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Do You See Me?

The Italian comedy Do You See Me? looks at the difficulties a talented female architect faces when after succeeding around the world, she decides to return to Italy where she’s lucky to get a low paying waitress job. While Serena Bruno has graduated from top schools and won awards for her work, back in Italy the economy’s tight and jobs, particularly for women, are scarce.

Serena Bruno first is attracted to and then when she learns he’s gay, she befriends the owner of the restaurant where she works. He sees her talent and intelligence when no one else does. He encourages her to enter an architecture contest to redesign a public housing space. Though her idea, which was inspired by input from the residents, is fantastic she fears she’ll be passed over for a man so when the committee mistakes her for a secretary to Bruno Serena she plays along. She convinces her former boss, now friend and roommate to pretend to be Bruno Serena. Comedy ensues and while the situation is ridiculous, it’s a thoughtful, fun film that doesn’t insult the audience’s intelligence.

It’s an enjoyable film that depicts the difficulties woman still face.

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North Korean’s View of the US

I found these interviews of North Korean refugees by Asian Boss fascinating.

 

What about Free Speech?

I’ve just returned from China where a colleague in Hefei had his final exam censored. The school contended that the readings on the exam were “too dark” and they objected a reading where a character exclaims “Oh, my God!” since there should be no religion in a class.

Now in the Land of the Free, I’ve read in the Chicago Tribune (link to the article) that several theaters in Chicago have jumped on Steppenwolf Theater’s to stop giving Sun Times critic Hedi Weiss free tickets since they disagree with her review of one of their plays. The play in question, Pass Over, evidently ends with dialog calling policemen murderers. Weiss’ review takes issue with this ideology. You can read her review here. Weiss is a perceptive, rational critic and in no way does the review sound like the work of a “deep-seated bigot.” I’m saddened by how easily some in the theater world here have furthered the name calling and called her racist and sexist.

Should the newspapers hire additional critics from a variety of backgrounds? Sounds like a good idea.

Should public debate descend into vicious name calling? I hope we can agree it shouldn’t.

I applaud The Goodman Theater and The Chicago Reader, who have both stepped up to defend the principle of free speech. It’s sad that theaters, which benefit from our Freedom of Speech condemn a critic who disagrees with a playwright. I plan to write to Steppenwolf about how disappointing their response to a review, which pointed out both the strengths and weaknesses of one of their productions. I can’t see continuing to attend Steppenwolf after the horrid production I fled last summer and now this unfair criticism of a critic.

This response by the theaters reminds me of the college students who whine when they have to read or discuss ideas that they don’t support.

A friend believes we’re facing an American version of the Chinese Cultural Revolution where thoughts were policed. What do you think?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transient

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Fallen Cherry Blossoms

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

“Life is but a day;
A fragile dew-drop on its perilous way
From a tree’s summit.”
― John Keats, The Complete Poems

“Like vanishing dew,
a passing apparition
or the sudden flash
of lightning — already gone —
thus should one regard one’s self.”
― Ikkyu

Salesman

I was mesmerized by the Iranian film Salesman. I saw it on my flight to Chicago and it was the first Iranian film I’d seen. In Salesman, a young married couple must flee their apartment which is collapsing due to some structural problems. The couple are currently starring in a production of Death of a Salesman and another actor offers to let them stay in an apartment he owns.

From the time they move in they’re inconvenienced by the former tenant, who’s left a lot of her things there. She’s a pain because she breaks promises to get her belongings and she won’t pick up her phone, etc.

This woman brings much more trouble when Rana, the young wife, buzzes in a person who she thinks is her husband. She opens the door and goes to take a shower. Little does she know that she’s just let a man who will brutally attack and rape her. It turns out that the previous tenant was a prostitute.

The film does not show the attack. We see Rana open the door and go to the shower and then we cut to Emad, her husband, arriving and seeing blood on the steps. Then he finds his wife beaten and bruised cared for by the new neighbors.

The film continues to deal with the aftermath. Rana doesn’t want to go to the police. She doesn’t believe any good will come from it. But Emad, who feels he’s failed to protect his wife, wants justice. He seeks the attacker, but not in a Hollywood way. As Rana tries to get on with life and as Emad seeks justice, the story is interspersed with scenes where Emad plays Willy Loman and Rana plays his wife. The film is poignant and emotional is a realistic way. The acting was superb and convinced me to find more films by this director or with these actors.

I found this a captivating look at the lives of Iranians, a people, I confess I know little about.

From Charming Lijiang

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Sugalabo

Simon and Martina, with the help of the very-talented Dan, have made an outstanding video about a chef in Tokyo, who has an incredible respect and interest in local ingredients and regional cultures.

I’d love to know how they got to join him in Ehime. Just start watching and see what you think. Would you want to try dinner at Sugalabo? I wonder how much that costs.

From Lijiang

For years I’ve wanted to visit Southwest China and Lijiang in particular, but flights here were always so pricey. I finally figured it’s cheaper to fly to Kunming and then take a bus to Lijiang so I could see its UNESCO World Heritage Ancient Town.

N.B. There are no fast trains to Lijiang and the slow trains aren’t much faster than the bus. I wager my bus was cleaner than the train.

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The bus station was a bit confusing, but once you get past the noise and construction, getting a ticket is just a matter of showing the clerk the name of your destination in your guidebook, showing your passport and paying. I left from Kunming and the ticket was 217 rob ($32). A friend had taken the bus and suggested it was a pleasant journey as you get to see a lot of mountains, rice terraces and rural homes along the way. That was true, but my bus attendant made sure we sit in our assigned seats. Till I was on the half empty bus I had no idea there were assigned seats. So I was on the aisle the whole way. I could glimpse the scenery, but it’s not a great view. I did get a lot of reading done.

Since I’d taken a photo of the address of my hotel, I thought I it would be easy to get a taxi there. I showed two drivers the enlarged Chinese address and they refused me. The number I had for the hotel didn’t work.

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A kind old man with an electric cart wanted to help. I figured he’d has as much trouble as the other two. So I just took out my Lonely Planet and pointed to an address of a hostel near my hotel. I know that the Hostel International staff tend to speak English well. Once there I could walk or get a short taxi ride to the hotel. That plan worked. It took longer and I was tired, but it worked.

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Today I’ve spent most of my time exploring Lijiang’s Ancient Town. It’s full of shops, inns, cafés and craft shops. As is often the case most of the shops sell the same goods. I don’t think you’d make much money selling tea, drums, silver or traditional scarves here. The scarves and tea seem good quality, but I’m not in need of either.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Order 2

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Kunming Sofitel

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Ibid

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More from Kunming’s Sofitel – delectable sweets

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

“The world is not to be put in order. The world is order. It is for us to put ourselves in unison with this order.”

― Henry Miller

Other themed photos:

Charming Lijiang

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