Monday, July 31, 2006

it's about the villain

Action movies today are so lost when it comes to what suspense is really about. They concentrate in the cars exploding, in the slow motion bullets and forget what makes a movie special. One of those things is a good villain. Think about the really cool James Bond movies, if the villain is interesting, the movie is good.

Watching "The Street with no Name", a movie from 1947 on Cinemax, was a good reminder of this. Richard Widmark had to be the meanest, most unrepentant villain in movies. The way he talked, his smile. You know this guy is always up to no good.
The movie itself concerns an FBI agent infiltrating a gang of robbers. But forget about that. It's about that Richard Widmark smile. That frightening smirk.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Revisiting Hemingway

These days I have been doing just that. Reading old Hemingway books. Right now, it's"The Sun Also Rises", a book I last read when I was a freshman in college. I didn't remember much about it, except that I had always thought the closing line of was the greatest of any book ever. The most heartbreaking one.

But I wanted to read it again. The story of American and British expatriates in Paris in the 1920's. The post WWI generation, the "lost generation". Their loves, their regrets, their vanishing illusions. As an 18 year old I found their lives interesting, but their problems and personal issues were a world away. After all, what are vanishing illusions or unrealized love for an average 18 year old?

Then suddenly you read this book at my age and it hits you harder. There are lines in the book that hit close to home. Suddenly these are not people a world away, but people you may know, you see their thoughts and actions reflected on your thoughts and you understand them better. The characters in the book are all full of flaws, but now instead of judging them, you forgive them.

And suddenly while re-reading it, you start really appreciating the simple and amazing Hemingway prose. And then there's that final line. Six words that say more about life and regrets that complete books or a hundred poems.

"Isn't it pretty to think so?"

Yes, it is.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Ask the Dust

I love discovering little movies. Films that came and went and nobody noticed. Well , this is one of them. It's a movie directed by Academy Award winner Robert Towne, who wrote the classic "Chinatown." For years, making a movie out of the cult book "Ask the Dust" had been his dream project. At one time, Johnny Depp was set to to star in it. But the deal fell apart.

This is the story of a struggling Italo-American writer (Colin Farrell) living in Depression era LA with dreams of meeting blonde, California girls who falls for a Mexican woman (Salma Hayek), who is looking to fall in love with a white, Anglo guy. The movie deals with racism, writing, sex,love but mostly with the idea that if we want to enjoy life we have to shed our close minded expectations of what we want and along with what life offers us.

I have no idea why this movie was such a flop. It is a fine little film. If you're at the video club, check it out.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Monty Python: Black Knight

I saw this film ("Monty Python and the Holy Grail") on WIPR-TV(!) years ago and I inmediately became a Monty Python fan.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Dr. Baugh: Sometimes I wish I had a pill to make people disappear.

I must admit I had never seen this movie based on the classic play by Tennessee Williams. I had seen bits and pieces of it on Turner Classic Movies, but last night I decided to watch it all.

Like all Tenessee Williams plays, it is set in the South. It deals with a dying patriarch and how his whole family sucks off to him so they will included on his will. All then do that except his tortured, alcoholic son. The acting by Paul Newman and Burl Ives is excellent and for us used to seeing Elizabeth Taylor as Michael Jackson's creepy friend it is amazing to see her acting so well and looking so beautiful.

The one thing that didn't ring true was the upbeat ending of the movie. Supposedly the play has a much more downbeat ending, but this was Hollywood 1958 and things had to end in a positive way, I guess.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

there's work today, right?

There are no cars on the streets. There is an eerie silence. Looks like a Sunday morning. Feels like it. Damn.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The little girl who lives down the lane

It seems all the good movies play on cable at 2pm. For instance this terrific little horror film from 1976. Jodie Foster plays a mysterious girl who seems to live alone in a house. She says her father lives there too, but no one has seen him. What is the mystery behind all this? Well, you won't fucking guess. This is the kind of movie that creeps on you and makes you uneasy. It's playing on Showtime and Flix at weird hours. Get yourself a DVR and check it out because its the type of movie you should watch at night.

