|By Frances Kennedy
BBC News, Rome
At first glance, Cesare Bonizzi looks like the archetypal Capuchin monk – round-faced, stout, with twinkling eyes and a long flowing white beard. But beneath his robes beats a heart of metal.
Brother Cesare is the lead singer in a heavy metal band which has just released its second album. A former missionary in the Ivory Coast, he lives in a small friary in the Milan hinterland. The 62-year-old monk’s love affair with heavy metal began when he attended a Metallica concert some 15 years ago. “I was overwhelmed and amazed by the sheer energy of it” he says.
Hard rock and heavy metal have, over the years, been criticised as the work of the devil. It’s a claim which Brother Cesare, also known as Brother Metal, says is nonsense. He started playing and recording cassettes, firstly with “lighter” metal music, but gradually he realised that what really moved him was the hard core.
|People think that I am in fancy dress, they can’t believe a robed monk is on the stage playing their music
Brother Cesare Bonizzi
The members of his band were at first sceptical at the idea of teaming up with a Capuchin monk but their doubts soon evaporated. “Five minutes after meeting Brother Cesare I decided to go ahead, because he manages to convey so much energy, that other musicians and youngsters often don’t manage to express,” lead guitarist, Cesare Zanotti, told Reuters.
Sex, drugs and alcohol
Brother Metal recently appeared in the Gods of Metal festival in Italy, along with giants such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Slayer, playing to a crowd of leather-clad hard-core metal fans. “It was wonderful being there among all these young people” he told the Rome newspaper La Repubblica. “The only problem was that at one stage out slipped a “what the f…” because each time some people think that I am in fancy dress, they can’t believe a robed monk is on the stage playing their music”.
With a booming voice, Brother Metal belts out lyrics that are decidedly gritty, talking about real-life issues and not shying away from sex, drugs and alcohol. He does touch on faith and religion but is adamant that he is not seeking to draw people to Catholicism through his stage performances. Video clips of his performances on YouTube have helped spread his popularity and fan base.
Devotion to God
His second heavy metal album, “Misteri” (Mysteries) has just been released. In a sign of Brother Metal’s eclecticism, it drew inspiration from a group of women in southern Italy who sang about Mary, the mother of Jesus, and a heavy metal version of that song is on the CD. Other songs talk about how alcohol warms the heart but excess drinking can damage the liver, and how important sex is to man.
Brother Cesare says he has never had any trouble with his superiors over his choice of musical career and would like to send his new album to the Pope. “He is a music lover and metal is music!” he says. While Brother Cesare always wears his traditional brown robe and sandals as a reminder that he has chosen a life of devotion to God, he is keen to distinguish established religion from faith, and from proselytising. “I do it to convert people to life, to understand life, to grab hold of life, to savour it and enjoy it. Full stop” he says.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a sweet little movie, although some might say that the story is as thin as non-fat milk, which we will get back to later. In short the whole thing evolves around Peter (played by Jason Segel who also has written) who is dumped by his über-cute girlfriend Sarah (Kirsten Bell). Sarah plays the lead in some thirteen-on-the-dozen, but yet very popular, crime TV-show called Crime Scene (which, worth mentioning, includes William Baldwin as the male lead, in what probably is the most fun he has done in years), and thus haunts Peter not only on said TV-show but also showing up on talk shows and what not after the break-up. A break-up that by the way includes full frontal nudity by said Segel. To forget Sarah Peter goes to Hawaii, where he, keep in mind the thin story here, of course not only runs in to, but also shares hotels with, Sarah and her new boyfriend, the British rock singer Aldous Snow, played to the point of perfection, bordering lust-mord on his own character, by Russell Brand. Peter gets even more depressed, but also begins to take on to the sweet, but at the same time cool and independent, receptionist at the hotel, Rachel (Mila Kunis). And from there on it’s mostly pure fun to be honest.
Yes, the story is thin and the events unfolding are a bit sketchy and actually sometimes come out of nowhere with not so much to build on. But what the movie does brilliantly is that it’s aware of this and it doesn’t try to be something it’s not. Instead of trying to create explanations to a story that doesn’t care if it’s thin anyway, it just gallops along with hilarious (and often sweet, mind you) conversations, situations and jokes. Some might say that the level of humour is low and fixated on sex, and therefore too juvenile to take seriously and would only attract the, when it comes to sex, the double moral US audience who hasn’t moved beyond college movies. Saying this would be putting oneself on too high horses though, and looking for something that film is not meant to be. And the jokes are almost all the time weighed up by a sweet touch built in making you liking the characters for some of their ways of being, although they obviously all have their flaws.
The clever thing of making a somewhat thin story and a bit inconsistent characters, and knowing it, is also that you can create extremely funny jokes as you go along without really caring so much why they are made and who delivers them. One fantastic example of this is a weird, unwanted, double date dinner that the two new couples, i.e. Peter and Rachel, and Sarah and Aldous, end up on. Throughout the dinner allegiances change over the table and both support and cutthroat-comments shift, making it a marvellous discussion-mayhem, but all the time within the boundaries of this sweet and likable touch to it. Not least the part where Peter and Aldous finds common ground is a bit heart warming, although there actually hasn’t been that much building up to why they would quite suddenly bond.
