Tag Archives: Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog documentary.

Werner Herzog has released a 35-minute documentary on YouTube. Titled From One Second to the Next, the film is about the consequences of texting and driving at the same time.

[via YouTube]



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Rojak: Record Store Day

Rojak is a regular collection of assorted links as well as a bulletin summarising the week (or thereabouts) on this blog.

A happy Record Store Day (and Earth Day) to everyone!


On reading Thomas Bernhard. [via The Millions]

I’ve got my eyes on whiteonwhite: algorithmicnoir, the new film by Eve Sussman and the Rufus Corporation. [via The Paris Review]

Alfred Hitchcock season. [via The Telegraph]

Have you seen the New Directions catalogue yet? [via New Directions]

Werner Herzog and Into the Abyss. [via The Guardian]

Conversational Reading points to an article on Tzvetan Todorov. [via Conversational Reading]

Enhance your Louvre experience with the Nintendo 3DS. [via Kill Screen]


Notable posts from these past couple of weeks:


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Extreme Duplex Makeover with Werner Herzog and David Lynch

Hey youse. I’ve had a pretty fun day. In fact, I’ve been having a pretty fun week. I hope the same goes for you.

This video therefore came in at a very appropriate time. It’s so fun. Especially if you’re a fan of Werner Herzog or David Lynch. Even better if you’re a fan of both.

[via YouTube]

More… normal programming will probably resume tomorrow. Normal being the standard euphemism these days for grouchy-faced grimness in these parts.


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Summer Reading (And More) List 2011

It’s summer, and always a good time to plan a reading/watching/listening list. Here are some suggestions that you might want to consider. I’ve got books, music, and film: something for everyone!


alphabet, by Inger Christensen
Originally titled Alfabet (1981)
Translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied

The common wisdom is that something gets lost in all translations, and that poetry stands to lose more than fiction in this regard. (I take my personal stance on this from the great Nicanor Parra–that is, the idea of anti-translations: since true translations are impossible in principle, the task of a translator is to reinterpret.) Nevertheless, I think we can all agree that you can always find something in good poetry, and with that frame of mind, I recommend this brilliant collection by the Danish poet Inger Christensen. With masterful control and brilliant imagery, this is moving, frightening, and ultimately inspiring poetry.

Just Kids, by Patti Smith

Patti Smith is awesome. No one can ever change my mind on that. This book quite nearly matches her overall awesomeness. A poetic memoir focussing on her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, the book brings with it such sincerity as to approach purity. To put simply, it is a book that reminded me of the possibility of beauty in each of us.

Small Memories (or Memories of my Youth), by José Saramago
Originally titled As Pequenas Memórias (2006)
Translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa

A very different kind of memoir, this covers the late Nobel laureate’s early years in his distinctively fabulist and grandfatherly way. Beyond being a testament of his extraordinary abilities as a storyteller, it is also a fascinating book full of humour, compassion, and a characteristically deep and nuanced appreciation of life.

Ghosts, by César Aira
Originally titled Los Fantasmas  (1990)
Translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews

César Aira is a sort polarising figure in the world of contemporary literature. Supporters point out his amazing imagination, his at times truly remarkable powers with language, and the juxtaposition between the complexity and brevity of his novels. Critics, on the other hand, are often able to point out certain fatal flaws in his writing. Sometimes he seems completely frivolous, and sometimes he leaps into banal pseudo-philosophical litanies, and the like. Always a different fatal flaw.

For me, he is special simply because I can’t think of anyone else like him in this day and age. For the uninitiated, don’t think of his writing the way you would with other writers, and don’t think of his novels as traditional novels. Go in without those expectations and you may just find yourself rewarded with some of the most imaginative writing in contemporary literature.

The Long Goodbye, by Raymond Chandler

Arguably the greatest of the Chandler books (though we could have a debate on that all day), The Long Goodbye is so good that it hurts. Philip Marlowe returns in a mystery that involves a drunkard, a war, a 5000-dollar bill, and of course a dangeours woman. It’s always a good time to read some Chandler.

Stitches, by David Small
Graphic Novel

This autobiographical graphic novel is one of the best books I’ve read recently. At its heart is the story of throat cancer and how the author literally lost his voice. Affecting, Kafkaesque, and gorgeously illustrated, Stitches is an example of the graphic medium at its very best.

City of Small Blessings, by Simon Tay

I read less local fiction than I would like to, but let me just say that we could do with more writing like this. Simon Tay’s excellent novel deals with themes of time, modernisation, generation gaps, love, and loss.

The Your Face Tomorrow trilogy, by Javier Marías
Consisting of: Fever and Spear (2004); Dance and Dream (2006); and Poison, Shadow and Farewell (2009)
Originally titled Tu rostro mañana
Consisting of Fiebre y lanza (2002); Baile y sueño (2004); and Veneno y sombra y adiós (2007)
Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa

The longest book on this list (well, technically three books, but a collected edition will be out this year), this is the main course on my own summer reading list. Marías’s sprawling literary project, translated by the ever-brilliant Margaret Jull Costa, features a translator–what else?–embroiled in a spy-novel plot.

