The Wind Will Carry Us

There are movies for pure entertainment, and movies that teach you something, move you, open your eyes to new points of view and different cultures, and even become experiences in themselves. Abbas Kiarostami’s films fall in the second category. I liked everything I have seen from his filmography so far, from Certified Copy, to Taste of Cherry and Like Someone in Love, but especially The Wind Will Carry Us (1999).

Kiarostami had an affinity for ordinary subjects and ordinary people. Interestingly, that is why his films are so fascinating. The austerity of vision, the artistry and beauty he imprinted on seemingly simple filmmaking, and on the most simple themes and settings is amazing. In The Wind Will Carry Us, a three-man film crew arrives in a remote Kurdish village outside of Tehran, in anticipation of the death of an elderly woman whose ceremonial burial and attendant mourning rituals they hope to turn into a television documentary. When she doesn’t pass away within the first few days, instead showing signs of recovery, the men are forced to wait out the inevitable. If you find a trace of humour in it, there is. Because, despite the subject, there is not much traditional drama in The Wind Will Carry Us. Instead, there is subtle humour, and irony, and understanding of the human condition. You really have to pay attention when watching this film. Not just to the dialogue, which carries much depth and life truths in each line, but because there is no straightforward narrative. Most of the film focuses on the anonymous producer (Behzad Dourani) in charge and his day-to-day explorations of the village, often accompanied by young boy named Farzhad (Farzhad Sohrabi). But it’s the man’s journey into adulthood and into the human soul.

photo: film still, MK2 Productions

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Wild Strawberries

Country Living 
Summer is the best time to return to a simpler way of life and a good reminder to live with intention and awareness. I am of the opinion that every small thing can make a difference. For yourself and for the world around you. Every tiny plastic bag recycled, every tree planted in your backyard, every minute spent offline, every walk you take, every farm-to-table meal, every trip you take with just a paper map to guide you, every face-to-face conversation with a friend, every additional page you manage to read at night, every little thing that you mend or build with your bare hands. A return to the roots.
Country living 
This summer I have made it my mission to start cooking again. After having eaten take-out food five days a week for almost a year after giving birth to my son last spring, it was time to take action, make an effort and return to old and healthy habits. I had help from a few good cook books, too. Balaboosta: Bold Mediterranean Recipes to Feed the People You Love, by Einat Admony, is one of them. I had heard absolutely nothing about it when I spotted it in a favourite book store. But browsing it I discovered so many recipes I wanted to try, some of which I had already made in different variations, that I couldn’t leave it behind. I’ve been congratulating myself for buying it ever since. I have managed to try my hand at about ten recipes up until now and each and every one has lived up to my expectations, from Morrocan carrots and spicy grilled salsa, to chicken with the most amazing sauce of apple and tomato juice (my substitute for the ketchup in the recipe, because I didn’t have home-made ketchup and because I always use healthier ingredients whenever necessary). They were not only delicious, but dinner-hosting worthy too.
Farm to Table and Balaboosta cook book 
I initially bought Jamie Oliver’s book, Jamie’s Italy, for my parents (my father likes Italian food and Jamie’s zest for cooking, so I thought I would combine the two), but ended up trying out a handful of dishes myself. I love Italian food too (some of the best food I’ve eaten was in Italy) and what I enjoy about Jamie’s approach to cooking is that he doesn’t just share recipes, but the entire, incredible experience of cooking – sourcing the ingredients and recipes from local people while travelling through the real, often rural Italy, making the meal and sharing it with others.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good is my feel good cook book, and the flourless stone fruit crumble and the ginger limeade have become my entire family’s go-to summer dessert and summer drink, respectively. What I really love about these books is that they encourage you to create food with simple, pure and honest ingredients at home.
Country living

Farm to table and cook books 
But the best part was that I got to cook mostly farm-to-table. I should probably mention that the only organic fresh produce I wholey believe in is that from your own backyard (fresh, imported and organic simply do not make sense in the same sentence). “If it’s not within six hours of the restaurant, it’s not on the plate,” is the philosophy of a restaurant I was recently reading about, and, by that, they say they want to show respect for fresh and local food. Jamie Oliver also mentions in his book talking about Italians that “true cooks encourage only local, fresh, seasonal produce”. And if you don’t have your own garden (it is my parents’ in my case), the next best thing is the seasonal, local vegetables and fruit (as well as farm-fresh dairy products and grass-fed meat) sourced from trusted farmers. The bounty of summer affords you as freshly and locally as you like and are willing to try. I think I may have overdosed on tomatoes and basil these months, so I think I’m good for now, and will rely on home-made tomato juice (a key incredient in many of my favourite dishes) to get me through next summer. As for the fact that I got to cook quite often al fresco (on our extended summer holiday in the country), with the vineyard as backdrop, was a real bonus.

