Yesterday, I spent the day watching Six Nations rugby (which we won) and reading last week’s Sunday Papers, before rounding it all off with a movie with friends. Biutiful is the latest film by Mexican director Alejandro Iñárritu. It tells the story of Uxbal, an underworld wheeler-dealer and devoted father trying to set his affairs in order as his own death draws near. Beautifully shot in the city of Barcelona and starring the gargantuan talent of Javier Bardem, the film is an absolute must-see.
Be warned: the film (nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and Bardem’s third Best Actor Award) is a serious tear-jerker.
Speaking of which – here is a short and sweet story told by Helen Mirren to Graham Norton about her arrival home to Britain having won her Oscar for her role in The Queen.
The shock of dissertation work, essays and class presentations heaped onto us in the first week back to university has forced many of us to look five months ahead to the days of glorious sunshine, Pimm’s and ‘anywherebuthere’. Music tastes are reflecting the zeitgeist, all summery and optimistic. I was out dancing three nights on the trot this week, and aside from all the familiar country dances of traditional Scottish balls, another, more recent tune, has stuck in my head.
It’s by Parisian DJ Martin Solveig featuring Canadian pop group Dragonette. It’s had huge success on mainland Europe, but has only just ‘hit’ the UK. The original video is a bit ‘so what?’ but I found this video on YouTube set to the same music. It’s far more escapist.
Finally, read this sonnet, Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Published in 1818, it is probably his most famous short poem. Believed to have been written after Shelley saw the statue of Ozymandias (better known as Pharaoh Rameses) at the British Museum, the main theme of the poem is the inevitable decline of all leaders and the great empires they build no matter how potent they may be in their own time. Hosni Mubarak and Ozymandias have much in common.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
– Percy Bysshe Shelley