Good Time
Blade Runner 2049
mother!
Detroit
Manifesto (Julian Rosefeldt over)
Making Kadjenou in a Sač

Diego Star

Canada/Belgium, 2013 | Frédérick Pelletier
Vladan Petkovic checks in from Belgrade to report on Diego Star, and finds proof once more in this Canadian film about an Ivorian sailor that wherever you go, scum is scum and good people suffer.

Canadian director Frédérick Pelletier's first feature film Diego Star opens suddenly, with a lot of noise. This is only natural as the first scene takes place in the clunky engine room of the eponymous cargo ship. The first thing we lay eyes on is protagonist Traoré (played by Burkina Faso-born Issaka Sawadogo, seen last year in Nicholas Provost's The Invader), a mechanic from the Ivory Coast. Traoré is arguing with the ship's chief engineer about the cause of the engine failure which has trapped the ship and its multinational crew somewhere in the Quebecois part of the Saint Lawrence River (on the map, it's that big river that connects the Atlantic with the Great Lakes and also forms a part of the border between Ontario and New York).

The angry exchange between Traoré and the chief engineer, sounding all the more angry as they have to shout to make themselves heard over the noise which now includes the annoying sound of the engine alarm, tells us that the Ivorian has been warning his superior about the worn-out pistons (or valves? anyway, a crucial engine thingy) for quite some time, but there just had been no financial means to replace them. The same goes for the crew's wages, now two months outstanding, it transpires from Traoré's subsequent discussion with the young co-worker Timo (probably from the Middle East or North Africa). The recently-hired Timo is afraid he will be fired, as the chief engineer blames the engine failure on human error, and suggests to Traoré that they report the real problem to the Canadian authorities, who have to investigate the incident. Of course, the captain and chief engineer instruct the crew to tell the Canadians "the truth" — that they know nothing. And if they play along, they can expect to be paid soon.

The ship has to stay in the shipyard for inspection and repair, so the company accommodates the crew with the locals, and Traoré ends up in the apartment of Fanny (Chloé Bourgeois, known from Yves Christian Fournier's 2008 title Everything Is Fine). Fanny is a waitress in the shipyard cafeteria, in her early twenties, and the single mother of a baby boy. There is no mention of the father. Her 40-something mother stands in for a babysitter when necessary, but never stops nagging her daughter about she does or does not do ("I barely finished changing your diapers, and now I'm changing your son's."). Although she loves and cares for her son, Fanny finds motherhood a burden. She used to be a party girl, judging by her short hair dyed pitch-black, piercings and tattoos. Now she is angry at the world, and perhaps even more at herself. She rents out a room to Traoré because she needs the money, but her attitude clearly shows that she is not happy with the situation.

Traoré is about twice her age, and quite a mellow man, especially for a sailor. He has been on the Ringo... Diego Star for 18 years, and although his career has no doubt hardened him, he is a reasonable, well-behaved, soft-spoken person with a strong melancholy streak. Fanny's son in particular seems to like him, and Traoré is able to calm the child down and put him to sleep in the way that Fanny (or her mother) can't. Fanny is pleasantly surprised with this and, about half way through the film, their living arrangement seems as harmonious as it can get.

But then that worn-out (and true) saying, 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions', rears its ugly hea as Traoré decides to tell the Canadian Coast Guard the real truth about the engine. Although it was initially Timo's idea to come clean, he is the only member of the crew who blames the defect on a lack of maintenance. Everybody else keeps their mouths shut and gets their wages, and Traoré gets suspended. Even the Coast Guard officer who promised to "get to the bottom of things" is washing his hands of the whole thing. It is easier (and probably more profitable) that way. This injustice makes Traoré so angry that he judges Fanny too harshly without any need to, so at this point we see him as an asshole.

And it is exactly in this injustice and the attitude of the captain and the owners of the Diego Star, and government officials, where I find the connection between the film's side of the world and my own. The ship's captain and the chief engineer are simply scum, which is made clear both by casting and the characters' behaviour. Between themselves they speak Russian, which hardly inspires trust, at least according to conventions of the Western cinema. In addition, the company that owns the ship is based in Larnaca, which immediately brings to mind shady bank accounts and money laundering. And when you expect the West (in this case represented by Canada) to go by the book and provide some kind of legal, if not moral justice, you realize that scum is scum wherever you go.

Yes, in our 'underdeveloped' countries of eastern Europe, that I like to term the 'Second-and-a-half World', educated and well-meaning people think of the West as of civilization, as opposed to our Wild East. But the way of thinking which sees liberal capitalism as unquestionably good does not recognize these categories. Ruble or Serbian dinar are no less valuable than dollar or euro. Of course, profit itself is only one side of the coin: capitalism is more often than not directly associated with democracy, these two words (they are really little more than words by now, their real meaning has either devolved with over-use or mutated with abuse) have been clumped together like French fries and ketchup for so long that no one even tries to separate them anymore. And who the hell decided it's ketchup that goes best with fries anyway? McDonald's?

