Saturday, December 31, 2005

creepy weeper

Have any of you guys out there ever watched Robin Williams 2002 One Hour Photo? Can you tell me what you made of it? Because this is one movie that made me look at Robin Williams entirely differently. In a scary way.

Robin Williams was here

ALERT!!:2006/2007, Mrs. Doubtfire2 is coming to a screen near you. Are you glad or dreading it?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

you know me, al.

"You can't kill me! you can't kill me!"

It was a pre-Christmas Al Pacino weekend in Kampala! I wished it was Frank Sinatra but all we could quickly get at first was Clint Eastwood. The blue eyed boy was sulking. I watched four Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns (watch Pale Rider for Sydney Penny. She was absolutely sensational! Where did she go?) and painfully relearned why I like to think of Eastwood acting than actually watch him. I had the option of di Caprio but my cat always wants us to get something on when di Caprio’s in the room. I was going to fight with her over meeting her brothers for Christmas lunch and with di Caprio in her corner I’d have no chance. I was thinking Humphrey Bogart, the bitter with the sweet. My cat, she would know. But these DVD guys haven’t yet delivered on a Bogart tribute and now I’m holding out for an Edward G. Robinson.

I wanted something mean and lean and good for the night when she walked out but on the DVD I got Pacino was only hungry in Scarface and a stunning Michelle Pfeiffer leaner. In Scent of a Woman, leashed. Sea of Love, John Goodman the better actor. Carlito’s Way, pathetic. I wanted mean that night. I should have taken my Bogart when I had the chance. Not that Bogart is much better than Pacino.

Scene stealer

But after what I watched on Friday even Bogart could pull off being mean better in my book and Bogart never had me (have you watched that weeper Casablanca?). Bogart.

You know, that’s another thing. I could never get the Bogart halo worship. Really. Yes, Degstar, I have watched The Maltese Falcon too and HAVE YOU watched Treasure of Sierra Madre where Bogart is supposed to be a double dealing straight out badass cheater, gold hunger in his eyes, kissing the lips of evil behind his mates’ backs? Weak! Give me Richard ‘Shaft’ Roundtree any day, Ugandan interrogation cops took lessons from this guy I could swear in a court of law. Though they didn’t go to the gym too like he did.

You want mean? You want I’ll kick you in the mouth and make you swallow your teeth and laugh as you choke on your molars mean? Try James Cagney, short nasty angel with a dirty face. Try Brando. Try Edward G. Robinson. Try Christopher Reeves. Try Val Kilmer. Try Clint Eastwood High Plains Drifter even. But leave Pacino out of this. Leave De Niro. You’ve got to be mean-souled and Pacino is too sweet-souled.

Tough guys

And don’t give that Iwaya eye that I say this because Pacino is a short ass. I may be taller than Pacino but neither could I be as menacing as James and Cagney was shorter than both of us. If you have never watched a James Cagney film how I wish I could trade all the movies I have watched with you to watch a James Cagney film for the first time again!

Yet Pacino’s Scarface. That soundtrack. That soundtrack, wow! That music as Pacino watches a willowy young Pfeiffer gliding down in the elevator in the Miami boss’s house, the first time he has laid eyes on her and from the way he watches her we know this elderly genteel pretension boss is gone because Pacino will want her (in her eyes and tongue-lip play he can already taste her), that music. The music in Bolivia where Pacino steals the show and there’s a not too pleasant helicopter ride waiting for his boss. There are movies made just to play a song in appropriate setting and Scarface is one of them.

But still I guess this Scarface will never win with me because it was too Gatsbysian. There could
only be one Fitzgerald and you’re well advised to never ever try be the second. And I’ll never watch this Scarface again.

Now you maybe near yelling that come on you didn’t watch him in his best! The Godfather for instance. Yeah, what about the Godfather? Al Pacino as Michael Coreleone? Staggering performance, wouldn’t you say? Well I did. I also watched Pacino in Heat where he reteams with De Niro. And of the two (Godfather Pacino or Heat Pacino) I’ll say give me Heat. The Godfather is a Brando film and when Brando is dead so is the

But I’ll say this for the Godfather/ShakaZulu type of films. They can stand rewatching. And I don’t mean this one more sentimental second time watching. I mean the compulsive obsessive rewatching for all you crazy cinephiles out there, Saturday night you don’t have a date swing that sucker in and it won’t let you down type of rewatching. There’s always something new to notice, especially in the ShakaZulu. Yes, that ShakaZulu was a smart street buy and on Friday night Pacino was no friend of mine.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

“i want be loved by you. just you. nobody else but you.”

Until last night, I was not a Marilyn Monroe fan. I had gawked at her photographs, sure. I was aware of the living icon adoration thing much of the world has going on with her of course. But I was not fan. I used to think it must have been something that was in the air then. It probably was too. Actually I don’t even know if I can say I’m a fan now. But my attitude to Monroe has changed. Because I watched her best films last night. All night. Going to sleep at five in the morning.

I know I can never consider Monroe dumb again. Despite all the reams of print I had read before and I’ll read after this. Monroe was no fool. Niagara nearly made me think she was one. Until I saw the production date of the movie. 1953. In 1953 for a beautyface there were only two available roles. Ask Ava Gardner. A beauty face was either a whore or the Virgin Mary. Monroe was a whore. An adulterous social climbing whore tired of her husband and not going to divorce him. There would be no movie then. No, instead she was pressing the right biceps on her beefcake boyfriend to bump him off. In that little red number she flowed into, even you would have gone on all your fours and barked like a dog if she had asked you to too.

