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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Trip to Karabakh: Stuck in Reverse

Last Month, I saw a film “Trip to Karabakh: the Last Return”. It is the last (thank you, god!) part of a trilogy of the Karabakh films. The first one, based on a good book by Aka Morchiladze, was fine. It reflected the mood of the 90’s. The second one was rumored to be crap, never saw it, and the third one was supposed to be funny. And it was, but for all the wrong reasons. I was told that it describers inadequacy of a “dzveli bichi”, who has spent last 15 years in prison and consequently is out of touch with modern new and refined Georgia.. I thought it would be funny how he would try to use his old street skills and get puzzled responses, his ignorance ofhow facebook, cell phones, his amazement at our wonderful life with good roads, running water, constant electricity and the joy and merriment of democratic Georgia. Instead, I go this: The guy comes out of the prison (product placement in his hand) and gets into altercation with the police. Not aware that disrespecting police is unhealthy now, he swears at the officers. Back to prison for a year. Out again(product placement). Painstakingly long shots of him discovering his house in dust (views of renovated old Tbilisi). Boring shots of him visiting parents’ grave. Boring shots of him visiting his dead friend’s girl and showing her the cross he is supposed to give to her son—cause he wants to be his godfather. The mother (sex worker in the 1st film) is a translator now. She is totally psyched to see that an ex-convict, who was involved in drugs and guns and all that shit of the 90s is here for her son. She even underlines how her son needs a father figure. Several product placements along the road. Prison guy visits dead friend’s son who—oh the new mysterious time-- studies in a school where smoking is now prohibited. Dead friend’s son is in a principle’s room cause he broke something, the guy tries to rescue his godson-to-be, promises to repair what is broken, only to find that this godson-to-be broke into a computer program and now principal is happy that the boy has illegally helped school get the program that otherwise would cost more than the school’s budget (!). It is a joke on breaking, get it? No? The prison guy thought that the boy has actually broken something and could not get all the computer talk! got it?! A joke! Oh, all this time, the student and principal are staring into a comp display that has on it. This hacker is a genius! He figured out how to access a free online Georgian-English dictionary. Shots of some other product placement for no reason. Prison guy visits old friend, who is still in the drug- dealing business. Together, they visit the dead friend’s grave. Also, godfather-to –be brings the dead friends’ son to his drug dealer friend. Where the hell is the boy’s mother and why is she OK that her son hangs out with ex-convict and a drug dealer?! BUT , they are friends of her son’s dead father, so it totally makes sense that they took the boys upbringing into their manly hands. Drug dealer leaves to Karabakh to deal some more drugs and gives our protagonist bunch of money. Cause this is what friends do. Prison guy uses them to make some more money in a –product placement—bookmaker. Then he watches TV with his godson-to-be (this two hang out together all the time now), where he is tricked into believing that two goals took place instead of one, via the miracle of rewinding TV (product placement). At the same time, there is a parallel plotline of the godson loving the girl who loves him back, but is a daughter of politician/dead friend’s killer. Prospective godfather and politician oppose the love story. Also, non-English speaking, crappy-looking, acting-like-it-is-still-nineties dude (our prison guy) hooks up with a TLG teacher and after seeing him twice, she of course gets drunk and they have sex (implied). The only funny moment of the film when misguided by the directions that Radisson is nice glass building, the prison guys tries to pay for the hotel room in a newly-built police station. Get it, police stations are glassy and shiny and new-looking!!! Horny teenagers elope with the help of the prison guy, who sends them—you will never guess—to Karabakh, to his drug-dealing friend, because that is such a safe place to go for the newlyweds!!! Next morning, the killer politician forces prison guy to drive toward Karabakh, in order to get his daughter back (I mean wouldn’t you be mad if your daughter ran off with the son of a guy you killed and was helped by his ex-convict friend to escape to a war zone to the drug dealer friend?!). In a climactic moment, prison guy, who is driving with killer politician pointing gun at him, steers the car into abyss, thus sacrificing himself in the name of love of the horny teenagers. The film ends with said teenagers looking at the graves of never-to-be-godfather guy and killer politician/father-of-the-bride, who are buried side by side (!) and then walk away, hugging. Thus, love has conquered all, enemies are friends (dead though). This film felt so 1. Boring 2. Dated 3. Boring 4. Ridiculous 5. Offensive that I got surprised, I thought we were over this kind of bullshit. here we are claiming that prisoners, thieves and drug dealers are no longer protagonists in our country, only to betaken 20 years back by this characters. oh, and the gender relations. Just precious. Let the drug dealers raise my kid, as long as he are male. and, don’t we all know that American teachers come here to fuck Georgian men? Talk about going back in time…

