Monday, December 13, 2010

All Quiet in the Western Front

La novela "All Quiet in the Western Front" es posiblemente la mejor novela anti-guerra de todos los tiempos. Un libro que al leerlo hoy es tan relevante como hace 80 años cuando se publicó.

Hacer una buena película de la novela no es fácil. Los pasajes más conmovedores del libro son los pensamientos del protagonista sobre la estupidez y la futilidad de la guerra. Al hacer una película, estos pensamientos tienen que ser traducidos a acción.

En 1930 se hizo una primera versión cinematográfica de la novela. Es interesante, pero sufre de cierto "clumsiness" típico de esas primeras películas que se hacían con sonido.

En 1979 se hizo una segunda versión para cine. Desafortunadamente, después del fracaso taquillero del film "A Bridge Too Far", ninugún estudio quiso distribuirla. Así que pasó a ser una película hecha para la tv.

Esta versión está muy bien hecha. Richard Thomas, protagonista de "The Waltons" en esa época, es excelente como el muchacho que, como muchos, se creyó la vieja historia de defender la patria, sólo para darse cuenta de la mentira detrás de todo. La Primera Guerra Mundial fue un evento de crueldad extrema, donde paises se fueron a la guerra sin ninguna razón particular. Millones murieron en batallas donde apenas se ganaban varias yardas de terreno.

Este film logra su propósito de llevar de una manera inteligente el libro a la pantalla. La experiencia no es tan devastadora como lo es en libro, pero en cierta manera sigue siendo fuerte en su mensaje de las consecuencias de la guerra.

No te la pierdas en Showtime este mes.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Let Me in

I wish I would go to movies regularly. I don't anymore basically for two reasons. First because of the Caribbean Cinemas policy of showing 40 minutes of commercials before the movie. And second because there are very few movies that inspire me to go to a movie theater and subject myself to teenagers with cellphones.

"Let Me In" was a movie I had to see at a theater. I loved the original Swedish version and was looking forward to seeing this remake. Of course, the fact that the movie marked the return of legendary Hammer Films studios to movies made it a must see. I got goose bumps when, at the start of the film, the "Hammer Films Presents" title appeared. We haven't seen that since 1978.

The movie itself is excellent. The performances by the children are truly outstanding. They may even top those of the original movie. The mood is chilling, desolate and sad just like in the Swedish version. It is interesting that the best horror movie of the past few years is a remake. But it is. "Let Me In" is a movie that shows that when it comes to horror, less is more. It's a movie someone like Val Lewton would have loved.
Check it out when it appears on DVD in January. Better yet, get the Blu-Ray and experience a really special movie.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Brett Favre syndrome

The other night I was thinking about work and I realized my heart is not in it anymore. I still do my work and occasionally I feel proud of something I've done. But there is a sense of to quote the Eagle's song "singing for the sake of the song."

I feel like an athlete on his last seasons. In this new job I feel like a sort of Brett Favre, playing well but realizing that this may be the last season. This place where I work is my Vikings team, a chance to do something, to play, to feel the team spirit. But in the back of my mind, realizing that maybe I won't want to do this next season.
The other day I decided to look back at what I had written here a few years ago. And I am pretty happy with the blog. And a bit sad I don't write that often.I have been concentrating in other things such as photography and reading.But I want to make the effort to write here more often.Even if it's just to put a quote or a photo. I don;t have to get that deep. Just write a bit.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Gloria Stuart

These days I have been watching movies from the 1930's. Especially Mr. Moto movies and Astaire-Rogers musicals. While I enjoying them, A thought sometimes crosses my mind. Everyone in this movie is dead. Nobody I'm seeing onscreen could possibly be alive. Well, maybe the small kid here and there may be alive. All except Gloria Stuart. Here is a starlet from 1930's movies that was still alive in the 2000's. She, of course, became even more famous because of her role in the mega-hit 'Titanic".

But today, she too is gone. The last of the 1930's stars is has passed away.

