What a week! The past few days have been quite the rollercoaster. But, as always, life goes on and I’m continuing to realize that things always work out in the long run.
Each week, I put together a list of 5 things I enjoy. This week, I’m doing my five favorite foreign films.
I’ve been a foreign film fan ever since I became obsessed with linguistics and foreign language in college. I minored in French and have been continually learning Arabic for the past 10 years. All these films came out when I was the biggest connoisseur around 2011. I always say the best way to learn a language is to do things that you enjoy in that language, and movies are a great place to start.
- El Secreto De Sus Ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes) [2009 – Argentina] – This is my favorite foreign film of all time. If you watch any movie on this list, watch this one. The story follows an Argentinian detective investigating a murder that happened many years ago. He’s now retired and writing a novel about his experience with the case, which has haunted him ever since. The movie has a great twist at the end, and a feel-good ending involving a well-balanced love story. This is probably the most universally enjoyable movie on this list, it even spurred an American remake, which I haven’t seen yet.
- Ajami [2009, Arabic/Hebrew – Palestine/Israel] – Ajami is a heartwarming and heartbreaking story at the same time, recounting the young adult years of a Palestinian teen growing up outside of Tel Aviv and in the Palestinian territory. It chronicles a manslaughter charge that he has to desperately raise money for, and resorts to selling drugs, all while trying to come of age in a difficult environment.
- 13 Assassins [2010, Japanese – Japan] – 13 Assassins is actually a remake of an old Japanese film. It’s a testosterone-filled samurai action film that’s a really fun experience. It’s based on historical events with some obvious embellishments.
- Hors la loi (Outside the Law) [2010, French/Arabic – France/Algeria] – Hors la loi is a gangster movie that centers around 3 Algerian brothers in France after WWII. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this one, so it’s in my queue to watch it again soon
- Elite Squad: The Enemy Within [2011, Portuguese – Brazil] – This is a great police action movie set in Rio De Janeiro, and stars Wagner Moura, who played Pablo Escobar in Netflix’s Narcos series. It’s an insanely well produced movie and Brazilians love to talk about it.
Every week I put together lists of 5 things I’m enjoying at the moment. I’ve recently started to enjoy audiobooks, so you’ll find two in this list that I’m currently listening to.
- Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman is a fascinating retelling of Norse myths with a modern voice. Neil Gaiman recorded the audiobook himself and does a fantastic job. I don’t generally enjoy fiction, but this book is compelling and exciting enough to keep me interested. The audiobook is about a 7 hour listen.
- Magicians of the Gods by Graham Hancock tells the story of ancient wisdom found at the archaeological site of Gobekli Tepe in Turkey. I’ve only listened to the first chapter so far and it’s incredibly exciting how Graham breaks down the ancient symbolism in the site’s iconography. For those of you who like ancient history (with a hint of conspiracy theory), this one is a must-listen.
- Get Me Roger Stone – I’m currently watching this documentary on Netflix. Roger Stone is an agent provocateur who was instrumental in the Nixon campaign and the Donald Trump campaign. Political operatives run a nasty business.
- When Christians First Met Muslims is a book of source material of early Syriac writings largely ignored by western scholarship. The author has a great introduction about the Muslim conquests of Syria and the schism that occurred during Heraclius’ time. The introduction is very accessible to the average reader, but the fragments and documents in the book are very dense and not very reader friendly. However, this is an amazing work of scholarship.
- I finally got an Audible subscription after hearing hundreds of ads for it on various podcasts. The subscription gives you 1 audiobook credit each month, which does incentivise me to actually get new audiobooks. I usually look for audiobooks read by the original author (most readers are surprisingly bland). If you find yourself wanting to read more books, this is a good way to do that while driving!
Bonus! Listen to this interview with Graham Hancock on Joe Rogan’s show to get a quick overview of some of the topics covered in Magicians of the Gods:
Every Friday I put together a short list of five things I’m enjoying currently. Here’s this week’s list!
Stranger Things on Netflix – I binge-watched this entire series early this week. The series fictionalizes events during MKULTRA experiments in the 80s and is full of psychics, interdimensional monsters, and parallel universes. If you like conspiracy theories and Netflix specials, this one is for you. (They also feature float tanks!)
Quitting something you love (blog post by Derek Sivers) – I’ve been following Derek Sivers since his interview on Tim Ferriss’ podcast. Sivers founded CD Baby and is a fellow INTJ. That’s probably why I find myself so in-line with his thinking. This week was a big change for me career-wise, as I left a career which I loved to follow an obviously better opportunity. Life was pushing me along to make a change, and I was hanging on as tight as I can. True freedom sometimes comes from letting go of your perceived control.
MycoIMMUNE™ by Natural Stacks – This is one of my favorite supplements that features my favorite mushroom, Chaga! It makes me feel really good when I take it, and it’s a must for travel! I’ve experimented with tons of different supplements, and this is one that consistently delivers.
How to Pray Salah According to the Maliki Madhhab – Mufti Abu Layth put out this amazingly well-produced video on how to pray in the Maliki Madhhab. It’s a must-watch if you’re interested in Islamic jurisprudence.
Torching the Modern-Day Library of Alexandria – The Atlantic put out this article about the tragedy that is Google’s book scanning project. Google was borrowing truckloads of books from the biggest libraries in the United States to create an online library that is completely unparalleled. The best information is still held in books, and no tech company has been able to combat the copyright nightmare that is book publishing. They figured out how to scan all these books super efficiently, and then had to leave the project mostly unfinished due to publisher lawsuits. Eventually, digitization of these books will be a cultural imperative, but for now, it’s on a long pause.
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A simple list of 5 things I’m enjoying right now.
- Siddhartha by Herman Hesse (free text) – I first read Siddhartha when a friend gave me his copy to borrow during high school. I’ve read it several times since then, almost on a yearly basis. The story is one of the best representations of man’s spiritual journey.
- Betting on Zero documentary – Bill Ackman vs. Herbalife is one of the best Wall Street stories going on right now. I’m on Ackman’s side with this one.
- The Poor Man’s Book of Assistance audio commentary by Hamza Yusuf – This is a great lecture series on Islamic spirituality from one of my favorite people, Hamza Yusuf. I’ve listened to this before and going through it again right now.
- Sandalwood candles from World Market – Got one of these for the home office. It’s awesome.
- Tax Hero episode from Planet Money – This is a good way to celebrate tax week to learn about all the political motivations for making the US tax system ridiculously complicated.
Explanation by Hamza Yusuf