Tuesday. 23/11/2021

The Monocle Minute

Image: Alamy

Opinion / Fernando Augusto Pacheco

Opening ceremony

“Father, son and the house of Gucci.” When I heard Lady Gaga (pictured) say those words in the trailer for forthcoming film House of Gucci, I knew I’d have to book seats for the opening night this week. The singer plays the infamous Patrizia Reggiani, who was convicted for hiring a hitman to kill her former husband Maurizio Gucci. The trailer verges on camp with 1980s outfits, a Blondie soundtrack and thick accents.

There’s nothing better than a film that delivers murder and glamour. And I’ve missed the times when movies such as House of Gucci enjoyed big releases, complete with magazine covers, red-carpet premieres and the sort of anticipation from fans that nowadays is often reserved for films with superheroes or those set in other galaxies.

And there’s more to come. November and December are traditionally an excellent time for cinema and, after a year of uncertainty, there will be a few delights on offer this year. Jane Campion is back with an epic western (The Power of the Dog); there’s the daring Palme d’Or winner Titane; and Nicole Kidman playing Lucille Ball in Being the Ricardos. But for now all of my attention is focused on House of Gucci. To quote another line from Lady Gaga’s character, spoken over the beat of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams” in the film’s trailer, “Wealth, style, power: who wouldn’t kill for that?”

Image: Getty Images

Politics / Sudan

Hold and release

Abdalla Hamdok, Sudan’s ousted prime minister, has been freed and reinstated. The civilian leader had been placed under house arrest following last month’s military coup, which sparked mass unrest across the country. Hamdok (pictured) has signed a new power-sharing agreement with coup leader Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in a deal mediated by UN and US officials. Despite this, Sudan faces great uncertainty. Hamdok has pledged to form a “technocratic government” that will lead the country towards democracy but it’s unclear how much power the government will be able to wield. Nor is it certain that the public will be appeased, as many pro-democracy demonstrators have denounced the deal. “We are not concerned with any agreement with this brute junta,” The Forces for Freedom and Change, the group leading the uprising, announced in a statement. “We are employing all peaceful and creative methods to bring it down.”

Image: Getty Images

Migration / Albania

History lessons

For Erion Veliaj, mayor of Tirana, the decision to welcome some 4,000 Afghan refugees into Albania following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in August was personal. Veliaj crossed into northern Greece as a child during the Albanian exodus after the fall of communism in 1991. “It defined my life,” he tells Monocle 24’s The Monocle Daily. Now, as mayor of the Albanian capital under a prime minister with a similar immigration story, Veliaj says that he has an opportunity to help others in the same situation. “It has been a time of reckoning for us,” he says. Veliaj urges countries that are now rejecting refugees to remember their own history. He points to examples such as Poland, which fought for access to western Europe and the UK just a few decades ago but is now rejecting refugees seeking access via Belarus. “We are going through a phase of collective amnesia,” he says.

Hear the full interview with Tirana mayor Erion Veliaj on the latest edition of ‘The Monocle Daily’ on Monocle 24.

Image: Getty Images

Elections / Bulgaria

Middle ground

Bulgaria’s president Rumen Radev was re-elected over the weekend. Hopes are that his victory – coupled with new anti-corruption party We Continue the Change winning separate parliamentary elections held last week – could help to unlock the nation’s long-running political crisis. The presidency is largely ceremonial but the fact that Bulgarian parties have repeatedly failed to form a coalition has forced Radev (pictured), a centrist in power since 2017, to play a broader role and appoint caretaker administrations. The question now is whether he can steer Bulgaria’s new parliament towards finally breaking the deadlock. “Some stability will come out of this but it’s still difficult to predict,” Maria Spirova, an associate professor at the Institute of Political Science at Leiden University, tells The Monocle Minute. “The We Continue the Change party will need three coalition partners, which will all have very different ideological positions.” A respected centrist remaining president will hopefully help.

F&B / Japan

How to dress well

If you think that soy sauce can be splashed on anything from sushi to fried rice, you are wrong. Like a good wine pairing, it’s imperative to match the dressing with the right food. Some soy sauces are sweet; some dark and barrel-aged; others pale and delicate; and regional preferences add another layer of complexity. Now more than 1,000 soy sauce-makers from Japan have decided to educate our muddled palates. With a spectrum of flavours ranging from “white” soy sauce (good for tofu) to rich tamari (one for steak), their Sho3 project introduces 70 pictograms that makers, retailers and restaurateurs can add to packaging and menus to show which sauce is best for gyoza-dipping and which for drizzling on ice cream. They’re also offering a new stackable dish that can hold three different sauces to encourage diners to expand their soy sauce repertoire. Oishii!

Image: Alamy

M24 / The Urbanist

Climate migration

How is climate change affecting our migration habits? And are cities equipped to deal with the impending influx of migrants as urban displacement becomes more common?

Monocle Films / Global

Monocle’s digital decency manifesto

Technology is everywhere but that ubiquity can come at a cost to our health, wellbeing and the quality of our conversations. View our manifesto for a more dignified relationship with all things digital and learn to be kinder and more cautious online.

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