Life on Mars

I saw this show on BBC America and it is brilliant. It's about a cop who has an accident and wakes up in 1973. He (and we) don't know whether he travelled in time, whether he's imagining all this or whether he's really in a coma. The show plays we all the differences between that time and now. And the guy has to solve cases using his intuition rather than using using all the CSI type technology. This is one clever, cool tv show. I think there will be an encore showing on Sunday night. It's called "Life On Mars" because its the title of the David Bowie song he was listening to on his Ipod when had the accident and the song playing on his 8 track when he woke up.


I am so lazy. Blogger seems to be that way too because it is not allowing users to post photos. So this will probably become a sort of diary entry. An entry for the whole weekend. I must report that it has been a relaxing one. Have been to the beach a couple of times, have seen a couple of movies on cable, have seen a couple of friends, chatted with others who live far away, have been reading "Unknown Soldiers" a truly amazing and too real portrait of war.

But not once have I thought of work. Well once, when La Toya Jackson- Bratz doll lookalike Zuleyka won Miss Universe and I figured I will have to write ads congratulating her. (NAME OF FUCKING COMPANY) joins in the celebration of the Puerto Rican people..(BULLSHIT...BULLSHIT). Anyway...that was it. And that makes me proud, to be able to disconnect from work completely (not 100%, thanks Zuleyka!)and placed it in its proper perspective.

Anyway....there are a few hours left in the weekend and there's no point in staying here indoors. So this is the end. Have a good one.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

attention Marc Anthony.......

WOR-TV Channel 9 movie intro clip

Back in the days when cable tv had 4 channels, this was one of them. WOR from New York was an independent station, a superstation, that basically showed really old movies and series no other channel wanted. But it was a really cool channel and maybe my love for old movies began because of WOR. During the afternoon they used to show a 4 o'clock movie and they also had a horror movie midnight show where I finally saw the old Bela Lugosi-Boris Karloff movies in their original language.

I also remember seeing "Citizen Kane" for the first time as part of the "Million Dollar Movie" at midnight.
So as you can figure I must have seen this intro clip a thousand times. It was really nostalgic and sweet to see it again after so many years.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

plans for the weekend


One of the most difficult things that a writer can create is a good movie in which many lives intertwine. Most movies of this kind end up being a letdown. So it was a nice surprise to see this Spanish movie on Cinemax(!). It is the story of a few people in a middle class section of Barcelona. It explores their lives, their fears. But what is wonderful about it is how it explores subjects such as sex, death, drugs, prostitution in such a nonchalante way. In such a normal manner without all the moralizing that you would find in a Hollywood movie. And also you end up liking these charaters, you wish you could meet them and have a beer with them. I'm not saying this movie is some kind of masterpiece, but it is worth seeing.

Friday, July 21, 2006

20% chance of rain for the weekend!!!!!!!!!

Ghosts of the Abyss

One good thing about the movie "Titanic", besides the special effects, was the fact that the ship became an obsession for director James Cameron. So in 2001, Cameron and a crew went on a mini submarine and with remote robot IMAX 3-D cameras went to the bottom of the ocean abd actually went in the Titanic. This movie is truly wonderful. You travel through the hallways, you go into a first class cabin(there's a water vase intact there and a hat just as the person left it 90 years ago). You go to the engine room to the firemen's quarters. These scenes are intertwined with shots from the movie so you can see how it looked then and how it looks now underwater. This is one amazing movie. I saw it on my 34" inch tv, but watching this on 3-D Imax had to be one of the great trips ever. It's playing on Starz this month.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Puerto Rican Disney obsession

This is going to sound like a post from Annette's "Siminoco"...but...what the hell is the insanity that Puerto Ricans have about going to Disney World? Recently I've talked to people who are taking vacations and most of them are going there. With so many amazing places in the world, why choose a fucking amusement park? Yeah, the hell with the Grand Canyon, Venice, the Eiffel tower, let's go to Tiki Birds show or EPCOT. I don't get it.