On an ending note, I would like to mention another beautiful cook book I am yet to inaugurate, Basque: Spanish Recipes from San Sebastián and Beyond, by José Pizzaro. I didn’t purchase it just for the recipes, but because it is more of an exploration of regional dishes, places, cultures and traditions. I usually buy cook books that present food in a wider context. And while on the subject, Song of the Basques is a documentary that has caught my interest. A film about one of the world’s richest and most innovative cultures, their food, sports and fishing history (the Basques were among the earliest European explorers, fishermen, and whalers to venture to the Western Hemisphere), about how we create and sustain identities in our contemporary globalized world, as they are well known for their incredible commitment to language and cultural preservation.

photos by me

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Shirt Stories: Robert Redford

Shirt stories Robert Redford by Mikael Jansson 

You always notice the person wearing a great shirt. A classic that, for me, holds just as much appeal as a perfect pair of jeans. Shirt Stories is about others who feel the same, women and men, and who wear it well.

Robert Redford turned 80 yesterday. An occasion worth honouring, even one day late here on the blog. I have written about his seminal movies, his outstanding contribution to cinema and Sundance, and his costumes in films like Three Days of the Condor and The Great Gatsby. So let’s make it about his own contribution to style today, about the denim shirt and his impeccably rugged, Western-inspired American look. Because he has been wearing it better than anyone else for decades and has even turned the potentially calamitous double-denim option into a classic. Whether in one of his horse-whispering roles, in the otherwise forgettable Little Fauss and Big Halsy, or sporting his hallmarks – blue jeans with a jean shirt, aviators and boots – when at home in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, Robert Redford has made this really cool, functional, visceral, bare minimum, perfectly-weathered style his own. As in the case of all cinema’s sartorial emblems, his day-to-day style has always seemed to come through in his films just as much as his style when in character has transcended the screen. But the thing is the clothes are just a small part of his appeal, are never a big part of the conversation. It’s the man you notice.

“You never quite know what he’s really thinking, and that makes him fascinating to watch on the screen. Bob understands the power of restraint. You’re never going to get it all, and that’s the secret, that’s the mystery. That’s what makes you want to keep looking at him.” Barbra Streisand
Shirt stories Robert Redford

Rober Redford by mikael Jansson

Related Shirt Stories entries: Charlotte Rampling / Francisca Mattéoli (interview) / Heidi Merrick / Chloe Lonsdale / Clare Waight Keller

photos: Mikael Jansson for WSJ magazine, September 2015

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Till August Ends

Summer look-barefoot in jeans 
In a couple of weeks autumn will start sneaking up on us. And it will make me love it (it happens every year) and almost forget that summer still remains my favourite season. But until then, it’s still all about stolen sunsets, vineyard hopping and one too many ice creams, denim shorts and white tops day in and out, and distressed jeans and relaxed shirts and sweaters in the mornings and evenings (I guess late summer is really here), and bare feet as often as possible. Or just carry yourself with confidence and don’t try too hard!
Till August Ends-distressed denim and barefoot

photos: 1-imogene + willie / 2-Re/Done, modelled by Erin Wasson

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My All-Time Favourite Summer Films (Part II)

