Thursday, April 30, 2009

a year ago

A year ago today I was fired. Then came the months of an almost sabbatical period in which I was able to detox from the world of advertising. I had freelance jobs here and there, but most of the time was spent traveling, writing and taking photos. Not bad.
Here I am, a year later, working in an advertising agency again. Happy to have a full time job in these days of crisis, but still battling a bit with my love-hate relationship with advertising. Loving the camaraderie and the fun times, hating the sense of servility that permeates this industry in Puerto Rico. Loving creating the ads, but pissed that they have to be filmed on a Saturday.
Although here I find these problems in a lesser degree, they are still there. Lurking. Waiting to get out.
Still, it's great to have a job. On the other hand...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Secret Diary of a Call Girl

Late night premium cable. The land of the same 4 or five soft core actors appearing in rather boring movies. But there is something really different and cool these days on cable land. It's called "Secret Diary of a Call Girl", a fun, sexy Showtime series starring Billie Piper. It concerns the adventures and misadventures of a London high priced call girl. It is an intelligent, although I imagine unrealistic look at the world of prostitutes and their clients.

What makes it interesting, apart from the wonderful performance by Piper, is the adult way it approaches sexuality: as something normal and human. It basically tells you we all have our quirkiness in that area of our life and that we should not feel guilty about it. And we do see all the range of human weirdness when dealing with sex. And yet, it feels ok. This is a series rated TVMA that somehow doesn't feel sleazy. It feels fun and normal. Like sex, I guess.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Stardust Memories

Yesterday I was kind of tired from the previous night's partying and i decide to spend the morning in bed, relaxing and watching movies. And I ran across a great movie on the Retroplex cable channel. It's a Woody Allen movie I had never seen before, called "Stardust Memories". I remember that when this movie was released the critics didn't like it too much. This what at the time when Allen was rejecting all his slapstick movies and was trying to make serious movies. As every artist who initially wants to make a change in his or her career, Allen became kind of pedantic and pretentious. And this movie has some of that pretentiousness, still it is an interesting one. And there are actually funny moments in it.

And there are moments that are downright brilliant. There is an amazing scene in which he talks about a "perfect moment" he once had. It involved sharing a quiet Sunday morning with his then girlfriend. The camera shows this scene in all its simplicity and wonder as we see Charlotte Rampling simply turning the pages of the Sunday paper and smiling. It is such a beautiful scene and Rampling shows what an excellent actress she is.

Here is what he says on that scene:
"It was Sunday, and you-you knew summer would be coming soon. I remember, that morning Dorrie and I had gone for a walk in the park. We came back to the apartment. We were just sort of sitting around. And…I put on a record of Louis Armstrong, which is music that I grew up loving. It was very, very pretty, and…I happened to glance over, and I-I saw Dorrie sitting there. And I remember thinking to myself…how terrific she was, and how much I loved her. And, I don’t know…I guess it was the combination of everything…the sound of that music, and the-the breeze, and, and how beautiful Dorrie looked to me. And for one brief moment, everything just seemed to come together perfectly, and I-I felt happy. Al-al-almost indestructible, in a way. It’s funny that that simple little moment of contact moved me in a very, very profound way."

A wonderful moment in a wonderful movie that I saw in a marvellous, quiet Sunday

Thursday, April 23, 2009

favorite actors

The old line about they don't make them like that anymore certainly applies to the late George C. Scott. I was a kid when he reached his peak in terms of popularity and I recall always wanting to see his movies. He projected such intensity. His characters were decent people who seem to stand their ground in a world gone wrong. And maybe that was what drew me to his movies, the idea of a morally upright man, albeit an angry one, who was willing to face the world alone and with dignity.

It amazes me to think that in the early 1970's, he was a movie superstar. Here's a 50 something guy, not exactly good looking who drew millions of people to his movies. It says a lot about the open mindness of the movioegoer at that time, who were willing to see a movie based on an actor's talent, not on his look.

Scott was certainly lucky to have developed in the 60's and 70's, today he would have been relegated to playing the villain in comic book movies aimed at 14.

Must see: "Petulia", "The Hospital", "Patton"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Reader

I read "The Reader" when it first came out and I recall liking it, but strangely enough I had forgotten basically what it was about. Last week I finally saw the movie version and I liked it. It really reminded me why I had enjoyed the book in the first place. It's a story of love, lust, forgiveness and cruelty. It shows how duty, politics and ignorance can cloud our vision of the world. And it shows how even the most terrible monster deserves a certain level of forgiveness. Kate Winslet is amazing in this movie. She portrays a cold character, yet we want to know more about her and we are even able to consider forgiving her.

It is also a movie that asks the question, in a time of war, are we responsible for the crimes we commit in service of our country? If a country can kill thousands with a bomb and get away with it, why can't an individual do the same?

A really excellent movie.

Two French movies

This weekend I decided to see two recent French movies. First, Un Secret, a movie about a boy who unearths some family secrets from the time of the German occupation of France. To say much more is to ruin a really fine movie that sort of reminded me of Louis Malle's Au Revoir Les Enfants, as to why, I can't reveal either. It's one of those movies that combine history and personal life perfectly. It's also a movie about choices and how they can change life in a moment.

The second movie is The Witnesses, a movie about the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in France. To be perfectly honest I rented this movie because I am completely in love with Emmanuelle Beart, I will watch anything she's in. Having said that, this is a great movie about those early years when people didn't know what to make of this new disease. It is also a movie that deals with sexuality as only the French can, in a serious and mature way. Highly recommended.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday. And even though I'm not a religious person, thidsday brings out many memories from my childhood. In those days, Good Friday was a very serious day. Nobody would work. All the local television stations would change their programming and show religious shows. Same for music on radio stations. And even the movie theaters would stop showing regular movies and would feature "Ben Hur", "Ten Commandments" and "The Robe". And every year I would go see these movies with my mother and grandmother.

Today, the only tradition my family keeps is the buying of cocas mallorquinas, a traditional pizza made with sardines that has been part of Good Friday in my ancestor's birthplace of Mallorca, Spain. I still enjoy eating them.

So today, I basically celebrate a celebration. A family tradition. Something that ties me with my childhood and with my ancestors.