl's sexual (mis)adventures) was in english and had no subtitles. Reto saw a few things at the Fest last year and he says that one of the features he saw (as opposed to the short film before it) then was also in english and had no subtitles at all. Which, as I said, is appalling. And speaking of appalling, the subtitles were weird. The word "snafu" featured, as did "perdu". Pardon?
Thirdly, the movie theatre we were in had a flat floor (which has nothing to do with the Fest, but still). The seats were absolutely enormous (so much so that you couldn't really see the head of the person in front of you) and the screen was a fair way up in the air, so it was no problem seeing the screen, but it was still peculiar to be in a flat movie theatre. The only other times I can think of this happening were in places that aren't really movie theatres (such as the State Theatre in Sydney (although only if you sit in the Stalls, and even then the floor is gently slopy), or at the Inverell town hall when I was a kiddy and they used to show movies there once a fortnight because there was no movie theatre in town. Although, archaically enough, there was a drive-in. Which also had a flat floor). Weird.
There was no intermission (hurray). We did still have allocated seats, and ticket prices that depend on which seats you want, which I totally disapprove of, but the lack of intermission was good.
Possibly the funniest thing that happened was the entry of the festival jury (who were all sitting in the row in front of us), which involved them all turning up a bit late and the last one, who was sort of old and a bit unsteady on his feet, and who was still walking in as they turned the lights down so he probably couldn't see anything, inadvertently sitting on Dieter Meier (who seems to have done everything, including being a member of Yello, the only Swiss band you have ever heard of). Fortunately it seemed they had already been introduced and so it wasn't as awkward as it could have been, and the man took his own seat, not on top of Dieter Meier.
It was a nice evening. The film wasn't so great (Reto liked it far more than I did. I like the fact that I had no idea what it was going to be about before we went and saw it. Oh, and the short film was excellent) but I always enjoy a film fest experience, and this one didn't let me down. I think there will definitely be more of it next week...
Thursday, 27 September 2007
* Actually buying 3 different types of cheese. Honestly, our fridge is tiny tiny tiny (smaller than a bar fridge!) and there is hardly room for anything in it except cheese. And capsicums and zucchinis and grapes, all of which I am scoffing mountains of lately.
Wednesday, 26 September 2007
Now I hear that a website has been set up so that foreigners living here can (unofficially) vote in the elections too. Which I think is a great idea. Come on, everyone! Cast your pretend vote!
Tuesday, 25 September 2007
Today I watched Nachbeben, a movie actually from this century (2006!) and it told me that Switzies are morally bankrupt, cruel and dishonest, but they are all rich and have really nice stuff.
It was about a bloke (HP) and his wife (Karin) and HPs best pal and business partner (Phillip) and his wife (Sue) and Phillip's business protégé (Toni) and the son of HP and Karin (Max) and Max's hot Danish nanny (Birthe. Although why Max needed a nanny was a bit of a mystery because he was at least 14 or so). They all got together for a barbeque at HP and Karin's super-fancy house, and then, in the manner of all those movies where a bunch of people go to someone's house, have a bit too much to drink and watch their lives fall apart, they all, unsurprisingly, had a bit too much to drink and watched their lives fall apart.
Nachbeben was an okay movie. I didn't like any of the characters much, and I thought that they sometimes did fairly inexplicable things, but their problems, although ludicrously predictable (who thinks someone was having an affair with the hot Scandy nanny? Anyone?), were interesting enough. I like these movies where all the action is contained within a certain space and time (like Peter's Friends, The Anniversary Party, The Big Chill etc. Or Festen, which I have somehow never seen. Incidentally, Nachbeben had a bit of a Dogma feel to it. The lighting was funny and the sound seemed to be a bit distant at times (although maybe that was just my computer) and the camera was quite wibbly occasionally. None of it in a bad way, more of a grainy realism kind of thing) and where, by the end of the party (or whatever) everything is out in the open but nothing is really fully resolved.
As it turns out, though, apparently no one else much cared for this movie (or possibly they had just seen it too many times already, because it really has been made a lot in the past). Reto had never even heard of it, and let's face it, if a Switzy who is reasonably interested in movies hasn't heard of it, then chances are that no one else in the world has either.
welcome to Die Schweizermacher.
Die Schweizermacher ("Swiss-makers") is about these two men whose job it is to interview and investigate people who have applied for Swiss citizenship (and in case you don't know, the Swiss are not really very enthusiastic about handing out passports willy nilly). The two main characters are Bodmer, who has been doing his job for years and is all grizzled and diligent and humourless, and his new young sidekick, Fischer, who has yet to learn to be quite as thorough and anal as Bodmer. Together they investigate an Italian man with a Swiss wife and children (and a wacky fondness for William Tell), a german psychiatrist and his wife, and a dancer of eastern-European origin who has lived in Switzerland all her life.
