Archive for 2007


Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

It arrived only a few hours after I posted the last entry – time to celebrate!

I’m so excited!

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

… and I just can’t hide it. I know, I know, I know, you’ll be here!
I just got the news that my book has arrived in Darmstadt. Now I have to go up to the post office here in Oslo every other hour to check if it has arrived here, too!

Listen closely.

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Well, this is really and definitely troubling: BBC reports on a new forecast under the headline Arctic summers ice-free ‘by 2013’. So, I guess our so very responsible and wise policy makers should meet with their lobby friends, fly around a bit, talk some more, agree to talk some more next year and so on. Since it always was a good idea to do it like that, we should probably continue. We are part of the most powerful economic system, our scientists are the best, stock markets have gained grounds again, all is good. We conquer earth and space, and then we sell them. And slowly, but not as slowly as we hope, the ground we built upon gets brittle. A crack in the wall here, some strange noises in the cellar there. Just monsters, imagined, children’s fears.

Nuovomondo – let the sound tell the story.

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Two weeks ago, I have been to my now-favorite cinema in Oslo: the Gimle Kino. Located in a very fine art deco building, it only has a single show room, an old school wood paneled and heavily carpeted entrance area where you cannot get popcorn – high-quality beverages and the usual choice of chocolates is being served instead. Very much adequate to the refined setting was the movie we saw: Nuovomondo or The Golden Door. A movie about an utterly poor rural Italian family who finally decides to leave their barren homestead to try their luck in the US of A. When I write barren here, I do actually mean barren. If you do not have a clear understanding of what constitutes a barren landscape (in contrast to a desert, for example) you have to see this movie, and the meaning of this word will much more than dawn on you. It might well overwhelm you.
One thing that took a while until it dawned on me during that evening was the sound of this movie. I think I have never seen a movie where sounds were able to tell so much about the emotions and the materiality of the setting as this one (with the exception of Das Boot, though with submarine flicks sound is an obvious thing to invest in). The landscape, the vessel that ships the migrants from Italy to America, the life below decks – all of these places become really vivid in this movie.
However, this is not where my praise stops. In addition to the sound and the thing about the barrenness – two features which would make this movie outstanding on its own – this work of Emanuele Crialese also offers many openly dreamlike aesthetic images, images that weave themselves into the fabric of the story that is being told. All want to swim in the land of milk and honey, as you will see. So, the story seems fine, the imageary is fantastic, and the sounds scaringly good. Then what about the cast? Do they spoil the thing? No! They don’t! They are actually perfectly fitting, too. I guess you get my drift: I do urge you to go and watch this movie. In a cinema, please, try to watch it in a real movie theater.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Michael Clayton – kind of a thriller.

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

The genre given for this film at the Internet Movie Database is Drama / Thriller, at Apple’s website it is just Drama. I guess I was expecting a thriller when I went to watch this movie – but in that regard it did not really live up to my expectations. However, the drama part was actually working out good – something that is at least as much thanks to Tilda Swinton as to our omnipresent smart and good-looking main actor, Dr. Ace. The cast and the plot were good, and I actually liked the small touch of another, hitherto unmentioned genre, which played into the movie now and then: mystery! All in all, this is solid entertainment that encourages the audience to take a closer look (some of those with whom I saw the movie overlooked several important clues regarding the mystery – so enjoy keeping your eyes peeled!)

IMDb entry | Trailer


Friday, December 7th, 2007

Does that look like the past to you? In the year 1999. To me it did, and I was surprised when I typed this in today and was confronted with the past-like feeling of this number…

Elizabeth: The Golden Age – Woman warrior queen?

Saturday, November 17th, 2007

To my regret, I haven’t seen the first Elizabeth movie starring the most wonderful Cate Blanchett. (It was done in the late nineties, and Gwyneth Paltrow got the Oscar in her role as Julia in Shakespeare in Love, not Cate Blanchett for her role as the 15th century Queen Elizabeth. Well, I will not comment that. )Instead, I will comment on the nonsensical tag line of this second Elizabeth movie: Woman warrior queen. The tagline fits with the image that we seen on posters etc. – Cate Blanchett in armor and with open, somewhat umkempt hair and dramatic sky above her. Wrong image. This movie is about costumes, aesthetics, some love, some drama, some war, but mostly about scenes that are shot and presented like paintings. Some of these were pretty nice, but in general I and the other four people with whom I went to see the movie agreed that it was quite overdone. Not to an extent that would make this a bad or dreadful movie, but to an extent that lessened the grip on the audience. There was not enough story to really keep me involved – even if the cast and the acting were perfectly fine. Many shallow characters, too few surprises or interesting twists… A pity, of course. The trailer, however, is great, so you may watch this and then make your decision if this is a cinema, a home or a not-to-be-seen-at-all film for you.