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Gay Not-Parade

Something important happened today. Today is an international day against homophobia. NGO Identity organizes a march on Rustaveli st. Around 40 people gather by Philarmonia by 1 P.M. and we start walking promptly. Crowd of journalists literally document every step we make. Obviously, not everybody wants to be close-captioned like that, risking to appear in tomorrow’s Asaval-Dasavali under statement like “pervert faggots trying to destroy our motherland”. But, if you came here, you have to be ready for public exposure—after all, you are making a statement! All the bebias comment on what a pity it is that such nice young people are gay, some males swear, some people grab their phones to get this weird procession on camera. It is quite an event! I can already see tomorrow's news: "The First Ever Gay Pride Parade!" Only, this is no parade. Just a peaceful walk. Picture this: leading the procession, a herd of people with mics and cameras, trying to walk backwards and still maintain balance, in order to capture colorful crowd of flags and posters approaching them; the marchers, trying to ignore swearing, and not to step on occasional cameraman who is right in their face, surrounded by curious bystanders and innocent pedestrians who are trying to figure out how to get out of this mess. Three police cars are parked by philarmonia in case of altercations. Enough to cause a sensation. but wait… All the sudden, out of nowhere, a priest emerges. Are they patrolling the streets just in case something “indecent” takes place? He starts arguing with the walking crowd, which is O.K., but then, a dozen of bearded young men apparate out of thin air; these men start proving their point to anyone they can corner, rather violently. Rainbow flags keep moving, cameras greedily suck the tension, there is some arguing, some stupidity, “Look, he yelled at me, he is aggressive, look! How can you call yourself a liberal after this?!”- asserts one of the bearded death eaters, after some marcher can't stand all the swearing and answers back. The pure-breeds with beards form a chain (by brotherly holding hands)and declare that they won’t let us pass and carry out such degrading activities, and though the moment is pretty serious, all I can hear is “wizard, thou shall not pass!” Several people call the police, who all the sudden do not know where Rustaveli is and require long and detailed description. The marchers, stuck in traffic, are now experiencing a whole cascade of negative emotions bestowed upon them by bystanders who probably wanted to yell before, but felt that walking and yelling at the same time takes too much effort.Now they are feasting. Vegetable-sellers transform themselves into harpies, vomiting profanities. A woman with half-eaten ice-cream exercises screams worthy of a rock concert. The marchers are trapped. In front of them—-bearded defenders of nation’s purity. Behind them and amongst them--men with cameras and girls with mics. Around them--women screeching “sazizgrebo, sazizgrebo”. I--frantically trying to answer work calls and explaining that I am out for my lunch break. and then… and then I had to leave. and I do not know how it all ends. I don’t know if the marchers were beaten, ridiculed or if they kept on marching. I don’t know if the bearded men disapparated, or tore apart the posters. no news on any news channel yet. 3 P.M., May 17th.I am sitting here and writing. This is history in making. ...Please, God, let it be peaceful. Please, God, don’t let them hurt my friends. To be continued... Pic1: the chain of bearded men, journalists and the activists pic2: Poster" Love Is Love"

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cigarette Tirade

Hey!!! This week, please visit my other blog. here is the beginning: “People discriminate against me, even my professors, the very liberal ones, the ones who claim that men should give birth in order to achieve gender equality, even they discriminate against me”—claimed my friend. I guess I am guilty of the same discrimination. My friend is a smoker and I can’t support her. Going out in Georgia always means coming back stinking like an ashtray. I have never smoked and I can’t understand appeal of it. Smoking has many reasons, nicotine addiction just being one of them, smoking is a social act. People smoke when they are trying to relax (by getting a stimulant in their system), to decrease anxiety (again, by stimulant. Sometimes our psychology fights our physiology), to wake up, when they drink, when they want to look cool, as a rite of passage, to loose weight…"