Die Schweizermacher is allegedly a satire, but as we all know, the Swiss have no sense of humour*, and so I shall consider the film as a documentary. Bearing that in mind, I'm not sure that we really learn anything new and surprising about Switzies. They are all nosy busybody types (like the neighbour of the dancer, Malena, who is only too pleased to report at length on Malena's fondness for distinguishing herself by using a brown garbage bag when everyone else in the building uses black), they are obsessively punctual, they expect the worst of foreigners (Bodmer looks through Malena's handbag when she is out of the room and steals from it what he suspects are drugs that she bought from her Turkish colleague but in reality is some sort of foot powder), they have appalling double standards (Bodmer tells Malena that she really should be married because Swiss life is all about family and children, but the middle aged Bodmer is single and lives with his mother). Oh, and once again we learn that the Swiss are not to be trusted with their guns and that they will probably do something insane with them (like the lunatic neighbour of Malena who shoots pigeons from his apartment window).
I really enjoyed Die Schweizermacher. Apparently it's one of the few Swiss movies that non-Swiss people have ever heard of (although it was made in 1978, so if you haven't heard of it you don't need to worry too much. I think it's heyday was a long time ago), and obviously when you watch it you realise that it is not a documentary. That being said, though, I do wonder how much truth there is behind it all, and I am inclined to suspect that a lot of the movie is more of an exaggeration of the truth rather than total fiction. It sort of reminds me of The Castle, actually, but obviously all the characters in The Castle were far nicer people than all the characters in Die Schweizermacher**. As you would expect.
* I am not only making Unfair Assumptions based on movies.
** I don't necessarily agree with this point, actually. I just felt obliged as a patriotic Australian to say it.
Friday, 21 September 2007
This afternoon I was out throwing away our old tins and things (oh, okay, empty wine and gin bottles) when I saw a woman and a little girl walking along, and the woman was carrying a big branch not unlike Julia. Then when I was coming back into our building I saw an oldish man trying to affix a huge branch to his bicycle, and then try to cycle off while maintaining some sort of dignity (which it's apparantly impossible to do).
My official aims for the season are to 1) eat a whole lot of fondue on the balcony (I am going to wait until it is properly cold before I do this. For some reason being freezing seems to help the cheese-digesting process), and 2) come up with the perfect gluhwein recipe. Happily, both of these aims seem extremely achievable.
Sunday, 16 September 2007
Friday, 14 September 2007
2. I have some magical psychological link with F. Murray Abraham. I borrowed some movies from the library the other day, and, coincidentally, the two english-languagey ones both had F. Murray Abraham as the baddie. Spooky.
3. No, that's all.
Thursday, 13 September 2007
Tuesday, 11 September 2007
* I mean John Howard, for those of you who are UnAustralian.
The SVP is a popular right-wing political party here (they hold more seats than any other party in the lower house of parliament, apparently. I don't know how it all works here though, so I can't really tell you what that means except that lots of people vote for them. Although not really that many. Apparently about 25% of voters vote for the SVP). Earlier in the year they caused a bit of a brouhaha when they, along with some other party here, tried to have minarets banned, apparently on the grounds that building them diminished people's freedom of religion. Hmm. So perhaps it should not have come as too much of a shock when, a month or two ago, the SVP posted out a pamphlet with this image on it:
In case these ideas are too complex or boring for you to bother thinking about, or if you don't like to vote on something before you have had a chance to really absorb the details via the medium of computer gaming, the SVP has a website that helps you to understand the heart of the issue. Yes, why not play a game where you (Zottel the slightly deranged-looking goat who is apparently the mascot of the SVP) have to simultaneously catch the Swiss passports before they fall into the wrong (=foreign) hands, kick the pesky judge out of the way when he appears (because his evil aim is apparently to make all the dastardly foreigners Swiss) and headbutt the loopy greenie who is just throwing passports out willy-nilly out of the way? Not so much to your taste? Well why not try the one where you have to headbutt the black sheep that are trying to sneak across the border (aided once again by the greens, as you will note from the writing on the buses) back to whatever Loser Country they came from? Fun for the whole family!
More recently I saw this poster
in the train station in Aarau (it's a campaign poster for some local SVP candidate). Happily it was also graffitied into illegibility and then taken down (and is apparently now the subject of an investigation into the possible breach of anti-racism laws).
So there you go. Switzerland. It's not just cows and watches and idyllic countryside.
Monday, 10 September 2007
(looking upstream towards the footbridge to bird island. Incidentally, that's not the real name of the island, and I'm only putting these captions in to break up the photos in a sensible manner)
Thursday, 6 September 2007
Tuesday, 4 September 2007
Sunday, 2 September 2007
On the way home some woman who seemed to be doing something promotional with these cigarette/cigar combo things offered us a free sample. Surely that sort of thing should be illegal (as in giving away free samples of addictive/lethal items)? I was outraged. Reto didn't seem to care.