And if you don't believe me that everyone here loves Disney, here's proof. Years ago I was working for an advertising agency who created a promotion that would take you to the Greek Islands. An amazing once in a lifetime trip. Nobody entered the contest. Next year we made it Disney World...a huge succeess.WTF??????

Disney World is simply a corporate ripoff designed to make kids ask parents to buy them things. And I can understand wanting to take your kids there once in their lives. But taking them every year is mind boggling, not to mention culturally crippling. Why not take them, for example, to NYC? Seeing the Empire State will probably be as thrilling to them as Adventureland.

Anyway...I guess the boricuas Disney World thing falls into the same category as the Miss Universe obsession. Wait a minute...imagine a theme park dealing with Miss Universe...instead of taking your picture with Pluto you'll take it with a robotic Dayanara. Hmmmm....

so shoot me

Ok. I'll say it. I liked "The Pink Panther" movie with Steve Martin. I found it to be an enjoyable, time killer with a good couple of laughs. Martin's Closeau is different from Peter Sellers Inspector, but he is funny.

In a way, the movie is much funnier than the last couple of Sellers movies in which you could see how bored the actor was with the whole thing and how unoriginal and lame Blake Edwards' script and direction were.

Here script is kind of silly, and some gags are obvious, but some of them are fun and silly. Kevin Kline and Jean Reno are good in supporting roles. And Beyonce Knowles provides the eye candy.

All in all, a cool movie.


I hate writing about politics. But watching the news last night I saw the news about President Bush's veto of stem cell research. I don't think there is a bigger example of this man's ignorance and danger than this item. He has vetoed a project, supported by a huge number of Republicans, that would have added more federal money for research that could be vital in treating and curing disease. Al because it would involve leftover embryos that would have been thrown away anyway. So where's the moral dilemma in that? Only in the mind of stupid W.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Vamos a la cama

If you are of "a certain age" and you spent your childhood in Puerto Rico you will remember this. It was on at 8pm every night and it called for children to stop watching tv and go to sleep. My parents were a bit more lenient and would let me stay an extra half hour. But watching this cartoon always meant that the fun of the night was pretty close to being over.
I had no idea this was a Television Espanola cartoon.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Searching for Valerie

I must have been on my senior year at high school when I happened to catch a movie on HBO one day called "French Postcards". It was about a group of American college students who spend their junior year at Paris and the adventures they faced there.As someone who was in pre-college mode, this movie was fascinating to me. It provided a glimpse into the mysterious world of college life. Of things that could possibly happen to me once I took that airplane and left home.

But something else struck me about the movie. It was a French actress who played the girlfriend of one the American students. She had the most amazing, intelligent eyes and she projected a strange combination of warmth, quirkiness and sexiness. I stayed all the way through the titles and saw that her name was Valerie Quennessen. I made a mental note to catch any other movies she was in. This was way before the Internet and at a time when cable had 6 channels. I only caught her in one more movie, a clunker called "Summer Lovers" but then nothing.

Years passed and I never saw her in another movie. Ocassionally while reading the Sunday New York Times I would look at ads for French movies hoping to see her name, but no luck. Eventually I forgot all about her. My era of "movie actresses crushes" was over.

In 1996 I installed this new thing called the Internet in my house. That first night online I couldn't believe all the information that was there. I spent all night just surfing the net. Suddenly I found a movie message board. I had no idea how this worked. But I submitted a question:
"What ever happened to Valerie Quennessen?"

For days I had no answer. Then I got it. The reason she had not appeared in any movies was that she had died in a car crash in 1988. The post also directed me to a website in her memory. It seemed that someone out there had watched "French Postcards" on HBO one night too and had also being struck by her. I wrote him an e-mail and we exchanged some memories of having seen "French Postcards". I was struck by how similar our feelings were while watching the movie years ago.

It was an interesting exchange but most importantly, it marked the first time I realized how much my world would change with the Internet.