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I saw the movie based on the first book of the Stieg Larsson trilogy. Here's what I think. It's ok. Just like the books are ok. A slick piece of pop culture that sets out to entertain and not much else. The movie is pretty cool and the performance by Noomi Rapace as Lisbth Salander is outstanding. But this is the kind of movie that I imagine will not stand the test of time. A 2010 version of John Grisham's bestsellers. Books that nobody reads anymore. A product of marketing and a moment in time.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


I guess when one reaches a certain age, routines become important. I guess because life becomes more uncertain, mortality seems more real. So to make up for these facts, one creates little routines that make life look normal.

My routines tend to center around Saturdays. I wake up around 8am, I prepare myself some coffee and some oatmeal. This is the day in which I don't have to hurry. So I go to the balcony, watch the ocean. I love how I can, in a way, make the morning go slow.

Then, I take a leisurely walk and take photos. Mostly of the ocean. Then I go into Starbucks and have a second coffee. I read the news on my Iphone, sometimes I call my friend Erika. We usually talk Saturday mornings because we used to meet at Starbucks every other Saturday to talk about life. She no longer lives here. But I love to still have these long distance talks.

Then in the afternoon I love to watch movies in bed. I tend to go for old movies. Sometimes movies that take me back to my childhood or my teenage years. To the era when things were less complicated, mortality millions of years away.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hannie Caulder starring Raquel Welch & Stephen Boyd - Trailer

Raquel Welch in Hannie Caulder

One of the frustrating things about being a movie fan at a young age was that there were certain movies one wanted to see but couldn't because of an R rating. And I remember seeing the ads and photos of the movie "Hannie Caulder" and wanting to see it. And well, I can see why. It's very simple, the photos Raquel Welch wearing a poncho and with presumably nothing underneath. For a horny eleven year old, that was heaven.

Well, I finally got to see this movie. And yes, Raquel Welch is sexy. Incredibly sexy. So very sexy. As for the movie, it's a pretty good revenge film with good acting all around. Robert Culp is excellent and so is Christopher Lee in one of his few non-horror roles. The idea of Welch being a sexy gunslinger is pretty weird. This couldn't possibly
have occurred in the Old West. But then again, 99% of Westerns are pure fiction, pure fantasy and have nothing to do with the real West.

So I enjoyed this movie. It ran only 85 minutes, which to me is the perfect running time for a movie. And well, there's Raquel Welch at her most alluring. Can't ask for much more.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Inception letdown

I went into the movie theater expecting a Twilight Zone-Memento like experience and I ended up watching an action movie for the ADD set. This movie was not all What I expected. The first hour was fine with its mind blowing visuals and mind fuck ideas. This had the makings of a truly cool movie. But suddenly this movie shifts gears and becomes the worst kind of CGI action movie. And it goes on and on until you want to scream at the screen.

Before watching the movie I was happy that Inception had made so much money. An intelligent, weird movie making all that cash? But I was wrong. The movie made money because in the end, it was just an action movie. A typical dumb summer movie. It was Angelina Jolie's "Salt" with metaphysical pretentions.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Goodbye to The Mandarin

Last week a friend of mine told me he was going to San Francisco with his wife. He asked me about restaurants and I was about to tell him that he had to go to the famous The Mandarin on Ghirardelli Square. It was a place I had gone to many times with my father back in the 1970's and 1980's. And a place I visited three years ago when I went back after so many years. But I decided to look for it in the Internet and learned that it had closed down in November.

The Mandarin was founded in 1968. It was the first restaurant to introduce real Mandarin cooking in the United States. Before that, Chinese places tended to cater to an Americanized version of Chinese cuisine. The Mandarin changed all that. The place was beautiful too with a truly breathtaking view of San Francisco bay.

When I used to go with my parents, we were lucky to get a table. The last time I was there, it was nearly empty. I talked to one of the waiters and told him about the many times that I had gone there with my parents and asked him if he could take a photo of me at the restaurant. He smiled and took the photo. It remains a fond memory of my trip.