And I didn’t like her. Which is a compliment. In Niagara Monroe was acting not to be liked. On my DVD copy, the movies to fawn guiltlessly over Monroe were Some Like it Hot and The Misfits, not counting The Seven Year Itch. But I’m a Catholic so there’s no pleasure without guilt. Maybe The Misfits is the one movie to completely enjoy Monroe because she is herself in the movie suffering. As much as a pleasure to the eye and ear as Some Like it Hot is, it’s an insult to Monroe’s abilities. But that doesn’t mean I hate Some Like it Hot.

The Seven Year Itch is the one Billy Wilder I failed to like. But it does have in one scene I can never forget. No, it’s not the Monroe-over-a-subway-dress lifted scene. It’s the sitting on the piano bench scene playing chopsticks with Tony Ewell. Overwhelmed by Monroe’s perfume, her fanny (they use the word in the film!), her lips, Ewell knocks her and himself off the bench as he tries to kiss her and get on top of her. “What happened? This has never happened to me!” Ewell mumbles straightening his crumpled clothes and concealing a hard on. “Why, this happens to me all the time,” Monroe breathes unflustered. It’s a funny scene at first and then it’s an ugly scene. The innocence of this scene quickly seeps away re-watched. And an unnerving foreboding slowly grips you. It must be terrible to live like this, expecting all the time to be jumped. Never quite sure who is going to jump you. Always alert, always on the lookout, never once relaxing your guard. Is this how all women live their lives? A predatory male in my time I never ever stopped to think about it like this before.

It was with The Seven Year Itch that it began to strike me as I watched her films over a ten hour burst how for a persona memorialized for happy insouciance, Monroe consistently played unhappy characters that with hindsight seem like terrible revelations of the best place to hide a secret is in public. In Bus Stop she is abused, in Niagara she is an unhappy housewife, in Some Like it Hot she is self abusing, in The Seven Year Itch she is part prey. Monroe made me think for the first time that maybe actors, even Hollywood ones, do put as much foresight into the work they do as any writer, any painter, any architect. That the work actors do, that she did, was no mistake, that every film she ever starred and the character she was playing, were intended to be viewed when her life was over and the whole body of her work was viewed as a cipher with a message of its own. Her own take on life, her life and the world she lived in. That for Monroe and maybe for the best actors ‘my work is my diary.’ That maybe Monroe was not such a fool.

Some Like It Hot is a perfect film I don’t want to ruin for you by talking about. With Some Like It Hot I realized that Billy Wilder worked like a still life painter setting up images as miniature worlds of meaning.

Like when Sweet Sue’s jazz band with Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis arrive to check in the hotel they’ll be staying in while playing in Florida. A rich man’s hotel. Where the millionaires Monroe is hunting flock to pass the winter.

The millionaires are there to greet them on the porch. They are all in a line in rocking chairs: first mental image, helpless old ladies in retirement home porches, then the newspapers come down, immediately mental image changes; these are lip smacking birds of prey drooling over this season’s food. The rich shall have their fun.

The Misfits is irresistible. And that’s not just because this was Monroe’s last completed film. Is it possible to watch The Misfits objectively? Impartially?

The Misfits was shot in black and white. This is in 1961. And a movie with three of the world’s most famous film stars is shot in black and white?! Were they crazy? Then it starts to make sense. A lot of sense but firstly aesthetic sense. Shooting this movie in black and white was a kindness to Clark Gable. Clark Gable is a dead man walking in this movie and it shows in his face. In The Misfits, the acting is so nuanced it is much better than the script.

There’s lots of drinking in this film. The time doesn’t matter; bring out the whiskey the bourbon the scotch a glass and poached eggs. But the drinking that stands out is the drinking in the bar after the rodeo where contrary to all his boasting Montgomery wins nothing and nearly shatters his skull. 40 years later thrown off the bull and lying flat on his back a thin steady stream of blood seeping out of his mouth it still doesn’t seem like he was acting or the blood not real. But the drinking, it is what is of interest here. Lost another round in the category he says he is very good in, let’s not talk about how Gable soothes him by lying to him he’s done fine. The drinking. The drinking is really what is of interest here. Drink does not fortify them to be finer, braver men in a crass world of no values. The drinking lets the plastering of hard boiled wisecracks moulder off and reveal the cracks. The scoffing of real knuckle down nine to five jobs is not because they are driven by this great yawning need for independence but because they are afraid to try for long and prove again they are no good like they have failed at their marriages, their relationships with their children or even comprehending their world, finding their place in it. Drinking that was at first puzzling.

Then all of it clicking into place. The reason why after classes on Friday evening leaving the university grounds we would run laughing and joking to go into reed palaces in the shittiest slums you can get in Kampala, five of us, to go drinking. Drinking hard until coffee tables broke under your stumbling figure and you did not feel any pain at all, drinking until you could not see or feel the glass in your shaking hand. Drinking until with your tot glass in one hand held as far away from you as you could vomiting your lungs out outside in the back, a whimpering dog for company at 1 in the morning before going back in for more. Drinking until we lost each other in the room. Drinking and drinking they were doing the same thing.

Gable on the porch bar yelling for his children who came to visit him during the rodeo only in his mind and out of his mind. Elias Wallach drunk speeding the car in terror of the dreams he’ll have when they get home and he closes the door behind him and has to sleep. Clift the abandoned son talking of the mother he spoke to not less than four hours ago as if she is dead. All men through the alcohol squinting to understand the new woman who are the women in their lives. And Monroe, Monroe in this tempest, disquieting. In the performance of a lifetime.

Monday, December 12, 2005

where were you?

