What made me think — Week of June 10, 2018

Dakar, Senegal 2016

Suicide has been in my life as long as I can think: Family, friends, acquaintances. It’s one of those topics that just makes me sad, makes my mind goes blank, no words seem good enough. I get it while I don’t get it. My best friend committed suicide when I was 18. This event never left me, it’s always with me. When I walk by his old home I ask him: Was it worth it? Was the pain so bad to miss out on 30+ years of life? He never answers.

What I read

  • The Inspiration of Anthony Bourdain. “Which made me realize: A great storyteller is one who makes you want to experience stories for yourself. A great story is one that makes you think, “I wonder what it would be like to do that.”
  • What makes a country good at football? According to the Economist, Germany is the big favorite to win the World Cup again. Fine with me.

What I watched

November 13: Attack on Paris A restrained look at national tragedy. The US had to deal with 9/11, November 13 was a national dark day for France. November 13th retells the events of that night in the words of the people who were there. There are interviews with survivors, as well as the first responders and higher-ranking government officials who navigated the crisis. Directors Jules and Gedeon Naudet mix establishing shots of each location with live footage from that night. It’s as close to a recreation as you can have in non-fiction. The approach is both breathtaking and soul-shaking. There is a moment in the third hour where police, seemingly out of options, prepare to make a move on the attackers inside the Bataclan. The film cuts from an interview to a shot taken outside the venue and sits there as the assault plays out in real time. It lasts only 76 seconds and isn’t graphic (we only see the outside of the building), but it’s deeply unsettling.

I doubt I’ll see any single moment in a movie this year that rivals its sheer power. And November 13th is full of moments that make a similar impact.

What I listened to