Monday, July 17, 2006

beyond regueton

The other afternoon I was watching a pop music show on Television Espanola. Sometimes I watch them to see what Europe is listening to since it seems that over here there's regueton and not much else. Anyway, after watching an hour of the show I found out:

1.people over there listen to regueton. There was a Spanish group which was kind of silly. A bunch of galleguitos pretending to be mean guys. But that was only 5 minutes of the whole hour.

2.rock is still a force there. There were many rock groups in the show, some Spanish, some English and American. It was refreshing to see young people in a rock band and listening to rock n' roll.

3.there is some true talent out in Spain. There was this group called Marlango, a Spanish group leaded by a singer-actress Leonor Watling ,who combines jazz, folk and rock in their music. And they sing in English!!! Talk about eclectic. And the teenage kids were loving it. Which made me realize that maybe over there young people are more open to different sounds. Or maybe they are more culturally aware and enjoy diversity.

So there's hope still, guys. Only you have to go to Europe. Or tune in to Ipop on TVE, channel 51 on Saturday afternoons.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


The late B.Kliban is best known for his series of cat cartoons. But he made some of the strangest, most amazing cartoons ever. The man was a true genius.
Here are three I like.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Dealing with technology

Got my DVR/HD from One Link. HD looks great, DVR doesn't work. VOD doesn't work.

Good trash, bad trash

Ok. Enough for the French intellectual movies. I wanted to see trash. Sexy trash. And here are the two movies I saw: Basic Instinct 2 and "Poison Ivy 3:the New Seduction".
The first one I saw on DVD, embarrasing to rent, but what the hell. In this one, Catherine(Sharon Stone) decides to destroy the life of a psychaitrist in order to write a novel, which is downright strange, why not simply write the novel? Anyway, she kills a bunch of people and you can see the "twist" ending a mile away. Sharon Stone looks good and she has fun with the character. But the movie is not really too interesting or too sexy. In terms of trash, its bad trash, because it fails to do one thing trashy movies should do: entertain the hell out of you.

Great trash? "Poison Ivy 3". I love this movie. It's on cable every month so someone else out there is loving it too. Too sexy for words Jaime Pressly plays the daughter of a housekeeper. Years ago(there are layers to this!) the housekeeper had an affair with the owner of the house and was fired when the owner's wife found out. So here comes Jaime to invade the house of the people who wronged her mother! Will she seduce the owner of the house? Yes. Will she destroy the life of everyone in the family? Seduce the daughter's boyfriend? turn him into a drug addict? are there lesbian undertones? yes, yes, yes and yes!!!This is great trash that makes you talk back to the screen. This is true entertainment.

Anyway..I will watch a couple of Truffaut films to get rid of the guilt. Unless...there's Poison Ivy 4 on cable.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Beatles - Two Of Us (Twickenham Rehearsal)

This is one of my favorite Beatle moments ever. Here they were about to break up, the mood at the recording studio was depressing, but suddenly out of the blue they start rehearsing and all the magic is back.
Suddenly, the greatest songwriting partnership of the 2oth century is in full force.
I love this clip from "Let it Be" but in a way it makes me sad that, because of some jerk with gun, we were never able able to see them perform together again.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Legend of hell house

I saw this movie in tv when I was a kid and have always had a soft spot for it. It's not as good as the original version of "The Haunting", but it's a nice liitle horror movie. Not really scary but enjoyable, nevertheless. It's based on a book by Richard Matheson, a writer of some memorable Twilight Zone episodes (the one about the gremlin on the airplane's wing!).

The plot is pretty standard. Four people go into a famous haunted mansion and one of them wants to exorcise the place. All kind of mayhem happens. The movie has great acting by Pamela Franklin and Roddy McDowall. It also features two pretty intense sexual scenes for a PG movie, which may have been part of the reason I remember it as a kid.
Not the kind of movie I would recommend, but if you have 90 minutes to kill and the movie is on Fox Movie Channel, check it out. It DOES have a cool poster!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

somerset maugham

To compensate for the limitless stupidity of Zuleyka's quote,
here are some gems from author Somerset Maugham.