Asphalt angel

Perrrrfect! Perfect! Perfect weekend! Awesome in every way. I discovered a nugget of a film. A film I had not seen but even more wondrous, never heard of existing before. And you know what, Aha, from the same DVD library! This DVD library is extraordinary. Not only did I find there when I first joined the entire early great Italian cinema films, in the new batch of DVDS from last week, these guys have bought most of the 1960s French wave films. And would you believe it, some from the 1920s and 1930s! (God please, please grant me the calm to write about those films sometime soon!!) Within five minutes of Easy, I was cursing and laughing, wondering, asking myself again and again, how the fuck did Easy escape my new movie radar. And bugger me blind, if this wasn’t a 2003 release too! The answer was (!) easy. Easy is temperamentally English. Never mind that it was not directed by English film maker with English actors but nevertheless English. Something the all the pervasive Hollywood publicity machine ain’t ever going to promote. And what a loss it would have been!

There were many good vibes. Any movie that has in sex in the first seven minutes is going to have a redeeming feature. Easy had a full body on. And a movie with Naveen Andrews (in Easy as a Byronically sexy writer called John Kalicharan), so far, is going to be funny or interesting and since Easy promised Naveen was going to be a major character, they had me hooked. Naveen and I go back before Bride and Prejudice to The Budha of Surbabia and Mira Naira’s Kama Sutra(I hope I’ll be able to tell you about that one day because Naira’s Kama Sutra is stunning) where he’s a debauched woman crazy Raj—think Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean and Once Upon Time in Mexico; yes, he’s that good. Easy did not disappoint. Naveen was the guy in the, ahem, helm. (I wonder if he’s as good at it in real life as he seems in the movies?)

Naveen is a skilled scene stealer. Bride and Prejudice (updated Indian version of Jane Austen’s classic novel, Pride and Prejudice) is an okay film, would be a watch-and- forget film in fact. But for Naveen.
Every few minutes he is on the screen. Full of…I was going to say …indolent grace. But that’s not it. His grace is not indolent, if indolent means lazy. It’s more beguiling, like the tread of a big cat across a Savannah plain. This lion, leopard, cheetah (can’t yet decide which big cat he is) is slowly moving across a plain of land, almost sauntering as if without a care in the world, lazy looking, but you know it would not even take it a split second to explode suddenly into murderous speed. Yes! That’s it! That’s what Naveen’s acting has in plenty. His brooding is not romantically rosy, you get the feeling that it’s dangerous, he’s about to explode. He hasn’t yet but like Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire and The Godfather, with no evidence, you are in dread because you know you have on your hands a capped volcano. And the cap is coming off. (PS: Does anyone know anyone who knows where one can get Last Tango in Paris?) Good as I think Naveen is then though; Easy is the first movie where I watched him fail to be the lead star. Marguerite Moreau playing Jaime Harris is.

Until Easy, Moreau was the nice sounding name of some actress whose face I could never place. After Easy, that mistake will never happen again. Easy was made surely with Moreau in mind just as there can never be another Bridget Jones other than Rene Zellwegger. The pairing of film role and actress was seamless. Moreau here is playing a woman who has too much success with men. No, no, don’t turn away.

Jaime Harris’s problem is that when it comes to relationships, she is easy. Naveen doesn’t even need, technically, a first date to get her in bed. After they meet at his poetry book launch. No wonder she’s dumped this often. Yet we do not despise Jaime in spite of her misadventures. This is because of Marguerite Moreau’s special gift. Moreau, it is my pleasure to inform you, belongs to a new exciting generation of actresses that have IT. IT in the old Hollywood way. IT as in a quality that goes beyond mere good technical acting talent into something more. An inner light. Scarlett Johansson has IT. (Have you seen her in In Good Company, Girl with a Pearl Ear ring or The Love Song of Bobby Long? Bobby Long, that gutting greatness near miss. God, does Johansson have a face!) I’m not yet quite decided if Keira Knightley has IT but I know Moreau has IT. Moreau’s gift offering to us in Easy is to give us a glimpsing feel of the pain of her many breakups without deluging us with the messiness yet letting us see the funny side and laugh. Laughing but not laughing at her. Laughing at the memory of our own past breakups.

The other guy in Jaime’s life in Easy is this a Nick Hornby looking character played by Brian F. O’Byrne. The type of guy women like to give the line, “let’s be friends first” and he believes it. He does in the film too! And I absolutely don’t sympathize with him. (Shudder…I think it’s because he is bald and bland looking. Talk about judging people by their appearances!) And yes, when that primal scene comes, Mick at first does not disappoint my expectations though I don’t think Jaime in the blue bedroom would say the same. But this is the movies and everyone gets a second chance. If you can get up more than once in a single night. Pretty soon, Moreau is faced with the dilemma of choosing between two men who are crazy about her, and it is a dilemma, for unlike in most films of this kind, both men end up completely lovable. What Jaime does not know is that her gorgeous incredibly Nicole Kidman lookalike married sister Emily Deschanel (they have a close relationship) is waiting to snap up the man she makes a mistake of letting go, even temporarily.

Nicole Kidman's abandoned twin

From all of this I suspect that you’ll assume Easy is a fluffy chick film no man should get near. Let me tell you that you are right. If you are that type of man then let tell you that you’d also be missing an intelligent film, a grown up meditation on the nature of love: love of parents for their children, love of siblings, the new rules of love between men and women in a modern world. Suicide and living. I told you, this is one wise film. Easy is Closer with tact. And Jane Weinstock is a director on my watchlist.

Disclaimer: this take on Easy was written after 2pm under the influence of ten coffee cups (okay, twelve). And because there was no one in the other room.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

could this be? can this be?

Is this guy the real Shaka, king of the Zulus?

pub tales

With the tearing down of the Plaza bar on Jinja road a part of my life definitely ended. I’m silly like that. A bar can come to mean that much to me. There was (and still is) City Springs across the road but what was City Springs without Plaza bar? So I never went back there either.

You see Plaza bar was not just a bar. Not for me at least. I first came into Plaza bar in 2002, a Saturday afternoon, just after four. I was on the run. Study my bar entrances if you ever have the chance. No one saunters more coolly into a bar than I do. From my nonchalant entrance no one could have guessed a girl with literal fang incisors was after me.