Now that I mentioned food, there is another interesting connection between different sides of the world that I found in the film, so I will rather go there than rant about the West and the East, capitalism and democracy. See, at one point, Traoré is cooking for himself and Fanny, to celebrate his oldest son's 17th birthday. He is making kadjenou, which I discovered to be an Ivorian chicken dish usually reserved for special occasions. To cook kadjenou, it is best to use a 'Dutch oven' (get it? Dutch? Rotterdam? Filmkrant?), which is basically the same thing we call sač or peka in the Balkans. And, besides chicken, the recipe for this Ivorian dish includes tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, black pepper, jalapeno peppers, and olive oil. Except for the jalapenos (which would be replaced with hot paprika), this sounds very much like Balkan-Mediterranean food. I can practically imagine the taste, smell and texture of the dish.

I guess my point here is quite simple: wherever you go, scum is scum and good people suffer. But that doesn't mean you have to eat at McDonald's. First, it's not real food, and second, it doesn't taste like real food. So do this for yourself and you have done a little something for the common benefit as well. Make a kadjenou in the sač. McDonald's won't go bankrupt, most people will keep drenching their fries in ketchup, but you will feel better and be aware that it is because you put in some effort, you made and ate some proper food. The same goes for every other thing in life that has any worth. Some effort is required to watch a film like Ringo... damn! Diego Star, but it certainly pays off. Besides other benefits, it makes you think about something other than yourself, and that is what separates you from the scum. This automatically lowers the percentage of scum in the world's population, and that is a very good thing.

