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If you don't know me by now

Here is something that I needed to write down here, not as a manifesto, but probably because I had to get it out of my chest. So bear with me.

I am an atheist, which means that I don't accept the notion of deities, and I don't need any god in my life. I'm a woman of thinking not a woman of faith. That is simply not the way I work, not the stuff I'm made on. But godless doesn't mean heartless, and I understand the need to wonder, or the charm of what is "marvellous". And guess what?  Since I've been working on a dominican inquisitor from the XVth century for years now, I actually quite understand the way he thinks and sometimes I even like him (granted he's been dead for more than 500 years so it's probably easier to like him through his writing than if he were standing in front of me)!

Also, being a historian I know very well how much religions have spilled blood over the centuries and I have no doubt that they will keep on spilling blood, unfortunately. You don't need to go in those faraway countries to see it. It happened in Paris on Friday 11/13/2015, but it also happened in Paris before. At the time of the St Barthalémy carnage, in 1572, the chronicles told that the Seine was red with blood because of all the Protestant bodies that Catholics had been thrown in the river. Not all religious movements are violent of course (take the Sufism for instance), but religions often provide a justification for doing the worst, all the things that human laws or morality tend to forbid: murders, torture, slavery. A religion isn't contained in one book – many religions don't have one book –, religion is what the religious people make of it.

In my book, religions have done more harm than good, but still they should be thanked for some fine art that wouldn't exist if people didn't have faith, whatever it is from polytheist religions or monotheist ones. So I guess it's something.

And I'm French, so I cling to our concept of laïcité even though most of the world doesn't understand it. Our Republic, our people, has fought for it, mostly against catholic Church, since 1789, and I am a child of the French Revolution. It is our identity. So I will fight against any religious movement trying to rule us all, even if I have to go through Mordor and cast the ring into...oops sorry I got carried away.

Yes Wahhabism and salafist jihadists are currently the main danger, but fundamentalism exists in every religion and I have been extremely concerned by some things fundamentalists, either Christian or Jewish, have said or done lately (if anything the controversy about marriage equality in France showed us that even though they are not in charge they are lurking and will size any opportunity). And don't get me started about fundamentalist hindus...I've been in India three times, I know how dangerous they are.

But yes, at the moment Daesh, and the islamist ideology, that countries like Saudi Arabia or Qatar have been promoting for decades, are the main issue. Terrorism is an awful thing because it often aims at innocent civilians but when terrorism is paired with religious fundamentalism, it's even more dangerous and scarier. Because you can't bargain or reason with people who are convinced that the end of times are coming and who are embracing their death urges, or with the brainwashed morons they send to kill us. Those eschatological stances freak me out.

The great Ibn Rushd, known as Averroes in Christendom and as The Commentator among Christian theologians, would be horrified to see that insanity, he who loved reason so much and whose writings were burned by bigots of his own time.

That said, I'm ashamed of people committing violences against mosques or verbally or physically assaulting Muslims or supposed-Muslims – not that it is worse to attack non-Muslims whom attackers can't tell apart from Muslims, it just shows how ignorant and moronic some people are – , and as much as I'm determined not to show any more respect to any religion than to any ideology or opinion, I'm deeply respectful of human beings and I loath racism. It is just wrong, and also dangerous.

Besides, the way I see religions or the fact that I'm willing to mock them and criticized them doesn't mean that I reject religious people, as long as they don't try to force their beliefs on us or claim that their religious rules are beyond the laws (which is usually a bloody good excuse to be outlaws, if you ask me) and that we should accept it and adapt to their way of "thinking". If people find comfort in religion good for them. I have not very religious friends, but not all my friends are godless, far from it.

Also, I'm extremely sad to see that the tragic events that happened in my beloved city of Paris have led to justify anti-refugees demonstrations or even anti-refugees political decisions in various countries. We had only one night of horror and terror (okay, we also had the murders/attacks in January and before that the Mera 's thing a few years ago), but those people lived through that all the freaking time! Let's imagine that what happened on Friday lasted weeks, months, years! If I lived in a country like Syria or Irak, I would probably be among them, fleeing from daily horrors, risking my life on a small boat that shouldn't contain so many people, and seeking refuge elsewhere.