With job hopes clanging after my weary feet like weights, I had not seen her until it was too late chatting with a friend in front of a boutique on Plaza house, Jinja road. Alright, alright so she was supposed to be my girlfriend. But that was come night hours after several beers. Not one of my friends knew about her. And now here she was, plump arms wide open for me with fangs obscuring her smile!

As experience had taught me, I met only one friend of hers and she was enough to later be responsible for me fleeing another girl’s room in Kikoni pursued by this Fang Fang. I have had some ugly girlfriends (and one day I’ll make a photo essay of them) but with Fang Fang even a warthog would have been outraged to be compared to her. So when she introduced me to her friend friesian Felister as her man, I was wilting as I tried not to show becoming Mr. Warthog was disgusting. In fair exchange I got a warm hug from juggy Felister that would have made me stay and chat had not Fangy winked suggestively at me. I did not want people to know we were doing such things! So I treaded on a reputation.

Quick thinking, I said that I had come to buy cigarettes for Ernest who was around the corner in a car. Yes, that Ernest. Would right away be back. No bat out of hell could have run for it as fast as I did when she let me out of her sight. I decided I would be going back to Plaza bar definitely when I remained hidden in one of their toilet cubicles for an hour without becoming nauseous for so clean were they. And because no one in that bar had been rugby football rude to rattle me out. My kind of people!

Plaza bar became a Saturday tradition for me. understands why that balcony facing the railway headquarters meant so much to me. It was not until Plaza bar that a Larkinesque mad genius won me over to some points of view. Plaza was the bar on a Friday evening where I first sat down to take in the enormity of purchasing my first mobile phone staring this green gleaming face wonder rapt before I sent out my first incomprehensible SMSes. In Plaza bar watching her eat pork, I fell out of love with M after three years of storming an impregnable fortress and she fell in love with me but what could we do, she’s lesbian. Feeling out of place in teenies hub DV.8, with a friend we took Plaza bar as a last resort and totally by chance watched our first Obsessions show getting upclose and personal treatment because the crowd was small but passionate and I learned a new fragrance off a dancer who’ll remain nameless but the fragrance named, Razac. I left Plaza bar at 12:30AM on the last day when I knew for sure I would never be a Makerere University student again and I remember my mentor walking me from Plaza bar through the still center of Kampala, down tree crouching Kyagwe road, through ghostly Old Kampala talking less and less and communicating more and more until reaching me the gate of my parents’ house where when he tried to say bye a sob escaped from his throat. Before I came to work where I’m now, I came every day of the week before to Plaza bar and two days after Plaza bar closed down forever. I could never go back.

I have lost a lot of things in 2005 and I did not think I would ever love a bar again. But on Monday 7:49PM, I went into the Pub on Dewinton road and I fell instantly in love with the Pub. But you know this really should be back at

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

just who the fuck(!) is james spader?

For the last two weeks or so I seem to have been watching films with an actor I had never been aware of. Not planned, maybe it was unconsciously. Every time I went to my new DVD library find on Dastur street I seemed always to come away with a film that somehow had this actor who was not center stage in the film but I couldn’t quite stop looking at him from the corner of my eye.

This 1960 Boston child is the American Hugh Grant. Spader may display less obvious charm of the sweet ladies man type in the cheesy romantic way but he possesses something in oodles Grant’s film persona never had which is why Grant as the villain in Bridget Jones’ Diaries is hard to believe. Spader has the dark forces on his side. He is perversion on the screen. The dark prince of sexual fantasies. At least in the two movies. Crash, the other week; and this week, The Secretary.

In Crash some but mostly in The Secretary, Spader is no ordinary horny leading man zipper impatient to get it on or some incredible 16 inch penis pornographic film super hero. He’s something more sinister. You can tell he is bad news just by the way he moves, gliding, stalking, more than walking around his office room with gleaming eyes that never leave his prey, a spider focused on a fly. This is no fluke of being the boss in his office, a master at home in his environment where his supremacy is unchallengeable. Cringing neurotic freak that he is, nevertheless even in the street there’s a space he achieves that no one dares intrude on not because the coarse plebeians he has to go through respect his privacy but because they animal instinctively sense that to get too close and fall in his radar would somehow be suicidal for themselves.

He does not Clive Owen want to marry her; nor Humphrey Bogart style bittersweet like her much. There is no Tom Cruise playfulness in him. He is not di Caprio a la Titanic interested in talking out her low self esteem beautiful inner woman. His attitude is the attitude of all men that men now don’t have the guts to utter: bend down and shut up.

Thomas Ian Nicholas in American Pie, teen movie though it is, is true when he turns away from Tara Reid after getting his blowjob and has to ejaculate; a cowering pitiful spectacle of man losing control and trying to find a hiding place from the curious and contemptuous woman. Whichever way it’s done, I was, until I watched Spader in The Secretary, convinced that a man in this situation could not but be shamefaced after. Not Spader. Soames Forsyte couldn’t have been straighter backed after!

Mickey Rourke used to have this gift. Battle scarred by life he’s gone onto something else. James Spader is his wide screen heir.

The Secretary though was another story (hahahahaha!). The Secretary with Maggie Gyllenhaal in the lead was more disturbing. I was not sure watching The Secretary whether for example it was morally right. Not only was this a film about a boss, a lawyer, (James Spader) sexually exploiting his employer by making her engage in unnatural sexual acts. The secretary herself, Maggie Gyllenhaal, welcomed the ends she was ordered to bend to.