When things are at their worst I find something always happens.

A woman can forgive a man for the harm he does her...but she can never forgive him for the sacrifices he makes on her account.

It was such a lovely day I thought it a pity to get up.

It's a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.

Like all weak men he laid an exaggerated stress on not changing one's mind.

Art is merely the refuge which the ingenious have invented, when they were supplied with food and women, to escape the tediousness of life.

He had heard people speak contemptuously of money: he wondered if they had ever tried to do without it.

It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it; but the young know they are wretched for they are full of the truthless ideal which have been instilled into them, and each time they come in contact with the real, they are bruised and wounded.

It is cruel to discover one's mediocrity only when it is too late.

There's always one who loves and one who lets himself be loved.

Holy fucking shit!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Black Moon

A young woman is driving her car. Suddenly she becomes aware there is some kind of war going on. She escapes to a house and finds a strange old lady that talks to rats and the rats talk back. She finds a man and a woman who are mute and are both called Lilly. She meets a bitter, cynical talking black unicorn. And those are just the things that can be explained.

"Black Moon" is a movie directed by French auteur Louis Malle (Au Revoir Les Enfants). It is his take on "Alice in Wonderland". This is a strange, surreal film that is truly impossible to describe. It's the kind of movie for people who like "Eraserhead". I watched it sober and liked it. I cannot imagine how it must be like to enjoy this movie in an altered state of mind.

It never got a major US release or a DVD release and you can see why. It is showing on Showtime, the best channel on cable when it comes to bizarre, offbeat movies. Check it out.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Decalogue

Before Krzysztof Kieslowski made his classic films "The Double Life of Veronique" and his "Red", "White" and "Blue" trilogy he made this unique series of made for tv 60 minutes movies called "The Decalogue." Ten tales set in a Warsaw apartment complex.Each telling the story of a tenant living there. Each one touching in a unique side of the human condition. Each story is also based on one of the Ten Commandments, but there's nothing preachy here. Just pure human emotion. Real emotion, not Hollywood "pretend" emotion.

It's hard to describe how good this movie really is and how moving an experience it is to watch it. I tend to agree with LA Times critic Kenenth Turan when he said that to see "The Decalogue" was "nothing less than a privilege."

You will never find this at Blockbuster. I found a behind the counter copy at Borders. It is expensive, but worth it.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

And now Glerys will present the marketing plan

True story. I swear. Before she became a No Te Duermas model, Glerys wanted to be an advertising account executive. This was five years ago, and she did an internship at the ad agency where I was working at the time. She needed to work a number of hours for some university credit and we were the lucky agency to have her.

They tell me that she wasn't a half bad intern. She seemed to grasp the whole advertising game, except for the dress code part. She used to go to work wearing the shortest dresses in the world, and with slits on the side. Let's say there are waitreses at Diva's who dressed more demurely. Every day she would surprise us with a different stripper type outfit. Whenever she arrived, all the guys in the agency would soon alert each other..."tienes que ver como vino Glerys hoy." And every day she would surprise us with a shorter skirt.

It was a truly weird time. Because we would see her at work during the day and then see her at night showing her ass on tv. There are very few instances when one can say that about a co-worker.

Unfortunately, she ended her internship in a couple of months.

But....months later she called the head of the account dept. to ask for advice. She didn't know whether she wanted to be an account executive or a sexy tv model. She was torn between the two worlds. So the head of the dept asked her " Well, where do you see yourself in 5 years?" And Glerys answered "I see myself as a merenguera.". "Well", he said, "maybe advertising is not the way to go for you."
And the rest is history,of sorts.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Cat Stevens - Moonshadow

This video brings back so many memories.Of watching this at my school's auditorium one Sunday afternoon and loving the innocence of it so much.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

a great quote

"The greatest enemy of an artist is the absence of limitations"
Orson Welles, in amazing documentary shown last night on the greatest channel on cable, Turner Classic Movies.

three stories that had to be told

After a reading a book of lighthearted PG Wodehouse tales, I wanted something different. And I found it in this amazing book I found at Borders. It's called "Unknown Soldiers". It's a nonfiction book about the life of three soldiers that died during World War One, but were never found. Three of hundreds of thousands who died from explosions so terrible that, as the author writes, they simply vanished, who disappeared in the middle of a terrible war. But the three of them had left something behind: letters containing their thoughts, hopes and accounts of being in the midddle of battle.