And yes, I'm a citizen and a lefty, so I'm concerned with the rise of far-right, not only in France but in Europe as well. We know what happened in the 30's. I wish I could make people understand that far-right groups or anti-immigrant opinions are actually ISIS' best allies. They are "the useful idiots" ISIS chiefs despise but have integrated in their strategy to bring on chaos and recruit more so-called "warriors". The terrorists who killed my fellow citymen weren't refugees, they were French citizens who lived either in France or in Belgium, our two countries unfortunately providing legions of new jihadists day after day. The problem isn't the refugees but the returnees, that is the ones who left once...looking for meaning/adventure/revenge, whatever. Apparently, according to experts, religious motivations represent only 10% of their mobile.

I say mobile, because those are criminals. They fancy themselves as warriors but they are just killers who used war weapons to shoot people in cold blood, people who were simply enjoying themselves in a concert hall, listening to rock'nroll, or at a café terrace or in a restaurant. People who could be anyone. Among the victims there was a violonist prodigy from Algeria, Khireddine Sahbi, who was also a student at La Sorbonne. He was probably a Muslim. I don't know, and frankly I don't want to know. I only see people, whatever their faith or lack thereof might be.

The last thing that makes me sick is the war speech our government has adopted and the military solution that ensued. As if it ever worked to do anything else than causing more chaos in Middle East and spreading the seeds of terrorism. Hawks are among us. It's Bush 2.0, no matter how obviously misguided that policy was. *sigh*

So I'm less numb with shock and grief than I was in the last three days, but I'm disheartened and kinda demoralized.

Now I'm going back to my inquisitor and his brillant argumentation about how the crime of heresy was exploited to sentence Joan of Arc to death, covering political motivation under the veil of a religious trial and how that motivation showed through various legal flaws.

Fluctuat nec mergitur


Où fait-il bon même au coeur de l’orage
Où fait-il clair même au coeur de la nuit
L’air est alcool et le malheur courage
Carreaux cassés l’espoir encore y luit
Et les chansons montent des murs détruits

Jamais éteint renaissant de la braise
Perpétuel brûlot de la patrie
Du Point-du-Jour jusqu’au Père-Lachaise
Ce doux rosier au mois d’août refleuri
Gens de partout c’est le sang de Paris

Rien n’a l’éclat de Paris dans la poudre
Rien n’est si pur que son front d’insurgé
Rien n’est ni fort ni le feu ni la foudre
Que mon Paris défiant les dangers
Rien n’est si beau que ce Paris que j’ai

Rien ne m’a fait jamais battre le coeur
Rien ne m’a fait ainsi rire et pleurer
Comme ce cri de mon peuple vainqueur
Rien n’est si grand qu’un linceul déchiré
Paris Paris soi-même libéré

Louis Aragon, 1944

My take on Dr Bedelia Du Maurier

Spoilers if you haven't seen the last episode of Hannibal.

From the moment her character was introduced, Bedelia embodied coldness and detachment...

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I didn't review the previous episode, that was mostly Amantha-centric, but it was, of course, a terrific episode, with one fantastic scene between Tawney and Teddy.

Here's my review of the latest episode, if only for herself_nyc and me!

"Jesus girl" focused mostly on Tawney, while carrying on sheriff Daggett's investigation and Daniel's journey. There were so many brillant scenes in that one! The acting was just first class, just like the writing and the cinematography.

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As usual screencaps courtesy of http://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/view-screencaps.php?tv-show=rectify-2013&episode=s03e04


Now, that's more like it!

I haven't reviewed the latest episode of Hannibal, "The Great Red Dragon",yet it was probably the best so far.

Well, if you're willing to turn a blind eye on three absurd and ridiculous things:
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True detectives

I'm still struggling with the second season of True Detective...I didn't quit, because there are few episodes left, but I can't say that I care. The dialogues are poorly written and the characters aren't really fleshed out (I just don't believe in them, at all). As for the plot...well better not to talk about that.

Apparently I am not the only one, most viewers are disappointed and the tv critics have been pretty harsh with this season.

In the last two decades, television has often been better than movies, more refreshing and better written, however anyone who loved the first season of True Detective should watch the film I saw yesterday at the cinema.

La Isla Minima is a Spanish film that won 10 Goyas in Spain this year. The story takes place in 1980, in Andalucia, and revolves around two very different cops and their investigation about two missing girls, Estrella and Carmen. The ghost of Franco still haunts the countryside and police in the new democracy often has its roots in the former regime. The landscape is superb; it is a true character in the movie. The swampy banks of the Guadalquivir are just as phantasmagorical as Louisiana was in the tv series. There's one scene, a car chase at night by the river, that is simply thrilling and amazing.

I saved the best for Sunday !

RECTIFY has returned in its quiet poetic splendor.