This was more than just sex in the office on a slow afternoon with the sun filtering through the drawn blinds. This was a girl’s sexual appetites being tutored and turned from the normal ordinary missionary style—“bang, bang, can we now go to sleep”--- to elaborate pleasure seeking in sex where pain and pleasure are the same thing. Where humiliation is foreplay. Though softly spoken, “Bend over and pull up your skirt,” were simultaneously the most chilling and arousing words by James Spader’s lawyer character who hardly ever seemed able to construct a full sentence. I found myself angry and outraged that Gyllenhaal made this film, I was about to say, was forced to make this film. That’s how Secretary fires up one. I’m never one to rush to the aid of women but I found myself rather hating the filmmakers on Gyllenhaal’s part.

But The Secretary is trickier than that. The victim turns out to be the huntress before the end of the film. I won’t spoil for you how. But out of this hothouse office thing grows like a flower an odd love story. It is as this love is growing that you begin to wonder whether perhaps you have misunderstood The Secretary. Okay, daft me misunderstood The Secretary.

Spader and Gyllenhaal are not exactly damaged people in the movie cliché way. Sure he is neurotic in a later Howard Hughes way and she, well, she …what the fuck was wrong with her? You have to watch the movie yourself. (Scratch…scratch….) But there is something wrong with her. The way she stares and the things she thinks about, just not natural. They are two human beings who turn on other people but they themselves never feel the heat they force out of the eager mouths of their partners. Gyllenhaal in bed with her boyfriend is the nightmare of every man.

Then they meet. Gyllenhaal reads Spader’s looking for a secretary advert in the newspaper and applies.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

strictly for the obsessed

I had an extraordinary weekend. I watched films that no one in their right mind should be watching. Films that made me as Tupac memorably worded it, want “to bow down” and worship. I did something better. I rewound and rewatched. Again and again. To make sure I was not being taken in. like I was by the Godfather films where Marlon Brando is not. Or the Shaka Zulu films. (A quarrel for another day). I was not being fooled here. I was not being fooled. It’s hard to turn me on, I get bored quickly and my attitude to many things is fuck it. But these films did not bore me, they turned me on and often they had me scrolling through the end credits carefully.

Crash, a David Cronenberg film
James Spader, Holly Hunter, Elia Koteas, Deborah Karr Unger and Rosanna Arquette

Before this, I had never watched a David Cronenberg film. I had heard of David Cronenberg but nothing I heard had made me want to see any of his films. Something snotty in the expositors’ voices suggested Cronenberg would not be a pleasant cinematic experience. Cronenberg, the name, pharmaceutical sounding, did not entice much either.

So Crash was a total head on collision. Crash, in a few minutes, convinces you that you are not merely watching another hour and a half of filled film but something more. And it’s not just because Crash begins with an attractive married woman having sex with a man whose face she does not look at in an airport hanger and when the camera pans away from her we discover her husband’s head bobbing up and down between the thighs of one of his actresses. Crash is not just about the sex though I have to confess seldom has sex been more sexily filmed to be more arousing for the viewer.

Crash is about a jaded film director and his wife who discover through his nearly fatal car accident a society of car accident enthusiasts. Not as in simply sick pervs who relish rushing to accident scenes to take pictures but who also meticulously plan car crashes they can be involved in. This meticulousness is not aimed at ensuring that they survive the accident to feed on the thrill, the thrill is in dying in the most horrifically smashed up automobile. It is after the crash, with the thrill of the crash still coursing out of their bodies through cuts and gashes that they experience the best sex, death and life entwined.

Crash also does something very important. It sharpens the watcher’s sensory urges. Crash makes you want to touch things. Let me rephrase that. Crash makes you want to lingeringly run your hands over the surfaces of objects, feel their shapes and surfaces damaged and undamaged with every inch of skin on your fingers reading in the dents and hard body messages of wordless perfections. I washed plates, cups, saucepans, spoons, forks, socks after watching Crash because Crash leaves you aching to touch. Urging you to touch. And only when you slide your fingers along the hard edge of your table until your tip toeing fingers suddenly come to the rough dip of the corner of your table do you understand that as James Spader runs his fingers along the fresh scars of Holly Hunter, Deborah Karr Unger, stops and probes nearly pulling out the stitches in Elias Koteas’s chest wounds that the definition of beauty is changing here. Beauty is no longer in the Photoshop flawless skin, beauty is in the healing tears inflicted on the skin in the act of living and these scars are the proud war wounds of the survivors.

Damn it, I have to go for a meeing. Will talk about the other three later.

Monday, November 28, 2005


i just made a discovery. beggars exist on the street to make us feel good.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

new kiera knightley

another Pride and Prejudice. why would i want to watch another Pride and Prejudice which is no different from the other previous releases based on the same damn book? do they think that JUST because kiera knightley is in it? do they think I'll succumb just because she'll get wet and muddy in the opening scenes with those clingy georgian dresses on, all sleek in lace? Just like I was watching the short shorts in Bend it Like Beckham and bought a projector just to trace the journey of one bead of sweat from behind her left ear, down her lithe white neck, over a pulsing purple vein and down into her shirt to inside her wonder bra and.... no, I'm not going to watch that new Pride and Prejudice!

and do we have another jane austen craze coming on? oh yee "tea sodden grief!"

Thursday, November 17, 2005

who said that?!?

Britney Spears can SING(!) or she just has one damned fine lyricist. Yes, I said fine in regard to Britney Spears and I wasn't talking about her former famously flat well toned stomach.

I heard this Spears song that knocked me out. the way she sang... so i decided to take a closer look at the lyrics...

title: every time

I may have made it rain
Please forgive me
My weakness caused you pain
And this song's my sorry

that's it? no, wait. i think i may have been a little too hasty about mrs. federline.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

the piriton problem

pain killers. if you have a headache and swallow a headex, the pain goes away because the headex has numbed it. but the headex has not removed the cause of the pain, just made you unaware of the pain. so are painkillers medicine?

