The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Where I’ve been, what I’m up to and why my posts might get a bit weird

with 19 comments


So where has the hostess of The Velvet Café been lately? Why isn’t she here serving some drinks and random thoughts about movies? What’s she up to?

Well, I could tell you about real life issues such as a huge workload before Christmas, and the infections that followed after (don’t they always)? But there’s a third reason for my absence.

A couple of weeks ago I was persuaded by one of my daughters to go for a vacation with her this winter, fleeing the cold and darkness in Northern Europe. “Anywhere in Asia except for Thailand. Make your pick!” she said

So how would I decide where to go? Not having any globe to randomly spin, I did something along those lines: I browsed the webs a bit, checked out the prices and picked our destination more or less on a whim. We would go to Cambodia.

I didn’t know a lot about the country, apart from some basic recollections about the genocide under the Khmer Rouge regime in the 70s. And I had very little idea about what the country was up for today. So I downloaded a couple of books and once I started to read them, I couldn’t stop

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been completely absorbed by the story of Cambodia, which sadly isn’t a pretty one. Anyone who has seen The Killing Fields will remember. (And yes, I’ve revisited that movie too, and I will probably write about it, once I’ve gotten a ton of unwritten 2013 reviews out of the way.)

One of the books I read was film related and therefore deserves a special mentioning at this blog. It’s Survival in the Killing Fields, written by Haing S Ngor, who won the 1985 Academy Award for best supporting actor for his performance in The Killing Fields. Ngor was a refugee from Cambodia and the book describes his experiences and how he miraculously survived throughout the years of terror, unlike most of his family and friends. It’s a tough read, a great deal tougher than the movie was. I suppose the reality was a little too much to expect an audience to cope with, unless you aimed for a small extreme horror/slash movie audience.

The reading of this book and several others has put me in a strange, feverish mindset. The thought about Cambodia – how bad it has been and how bad it still is for the majority of the population at this time – is hard to knock out of my mind and it makes me associate in a way I wouldn’t have done before those travel plans came up.

For instance when I watched 12 Years a Slave the other day, and Solomon had to hide the fact that he could read and write in order not to get killed, I couldn’t refrain from exclaiming to myself (silently inside my head), “Well, wasn’t that exactly like in Cambodia!”

hope to get back to blogging more frequently in the time leading up to my journey (on February 18). I’ve got a lot of thoughts about recent movies that need an outlet. I will try to not let my current Cambodia oriented state of mind influence my reviews too much, but I might slip once in a while, making references and connections that you wouldn’t have thought of in the first place. And if this happens, you’ll know why. I’m having a fever.

Written by Jessica

December 31, 2013 at 3:03 pm

19 Responses

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  1. Sounds like much is afoot in the Velvet Cafe. Take your time and enjoy your time with your family. The rest of us will mind the store for you and be here when you get back.

    All the best for 2014, love!

    Ryan McNeil

    December 31, 2013 at 3:18 pm

  2. Sounds like you had an amazing time. I was wondering what happened but it sounds like a worthwhile absence for sure. As for your Cambodian persuasion, don’t worry about it leaking into your writing. That’s honesty! Glad you’re back and can’t wait to read your thoughts on a number of these end-of-the-year movies.


    December 31, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    • Well I haven’t been there yet. I’m off in February. What I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks is travelling in my mind, reading all about it. I can’t get it out of my head. But I’m pretty sure we’ll have an amazing time. But probably also devastating, as we’ll be visiting some of the places where the killing and torturing took place. Anyway: I’ll try to let go of the books a bit now and return to writing. The itch is there!


      December 31, 2013 at 3:56 pm

      • I remember watching “The Killing Fields” as a teenager. It really shook me up especially after realizing it was based on true events. Didn’t it star Sam Waterston?


        December 31, 2013 at 4:01 pm

        • Indeed it does. It’s pretty slow paced compared to what movies are these days and the soundtrack is a little bit off here and there, but apart from that I think it holds up. It’s well worth watching. And the ending with John Lennon singing Imagine brought tears to my eyes.


          December 31, 2013 at 4:04 pm

  3. Nice to have an update on what’s on your agenda for now. And isn’t it quite natural to be caught up in something as mind blowing as the cruelties that humans are capable of? Hope to see you on the next meet up in Stockholm. Until then, have a good new one!


    January 1, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    • We’ll meet on Saturday! And I’ll try to not be all about Cambodia then. 🙂


      January 7, 2014 at 11:52 pm

  4. We’re happy to have you back and writing, no matter what your state of mind. I can handle a bit of “Cambodia fever”.


    January 2, 2014 at 2:09 am

    • Thank you Steve! I’ll allow it to sipper into my reviews, but only when it feels relevant.


      January 7, 2014 at 11:51 pm

  5. Distant places are so wonderful to go to, if for nothing else than the major reorientation of perspective. They’re also just plain fun. I wish you all of the latter and as much as you want of the former!


    January 2, 2014 at 3:45 am

    • Thank you very much Klep! Hopefully I’ll get both. I think that’s the best trips, honestly. A trip that ONLY consists of beach life can feel a little empty.


      January 7, 2014 at 11:50 pm

  6. Take your time, Jessica. We’ll be here. Hope your research about darker times in Cambodia doesn’t dampen your fun and instead helps you appreciate it more. Have a great trip.


    January 2, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    • Thank you Fernando! I imagine that the knowledge I’m gathering now will give me a deeper experience and better understanding of what I’m seeing – and what I’m not seeing, as we’re sticking to the touristy parts of the country. But there will be room for pure enjoyment as well towards the end of the trip.


      January 7, 2014 at 11:49 pm

  7. I have not seen that movie, but it sounds like essential viewing. Hope the trip is worthwhile and there will be enough to enjoy as well despite the grim history.


    January 3, 2014 at 10:29 am

    • I think you should see it. I definitely should make a special write-up about it.
      I think the trip will be nice. While we’ll start by seeing the sad stuff, we’ll end on a positive note spending some lazy days by the beach.


      January 7, 2014 at 11:47 pm

  8. That sounds like a real experience you’re about to have – I have always wanted to go to Cambodia. Don’t worry, as I found out last year, there’s more important things to blogging – I had a fever of wanting to change teenagers lives last year, and I managed to do it to some degree. But it is nice to have blogging to come back to.


    January 4, 2014 at 6:21 am

    • It is. It happens sometimes that I don’t have time to write for a little while but I try to not make such a big thing out of it. As a free, unpaid blogger I don’t depend on ads and I don’t owe anyone anything. I write for my own pleasure and I try no to put pressure on myself or make promises in any direction. My blog isn’t going anywhere. Its there waiting for me whenever I feel the inspiration and I have time available for writing.


      January 7, 2014 at 11:46 pm

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