IMDb entry | Trailer

Oppressive Surveillance in Germany.

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

More than two months ago I wrote an entry on the incarceration of the urban sociologist Andrej Holm. Luckily he has been released after several weeks of cellular confinement under particularly harsh conditions – has was labelled a terrorist, and as we learned from current US American practices, that seems to forfeit you of quite a few human rights. This week, on Wednesday, the German Federal Court will decide if the warrant issued against Andrej Holm was legal in the first place.
Remember: one of the main grounds on which he was arrested was that he wrote critically about such things as gentrification and that this and other terms were used in the pamphlets of the militante gruppe, who set fire to several German military vehicles. It seems he has met people who are suspected to be members of this group on several occasions. Using terms such as gentrification, being an outspoken critic of related urban developments, and having met people who may be arsonists seems to be enough to rid not only you of your rights, but also your friends and family, who are now all being observed, wiretapped and so forth. Now many people in the social sciences, critical or not so critical, fear that they might too be arrested as terrorists when they actually do their work, leave their ivory tower, engage with different people outside of academia, be they investors, everyday people, or militants – and how am I supposed to know if someone who I meet is a militant or not? How terribly far going these so-called anti-terrorist measures go is being witnessed on the weblog of Andrej Holm’s partner, with whom he has two children. A scary read indeed.
And what is also quite scary is that I really carefully have to judge my words writing this entry, because it has become obvious that all activity related to this case is being monitored very closely by Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (the BKA). That is how far we have come: I feel afraid enough to not even dare to joke about this affair. I think it really is time to turn the wheel around and re-establish all those civil liberties that have been torn down over the course of the last six years. When I was young, reading Orwell’s 1984 and similar dystopian novels, I never thought that a distinctly similar scenario would become true when I am an adult. Dire times, and my Norwegian colleagues here in Oslo seem to be pretty shocked about the current state of interior affairs in Germany.

Ratatouille – (Not) A cheesy movie.

Friday, October 12th, 2007

The trailer (link see below) for Ratatouille was charming enough to lure me into the cinema for an evening free of philosophic discourse during last weeks conference of the German Society for Phenomenological Research (DGPF) in Darmstadt. In addition, this movie has been made by Pixar, which has produced several highly entertaining animated movies during the last years, making it even more attractive in my eyes. Pixar studies seem to hire the right writers who keep a certain degree of edginess in the stories, thus making their movies stand out positively in contrast to most of the boring Disney productions of the last decade. This is again true for Ratatouille. The main character is charming enough, his buddies and relatives are funny, and his enemies bad – luckily all of them in a not overly schematic way. There were one or two very touching moments in the film and the rest was pure entertainment enriched with several very well-made animations and scenic views. Something for a relaxing evening at the cinema, but also something that you could rent for a night at your DVD booth around the corner.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Auf der anderen Seite – Istanbul, zu Dir will ich kommen.

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Ich habe schön öfter darüber nachgedacht: Gegen die Wand ist wahrscheinlich mein absoluter Top-Film des Milleniums. Er hat sich mit seiner Intensität tief in meine Erinnerung eingebrannt. Die Latte für den neuen Film von Fatih Akin, Auf der anderen Seite, konnte also kaum höher hängen. Ich bin glücklich, dass ich nicht enttäuscht wurde. Auch dieser Film ist wirklich sehr gut. Eigentlich bin ich vielleicht sogar genauso glücklich, dass er nicht noch besser ist als Gegen die Wand – denn wie hätte ich das körperlich und seelisch aushalten sollen? Der neue Film ist also weniger nervenzerrüttend intensiv. Er ist aber trotzdem gut und hart und zärtlich und spannend und amüsant. Die Charaktere sind auch hier Grenzgänger im politischen wie auch im persönlichen Sinn. Ihr Leben spielt sich entweder in Bremen oder in Istanbul ab, sie wechseln von einer Stadt in die andere, leben, lieben und leiden dort auf jeweils eigene Weise. Das Drehbuch und die Regie sind einfach hervorragend und die Darsteller in ihren Rollen ergreifend. Kamera und Schauplätze tragen ihres bei und machen diesen Film zu einem Muss. Ja, auch für Dich, los, ins Kino!
IMDb entry | Trailer

The Bourne Ultimatum – Speed & suspense.