Vladan Petkovic



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Diego Star

Filmkrant #351, February 2013

Slow Criticism 2013

Titelindex


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D

D'Ardennen
D.O.A.P. (DEATH OF A PRESIDENT)
DA MO FANG
THE DA VINCI CODE
DAAR IN DAT LAND (V TOJ STRANJE)
DADDY AND PAPA
DADDY DAY CARE
Daddy's Home
DAENS
Een dag in 't jaar (Margot Schaap over)
DE DAG VAN DE WANHOOP
DAGEN ZONDER LIEF
Daglicht
THE DAILY NATION
DAINIPPONJIN
DAKOTA
DAL DER ZUCHTEN
DALECARLIANS
DAM STREET
DAMAGE
DAMIAAN
THE DAMNED
Damsels in Distress
DAN IN REAL LIFE
Dance Academy: de film
DANCE FLICK
DANCE ME TO MY SONG
DANCE OF DUST (RAKHS-E-KHAK)
DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES
DANCE OF THE WIND
DANCE WITH ME
Dancer
DANCER IN THE DARK
THE DANCER UPSTAIRS
Dancing Arabs
DANCING DREAMS
DANGER: DIABOLIK
THE DANGEROUS LIVES OF ALTAR BOYS
A Dangerous Method
DANGEROUS MINDS
The Danish Girl
Danny Collins
Dans la maison
DANS LA VIE
DANS VOOR HET LEVEN
DANS, GROZNY DANS (THE DAMNED AND THE SACRED)
LA DANSE — LE BALLET DE L'OPÉRA DE PARIS
Dansen op de vulkaan
La danseuse (Stéphanie Di Giusto en Soko over)
DANTE'S PEAK
Daphne (Peter Mackie Burns over)
DARATT
DAREDEVIL
THE DARJEELING LIMITED
THE DARK
DARK BLUE
DARK CITY
DARK HORSE
The Dark Horse (James Napier Robertson over)
DARK IS RISING
THE DARK KNIGHT
The Dark Knight Rises
Dark Places
Dark Skies
The Dark Tower
DARK WATER (Hideo Nakata)
DARK WATER (Walter Salles)
DARKDRIVE
The Darkest Hour
DARKNESS
DARKNESS IN TALLINN
DARWIN'S NIGHTMARE
DARWINS VERSTEKELING. BEAGLE, IN HET KIELZOG VAN DARWIN
DATE MOVIE
DATE NIGHT
The Daughter
Daughters of Malakeh
Daughters of the Dust
DAVE
DAWN OF THE DEAD (George A. Romero)
DAWN OF THE DEAD (Zack Snyder)
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW
THE DAY I BECAME A WOMAN
THE DAY I WILL NEVER FORGET
DAY NIGHT DAY NIGHT
DAY OF THE DEAD
THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL
THE DAY THE SUN TURNED COLD
The Day Will Come
DAYBREAK
DAYBREAKERS
DAYLIGHT
THE DAYS
THE DAYTRIPPERS
Dazed and Confused
DE BATTRE MON COEUR S'EST ARRÊTÉ
DE FORCE AVEC D'AUTRES
De rouille et d'os
DE-LOVELY
Dead Body Welcome
THE DEAD GIRL
DEAD LEAVES
DEAD MAN
THE DEAD MAN 2: RETURN OF THE DEAD MAN
Dead Man Down
DEAD MAN WALKING
DEAD MAN'S SHOES
DEAD PRESIDENTS
Deadfall
Deadly Virtues: Love.Honor.Obey
Deadpool
The Deal
Deal
DEALING AND WHEELING IN SMALL ARMS
DEAR FRANKIE
DEAR JOHN
DEAR WENDY
Dear White People
DEAR ZACHARY: A LETTER TO A SON ABOUT HIS FATHER
DEATH AND THE MAIDEN
DEATH AT A FUNERAL
DEATH BECOMES HER
Death Note
DEATH RACE
DEATH SENTENCE
DEATH TO SMOOCHY
Débarquement immédiat
The Debt
THE DEBT COLLECTOR
IL DECAMERON
DECEPTION
DECK THE HALLS
DECONSTRUCTING HARRY
DEEP BLUE
DEEP BLUE SEA
The Deep Blue Sea
THE DEEP END
Deep End (Terugzien)
DEEP IMPACT
DEEP IN THE WOODS
DEEP RISING
Deepwater Horizon
DEFIANCE
DEFINITELY, MAYBE
The Deflowering of Eva van End (Slow Crtiticism: De ontmaagding van Eva van End)
Dégradé
DEINING
DÉJÀ VU
Dekalog
DEKALOOG
DELBARAN
La délicatesse
DÉLITS FLAGRANTS
DELIVER US FROM EVIL (Amy Berg)
DELIVER US FROM EVIL (Ole Bornedal)
Deliver Us From Evil (Scott Derrickson)
THE DELIVERY
The Delivery Guy (Raznoschik)
Delivery Man
DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE
DELTA
DEMAIN DES L'AUBE
Demain tout commence
DEMOLITIAN MAN
Demolition (Jean-Marc Vallée over)
DEMON KNIGHT
Denial
DENISE CALLS UP
DENKEND AAN HOLLAND
DENNIS HOPPER: THE DECISIVE MOMENTS
DENNIS P.
DENNIS THE MENACE
THE DEPARTED
DEPARTMENT 36
DEPARTURES
DERECHO DE FAMILIA aka FAMILY LAW
Le dernier coup de marteau
DES HOMMES ET DES DIEUX
The Descendants
THE DESCENT
Desde allá
DESERT FLOWER
IL DESERTO ROSSO
DESI
El Desierto
DESMOND EN HET MOERASMONSTER
Despair
DESPERADO
DESPERATE MEASURES
DESPERATE REMEDIES
DESPERAUX: DE DAPPERE MUIS
DESPICABLE ME
Despicable me 2
Despicable Me 3/Verschrikkelijke Ikke 3
Después de Lucía
LES DESTINÉES SENTIMENTALES
DESTINY TURNS ON THE RADIO
DESTRICTED
Detachment
Detroit
DETROIT ROCK CITY
DEUCE BIGALOW MALE GIGOLO
DEUCE BIGALOW: AMERICAN GIGOLO
Deux jours, une nuit
DEVIL
The Devil Inside
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
DEVIL'S ADVOCATE
The Devil's Double
Devil's Knot
THE DEVIL'S MINER
THE DEVIL'S OWN
THE DEVIL'S REJECTS
