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This Saturday, I had another gathering round at my place to watch the week's Dr. Who episode, followed by whatever took our fancy. Father's Day was up to the usual standard, and we had much geeky excitement discovering the updates on Clive's Mickey's website afterwards, as well as just generally discovering the Geocomtex one, which I hadn't seen before.

We also watched more of [ profile] damien_mocata's excellent Friday Night Armistice tapes, some Red Dwarf stuff, and QI (at my insistence!), while simultaneously soaking Jaffa Cakes in Absinthe, eating trifle, spitting Jaffa Cakes across the room (mainly [ profile] damien_mocata), and probably some other stuff, but it all seems a bit of a blur now...

Sunday commenced with a good long lie-in, continued with some intensive mucking-about-on-LJ, and then went and got all intellectual on me, when the delectable [ profile] thebiomechanoid invited me out to see 5x2 (aka Cinque Fois Deux) with her and a friend at the QFT.

The film was one for provoking questions, rather than providing answers, and it certainly prompted a lot of debate between the three of us afterwards. In essence, it tells the story of the decline of a relationship in five stages. The title can be expanded to mean 'five [events in the lives] of two [people]': those events being their first meeting, their marriage, the birth of their child, a dinner party and their divorce.

The story is complex in itself - there were a lot of interesting explorations of (anti-)romance, sexuality, morality, different kinds of love and the interplay between different kinds of characters. But what it made it a little different from the norm was that the five events were told in reverse chronological order: rather like Memento, but with longer chunks. In other words, the order which I have listed above is actually completely reversed, the result being that when, at the end of their first meeting you see them both swimming off into the sunset, it looks like a perfect romantic ending in both appearance and its context at the end of the film... except that you, the viewer, actually know already exactly how it is all going to pan out. (I wouldn't be giving too much away if I said 'not well').

There were also all sorts of intriguing resonances between the different chunks of the story and the different characters within it, which were simply presented 'as is', leaving you to guess whether they had any deep and profound meaning or not. And on that topic, [ profile] thebiomechanoid, I did look up the clauses of a European Civil Marriage ceremony, and found that article 213 reads:

"The spouses have the duty to live together; they owe it to each other to be faithful and provide help and assistance."

The other clauses which are usually read out can be found here, on a page about the wedding of Prince Laurent of Belgium and Claire Coombs, and they match perfectly with my memory of the clauses read out at the wedding of Gilles and Marion in the film. So I would say that it definitely is significant that that was her room no. in the hotel, since of all the clauses it is this one that relates most closely to the problems in their marriage.

After the film it was on to Dukes for excitable conversation about the film, Diet Coke, exam motivation, tall buildings, LJ (inevitably), Cambridge, jazz and how we didn't really feel much like going home. But, eventually, we did, and, with regret, brought the weekend to a close.
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Last night, [ profile] damien_mocata, [ profile] captainlucy and myself went to the QFT to see I ♥ Huckabees. It was really excellent, and I would highly recommend it to anybody. Surreal, funny, thought-provoking, and boasting some great performances.

It's rather hard to really convey what it is about by just describing it, but it hinges around a husband-and-wife detective team, Jaffe & Jaffe (played by Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin), who work not on crimes, but on solving people's existential problems. Their methods involve teaching clients to deconstruct themselves and their lives, stressing the inter-connectedness of everything, and introducing clients whose cases are related to each other to help them 'progress'. Meanwhile, they have a dark alter-ego, Caterine Vauban (played by Isabelle Huppert), who poaches their unsatisfied clients, telling them instead that nothing is related, and carries a business card with the slogan, 'Cruelty, Manipulation and Meaninglessness'. Or wait: could Vauban and Jaffe & Jaffe actually be working together???

As I said, the film is highly surreal, and you will have to watch it yourself to decide on this. Even their web-site will warp your mind: go on, check it out! (Don't if you have a 56k modem, though...)

I also came away from the cinema with a rather pleasing trophy. Early on in the film, a young man, who is trying to understand the meaning of a series of coincidences which have brought him into contact with a Sudanese refugee, calls on Jaffe & Jaffe and uses a business card of theirs (which itself came his way by a bizarre coincidence) to find their firm within a bewilderingly large office building. I knew I had seen that exact same card earlier on that day, but couldn't for the life of me remember where. So when we came out, I checked the cinema listings leaflet which was by the ticket counter, wondering if there had perhaps been a picture of it in there. Then the man behind the counter, hearing me explaining to Francis and Michael what I was looking for, came to my rescue: in fact, they had a whole pile of Jaffe & Jaffe business cards lying just to the side of the counter, and I had obviously seen these without really registering it consciously while paying for my ticket. Somehow, it felt like the perfect event to follow the film: I myself (and Francis and Michael) all ended up with our own copies of the Jaffe & Jaffe card, through our own somewhat surreal experience.

The card itself, which I shall keep as a memento, looks like this:

Jaffe & Jaffe )

Sadly, they did not have a copy of the Caterine Vauban card... but I can foresee her slogan inspiring many an LJ title or subtitle in the future.

After this, the three of us went back to my flat (via the offy) to watch The Devil Rides Out, a Doctor Who episode (part one of The Web of Fear) and some random snooker. All in all, a most pleasant evening.
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For non-locals: Belfast is about to begin celebrating its yearly Arts Festival, which I'm told is second only in scale to the Edinburgh Festival in the UK.

For locals: below are the events I have already bought tickets to. Some I am attending with a very nice young lady named Cath; some I am thus far going to alone. So if anyone likes the sound of any of them and wants to accompany me (I'm sure Cath would be happy to meet you too), they'd be very welcome. All tickets can be bought on the festival website, unless otherwise noted.

Friday 22nd October: Gluck's baroque opera, Iphigenie en Tauride, performed by the Welsh National Opera at the Grand Opera House. Kick-off 7:30pm. I'm also going to the free pre-show talk at 6:15 in Grosvenor House, Glengall Street. Tickets direct from the Grand Opera House (02890 241 919).

Sunday 24th October: Kate Rusby at the Lyric Theatre, 7:30pm. Apparently, she sings 'folk music for people who don't like folk music', and is both talented and innovative. (I'm mainly going to this one because Cath wants to). Tickets theoretically available on the web-site, but it kept messing itself up when I tried to order them, so in the end I phoned the Lyric Theatre instead (02890 385 685).

Saturday 30th October: John Carpenter's The Thing at the Queen's Film Theatre, 10:30 pm (late showing).

Sunday 31st October (Halloweeeeeen!): The Nightmare Before Christmas at the QFT, 3pm. Theatre of Blood at the QFT, 7pm. Ed Wood at the QFT, 9pm.

Wednesday 3rd November: A play entitled Alladeen at BBC Blackstaff. Surreal multi-media performance about Indian call centres, wish fulfilment and popular culture, it sez 'ere (festival brochure...). Kick-off, 7:30pm.

Saturday 6th November: 'Songs of the Spirit' at the Clonard Monastery (no, really), 7:30pm. Haunting choral music by candlelight, including Tavener, Rachmaninov, Brucker and some unattributed spirituals.

Crumbs! I have managed to spread those out fairly evenly... but still, I hope I actually have time to fit in going to them between all my lectures. :S


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