Watch…Let’s Talk about the Rain (2008) Directed by Agnes Jaoui from a screenplay written by her husband Jean-Pierre Bacri. Only the French can make films that say so much about politics; in this film it is about the politics of sex and race. Set in a small town in Provence, Agnes plays the main character, Agathe, who has returned to the family home to run in the local elections and sort out the estate of her dead mother. The complex relations between sisters is frighteningly realistic as is their uncomfortable history with their North African housekeeper, whom they must now acknowledge and resolve her situation. Bacri stars as a not very competent film maker who he struggles to make a documentary about Agathe. Some of the funniest scenes are when he persuades her to be filmed in the countryside. Jaoui and Bacri are very good at pointing out the smugness of the French middle classes , whilst at the same time saying important things about love, relationships and friendship.
Read… La Douleur (The Suffering) by Marguerite Duras (1914-96). One of France’s greatest writers, her own life was just as exciting as her novels. During the Second World War she lived in Paris and, like her husband, worked for the Resistance. In this fictionalised biography there are several stories. She writes about her life as the war comes to an end and she waits for her husband to return from a concentration camp. Harrowing to read as she has to come to terms with the possibility of his death, but also that she has now fallen in love with a comrade. Marguerite writes about the lives of women in the Resistance as interrogators of informers, and in one chilling story of socialising with a Gestapo agent so that she can get information. Painful to read, it is a book about what war is really about including suffering, violence and grief.
Listen…Sibelius’s 2nd Symphony, performed by John Barbirolli and the Halle Orchestra. Sibelius wrote this in his house in the countryside outside Helsinki. I think it sounds like the summer…trees whispering, the sun shining, and the water lapping on the lake…in fact just like Manchester at this time of the year…dreaming music!
Go to…The Three Minute Theatre which is based in Affleck’s Arcade in Manchester and will be one year old next month. Dedicated to encouraging local talent, it’s a warm and unstuffy venue that hopefully will thrive. 3MT has music, drama and comedy events on its menu. Check out its website for the latest events.
Embrace….We Face Forward Art from West Africa Today., running 2 June-16 September at various venues. Ignore the link to the Olympics, there are many African peoples living in the Gtr Manchester area, many who have come as refugees or asylum seekers and this exhibition will show the rest of the citizenry that they have a valid and valuable culture. Interesting and unusual in this highly arty context is the appearance of a debate “Pan-African Congress;Panel Debate” on 11 September, which will remember the Pan African Congress in 1945, which took place in Manchester, and look at its history. Further details here.