Monday, October 8th, 2007

I enjoyed the first two flicks featuring Jason Bourne tremendously. In a way, they showed what James Bond could be – and finally became, with the most recent, reinvented Bond. Of course, the main character of the Bourne movies is laid out in a way that could be seen as the direct opposite to the classic, self-assured and smug Bond: torn by inner conflicts, not sure who and even what he really is, if he should open up and trust or even love others or not… However, even with these traits, the Bourne movies stayed true to their genre: they were action movies to the core. And they were the best action movies I saw during the last years. All of this is still true with the most recent (and probably last) incarnation of the series. Breathtaking fights, murderous hunts, and extremely well-timed plots that swirl around each other in dazzling arrays. If you are ready for some fast-paced action: go for it!
IMDb entry | Trailer

Du bist nicht allein – Unansehnlich & schön.

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

Axel Prahl ist wahrscheinlich der Tatort Komissar, der die besten Rollen im Filmgeschäft bekommt. Oder sie sich aussucht. Keine langweiligen, klischeedurchtränkten deutschen Fernsehproduktionen, sondern Filme mit viel wahrem Leben in Handlung und Charakteren. Du bist nicht allein ist da keine Ausnahme. Mit Katharina Thalbach an der Seite und vielen anderen gut gespielten und platzierten Charakteren spielt er sich durch einen Film, der traurig und schön ist. Ein Film, in dem Gescheiterte die Kraft zur Solidarität finden, die Kraft zur Liebe und zum Aufbruch und die Kraft, sich ihr Scheitern einzugestehen. Ein schöner, offener Film, der sicher nicht nur im Kino gut funktioniert.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Not overly rebellious.

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Even though the tagline of the most recent movie of the Harry Potter series is The Rebellion Begins there is not too much that is opposed to convention. Not even much that would be unconventional. Entertainment as we know it. Better than the hauntingly bad first two episodes, worse than the magic third, on par with the fourth episode. That would be my judgement and depending on how you liked the different episodes that should be enough to tell you if you might want to see this movie or not. If you haven’t seen any of the Potter movies or – shock and surprise – not even read the books, than watching some other movie might be a wise decision.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Settling & lunsjing.

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

photo of Oslo University’s social sciences buildingThings are developing nicely. We moved into our very cozy new apartment, the nice weather still allowing us to have our dinner outside on the balcony in the late afternoon sun. I moved into my new office (in the building displayed to the left), where I could not only attach all my electronic devices and even get full network access without having to jump through hooks but also enjoy a nice view on one of the central campus plazas – with the Holmenkollen in the background! And I started to participate in the informal daily institute lunches (lunch is spelled lunsj in Norwegian), where I struggle myself through the Norwegian conversations – not overly successful yet, but I am working on it.

Buzzing around before settling down. (For a while.)

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

Last week, I moved most of my everyday stuff to Oslo, where I will be a guest researcher at the University until the end of this year. The last days I was in Berlin, most of the time cleaning the apartment and packing the rest of my belongings. But I also took the time to participate in the performance festival Abwehr, organized by Svenja Moor and Shahram Entekhabi (officially as a discussant but in truth more as a photographer – which suited me fine). The locations of this festival Wachturm and Kunstfabrik were excellent and I think the whole thing worked out really fine. You can read more about this festival in Stralau-Blog (in German). You can also see more about this festival. In my ipernity album.
Tomorrow, I will buzz off again. This time going to the annual conference of the Royal Geographical Society in London. I’ve been there last year and enjoyed it quite a bit. This year, Katie Walsh and I will host a session, to which I am looking forward very much. Except for the fact that we have been put into the last time slot of the conference: Friday 16:50–18:30. I wonder how many people will make it through a whole week of dense and stimulating sessions, beverage-laden evening programmes and then still attend some session late Friday afternoon, when they shcould be heading home to tea and biscuit…
On Saturday, though, I will finally enter port: Oslo. *sigh* And there I will stay with only one interruption until the end of the year. That’s what I call a welcome prospect!

The Simpsons Movie – Entertainment also for non-insiders.