Monday, October 31, 2005

when the world stops

I don’t like making ‘best of, worst of’ comments--lists. It’s not that I’m not good at them. It’s just that I’m wary of boxing my life in. Declaring ‘my best life moment’ automatically seems to relegate the rest of the life I’m going to go on living in the shades. What’s the point of living ten more years if the best moment of my life is happening just now and the moment even as I fully savour and live it is slipping away? The veteran may tell the stories but I want to be the hero of his tale. That said, last week (however which way I’ll look at it with or without definitions) will always rank as one of the most difficult in my life.

The more more worlds come easily unbidden to my pen so long in training to create them, the less they mean anything significant to me. Last week I edged a little closer to goals I’ve pursued relentlessly since I was 12 (what? i was a serious kid), to my surprise found myself envied by certain persons I never even dared to hope knew of my existence, yet all these achievements barely mattered to me.

All my mind, my emotions, whole being for a whole week instead was consumed with concern for a frail, little, old woman who has never given a toss and even actively sabotaged my attempts towards those goals. Last week, for the first time in my life, I realized my mother will one day die. We thought she was going to die last week. I’m a grown man, able to look after myself, physically defend myself, three or four hearts remain unbroken only at my whim and yet I have never felt more vulnerable, naked and scared.

I have heard many people say in reference to the intensity of their love that, “I’ll do anything it takes’ and dismissed them as being melodramatic. I have never loved that much. CORRECTION: I did not know that I loved someone that much. Until next week.

Some of you may find this hard to believe. But in my family I’m the least physically demonstrative person. From the time when I was about nine and I was shushed, ‘Don’t cry, you’re a man,’ I have not cried again. I did not cry when I was whipped so badly in my primary two, my father came with my mother to my school and my father nearly assaulted the teacher who had tore into me so savagely I could barely walk. When in the backseat of a blue Datsun coming home from school at last resolved on how exactly to write her that letter so long promised, I was casually informed that the grandmother I believed for seven years was my mother was dead I did not cry. I did not cry when I won sports races on Parents Day and there was no one from my family to hold me up panting after the races nor when no one came to visit me in boarding school nor when best friends I thought closer than family betrayed me or someone who I respected suddenly turned and snubbed me. I did not cry even when the only girl (we were both eight) I first loved with my wallet and my heart was taken without warning by her parents to live with them forever in England and I have not cried since when I left or was left by lovers. I did not cry last week either but in 16 years, staring at her lying unconscious and small almost like a baby in her hospital bed, I came closest to. I also realized one shocking, frightening, simple truth: I love her completely, absolutely, totally. If I had to die for her to live, without a thought, I would. I did not know I was capable of such emotion.

one rung @ a time

how long's it been? stopped counting. Just got in touch to holla. Xmikolo (... ...), congrats! On the grad. A Social Science degree. they'll get your taciturn self yet!

Couldn’t make the party but any party where Caesar’s at, he compensates for my brooding good looks and silence. I won’t ask ‘Caesar was at the party, wasn’t he?’ even if that guy were broke, he would walk into Lubumbashi if the party was happening there.

The vine says X you kept it real and staunchly refused to don the box (graduands cap). Thanks for sparing us that sorry sight. Xmikolo B.A. does kind of sound neat though, doesn’t it?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

happenings at the workplace of universal love

finally my nagging and whinning and plain well bitching paid off and this friend i was telling you about a few entries back finally did start up a blog. with back up capital from me. you can check out his blog at i promise that it will be worth it if you wish to have thoughtful, sensitive and insightful takes on kampala life. we are urbanites all of us. but his blog comes closest to telling you what it really means to live in kampala.

since today is praise singing day, i might as well let you in on another loop. rather hot this one. and great. it's something that occured at xmikolo's workplace. demonstrating another theory of mine that has long been dear to my heart and i believe is true. businesses in kampala survive on not paying their workers and cheating those who demand payment. brought to you by the powers of yahoo instant messenger, read and laugh:

Xmikolo: I sometimes write wrong spelling because the drama enfolding these endz never ceases, U can imagine having an ear out for the chaos and trying to pretend you are busy at the same time. Someone has just been condemned to, as Hardy called it, reading a lot of Ecclesiastes. Having had a lot of money hoping it would be paid only to meet smug, sly shrewd, conniving thieves, a.k.a sweet babe and her backup singers

hetaeri1: okay that was the in-house code version of saying things. now tell us outsiders what the drama is about.

Xmikolo: Some guy, people around here call him Castle. I should find out why one of these days. But he is such a jolly fella he should never cry, you know.

Xmikolo: so

hetaeri1: ?

Xmikolo: Listen-wait

Xmikolo: the story continues

Xmikolo: So he comes like all the condemned types that do business with us, he comes everyday, cracks jokes and gets promised his money the next day, and today he just cracked. You don’t want to see a funny man cry.

Xmikolo: so

hetaeri1: go on

Xmikolo: Funny in that he is so much full of fun that you can never imagine he even cries. Castle cried in between the shouts of how they can go to hell and enjoy their money. I tried to sink into the desk, at least.

hetaeri1: is Castle a white guy or a black guy?

hetaeri1: gwe u are making me laugh too much!!!

Xmikolo: i tried to sink into the desk, at least spare myself the faces of the Back up singers looking on disgustedly. Sweet babe was scared I think. But in the end, the tide just swept all right where it belongs. Castle right out of the way, the backup singers started imitating the man who “cries like a babe.”

