Sunday, February 12, 2012

Koot en Bie

When I think of Sunday evenings when I was little, I think of how I would sit on the couch, with my wet hair after taking a bath, watching the sports programm with family. While my brother and father would listen to the commentary of that guy whose name I don't know, my mom and I would comment on the looks of the players. We had already eaten our sandwiches (on sunday, dinner would be at noon, which in my teens was just after getting up. First a cup of tea, then soup) and the week was ending.

After the sports came the news and then... Koot en BIe, a sort of SNL programm, where two Dutch comedians would comment on news that happened that week. In the beginning, I didn't understand the humour completely and it was mainly my dads laughter - which was a rare thing to hear this loud - that made me laugh. Later, I found the characters funny, but I still didn't get the jokes. Koot en Bie, together with Freek de Jonge, (another Dutch comedian) formed my understanding of humour. And also contributed to a large extend to my typical Sunday-evening-feeling.

Coen Verbraak made a documentary about Van Kooten en Die Bie in which they talk about their friendschip, how they started their carreer and the creation of their characters. I watched out of nostalgia, but gradually realized how great their programms were. The old pieces of their shows are so much better compared to all the comedy stuff that is shown on television these days.
I suddenly longed back for those Sunday evenings on the couch and I realized how I never understood how great they really were.

Perhaps, I'm getting old, or at least old enough to long for the old days. But maybe, somethings just really were better before. I don't want to return to the Guilder, I don't miss Loekie the Lion, and I find the internet a wonderful invention that I wouldn't want to miss anymore. But beautiful scenes that last for four to five minutes with only on or two cuts, that weren't about extreme situations but about how normal weird people are, and how they interact, I want that back immediately! Preferably with Koot en Bie in the lead.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


It had taken me almost twenty-four hours to arrive in Brooklyn. Many hours later I awoke, with the sound of the aircraft engines still in my ears, out of the coma I landed in after coming home. The jet lag, or the echo after flying, would still take some time. Although I felt awake and ready for the day, it was hard to start moving. Everything I normally do quickly, now took hours.

I decided to go outside and spend part of this day seeing Brooklyn. As I cycled around on my bike, I tried to think of a plan to go somewhere. In itself, drinking coffee is always a good thing to do in New York, but I wanted to have done more than to cycle a couple of blocks just to get a shot of caffeine. I decided to go to BAM, one of Brooklyns cultural centers, where, among other things, they screen great films. Based on the time it would start, I found a movie that would get me home in time for dinner, The Artist. I didn't even read the tagline, when I sat down in the room. Before me sat a middle aged couple with their teenage son. I found it funny that these three people went to the cinema together at this time of the day.

The film began as an old classic silent film. I remember thinking: 'what a weird beginning', but soon I realised that this was the movie. A silent film, like the old days. The story itself wasn't the most catchy one, and it wasn't the surprising end that made it a special film. I found it a very special film because I suddenly realized that I almost never experience silence. There is always noise everywhere. And now, I was sitting in a large room with fifty other people, with nothing more than some silly music.

The absence of dialogue, combined with the fatigue I was still feeling, sometimes, my thoughts wandered of, only to get back and focus on the film and its cinematic techniques that were used to keep the audience attention. I thought about the theater week when we worked with masks and how I discovered how the facial expression is such a big part of interaction, and how you need to compensate for that if you can't use your face. A few months ago, I made a film without words, without dialogue, without sound, run on a 16 mm camera. Then also, the image had to speak for itself.

The Artist is a wonderful film, which makes you long for the old times. When we didn't have all those thousands of images and sounds a day we get now. A little more peace and quiet wouldn't be so bad. It's like traveling: although you can fly your body to New York in eight hours, it takes a few days before the mind gets there too. And while you wait for those two to come together, you need to take it easy, buy watching films and drinking coffee.