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

Watching the credits of this movie roll through, I was seriously surprised how many people work on a 2-D animated major motion picture these days. The credits were not as long as those of The Lord of the Rings, but they were still l o n g. The result of this big enterprise is worthy: I found the trailers nice and I was not disappointed by the movie. As far as I can judge, all the common characters appear and have something entertaining to show or do, some really funny ideas have entered both picture- and dialog-wise. I went to see this film with two other non-Simpsons freaks, and we had several series’ of serious amusement. Nevertheless, neither the eco part of the story nor the personal part was overly great – criticism, shock and grief were hinted at but not performed in a way that would make this movie more than amusing or entertaining. However, I will soon take a look into one of the books that I got as birthday presents: The Simpsons and Philosophy : The D’oh! Of Homer and let myself be enlightened about this side of The Simpsons.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Terrorizing critical sociology.

Friday, August 17th, 2007

You may already have heard about the affair in which four persons were searched by the police and one of them arrested on 32st July. One of them, Andrej Holm, is a fellow urban sociologist who is working the the Department for Sociology, Humboldt University Berlin. He writes on gentrification and participates in public meetings in which urban policy is discussed and critized. In short, he is involved in what a public intellectual should do: go out into society and discuss potentially or actually harmful or otherwise relevant political and societal developments. So why did they arrest him? Because he uses words and concepts (like the commonly used term gentrification), that are also used in writings of the militante gruppe, and because he has met these people on occasion – being a public and critical scholar – he is linked to them. And now he is in jail under very strict conditions.
This is a very serious affair and we should make sure that critical and engaged scholars do not get into a situation in which they will be afraid to utter criticism because they might sooner or later be labeled terrorist and thrown into jail. This is exactly what I and many others feared would happen when the so-called war against terrorism seeps into everyday life deeper and deeper.
Express your opposition to a process which would lead to people keeping their mouths shout when they should not and sign the open letter to the Generalbundesanwaltschaft: in English, auf Deutsch. The open letter has been organized and published by colleagues abroad, in particular Manuel Aalbers and other members of the comurb_r21 mailing list along with participants of the ASA meeting, which just took place in the United States. I am impressed by and happy about the many important and very highly regarded scholars that already signed the open letter. You will also find more information in the open letter and on the support website, to whose organizers I also pay my respect.

Live-Report aus dem Seevegarten.

Friday, August 10th, 2007

Foto der Wiese im Seevegarten mit Zeltsack und StangenEs ist soweit, es ist soweit. Hier zu sehen: vor dem Zeltaufbau und danach geht’s dann noch zum Abkühlen in die Seeve. Denn es ist warm. Schalalalaaa.

Irina Palm – Russian names are romantic.

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

The trailer for this movie was promising (see below for the link). A woman needs money and starts to … prostitute herself? Kind of. She masturbates men, who put their (obviously male) genitals through a hole in the wall. She sits on the other side. And seems to be doing a very good job. Her neighbors are not that enchanted. Little surprise here.
The story might sound somewhat blunt, but there is no bluntness in this movie. It is told in a very subtle way. The camera is respectful, the actors are, too. In this movie, it becomes tangible to us that the world of prostition is a world of delicate balances. Between pimps and prostitutes, between family and work, between collegialism and competition, between love and loathing. A really excellent movie. Since it has been running in the cinema for several weeks by now it might be difficult to find a theater that is still showing the film. If you can find one, go and watch it there. If not, keep it high on your list of movies to rent for couch-watching.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Norge, jeg kommer.

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

The semester is finally over, giving me time to spread the good news that have been brightening up my days for a while: beginning in September I will be a guest researcher at the TIK senter in Oslo. The TIK is a research institute that is part of the University of Oslo, mostly focusing on science and technology studies, the field that is commonly called by its acronym STS. This in itself would already fit my training and research agenda nicely – since my class with Tom Gieryn at Indiana University Bloomington and even more so since I worked at the Max-Planck-Institute for the history of science in Berlin, science and technology studies inform my theoretical and empirical work. However, the TIK senter fits my agenda even better, because there are several people who are involved in studies or beginning research projects on climate change and its relation to society. I am looking forward very much to participating in this setting for last third of the year.
As you may know, this is only one part of the story. I am also delighted by the fact that I can stay there because Kerstin and I will be able to actually live together again for the first time in about four years. If that isn’t fabulous, then I don’t know what is. And both of us will be working at the same place, for the University of Oslo, our offices only a two minute stroll away. Grand. I even have a glimmer of hope that I will be able to get rid of my diverse back related problems during my stay. Domus Athletica, Sognsvann and, depending on the weather, a bit of nordic skiing during the last weeks… that should help.