Tuesday. 7/7/2020

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Carlota Rebelo

Universal themes

I was nine when I first watched Cinema Paradiso, one of my mother’s favourite films. She wanted me to fall in love with the work of the Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore but instead it served as an introduction to the genius of Ennio Morricone (pictured) and the power of music. As a child it was hard to understand why a wordless classical music composition made me cry but Morricone taught sensibility and how music could be a character in itself, often telling you more than the lines in a script. It simply made you feel something and that, in itself, was everything.

Finding the right words to describe someone as groundbreaking as Morricone, who has died aged 91, is an almost impossible task. A composer, conductor and trumpet player, he composed scores for more than 500 films, over 100 concert pieces and numerous songs for artists including Paul Anka, Sting and Andrea Bocelli (you can clearly hear his pop brilliance on the 1960s Italian hit “Se telefonando” by Mina). His music has accompanied films by many of cinema’s foremost directors: Sergio Leone, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Pedro Almodóvar, Don Siegel, Brian De Palma, Oliver Stone, Roland Joffé, Quentin Tarantino and, of course, my mother’s favourite, Giuseppe Tornatore, with whom he collaborated on more than 10 films.

Two years ago, when Morricone announced he was retiring and embarking on a farewell world tour, I knew this was a concert that I couldn’t miss. I made a point of going alone: we two had shared so much – usually when one of his soundtracks was playing full blast in my living room – that a solitary farewell was only fitting. And there was something utterly transcendent about being in that packed arena in London alongside 20,000 people with tears streaming down their faces. To quote Morricone himself: “All music comes from another, far deeper place that exists beyond the real world of man.” Buon viaggio, maestro.

Politics / Global

Queer eye

Many countries have aimed to improve the rights of their LGBT citizens in recent years but there’s been a hardening of attitudes in others. Examples of the latter include Poland, where the presidential election this weekend will feature incumbent Andrzej Duda running on an anti-gay platform. In Russia, meanwhile, voters approved a constitutional referendum last week that included a ban on gay marriage. This culture war is the theme of South African author Mark Gevisser’s new book, The Pink Line: The World’s Queer Frontiers, which follows LGBT activists in nine different countries and was compiled over a period of six years. “Due to globalisation, for the first time [LGBT people in] countries like Nigeria were demanding rights – but that also prompted a backlash,” Gevisser tells Monocle 24’s The Briefing. “I feel hope despite the tough stories. The people I write about are making the decision to fight for their rights – even if the consequences of it are really tough.”

Business / Japan

Out of office

The electronics giant Fujitsu, which employs 80,000 people in Japan, announced yesterday that it would be halving its office space by 2023, putting it in line with the likes of Sony, Hitachi and Toshiba, which are all reducing their office capacities. A recent government survey revealed that more than a third of Japanese people have now experienced remote working during the coronavirus crisis, something that no amount of employment legislation could have achieved as quickly. The survey also showed that nearly a third of Tokyo-based twentysomethings would be interested in working elsewhere in the country, giving hope to policy makers who have been trying to promote the revival of regional economies. Fujitsu is not writing off the office just yet, however. It’s promising an increase in “hub” offices around Japan for the essential business of meeting customers, demonstrating new technology and talking face-to-face. The importance of building relationships in Japanese business won’t disappear anytime soon.

Design / Chicago

Community building

The city of Chicago is asking architects to get involved with community work by applying to partner with recipients of its Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, a programme that finances the construction of commercial and cultural buildings in disadvantaged urban areas. The selected architects will oversee the gamut of design decisions, from site analysis to construction administration. The scheme should deliver high-quality buildings and urban interventions for predominantly black and Latino communities on the city’s west and south sides. Although payment for the architects’ portion of the work is not guaranteed, it’s hoped that working on buildings that improve community welfare will boost the morale of firms and their staff, and the work they do might pave the way for future revenue-generating commissions while doing good at the same time. The project also presents architects in Chicagoland with a tantalising mix of creative freedom and potentially career-defining work that profits people other than the developers. Design studios should dust off their portfolios; applications close Friday.

Hospitality / Italy

Roman holiday

Bulgari will be opening a gilded hotel in its hometown of Rome in 2022. Located in a refurbished 1930s building (pictured) in the central Campo Marzio neighbourhood and designed by Italian firm Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel, it will be the tenth hotel in the brand’s portfolio. Unsurprisingly, it will be a temple to luxury, with Michelin-starred food, sumptuous suites and peerless city views. The LVMH-owned brand, known for jewellery and fragrances, is a trailblazer among luxury fashion houses that have entered hospitality in order to cater to affluent shoppers beyond regular retail – it opened its first hotel back in 2004. Its announcement is also a heartening signal that the embattled hospitality industry is springing back into action and once-suspended plans are being revived. As borders reopen and quarantine rules are dissolved, customers will be looking for impressive accommodation options. Soon enough, if they’re in Rome, they’ll have a new address to add to the list.

M24 / The Big Interview

The Chiefs Edition: Bernd Bauer

Monocle editor in chief Tyler Brûlé talks to Bernd Bauer, CEO of Swiss premium leisure carrier, Edelweiss Air, about risk mitigation as we take to the skies again and how to get the aviation industry’s optimism back.

Monocle Films / Italy

A taste of Sicily

Sicily is a stunning Mediterranean destination – and not least for its food. Monocle Films goes on a culinary tour of the island and drops in on a cooking school that promotes traditional food producers and seasonal recipes.

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