Thursday, 18 August 2011

Can't believe I've never been to Berlin. Working on the Guardian's new online guide to the city has made me realise what I'm missing. With so many unusual and arty places to eat, sleep, drink and rave, it's easy to see why it has a reputation for being the coolest city in Europe.

Visit Guardian Travel's Berlin city guide


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

I'm a bit obsessed with maps so was intrigued to see designer Mark Noad's geographically accurate version of Harry Beck's original London tube map. It looks so odd!

London Tube Map by Mark Noad Design

For an interactive version of the map, visit london-tubemap.com 


Saturday, 6 August 2011

What a lovely start to Saturday. Just stumbled on this new film by artist Vanessa Hodgknison and musician Nick Cash, inspired by French film director Jacques Audiard. Check it out!

Vanessa writes: 
"I've re-watched Audiard's A Prophet recently. 
The film struck some deep chords, particularly as it is one of the first mainstream films to use Corsican dialect throughout. I have a strong connection to Corsica as my family lives there and I've been going every year for the last 30 years. 
Audiard's use of very heavy and solid sets fascinates me. The camera and the bodies have to move around his set, and are restricted by it. This informs their movement and stillness. 
In Ode to Audiard, I'm trying to interact with or 'become' part of the prehistoric monoliths that feature in the footage. These are dotted all around Corsica, making one realise there is more to this island apart from just a thuggish mafia culture. As with A Prophet, there is a reaching out to find something internal, some dark timeless place, in contrast to the bright rugged unsympathetic environment.  
I'm interested in the stability of these monoliths over tens of thousands of years, and a desire to hold onto them, or merge into them and become part of that stillness, that is at once human, man-made, and also stone, of nature." 
Visit vanessahodgkinson.com


Friday, 5 August 2011

If there was ever an example of life imitating art, this is it. The Taqwacores started off as a zine which its author Muslim convert Michael Muhammed Knight created, photocopied and distributed himself before it was published as a novel in 2004 by Autonomedia. The book portrays an imagined American Islamic punk scene which takes its name from ‘taqwa,’ an Arabic word meaning ‘consciousness of the divine’. Not only did the book gain a cult following, it directly inspired punk bands the Kominas and Al-Thawra, spawning a real life Taqwacore movement.

Now Eyad Zahra has brought Knight’s vision to the big screen. His film, like the novel, tells the story of Yusef (Bobby Naderi), an American-Pakistani Engineering student who moves into a new house in Buffalo and in so doing inadvertently becomes part of a world unlike anything he has previously known. Covered in anarchist flags, graffiti and vomit, the house is a refuge for young Muslims who don’t quite fit in. These include Rabeya (Noureen Dewulf) a burka sporting riot grrrl who crosses out the sections of the Quran she doesn’t like with a marker pen; pink mohican-ed Jehanghir (Dominic Rains), who plays the call to prayer on his electric guitar and dreams of being Johnny Cash, and a permanently semi-nude skinhead called Amazing Ayyub (Volkan Erayaman).

With its irreverent script, stylised cinematography and banging soundtrack, the Taqwacores certainly succeeds in creating a vivid atmosphere. And it’s refreshing to see a film that deals with Muslim identity in terms of, as Jehanghir calls it, a ‘mismatching of disenfranchised subcultures’ instead of the usual tired clich├ęs. But there’s something disappointingly flimsy about the Taqwacores. The characters lack nuance and too often the plot feels laboured and predictable. 

This isn’t the only film to have been based on Knight's novel. Omar Majeed’s 2009 documentary, Taqwacore: the Birth of Punk Islam, follows the Kominas on tour as they bring Taqwacore to the streets of Pakistan. I can't help feeling that's the film I’d rather be watching.

The Taqwacores is out on 12 August. 

This review originally appeared on Don't Panic

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