Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

I just got back from seeing Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson and the documentary was everything I expected. And then some more.

As the title suggests it's a film about Hunter S. Thompson, the inventor of Gonzo journalism and the author of many articles and books, most famously Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas which was later turned into a movie with Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro. Having been originally fascinated by the movie I later decided to read the book and then subsequently also read Rum Island and Hell's Angels. It's hard to put it in words but there's something unique about how Thompson describes whatever story he's telling. And boy, the stories he tells! The great thing about them is that they are this perfect mixture of fact and fiction, combined by the genius that is Hunter S. Thompson. I really recommend reading at least one of his books, they're great reads and it's no surprise that I always ended up reading them while on the road myself.

With regard to the documentary it sheds light on Thompson's life, both through original footage and comments by people who accompanied him in his life-time. One of my favorite episodes, and a part of his life that I had never heard about, was his campaign for sheriff in Aspen, Colorado. The whole thing is just plain hilarious!

In the end the film also shows how Thompson got caught by his own fame and therefore turned into somewhat of a tragic figure himself. However both his suicide and funeral come off as being part of a larger plan and also the logic result of his previous life.

What remains is the realization that Hunter S. Thompson was a great and unique personality with a strong spirit and remarkable writing skills. Definitely the kind of person that the world could have more of...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ein Augenblick Freiheit / For A Moment Freedom

I just got home from what might just turn out to be the best movie at this year's Viennale film-festival: Ein Augenblick Freiheit (For A Moment Freedom).

The movie, which had previously been praised at other film-festivals, tells three stories of people fleeing from Iran, hoping to get to Europe, but who all get stuck in Ankara. In a very touching (more than one person in the audience mentioned that the story went under their skin) yet at times also amusing manner the viewer gets an insight into the backgrounds, struggles, hopes and difficulties of the various characters.

To say that after watching Ein Augenblick Freiheit you know what people who flee their country are going through would be an overstatement. But I dare say it's as close as you'll ever get by watching a movie. In that context a comment by one of the lead actors struck me as memorable as he said that "this experience made me realize what my parents were going through when we fleed Iran in my childhood because obviously I was too young to understand it at the time".

Speaking of the actors, their performances were simply breathtaking, I can't describe it in any other way. Kudos also to the director Arash T. Riahi who obviously did an amazing job during the 7 years it took to make this movie. His previous work Exile Family Movie (which I had the pleasure of seeing during my internship in Washington, DC) is also an amazing film.

In the end I'd definitely recommend you to watch this movie, it's definitely one of the best ones I've seen this year. There's one more showing at the Viennale, on Tuesday, 28.10.2008 11 a.m. at Künstlerhaus Kino, and the general launch is set for January 09, 2009.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

3 weeks without blogging...

I really can't believe that it's already been 3 weeks since I last blogged but time is really flying by quicker than ever before. Without looking at my Outlook calendar I can't even really begin to write down what I've been up to, it's simply been too crazy...

Obviously when I initially came back to Vienna after being gone for the better part of 6 months (except for those short weekend visits) I spent *a lot of* time meeting my friends around here and going out to all the bars, cafés and restaurants where I hadn't been in such a long time. We also had a reunion with many of my intern colleagues from the embassy which was a lot of fun!

What else? Ah yes, I spent 1 1/2 days down in Graz, a city in the south of Austria, meeting people from various universities and talking about the current state of OLPC, related projects they had started, plans for the future, etc. On top of that I got to see two friends which I hadn't seen in more than a year and, guess what, obviously another great night out was had by all.

The past two weeks here in Vienna have been quite busy with lots of time spent on preparing and organizing my university term which started on October 1st. Additionally I've been working on or at least discussing a couple of different plans for projects which all have somewhat of a long-term impact on the months and years ahead of me. I can't really go into details here but will rather talk about them in individual posts when and if things start moving... However I can say that I'm certainly spending quite a lot of time thinking about the future these days.

Looking at the next few weeks it looks like I'll be insanely busy, with university related matters and lots of coding taking up most of my time. Also the awesome Viennale film-festival (which I also mentioned last year) is taking place in the second half of October and compared to 2007 I almost doubled the number of movies I'm going to see to 16. I'll also have three cool concerts (Calexio/Lampchop, Mogwai and Welle Erdball) to go to in October and November. Plus I'm very much looking forward to extended visits from A. H. (of Canadian border cutie fame) and Patrick over the coming weeks.

Anyway, I'm certainly having an outstanding time and only wish that sometimes I had an extra moment (or two) to breathe inbetween all the madness;-)

I also hope to get back to a more regular post-schedule, in the mean time you can follow me on twitter/random_musings, I've also embedded my 5 most recent messages on the right-hand side of the blog...