Five Modern Nō Plays, by Yukio Mishima
Translated from the Japanese by Donald Keene

I’m not the biggest Mishima fan (not in the sense that I have no interest in his work, but that I think you can always find someone who is a bigger fan), but I absolutely adore his theatre work for the way they make seemingly outmoded forms appear so relevant and refreshing again. The five plays collected here reinterpret the Nō form while preserving a respect for its traditions and rules of engagement.


The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, directed by Werner Herzog
Originally titled Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle

Werner Herzog’s classic film about the German legend of Kaspar Hauser was my first ever Herzog film and one of my permanent favourites. A lyrical and philosophical film, Herzog presents a mystery of a man through a series of striking images, and leaves us to ponder the relevance of his struggles and his dreams to our own lives.

Still Life, directed by Jia Zhangke
Originally titled 《山峡好人》

Jia Zhangke is one of the best directors working today, and Still Life shows exactly why. Stately, melancholic, and gorgeously photographed, the film is centred around a coal-miner in search of his divorced wife and a nurse in search of her husband against the backdrop of the Three Gorges Dam development. Among other things, it is a meditation on the infringement caused by human presence in the immensity of nature, the tragedies and blessings of modernisation, and the struggle to preserve the most basic relationships in the face of these forces.

Millennium Actress, directed by Satoshi Kon
Originally titled 千年女優

This film is vintage Satoshi Kon, who admittedly didn’t direct too many projects but was nevertheless one of the greatest directors to grace the anime industry. Millenium Actress is a post-modern look at the constructedness of our lives (through the lens of film, in this case) and also a love story that will move even the stone-hearted. It encapsulates a good portion of the genius of a director who continues to be a great creative influence in my own work and was simply gone too soon.

Charade, directed by Stanley Donen

Starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, this immensely entertaining film is at once suspence, romance and comedy in the finest tradition of Hitchcock. A wonderfully lively script, two stars who are certainly very easy on the eyes, and an excellent grasp of suspense combine to make this a great summer film.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Originally titled ลุงบุญมีระลึกชาติ

Last year’s winner of the Palme d’Or is a film both elliptical and strange. Centrally dealing with the character of Uncle Boonmee and his various ambiguous past lives, this film trades in beauty, horror, humour, and mystique. Most of all, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s film resists easy interpretation or classification, and it is in this open-endedness and complexity that we may find its greatest beauty.


Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase), by Janelle Monáe
2007, 2008 (special edition)

O Janelle Monáe. It is sometimes hard to believe that you aren’t really a cyborg girl with your multitude of irresistible talents. Having released her excellent first full album last year, let’s take this summer to take a look back at where it all started. A wonderfully strange mix of Motown and science fiction, this EP is the perfect introduction to the work of an incredible musician.

Modern Times, by Bob Dylan

The third in Dylan’s later trilogy, Modern Times exudes the poise, composure, and venom of a master of the craft in his late years. Injecting new life into apparently outdated music genres (much like Mishima and theatre), drawing upon–who would have thought?–Ovid, and performed with utter clarity, Modern Times is a monument in modern music.

Symphony No. 9, performed by the Berliner Philharmoniker and conducted by Claudio Abbado
Composed by Gustav Mahler

Probably my favourite of the Mahler symphonies, this particular interpretation is really quite good, though we too could debate this all day. In any case, if you’ve never heard Symphony No. 9 before, there’s no excuse. And if you have, well, there isn’t one either.

w h o k i l l, by tUnE-yArDs

My favourite music discovery of the year so far (though Anna Calvi comes a close second), my first exposure to the music of tUnE-yArDs hit me like a gust of wind. Compelling from start to finish, the music here is a powerful statement of individual expression.

A Night at the Village Vanguard, by Sonny Rollins

Probably one of the greatest live albums of all time, this record manages to capture the magic and intimacy of one of jazz’s true masters.



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Q&A with Werner Herzog.

TIME, 2009.

And I said, very simply, Yes, because I would be a man without dreams, and I do not want to live without dreams.

[via YouTube]


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Connecting Science and Art

A panel of Cormac McCarthy, Werner Herzog and physicist Lawrence Krauss discuss the intersection of science and art.

Werner Herzog on Cormac McCarthy:

Well, a younger generation archaeologist who was very fascinating because he started his career as a circus man. And I immediately asked him, a lion tamer? No. He was a juggler in a unicycle. But very, very fascinating people there. And what is so fascinating that it looks as if an entire world was articulated and almost invented because the animals, they look realistic and yet they looked like an invention, something – a figment of our own fantasies.

And the same thing – and I would like to shift a little bit to Cormac’s work because he invents entire landscapes. He invents horses in a way we have never seen – heard them being described. By dint of declaration, Cormac McCarthy creates a whole landscape that has been unknown to all of us, even though it seems to exist like, let’s say, Faulkner and others invented and described the Deep South; someone like Joseph Conrad describes the Congo and the jungle and the mysteries.

And so all of us suddenly have literature here, which is not unprecedented because we have something of the caliber of your writing. We see it, for example, in the last two pages of “Moby Dick,” Melville. We see it in the best of Faulkner. We see it in the best of my great favorite writer of the 20th century who wrote, for example, “Typhoon,” “The Nigger of the Narcissus.”

Read the whole thing: [via NPR]


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