Rock The Casbah (2013)

From the opening introduction by Omar Sharif, I knew I was going to love this film, it was simply a matter of how deep that love would be.

Well, it’s 9/10 deep.

The story is that patriarch Moulay Hassan Bel Amor, (played by Sharif) has passed away and his family and friends are gathering to mourn him, remember him and, as it turns out, occasionally curse him.

Beyond that, I’ll give no spoilers here but this family, like all families, has long-buried secrets and pain that it ignores as best it can.

The central role is that of Sofia (Morjana Alaoui), one of the daughters who has not been home in years. She’s now a successful Hollywood actress and has her own reasons for estrangement from the wider family. Now, she’s back in the family home, accompanied by her young son.

Through the frame of the loss of their father, the remaining three sisters and mother examine both his and their lives. This could be clunky and awkward but it all unfolds elegantly and believably: no lumpy exposition dumps here. Writer/director Laïla Marrakchi balances the interweaving narratives perfectly.

Some of the plots are slyly humorous, some of them tragic but they balance and in that balance they feel real, they connect. It would have been easy to gallop into shouty family revelation drama or overdose on whimsy and farce. Rock The Casbah does neither and though all the cast are fabulous in their portrayals, the lion’s share of the credit must go to Marrakchi – her command of the art form of cinema shines in every scene, in every frame.

The cast also mesh without a hiccup, the three central sisters’ relationship in particular is detailed and rich, one second they’re screaming at each other, the next crying on each other’s shoulders. And it all makes emotional sense. But, truly, the entire ensemble are all on 100% here, there’s not a single actor who isn’t in the same vibe as the rest of them.

I really love this film and I know I’ll be thinking of scenes from it years from now. It’s funny, sad, and leaves you thinking about more than you think the film explicitly addressed.

Derby Ceasefire Now Protest January 27th 2024

Woah – there was a good turnout at the start of today’s protest, around 1pm. And the speakers, including Andrew Murray were great. But the best part is that the march around town at least tripled the number of people.

01 - Jan 27th Derby Ceasefire Protest

After yesterday’s ICJ ruling warning Israel to not commit genocide, I feel like even more ordinary people are feeling powerless in the wake of our government’s continued refusal to call for a ceasefire. It’s a simple demand that no human being should feel uncertain about: stop the fighting, stop the bloodshed and take care of those who need it.

The movement is not dying down or backing down. We can’t, not as long as innocent people in Gaza are still being attacked every day, enabled by our own government.

Teenage Engineering K.O. II

So, today, this wonderfully stupid doodad arrived:

01 - Teenage Engineering K.O. II

And, after a little confusion cleared up by watching this vid:

… I got into fun mode and I’ve been dicking around on it since I got home from Cafe Palestina.

It’s huge fun and the built-in speaker makes all the difference. As soon as I have to put headphones on, I’m in work mode and sometimes it’s nice *not* to be in that space, to be purely in the dicking around space.

Here’s my initial fartlings:

A Declaration

A picture taken from Rafah shows smoke billowing over Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip during Israeli bombardments on January 21, 2024.
© AFP

Here’s my very, very simple creed:

Bombing hospitals is wrong.
Bombing civilians is wrong.
Collective punishment is a war crime.
Imposed starvation of a population is a war crime.
Seeking to evict an indigenous population is ethnic cleansing.

There is no justification for carrying out any of the above actions.

None.

If you disagree with the above – fuck off.

Oh, and you may want to reconsider how you’ve ended up agreeing with the Third Reich.

UK National March For Palestine – Ceasefire NOW, 13/1/24

Yesterday, I got the Derby PSC coach down to London to take part in the first national pro-Palestine event of 2024. The ruling classes hoped no-one would turn up, they hoped we’d forgotten or got protest fatigue. They were sorely wrong.

The BBC, as ever, said ‘thousands,’ which is technically true in that I reckon there were around 500 of those thousands there. But you’re never gonna get the BBC saying half a million people marched against genocide / for peace unless it’s in opposition to a state-approved enemy, like Russia.

Here’s some pics from yesterday’s huge demo:

Flag Ben

I got to the main stage ahead of the “thousands” so I was close enough to get pics of both Husam Zomlot and Mary Lou McDonald, albeit very cropped and a little blurry.

It was amazing to be there, be part of that huge movement of people against genocide and to know that we’re not going away. If anything, we’re getting stronger, we’re growing in number and we will see a free Palestine.

We will.

100 Days Of Hell For Gaza

Israel is currently killing civilians, a lot of them children, at the rate of 240 a day.

24,000 people after 100 days.

Every six minutes, Israel murders another civilian.

Imagine if any other country apart from Israel was carrying out this slaughter. Imagine if Russia or China or North Korea was doing this.

The West is a murderous gang of thugs. Morally bankrupt and soaked with the blood of Gazans.

Yesterday, I was in London marching with hundreds of thousands of others, maybe as much as half a million.

The BBC reported this as ‘thousands.’

Every day, the bourgeois media hides Israel’s crimes and hides the international movement to stop their war crimes.

Unless you actually know better, unless you’re actually on the marches or search for alternative sources, you’re being kept in the dark.