As so often when Judd Apatow is involved (he’s producing this one as everyone probably knows) one must not forget some of the funny sidekicks, also so very easy and useful thanks to the way of unfolding a simple story where you just can put in a funny guy (because it is most often the guys that are carrying the stories in Judd Apatows’) without it really having to take the story forward. All the way from Peter’s half brother and his wife trying to give advise via the laptop and Matthew the waiter (played by Judd-favourite Jonah Hill) who is in total awe over Aldous Snow, to the very sweet newly weds with problems in bed and the permanently half-stoned surf instructor and the helpful big-boned Hawaiian waiter.
Segel does good with his average likeable guy, Peter, and the ladies do an alright job with what they have to work with. Not least adding to the fact that they manage to show that they are all both victims and perpetrators in brake-ups and when it comes to finding new loved ones. But the one who steals the show is Brand’s Aldous Snow who evolves from, what you think, plain stupid and self centred, to loveable go-with-the-flow guy that just cracks you up and puts a let’s-just-enjoy-life glow over the whole thing.
To refer to the above mentioned on the guys carrying the story, this might be my only objection. The ladies could have done with some more of the jokes. Especially Bell as Sarah comes out kinda flat in the being funny area. Kunis’ Rachel is given more attitude and some in your face comments that makes you like her even more (if that’s possible since you just have to glance at her to love her, but that’s another story). But all in all there are some scenes that open up for the leading ladies to explore the jokes even more, but without really using that. Or maybe it’s just that you are so busy laughing at Aldous philosophize over this or that, or at Matthew the waiter not really being able to handle that his biggest idol is staying at the hotel, that you don’t notice that there are also other characters being funny at the same time.
How the film ends and how it reaches the end isn’t that important (and even less difficult to guess). This is simply a sweet and very very funny 112 minutes of entertainment. And if you take it as that it’s a 4 out of 5 if you ask me. If you want to judge it from a perspective that it isn’t at all trying to accomplish, maybe you will think it’s juvenile or under your standards. But if that’s what you’re after you probably haven’t laughed or been to a simple, but likeable, comedy in the last ten years anyway, so you probably won’t bother to go to this one either…
/ The Superjudge
By: Eva Schlink
Amsterdam, 1 April 2008
Holy Mother Mary Hospital
Her face is smiling. Even in her deep sleep she shows her warmth, and, both brows suddenly arched, her strength. Damn. Why did she have to give us this big scare? It seems that she feels it her task to keep on teaching us lessons. It’s her mission. Well, it seems it will be her last now.
My grandmother just had a stroke. Quite a severe one actually. She is not conscious. And she will not be for a while, so the doctors told me.
Sitting next to her hospital bed, I nervously pluck the embroidered sheets. She is the only one I have left. My father left me and my mother before I was even born, and my mother shortly thereafter died a broken heart. I have no memories of her. But the way my grandmother talks about her she must have been one hell of a woman.
My grandfather she never talked about. And I dare not ask anymore. Maria always seems to know how to avoid answering these questions and slowly I stopped asking.
The door opens and a gentleman peeks inside. Did I see him before? He’s old. A lot older than my grandmother. But he too has a smiling face. Marked by life, but smiling. He nods a greeting to me. And is clearly hesitating to come in. Now I see he pulls a dialising machine with him. He must have kidney problems. Does he know my grandmother? Or is he just looking for a quiet room to do his dialysis?
Day 1 Lager X
By the time the doors were opened many of us had died already. Unlike some of us I was not panicking. I was only thinking of how to keep my two small children from suffocating in this tiny compartment. The ones that screamed at first seemed to have lost the lust for that quite soon. Or maybe they just spent all their energy and where the first ones to have died. I could not tell. It was dark and, as I said, my mind was busy with other things. My children, Bram and Deborah, bless them, usually notoriously keen on manipulating me into getting whatever they wanted, sweets, toys, or visits to the playgrounds, were dead silent. Impressed by the unfamiliar sounds and smells. They had never heard grown-ups cry. They had never smelled the smell of fear. They were confused when I did not get mad at them for peeing in their pants. They were only 3 and 5. They will be in my heart forever.
Her heart was pounding, adrenaline pumped through her veins, the good guys were feintheartedly smiling their goody grin, the bad guys were laughing out loud lusting in their power and the powerlessness of those on the other side. The self-imposed powerlessness we might add. Like a nightmare. What to do? Doing something would be breaking the pact, breaking the law. Doing nothing would be doing nothing. Would be condoning evil to win. Rights to be shattered. Hearts to be broken. Desperados to be born. Evil finally creating evil. Fire finally being treated with fire. Chaos encouraged.
Would it possibly be an option, in this war against humanity, to have a few trusted warriors break the pact. Run the risk of scourn. Run the risk of being political incorrectness.
Would it be an option to break the pact and just to offer our sincerest apologies.
An option to break the pact and just suffer the consequences.
What to do in this world where the others act at their convenience, and watch our despair, our hopes seeping slowly out of our hearts. Can and should we allow for this to happen? Or should we cherish the believe that in the end the light win. Eventually. Maybe in another life time…