Sunday, February 25, 2007


I read somewhere that when it comes to works of art, creating something that says that life is awful is always easier than creating something that says life is good. That statement came to my mind a lot as I watched this movie that spends more than two hours telling you how ironically terrible life can be. Not only telling you that but hitting you with a hammer to make the point.

When the film ended I also realized something: the shallowness of this movie. Since the movie jumps between different stories, there is really no time for character development. So you get cliched characters having breakdowns or facing terrible tragedy. All shot in a 1980's MTV video style, in the sense that it is all very pretty and well filmed, but the characters are cardboard, you don't get inside the head of any of them.

Which is not to say I hated the movie. There were some good things in it. But it was nothing special.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Letters from Iwo Jima

We are so used to seeing World War Two from the side of the Allies. Then suddenly here comes a movie that dares to show it form the Japanese point of view. That is a feat in itself. That the movie is a masterpiece, well, that is nothing short of miraculous.

This is a moving movie about the nature of war, about fanaticism, about love of family and about everything that makes us human. There are moments in this movie that stay with you. This is not a simple war movie. This is so much more.

A must see.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

We need help

A couple of weeks ago I visited a Barnes and Noble bookstore in Miami and noticed something very interesting. The "self-help" section was small and in a back corner of the bookstore. Visit a bookstore in Puerto Rico and you are attacked by self-help books as soon as you enter the place.

This is not surprising. According to a newspaper article, almost 70% of books sold at local Borders stores are self-help, spiritual books. That is an amazing figure. A figure that makes one think about the current mental state of people in our island.

The need for books to be able to deal with life,love, happiness goes against the silly notion that we are "the happiest people in the world". We are not. We are an island searching for ways to cope. We are an island searching for relief and trying to find it alcohol, religious huckters and on self-help books.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Zen of coffee

I have officially become a Starbucks addict. Every workday I go there around 8:30am and have an "Expresso Machiatto Wet Non Fat" while I read the paper. It has become a pretty cool routine. In fact, it has become my time of day to truly relax and enjoy the moment. I realize that the workday will be full of rush jobs and arguments, so that half hour that I spend at Starbucks becomes a sort of "calm before the storm".

Plus there are other benefits about going there. At least once a week I run into someone I haven't seen in a long time and we chat a bit. And since this Starbucks is located next to a spinning place, the most amazing women with the most amazing butts drop in to have a coffee after exercising. What more can someone ask?

Anyway, I have to go. I have to shower, dress and get some coffee. Have a good day.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Flags of our Fathers

I finally saw this movie on DVD. This was supposed to be the nominee for Best Picture, but its companion piece "Letters form Iwo Jima" made as an afterthought ended up being the one up for the Oscar.

The movie is divided in two: the battle for Iwo Jima in which we see the horrific invasion of that island and then the movie cuts to when the three survivors of the plantingg of the flag there were turned into heroes in an effort to raise money for war bonds. So the movie is both a homage to the soldiers who faced overwhelming odds at battle and a strong repudiation of how the government war machine used these soldiers in order to keep the war machinery moving. There is one scene in which the soldiers are asked to restage the planting of the flag in a papier mache hill in the middle of a football game at Soldier Field in Chicago that makes this point very well.

In a way, the movie reflects what we feel about war these days. We feel sympathetic for the soldiers who have to make that horrendous sacrifice while at the same time feel cynicism for the government and the whole military industrial complex.

In a way, this is much better than "Saving Private Ryan", a movie that ends up saying nothing about the war. This one says a lot about the nature of war, courage and decency. Once again Clint Eastwood shows he is the best American director today.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I love this movie

Some people have written as to why "Volver" was not the Spanish language Oscar nominee. And the answer is simple. Because "Pan's Labyrinth" is 100 times better. "Volver" is a nice drama..."Pan's Labyrinth" is a masterpiece. It puts to shame every fantasy movie you have seen (except perhaps "Wizard of Oz" and I emphasize the "pehaps"). This is a magical,sad, thrilling, funny movie that truly sees the world through a child's eye. And it never panders to the audience.

This movie is so fucking good. Ivana Baquero, the girl, is amazing. So is Sergi Lopez and Maribel Verdu.

Go see this one. Starts tomorrow at Fine Arts.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Thursday, February 01, 2007

taking a few days off


"creo que uno espera demasiado de la vida, y la vida es solo tiempo"
"I think we expect too much from life, and life is only time"

A friend told me this the other day. And I've been thinking about those words a lot. I can find some much meaning in them. We complicate our lives so much. We take it so seriously. We analyze it so much. And life is only time. Hours. Minutes. Seconds. Just that. Simple.