Timbuktu - nominated for best foreign language film in last years' oscars, first ever nominee from Mauritania. I wanted to see it for this reason, I have been to Mauritania and it's quite an obscure (and not very safe) country to visit, so there are not many cultural exports which allow one to reminisce. It's an excellent film, what you think are going to be key storylines don't really develop too far, instead it's a whole tapestry and all the more realistic for not over-emphasizing specific characters/events - it's what happens when radical Islamists move in to a traditional Islamic community. It begins fairly light, the Islamists and black flags do stir an immediate feeling of terror due to recent news stories, but they seem rather incompetent - some of them cant really drive, they cant speak effectively, some of them get shouted down by locals on whom they are trying to impose their rules. But, of course, malignant power is progressive, and the people are gradually seen to be wrong to take the bumbling initial impression of their oppressors so lightly - they still have the numbers, the weapons and the wickedness to do some truly terrible things. It's a stunningly beautiful film, and I recognized many of the sets from towns I visited in Eastern Mauritania (it's set in Mali, but for obvious reasons none of it is filmed there). You hear a lot of stories about the unbelievable naivety and idiocy of terrorists and fanatics - from Syrian border guards thinking that 'the facebook' is a physical object to a guy attempting to blow up Detroit with a bomb in his underwear (his original target was San Fran, but the airline ticket to Detroit was cheaper) - and this film really helps you understand how such stupidity does not make them any less dangerous or any less capable of committing acts of evil. I was really impressed. I also saw The Connection which is a new French film which basically presents the story of The French Connection, but from the Marseilles end. It's a very entertaining watch, slick with 70s Marseille recreated beautifully, but there are a lot of cliches and many of the characters are cumbersome, the central character of the magistrate in particular is a good character in his legal 'flexibility', but very unbelievable in his level of personal involvement, which is necessary for dramatic effect. It's a long film, and some of it could be cut, yet it skips way too swiftly over certain key events and aspects of police/legal procedure, what should be some of the more interesting aspects of this Heat-style cat and mouse story. Very easy on the eye, however.