My favourite summer movies Point Break 1991 
There is just one kind of summer movie for me, and blockbuster is not part of the definition. The exception may be Jaws, but it’s a classic and a blockbuster in the 1970s meant an entirely different thing than it does today. But my summer picks are usually not just for sheer entertainment, they evoke something more. They bottle some of the summer magic I long for the rest of the year. It is this hallucinatory combination of emptiness and endless possibility, this transitional time between past and future, a time when you let things go and prepare for new challenges, a ripe time for misbehaviour, but for pushing your limits too, a time for childlike fun and dreams, a time when the only thing on your mind can be the heat, a time of discovery, a time when you let yourself just be. For a more comprehensive view of my summer movies, you should first have a look at these other ten favourites.
Favourite summer movies Poin Break 1991 
Point Break (1991)
This is film that takes my mind to rebellious summers and endless beach days as a way of life. It’s just the perfect blend of fearlessness, atmospheric scenery and entertaining action (mainly thanks to the two leading men, Keanu Reeves, as rookie FBI agent Johnny Utah, and Patrick Swayze, as the leader of a gang of surfers who moonlight as bank robbers) to pull you in and linger with you long after the ending credits, like the sand in your toes after you put your shoes on. You can’t really explain a cult movie, and that’s why you have a new appreciation for it every time you see it. You are allowed to be part of it and make your own version of it. And I just have to mention the style part and the classic beach staples. I talked about them here
My favourite summer movies Stand By Me 
Stand By Me (1986)
Why I came around to watching this movie only a couple of years ago, I can’t really say. But there is no doubt that if I had seen it when it was released it would have become one of my childhood movies, a movie I would watch every summer and think of the rest of the year. But the thing is I related to it even now, in my thirties. Because it is not aimed only at children, but at adults, too, bringing back the exuberance of those years, but also stating some truths that you might find hard to believe so early in your life that would hold firm long after you’ve passed teenagehood. “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?” The most bittersweet truth of them all. This is a film I can not wait to watch with my son. There are not many of the kind anymore.
My favourite summer movies Il sorpasso 
Il sorpasso (1962)
A one-day joyride that takes you through the entire range of human emotions, from slapstick to tragedy. This is the ultimate Italian road trip. A sunny, lazy day in 1960s Rome evolves into a madcap trip taking us through the most beautiful landscape, from Rome to Tuscany, giving way to wonderful surprises and hidden depths. Isn’t this what a road trip is all about? A journey of discovery and self-discovery.
Favourite summer movies American Graffiti 
American Graffiti (1973)
It captures the spirit of late 1960s teenage world of small-town America the way I imagined and read about it. The energy, the rock ‘n’ roll, the car-based culture (everything seems to be happening around one), the confused teenager in that crucial point of their life (which everyone can relate to) – the transition from high school to college/faculty and/or life – that summer of big decisions, big plans and transformations, and the last night of insane fun before life arrives.
My Favourite Summer Movies 12 Angry Men 
12 Angry Men (1957)
This is a very realistic thriller, despite the confined place where it takes place, inside a little room where a jury in a murder case must reach a verdict on the hottest day of the year. The heat literally gets to them, it puts pressure on the jurors and drives them to cast their vote. It is the thirteenth character in the film. The heat makes them sweaty, it makes them thirsty, it makes them fatigued, it makes them nervous. They don’t want you to stay crammed in there for too long. To watch on a hot summer night, without the air conditioning on.
Favorite Summer Movies-Little White Lies 
Little White Lies (2010)
Every August a close group of friends go on holiday together, gathering at the beach house of one of them, Max (François Cluzet), at Cap Ferrat. Only they bring along their relationship problems as well. We get the illusion of a leisurely summer holiday, but what soon surfaces is an interlock of loves, jealousies, infidelities, frustrations and compromises. It’s like when you want to live an idyllic summer, breaking away from the realities of life and blocking out the problems you deal with the rest of the year (and even the thought that nothing bad can happen in summer), but realise you can’t.
My favourite summer movies Jaws 
Jaws (1975)
Brilliant and terrifying, Hitchcock-style. Jaws is plain and simple a great adventure movie, the kind that keeps you on the edge of your seat, getting you to identify with the characters and asking yourself what you would do if you were them. It is a story that scares the hell out of the audience from the very beginning (skillfully using the power of the unseen – it is what you don’t see that scares you the most), which is why, I think, it is perfect to watch on the idle days of summer.
photo: film stills from, except for the first one, a Point Break poster by Chungkong Art / 2-Point Break (Largo Entertainment/20th Century Fox) / 3-Stand By Me (Columbia Pictures) / 4-American Graffiti (Lucasfilm/Universal Pictures) / 5-Il sorpasso (Incei Film/Sancro Film/Fair Film) / 6-12 Angry Men (MGM) / 7-Little White Lies (Les Productions du Trèsor)/EuropaCorp/Caneo Films) / 8-Jaws (Zanuck/Brown Productions/Universal Pictures)

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