DEVILS ON THE DOORSTEP
Dheepan (Jacques Audiard over)
EL DIA DE LA BESTIA
DIABOLIQUE
LA DIABOLIQUES
DIALOGUE AVEC MON JARDINIER
DIALOOGOEFENING NO.1: STAD
DIAMONDS OF THE NIGHT
Diana
Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel
Diary of a Teenage Girl
DIARY OF A TIMES SQUARE THIEF
DIARY OF THE DEAD
DICK
The Dictator
DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE MORGANS
DIE ANOTHER DAY
DIE HARD 4.0
DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE
Die laatste zomer
DIEF!
Diego Star
DIEP
DIFFERENT CINEMA VOLUME 3
DIFFERENT FOR GIRLS
Difret (Zeresenay Mehari over)
Dikkertje Dap
THE DILEMMA
UN DIMANCHE A KIGALI
Het diner
DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS
DINOSAUR
Dior and I
Diplomatie (Volker Schlöndorff over)
DIRTY DANCING 2
DIRTY DIARIES
Dirty Grandpa
DIRTY MIND
DIRTY PRETTY THINGS
DIS-MOI QUE JE RÊVE
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
Disappearing Landscape
DISASTER MOVIE
DISCLOSURE
DISCO PIGS
THE DISCOVERY OF HEAVEN
LES DISEURS DE VÉRITÉ
DISGRACE
DISNEY'S TARZAN
DISTANCE
La distancia
THE DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN
THE DISTRICT
DISTRICT 9
DISTURBIA
DIVA DOLOROSA
Divergent
The Divergent Series: Allegiant
Divergent Series: Insurgent
The Divide
DIVINE INTERVENTION
DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA-YA SISTERHOOD
DIVINE TRASH
THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
Il DIVO
DIVORCING JACK
Django (Étienne Comar)
Django (Sergio Corbucci)
Django Unchained
DO NOT DISTURB (Dick Maas)
Do Not Disturb (Yvan Attal)
The Do-Deca-Pentathlon
DOBERMANN
Doctor Strange
DODGEBALL
DOG SOLDIERS
A Dog's Purpose
DOGMA
DOGTOOTH
DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS
DOGVILLE
DOGVILLE CONFESSIONS
Dokter Pulder zaait papavers
DOKTOR MABUSE, DER SPIELER
IL DOLCE E L'AMARO
Dolfje Weerwolfje
De dolle tweeling
De dolle tweeling 2
De dolle tweeling 3
DOLLS
DOLORES CLAIBORNE
Dom/The House
DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE
DE DOMINEE
DOMINO
The Domino Effect
DOMWEG GELUKKIG
DON (Arend Steenbergen)
DON (Farhan Akhtar)
Don Jon
DON'S PLUM
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
Don't Breathe
DON'T COME KNOCKING
DON'T LOOK BACK
DON'T LOOK NOW
DON'T SAY A WORD
DON'T STOP THE SHOW
DONDERBROEK
DONKEY PUNCH
Donkeyote
DONNIE BRASCO
DONNIE DARKO
IL DONO
DOOD EIND
DOOD IN VENETIË
Doodslag
DOOM
THE DOOM GENERATION
DOOMSDAY
DOOR DE WIND GEJAAGD (EL VIENTO SE LLEVO LO QUE)
DOOR IN THE FLOOR
THE DOORS: WHEN YOU'RE STRANGE
Dope
DOPO MEZZANOTTE
LA DOPPIA ORA
Dorsvloer vol confetti
DOS CRIMINES
Dos disparos
DOSSIER K.
The Double (Michael Brandt)
The Double (Richard Ayoade)
DOUBLE JEOPARDY
Double Play (Ernest Dickerson over)
DOUBLE TAKE
DOUBLE TEAM
DOUBLE WHAMMY
DOUBLE YOU STREET
DOUBT
DOUCHES FROIDES
DOUG'S 1E FILM
DOWN
DOWN PERISCOPE
DOWN TO EARTH
DOWN TO YOU
DOWN WITH LOVE
DR. AKAGI
DR. DOLITTLE
DR. DOLITTLE 2
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
DR. T AND THE WOMAN
DRACULA
DRACULA 2000
Dracula Untold
DRAG ME TO HELL
DRAGON: THE BRUCE LEE STORY
DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION
DRAGONFLY
DRAGONHEART
DRAKENHEUVEL
DRAKENJAGERS
DRAMA/MEX
Dream House
DREAMCATCHER
DREAMER: MIJN DROOMPAARD
THE DREAMERS
DREAMING BY NUMBERS
A DREAMSCAPE, GAMBLING IN AMERICA
Dredd 3D
DREI
DE DRIE BESTE DINGEN IN HET LEVEN
Drie dvd's met films van Maya Deren
DE DRIE MUSKETIERS
DE DRIE ROVERS
Dries
Drift (Benny Vandendriessche)
DRIFT (Michiel van Jaarsveld)
DRIFTING CLOUDS
DRIJFZAND
DRILLBIT TAYLOR
Drinking Buddies
Drive
DRIVE ANGRY 3D
DRIVEN
DRÔLE DE FÉLIX
Droom & daad
DE DROOM VAN DE BEER
DROOMLAND DDR
The Drop
DROP DEAD GORGEOUS
DROP ZONE
DROPOUTS
DROWNING MONA
Drug War
Du forsvinder
Dubbelspel
THE DUCHESS
DUDE, WHERE IS MY CAR?
DUE AMICI
DUE DATE
THE DUEL PROJECT
DUIMELIJNTJE
The Duke of Burgundy (Maria Rohm over)
THE DUKES OF HAZZARD
Dukhtar
DUMB AND DUMBER
Dumb and Dumber To
DUMB AND DUMBERER: WHEN HARRY MET LLOYD
DUMBLAND
Dummie de Mummie
Dummie de Mummie en de Sfinx van Shakaba
Dummie de Mummie en de tombe van Achnetoet
Dummy Jim
DUMPLINGS
Dunderklumpen
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
Dunkirk
DE DUNNING BROERS
DUNSTON CHECKS IN
DUNYA & DESIE IN MAROKKO
DUPLEX
DUPLICITY
Durak (The Fool)
DUSKA
Dying of the Light
DYING TO GO HOME