The "murder plot" still slowly unfolds, but RECTIFY is not a show concerned with solving puzzle, it is concerned with aftermaths and ripple effect...and with human nature.

In the premiere of this third season, at the end of one scene one character says "we can move on, can't we?", and of course the show's response is that we can't. I guess that's the reason I love it so much....apart from the beautiful cinematography and the stellar performances! In mediocre tv shows, especially soaps, characters move on all the time. in RECTIFY, as in my own little reality, there are old wounds still throbbing, haunting ghosts and lingering feelings.

You have to live your life, but you never can really move on.

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RECTIFY is so beautiful that I think it's a shame that so few people watch it. On the other hand it's like we are happy few enjoying a secret treasure, and it has been renewed for a fourth season anyway. Matt Brennan, on Indiewire, called it "devotional television" and wrote a great piece about the show's greatness: http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/the-radical-belief-of-sundance-channels-extraordinary-rectify-20150707

Here are a few quotations from the article:

"In the sight of small crosses around women's necks and the distant sound of "glorious" thunder, in allusions to Thomas Aquinas and the Bhagavad-Gita, "Rectify" is a potent reminder that the devout scarcely swallow catechism whole, but rather reinterpret religion's constellation of texts, teachings, and rituals as circumstances change. [...]

In nearly every creative choice, "Rectify" exhibits a homespun, lived-in attention to the richness of the region's social life, warts and wonder alike.[...] Almost alone among series that treat such serious subjects, the action of "Rectify" takes place mostly between dawn and dusk, its clean, simple realism suffused with an otherworldly glow. Even here, as the characters face a dark, uncertain future, the image suggests the work of grace."


Une petite douceur

Methinks Gillian Anderson has a clause in her contract but it isn't the usual "no nudity" clause
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My world travel goes on...

...through movies!

This week I went to the cinema three times. I saw Mad Max Fury Road on Monday, and then on Tuesday I saw a Brazilian movie, The Second Mother:

Val is from the Nordeste, the poorest part of Brazil. Like many poor single mothers, she left her daughter behind to find a job in São Paulo.  When the film starts she's already the housemaid of a high-class house where she takes care of the family's child, Fabinho.  At first she went and visited her daughter, but there were issues with the father so she stopped. 10 years later, the estranged daughter, Jessica, who is now 18, someday shows up and brings trouble in Val's world, challenging – and therefore exposing! – the class barriers in the house.

It's a rather subtle film, funny in places, and Regina Casé who plays Val is simply fantastic.

Finally yesterday evening I saw Ethiopian film, Difret:

The film lies between docudrama and fictionalized true story. In Ethiopian villages the practice of abduction into marriage was common and one of Ethiopia's oldest traditions. 1996: Hirut is a beautiful 14-year-old girl who is on her way home from school when men on horses swoop in and kidnap her. She fights back but is locked up in a cabin where she is raped by her soon-to-be-husband. The next day she manages to steal his rifle and escape. When the captor and his friends find her she shoots and kill her "suitor". Customary law says that Hirut must be sentenced to death, but Meaza Ashenafi arrives from Addis Addaba to represent Hirut and argues that she acted in self-defense. A game-chaning legal case begins.

The film isn't a masterpiece, far from it. There are heavy-handed scenes and score, and some clumsy editing issues, but the it's still a powerful movie because of the message it carries and the women are all stunning. Meaza embodies progress and equality in a country where patriarchy remains under the cover of "traditions".

Three films and three portraits of unforgettable ladies. Difret echoes, in reality, the abhorrent practice that Mad Max Fury Road pictured in fantasy.

What The Second Mother and Difret also have in common is the relationships between women. In The Second Mother it is mostly between Val and her daughter Jessica (although the relationship between Val and her lady boss, Barbara, or between Val or her co-worker, Edna, are also interesting); in Difret it's between Hirut and Meaza, the childless lawyer who is trying to save her, but there are also nice scenes between Hirut and girls from an orphanage, or between Meaza and her friend and partner (they run a non profit of female lawyers who provide free counsel to the helpless, which in Africa is usually women!).

Difret does have an educational quality, especially if you believe that feminism is obsolete...but The Second Mother is a much better film, that I would recommend.

BTW Difret means both courage....and rape!

On the side...

I quickly mentioned "Contorno" in a previous entry to say that I mostly liked the ending scene and one scene from the opening sequence, despite snails being on the menu....

I won't ramble on about what I liked or not, but here I want to linger on the opening scene I liked, because it focused on the Bedelia/Hannibal relationship and because Mads Mikkelsen was shirtless!

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