Friday. 11/2/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Alamy

Opinion / Chiara Rimella

Italian jobs

Plenty of actors have found it difficult to break the mould once typecast, whether it’s the villain, the funny sidekick or the muscled macho. Now it seems that we might be witnessing the birth of a new category in international casting: the intense, larger-than-life Italian industrialist. Fresh from his interpretation of a moody Maurizio Gucci in House of Gucci (pictured), Adam Driver has accepted a new role as Enzo Ferrari, head of the Modena-based car-maker.

The film has been decades in the making and is the passion project of American director Michael Mann. It will focus on the events of 1957, when Ferrari’s marriage and company were in turmoil and he decided to embark on the Mille Miglia, a 1,000-mile (1,597km) race across Italy. Driver bears no more resemblance to Ferrari than he did to Gucci but that, of course, is not the point. Rather, Mann appears determined to work with huge names from the Hollywood pantheon: Driver’s part was originally intended for Hugh Jackman – whose appearance at least would have been closer to the original subject – and the compelling Penélope Cruz and Shailene Woodley are also on board.

Of course, I understand the strategy: blockbuster titles need blockbuster billboards. Driver is a versatile actor who brings star power and charm to the role and will hopefully understand the difference between his two Italian-American assignments. It’s also true that Ferrari is hardly an Italy-only story. But as the film industry increasingly moves towards authenticity, isn’t this a missed opportunity to spotlight some of Italy’s best actors, who might be waiting for their big break stateside? I say this not just out of love for my country: having sat through two-and-a-half hours of House of Gucci, I’m not sure that I’ll be able to stand another cringeworthy attempt at fake accents. At the very least, let’s hope that Driver leaves the Italian twang behind this time.

Image: IOC/Greg Martin

Diplomacy / China & Russia

Starting gun

A call by International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach (pictured) at the start of this year’s Winter Games in Beijing to “give peace a chance” was a nod to the “Olympic truce” tradition established by the ancient Greeks thousands of years ago. It was also almost certainly a thinly veiled swipe at Russia, which has sent thousands of troops and tanks to its border with Ukraine. Moscow’s military units rolled into Georgia during the Beijing Summer Games in 2008 and were involved in the annexation of Crimea during the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. So could history be about to repeat itself? “It isn’t inconceivable that Russia will break the Olympic truce and launch an attack during these Games,” James Rodgers, who covered the 2008 Russo-Georgian War for the BBC, tells The Monocle Minute. “A lot will depend on whether Vladimir Putin feels that any attack will embarrass his allies in Beijing. But, as we have seen, he likes to deal in uncertainties.”

Image: Getty Images

Business / Norway & Myanmar

Communication breakdown

Norwegian telecommunications giant Telenor is one of Myanmar’s biggest foreign investors and one of its primary providers of mobile service. But the company has been trying to rid itself of subsidiary Telenor Myanmar since July, when it announced that it was pulling out amid “continued pressure” from the ruling junta, which has wanted to surveil communications since it took power in a coup a year ago.

A proposed sale to Lebanese investor M1 for $105m (€92m), in partnership with a reportedly junta-linked local firm, has sparked an outcry from human-rights activists who worry that the ruling group will be able to access and monitor citizens’ messages and phone calls if Telenor relinquishes control. The deal hit a snag this week, when a Telenor Myanmar customer filed a complaint with Norway’s data protection agency, claiming that the sale could result in potentially dangerous privacy breaches. Norway’s biggest communications firm has a difficult choice to make.

Image: Getty Images

Society / Canada

United in protest

As the blockade of Ottawa by those who oppose Canada’s vaccine mandates enters its third week, some are framing it as proof of deep national divisions; a standoff between the working and elitist governing classes. A so-called “blue-collar convoy” of construction workers is expected to arrive in Ottawa this weekend, following a similar procession of farmers on tractors a week ago. The narrative is being fed in part by Canada’s opposition Conservative party; its interim leader, Candice Bergen, has been photographed sitting cheerily next to protesters in an Ottawa diner. But some of the truckers from more rural areas don’t see the divide as clearly. “The guys that I meet come from every walk of life,” one protester, a rancher from rural Alberta who called himself Sandy, tells The Monocle Minute. “Some are from the cities, some are rural but I think it’s pretty collective. We’re all feeling the same way, that something isn’t right.”

Image: Milann Tress John

Film / Germany & India

Track record

The Berlinale, which has the largest public attendance of any annual film festival, opened in the German capital yesterday. Among its highlights this year is Ladies Only (pictured), a documentary comprising conversations with passengers in the women-only carriages of trains around Mumbai. Film-maker Rebana Liz John asked the women, “What makes you angry?” and collected more than 75 hours of footage, which she then edited as part of her final-year project at the Academy of Media Arts in Köln. It was shot close to the subjects to avoid a sense of voyeurism and entirely in black and white to counter the colourful, exoticised idea of India that John sees perpetuated in the West. Set against the blur of moving scenery, the effect is a ruminative and at times light-hearted and unexpected portrait of a female population whose life choices are often limited, despite the fast pace of change in an increasingly industrialised country.

M24 / The Entrepreneurs

Moscot

The eyewear brand was founded in New York more than 100 years ago by Hyman Moscot, who emigrated to the US from Eastern Europe in 1899 and began his own American dream by selling ready-to-wear spectacles from a pushcart. Moscot now has 18 locations around the world and is run by the fourth and fifth generations of the family: Harvey Moscot is CEO and his son, Zack, is chief design officer.

Monocle Films / Husavik

Ísbíltúr: Iceland’s ice-cream road trips

We hit the road with journalist Egill Bjarnason, finding the best spots to grab a cone on a journey into the Icelandic custom of ísbíltúr. It’s one of many Nordic lifestyle concepts that can teach us a thing or two about quality of life. Discover more stories and ideas from the region with The Monocle Book of the Nordics, available now from The Monocle Shop.

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