In the book we get to know an American soldier, a German soldier and a British soldier.Three young men who vanished, but that through this book, live again.
The unknown soldiers are unknown no more. This is one great book.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Field of dreams

I can't believe it's been two years since we last had the Expos games here. It was such a fun time to finally see Major League baseball in Puerto Rico. But as everything, the first year everyone went to the games because it was "the cool thing to do" and "the place to be seen" more or less like Galaxy Lanes today. It became a competition among the elite as to who had the best seats. You could see them at the park calling each other on the cell phone, comparing where they were sitting. But still, the park was full and baseball fans like me could enjoy the games.

But during the second year, only true baseball fans attented the game, the poseurs moved on, and assistance fell down. The result being that we can no longer enjoy a nice hot dog, a beer and a wonderful baseball game. Too bad. It was really nice time.
Well, maybe when Galaxy Lanes goes out of vogue, baseball will be back. One can always dream

Life lessons from The Simpsons

Homer: How is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home winemaking course, and I forgot how to drive?

Homer: Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel.

Homer: Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.

Marge: Homer, is this how you pictured married life?
Homer: Yeah, pretty much, except we drove around in a van solving mysteries.

Homer: Lisa, Vampires are make-believe, like elves, gremlins, and eskimos.

Chief Wiggum: I hope this has taught you kids a lesson: kids never learn.

Homer: If The Flintstones has taught us anything, it's that pelicans can be used to mix cement.

la playa the other day

Even though it wasn't a weekend for heading to the beach, I did. I needed the calmness and the peace of my mind that only la playa even on a not so sunny day can give you.

Took some photos too. Especially of the rainy moments.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The silliness begins

They are here. Read the newspapers and the news stories are slowly creeping through.
The stories about "nuestra soberana", "la representante de la mujer puertorriquena".
Yes, it's time for the silliness called the Miss Universe contest. The pageant consisting of heavily surgically altered women answering questions about world peace and saying they want to meet Nelson Mandela. Which would be alright if people saw it as simply a time killer, as an "American Idol" type thing. Well, if they saw it basically as the crap that it is.

But newspapers here make it seem like every Puerto Rican's self worth, our sense of pride, our "patriotismo" depends on some Donald Trump owned show that is so lowly rated that it takes place after the US tv rating sweeps season. That's what makes it everything so amazingly apalling. The fact that El Nuevo Dia and others want to sell this as some kind of test of our patriotic self worth. And that people are buying this nonsense.

But anyway, I'm just a lonely voice. I'll just have to keep quiet and listen to everyone at work talking about it. I'll have to go through all the silliness one more year.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


This movie has a good premise. A married couple start receiving VHS tapes with footage obviously taken from across the street from their house. It seems someone placed a camera there and recorded hours of surveillance footage. Why are they recording it? Who is doing that?

This is a really interesting movie about privacy both in terms of video and in terms of things we don't even tell people we love. This being a French movie, well, the answers to every question are not so clear cut. And people used to easy answers and inmediately knowing who the "good guy" and the "bad guy"is, will find it frustrating, but those who can appreciate a movie that challenges and doesn't give you a clue as to where the story is going will love it.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

there is a God

Well, I bet those "Brazil fans" at Bossa Nova and Pizzaialo restaurants will be very sad. he,he,he.
Good to see the most arrogant team in the tournament gone!!!!
Anyway, congrats to blog reader Rita because her country, Portugal, beat England. Congratulations!!!!