Sunday 31 January 2010

Friday 13th

Still searching for some fancy style for this blog. For a moment I came up with this creepy banner, I hope you like it.

For the record: I haven't seen this film and I hate horrors.

I really enjoy making banners and logos. Here are samples (made to advertise some of my blogs):

Image Hosted by

 my old lastfm playlist style (I don't even have an account there any more)

the writing says: "Regarding potential criticism, we must do everything to avoid criticism. Only applaud and full acceptation." (this is a quote from an old Polish movie, "Rejs" )

I think I will change that banner in a while, for something more "defining me" stuff, for a moment let's leave it like that...

Sunday 24 January 2010

Letting go

This is a direct translation of the newest note on Blog Azjofilki.

I must admit that I don't have a good opinion about this festival of commerce and fake smiles called Oscars. Judging by the list of "best pictures" in the last 10 years it's quite easy to see that original ideas and creativity lose when competing with spending loads of dough ("Lord of the rings"), "more shiny" sequels ("Chicago", "The Departed" - the latter was actually so shiny I couldn't look at it without pain) or very catchy subjects of poverty and racism, which make rich, fat people feel better about themselves by simply looking at the unfortunate ones for 100 minutes ("Slumdog millionaire", "Crash").

Nevertheless, I always follow what's going on in foreign films area, so when an award went to Japanese movie, I was very excited. Couple of weeks back I finally managed to see the picture. Why I waited so long with sharing my feelings about it? You'll find out soon.

"The departures"
year: 2008
movie page @ IMDB

Story is basically well-known to all fans of chick flicks: guy with high aspirations fails in achieving his goals in a big city, moves back to The Middle of Nowhere, discovers that family and friends are important, blah, blah, blah. Don't get me wrong, I like such stories, but only when they're told in an interesting, not too sentimental way (this is the moment where - I hate to say that - "Okuribito" fails).

So, there is a guy named Daigo Kobayashi. He is a mediocre cellist in mediocre orchestra in Tokyo. Orchestra is disbanded, he finds himself jobless and unable to pay for his cello. He decides to leave Tokyo, get back to his home town, move in to his mother's place and get a "normal" job. Normal job appears to be an encoffining - preparing dead bodies for the funeral. At first Daigo is disgusted, his friends feel ashamed to know him and his wife leaves him. But in a while, the job grows on him, he gets friendly with his collegues and finally finds peace of mind.

Now, why I postponed this review for a while? Truth be told, I was a bit disgusted right after seeing this picture. I did not like it's sentimental, Hollywood style (I suppose all foreign directors that get Oscars are basically rewarded for playing by Hollywood rules). However, a little bit later, when I started analysing what I saw, I appreciated the film.

First of all, mind the little detail that actually makes this film very Japanese: the motive of hard work in reaching perfection in any task or job you're taking in your life, stamina, responsibility. This way of seeing things is so much different from people of Western Civilisation: the job is boring, boss is a total bastard, salary is too small, and actually I'd rather do something else for a living. Japanese think: whatever it is that I am doing, this is my job and I have to do my best, period. This is something really worth considering.

Secondly, the main message of the film: to be happy, you have to let go. Daigo sells his expensive cello, which was the symbol of his unfulfilled ambition and frees his mind from sense of guilt and failure. Then, he moves out of Tokyo, which did not appreciate him as a human being and artist. Finally, when his wife leaves him, he does not run after her, just lets the things be. Instead of achieving, competing and aching, he simply lets it flow and finds the balance. 

I think this is the message that makes "Okuribito" so special. It's a fine and ultimate answer to all those who feel prisoners in a cult of success and tired of running in the rat race. Let go, yield, step aside - and you'll find happiness somewhere where you did not even consider seeking for it.

There is one more reason for seeing this film, essential for all those who dig foreign cultures: the nokanshi (encoffinment) ceremony, especially the fact that it takes place in front of all mourners. It made me think a lot about my own feelings about death. I have participated several funerals in my life, but in fact never, ever seen a dead body. In Poland the deceased is usually shown to one member of the closest family for identification purposes (unless somebody else wants to "say goodbye"). I know that in some European countries there is a tradition of wake by dead body, but I've never come across such a thing. I connect death with singing some meaningless prayers on a cemetery, black clothes and tidying up the leaves on Nov 1st. All of that has nothing physical in it, as if the body after death did not exist any more. Japanese sees the body, it's physical, it's being washed, clad... and then cremated. The mourners say goodbye to the smoke flying to the sky and never go back to the same place to light the candles and do all that graveyard bullshit. Dead must go, so that the living could move on. Le roi est mort, vive le roi!

That's pretty much it. I guess an interesting subject of a movie and something to think about afterwards is good enough to make all film maniacs run to the theatres right now. In case you did not have enough reasons yet, I will give you another one: music composed by Joe Hisaishi.  I haven't heard from him in a while and really liked that get-together.

Go to the cinema! Now!

Wednesday 20 January 2010

All's well that starts well

Hello to all those who stumbled upon my blog!

I suppose I owe you all a bit of an explanation, why we even meet here.
Main reasons for that are the following two:
1. I love blogging.
2. I suffer from incurable narcissism.

I have been running some other blogs for a while now:
- personal one
- blog about Asian culture
- blog about French stuff I happened to fall for

All of them are in Polish, because I'm Polish and have always thought that expressing myself in any other language is impossible. This blog is a bit of experiment. I have noticed that when speaking/writing English, I seem not quite the same person, at least to myself. I hope this bilingual blogging won't lead to schizophrenia... Also, due to my all-Polish blogger's career, I hid the "about me" box on the left. I'm sorry about that. As long as doesn't provide an option of displaying different description blocks on different blogs, it will remain like that. But hey, all that blog is "about me", so maybe it's not such a waste after all?

So, to give you a bit of introduction - a bunch of basic facts:
  • my name is Małgorzata (which is Margaret in English)
  • I am 28 (born on December 6th, 1981)
  • I was born in Szczecin, Poland, studied in Toruń, Poland, since August 2007 I live in Dublin, Ireland
  • I test software for living
  • I speak Polish (duh), English (fluent), German (theoretically), a bit of French, even smaller bit of Japanese and tiny, tiny bit of Russian (it all looks impressive at first glance, but truth be told only with English and Polish I feel comfortable)
  • I like: music (mostly listening, but I play guitar and sing a bit as well), good movies, good books, photography, chocolate, cats, Christmas, my birthday (no, I do not get cranky about getting older, because I know I cannot stop the time and neither of you can, so there's no reason to pretend we'll be 18 forever), all sorts of jokes and humour (from 4chan to Monty Python), wine, foreign languages and cultures
  • I don't like: blockbuster movies, tacky music, salt, Polish beer, working too much, being treated like an idiot, shallow and stupid people, television, Mondays, insects, football, heat
  • I have a cat (black, female, more details later) and a boyfriend (caucasian, male, won't provide more details unless you really beg me), we all live together

Apart from basic facts, I'm annoying, talkative, nosy, cheerful gal who cannot stop thinking about herself for even a second. Will anyone find that interesting? Well, the popularity of my personal Polish blog (amongst my friends in real life, friends on the internet and complete strangers who happen to be registered on the same website) shows that some people do. As for my English-writing self, we shall see.

In case you want to have a look, there's more of myself on:
- - my photos
- - a few songs performed by me

As for the -friday in blog address: my last name comes from Polish for "five" or "Friday". Just another excuse for me to slack off on Fridays :)

This is what I look like:

Till the next time, dear readers!