Xmikolo: Castle is a black ugandan.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

this game II

I've got to get over the habit of leaving things hanging. as in completing what i was writing in my mind and letting the bitch stay there. gotta get this out. okay, so i made a big statement back there and...?

hmmm. it's depressing to realise its been that long. no, no, this is not that kind of entry! i have done well. better than i thought i would. i have seen many people who started out with better chances than i had fall off the wagon that makes the writing game in kampala. some fell off as a career choice, others fell off but they just don't yet know they have. we are too kind to tell them they have. okay, so we like the feeling of having someone behind us. we are mean bastards. but you have got to be in this business. sounds like politics, don't it? u hardly know the half of it.

well so anyway i realise that i have been writing for more than 10 years and i should say something profound about all my years of experience. i will say something profound. after recollecting my thoughts. in my memoirs. but here? it hasn't exactly been fun and there have been many tears and... what i'm trying to say is that don't become a writer. period. it sucks.

this game

i just realised that i have been writing in one form or another for more than ten years now today.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

office cafeteria food

With the exception of only one workplace, all the places I have had the displeasure to be employed at (stetching the term) have always had terrible food in their cafeteria. Can fondly recall only one. This was at Datarun, where Akiyo Michael Kasaija (who, bafflingly, has refused to set up a blog though he could) works. But then there’s a snake in that Garden of Eden that I won’t talk about here. But their food, wow, that food always was fantastic.

I remember when I worked there like for two weeks we used to have chicken, sausages and other goodies for lunch. Expertly cooked from a restaurant that was just below our office. My favourite restaurant in Kampala then by the way. Delivered on time and the company was paying! This is for real. After lunch, I was officially indisposed. That’s because there was a waitress down in Springs that I had to ... to. And cheap beers to down after. Beers for which I didn’t have to pay the full price either. Bliss! Now I’m misty eyed. And digressing. Datarun lunches were heavenly! They were the best. I give them credit for that.

Datarun lunches also ruined me entirely. True, my ruination had begun a few months before, when I first tasted chef David’s cooking. But Datarun did it completely. I couldn’t eat anything less well cooked after. Can’t even now. And the hellholes I have trudged through since trying to stave off starvation in Kampala have seen my stomach not only cringe but crumple up and totally refuse to admit some of the toxins served as food in the work cafeteria. I was even ill last week because of the food! (my excuse for not uploading for so long. sorry.) But I digress.

Maybe I should just come out right and ask: is bad food served at work as a form of the bosses punishing us for making a buck off them????? Why is office food just so bad?

obote disputes

i don't understand this. why won't anyone accept that Obote was the father of the nation? and don't crack which nation. uganda of course. obote was the father of the nation. deal with it.

obote is dead

well, obote is dead. so many deaths this year. i'm supposed to feel something. i feel something. the question is will the state and the press let me feel anything?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

dead ringers

"a demon is on the prowl tonight."

I lost another friend today. We did not quarrel. He’s dead. At 24. that’s the second best friend I have lost in four years. We were originally six and now two are dead. It’s unnatural.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

courting the madness of the crows

There are not many songs, whole albums even that I can bring myself to write of, let alone think, as possessing a wistful sadness and indisputable touch with reality. I keep such poeticisms when I’m describing books. And books no less than Tender is the Night or maybe a Hemingway late efflorescence like A Moveable Feast. Yet I’m using those very words describe This Desert Life by the Counting Crows. I never thought before musicians could be classed as geniuses. That popular art could transcend its cheap button entertainment. But these guys have proven me very wrong. The depth of the things they talk about, how so simply and memorably they say them is awesome. Its like listening to a Keats poem sung.

A song like I wish I was a girl. It’s a whole novel in itself. There’s the woman’s side of the story and there’s the man’s. Although it’s a man singing, by virtue of the fact that the writer/singer was in creating mode, somehow he manages to be a man and woman at the same time. To be androgynous. First he tells us the woman’s story. He sings about how, “the devil… tells you I’m not sleeping in my hotel room alone. With nothing to believe in you dive into the traffic rising up and it’s so quiet. You are surprised and then you awake.” Powerful feminine emotions of suspicion when a woman believes a man is going way not to better both of them but to leave her for good are being touched upon here. Yet how he how so divinely makes them sound simple to decipher and understand and yet by explaining them so simply he makes them more eloquent by this simple way of phrasing.

Then the man’s part in this story of emotional discordance comes in. He knows how much he’s hurting her. She does not believe he’s going away to make their fortune because of his past treatment of her and admits, “For all the things you’re losing, you might as well resign yourself to try and make a change.” He’s doing this “going down to Hollywood, they are gonna make a movie from the things that they find crawling round my brain” for her but he doesn’t believe he’ll not fail her when he’s gone to Hollywood and he’s encouraging her to get ready to dump him. He wants her to hurt him and not for him to hurt her again. Yet at the same time he moans, “I wish I was a girl so that you could believe me,” because in spite of how sure he is that what’s he doing is for her own good, he can’t “shake this static when I try to sleep.” The static is his guilt that maybe he really wants to leave her and he just can’t bring himself to admit that he ants to leave her and she doesn’t deserve the treatment he’s putting her though. And all this before we are even in the middle of the entire song!

Reams of novel paper covered in less than three minutes. Incoherent emotions of months’ gestation as neatly drawn as the curve of storm on a weather graph. Before this extraordinarily nuanced song is over, the man will have traveled a whole lifetime’s arc of experience. He will have come from excusing his callous treatment of a woman who truly loved him for his work to admitting that he was doing this all for his own selfish ego to a lonely and pained realization of what he has thrown away. And yet to top if all off, he knows he can’t go back even if she could take him back, she might actually want to take him back, but he must stay away from her for her own good. He’s moved from being a selfish prick to a selfless saint.

This is just one song, ladies and gents! This is the range and greatness of one miserly track on a whole album full of such in depth, wonderful songs. Genius is strange and wonderful and there is no better album to get and listen to and wonder at it’s mysterious and beautiful working.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

new government policy?

i have come to painful but i think true conclusion. my government hates me. my government does not want to see me become rich. my government is delibarately holding me back. i have proof.

we are always decrying that our government has no policy. only of late have i figured that this government does have a policy. the policy is to keep the citizens as poor and in need as possible. hear me out, this is no typical rant.

the number of taxes imposed on the citizenary have been going up consistently for four years now. a letter writer in the new vision newspaper put it succintently that "the absurd taxes imposed on every aspect of people's lives." that is part of the government policy i for one have only began to discern.

the thing with these taxes of the last four years is that they are all targeted at all the new sources of income making that the citizenary has tried to come up with. the telecom industry, the communication sector especially when it comes to tvs and radios. property investments. film making that was making a one legged attempt to get off the ground. in fact, let's talk about that film industry.

there's a rumour i heard that i think best shows how determined this museveni government is against people making any money for themselves. this was during the filming of the last king of scotland based on giles foden's weak novel. the filming was taking place in kampala mostly and entebbe. anyway, the rumour goes that the film makers came with a budget that included something like 200,000shs for extras who were going to be ugandans. 200,000shs is a hell of a lot of money in uganda.

well government functionaries stepped in. i would like to say museveni stepped in. hell, i should say museveni stepped since nothing happens in this country until he says so. there would be a collective holding of breath if mr. museveni demanded it. anyway, government stepped in with an objection. they pulled the film makers aside and informed them, "u can't offer that amount of money to these extras."

"goodness, why?" the director Kevin McDonald and his financial advisor asked full of concern, "we are so sorry. we did not mean to insult the workers of your great country. we shall come up with a new offer immediately to better their earnings."

the government functionary, who remarkably resembled the evil nsaba buturo, stamped his lttle foot and barked back(yes, barked), "no! no! u ignorant white men. don't you see? 200,000shs? what are a dollar a day earning ugandans going to do with all that money? that is too much money! reduce what you're offering immediately. like to 80,000shs."

and so it was.

what we don't know is where the balance disappeared to. though we do have a good idea that a government functionary pocketed much of it.

as you can see the government taxes are aimed at keeping ugandans who try to get rich by thinking up new legal ways of making money down. the taxes are so heavy that once the payer has done with them he is in the exact position he was in before he thought up of the new business that was supposed to make him rich.

if people are rich, people have more time to think. if they think, they'll realise what a lousy government rule we have endured and want a change. and a change is exactly what this governemnt does not want. so u can see. the government policy is to keep people poor and stop them wanting a better life for themselves and their fellows. not smart or pretty, but effective.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

nakivuubo place

it was like returning home. i have not had this much enjoyment since i began working like this morning. no, i don't spectacular reportage to bring back. no news from dimly lit rooms of brief noontime romantic interludes in a sun blazing working day (another time those ones). i did not walk into a police shootout this time (that happened to me once, but another time that one too). nothing like that. a simple miracle happened to me this morning. i will not even hesistate to bring in a religious term. an epiphany.

i went back to nakivuubo again. not to visit. or to work. i passed through by pure accident. the taxi i was in decided not enter the new park (the evil ways of dastardly kampala drivers who never keep their word) so i was forced out. the taxi happened to stop right in the heart of nakivuubo. and i got out and walked about.

i was stunned. i was breathless. i fell in love again. i did! i realised i went into this job precisely because i always wanted to be here. in the center of the world where all the action is and it is in nakivuubo. laugh out loud if you want or what. nakivuubo is the center of the world and let me tell you what i saw.

nakivuubo in miniscule. that's it.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

girl shit

i was told this story by a friend. she was at a picnic and like true wannabe corporate yuppies, the girls and boys got down to playfully tossing about food crumbs and water at each other. this one couple got everyone's attention because the girl emptied a bottle of passion fruit juice on her boyfriend's clean sparklingly white gucci tee-shirt. then she laughed and ran. everyone laughed and followed this unfolding drama.

so the boyfriend picks up a bottle of soda too, fanta orange thankyou, and chases her. not kiddish i don't want to catch my girl too fast chase. a grim faced, whatthefuck-i'm-going-to get-you chase and-you'll-see-pursuit. she was laughing, but he wasn't. he caught up with her and punished her too. no, he did not batter her face into cubist angles. he looked her up and down, remembered how she was why they had got to this picnic late and the reason why they got here late and emptied that motherfucking fanta bottle in her hair.

the teller of this tale tells me that the picnic ended there and then. guys excused themselves quickly saying, 'see u chaps.' but not before hearing her, despite his pleading and saying he did not mean it, commanding him to 'shut up now if you still want to be my boyfriend in the next few minutes." apparently she had been to the saloon that afternoon.

now i wonder, why is it that girls always have to issue severe ultimatiums like that?

Monday, September 05, 2005

all shook up

this probably is going to make me seem like i've been living under some rock, maybe more accurately a cave in tora bora but what the heck. i just started listening to tupac. no, no, i know who he was. had heard a few of his songs on on fm stations. the sweet easy to listen to interchangeable stuff like california love. that doesn't inspire you to want to know more about the guy. even watched quite a few of his films like poetic justice which made me want to watch everything he had ever acted in, not disappointed in that quest either. but i had never really listened to tupac before.

and guess what, the first album i get to listen to is all eyez on me. reaction: nearly as shattering as the first time i watched the doors film by oliver stone. the thing i'm still trying to get over is how someone whose life (from the little i know) was so fucked up and disorganised could produce such logic, such precise order, and most surprising of all, all the wisdom in his lyrics. i'm still trying to figure that out. it's abit like reading spoonriver anothology and on checking out edgar lee masters' life, find out the guy died broke and bankrupt. i mean, i thought having so much wisdom is supposed to help you fix yourself a nice little nest egg? anway, am raving here and i better get back to tupac world, yes, he's that large.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

back due to popular demand

Why are you not surprised to see me here again? I mean, it's not like my life is empty and pathetic and I can't find anything better to do. I'm doing this for the fans. Really.