If I ever go back to San Francisco, it will be strange not to visit The Mandarin. It was such a part of visiting the city. It was a part of my happiest memories of traveling with my mother and father. And like so many things when one reaches a certain age, it is gone.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Julie Christie Interview (1967)

Julie Christie and the 1960's

Movies are not surprising anymore. In the first few minutes, one more or less can predict everything that will happen. But there was a time in the late 1960's, perhaps due to the success of "Blow Up" that movies would deliberately set out to surprise and/or baffle us. TCM recently showed one of these films. It is called "In Search of Gregory", a forgotten, obscure movie that was shown as part of the Julie Christie film festival.

I recorded most movies from that festival simply because I love Julie Christie. I love her beauty, the intelligence she projects, her legs, he lips, her eyes, her accent, her smile. So I jumped at the chance to see one of her few forgotten movies.

And the premise of this movie is interesting. Two people who have only heard about each other through third persons fantasize about each other throughout the movie but never actually meet. I don't think I've seen a movie quite like this one. It doesn't mean that it is great, it isn't. But one must give its makers credit for having the guts to create something so offbeat. One of the most amazing things about this movie though is its opening. It opens with the Universal Pictures logo. A major studio distributing a movie like this. Seven years later, Universal would become the studio of "Airport 1975" and "Earthquake" in Sensurround. Interesting the way Hollywood changed in such a short time.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

My music when I want it

I wonder who listens to traditional radio anymore. There are so many alternatives now. Satellite radio (not available in Puerto Rico), the music channels on cable tv, the Internet radio stations. And now there are things like Slacker and Pandora that basically transmit music tailored to your particular tastes.

I still remember back in the 1970's when there were no rock stations in the island. There was only one far away FM signal that had a couple of hours of rock every night. I would try to catch that weak signal and enjoy a little bit of what was new in that genre.

Today I have so many options. I can listen to stations that feature classic rock, classical, jazz, Standards. Because of these stations my musical tastes have broadened in a truly remarkable way.

So today at work, I listened to Slacker. In the car on my way home I may hear Minnesota Public Radio through the IPhone and maybe tonight when I read before going to bed I may listen to the Standards station on cable.

I guess that to kids today, what I describe in the paragraph above won't mean anything special. But to me, a teenager of the late 1970's, it is almost a magical experience.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

mon ami Hercule Poirot

Last night I sought refuge in an old friend, Hercule Poirot. I needed to read something light and enjoyable and it seems to me that his stories are always a welcome read. There are times when I feel like reading mysteries that lack depth, that are easy to read and yet keep you guessing. I used to read George Simenon's Maigret stories to achieve that feeling of relaxation, but it seems to be Agatha Christie's stories are better at making one forget life's troubles. So here's to my old friend Hercule Poirot!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Hurricane season thoughts

Here we are again in hurricane season. Looks like this year won't be as quiet as 2009. Already the tv news are warning us about clouds leaving the coast of Africa. And telling us that we have to tune in the news just in case a storm changes course. I long for the days when I was a kid when a rainy day would just be a rainy day and not " a day in which a strong tropical wave covers the island." Or the time when we would be warned about a hurricane when it it was sure to pass over the island and not 10 days before. Everyone was happier. Nobody was storming the supermarkets because of a storm that may or not be happen.

Interesting how technology can simply add stress instead of easing it.

Monday, August 02, 2010


I recently saw (imagine this!) an American movie that deals with sex in an intelligent way and not as the subject of adolescent humor. The movie is "Chloe" a suspense thriller about a middle age woman (Julianne Moore) who hires a high class prostitute (Amanda Seyfried) to flirt with her husband (Liam Neesam) in order to see whether he is cheating on her with young women. A plan that,of course, goes all wrong. "Chloe" has couple of good surprises, some excellent acting, interesting sex scenes. It's not a great movie, but it is remarkable in the way it treats sexuality in an adult way. Sadly, the movie was a flop in theaters since Americans are unwilling to see sex scenes in movie theaters. Hopefully it will be successful in DVD and pay-cable.

In the meantime, the multplex is showing "Cats and Dogs 2" in 3-D to full auditoriums.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Houdini: The Hollywood version

I just watched "Houdini" a movie from 153 starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. One of those movie biographies that from the first minutes tells you it can't possibly be based on reality. Every event in Houdini's life is presented in the corniest sense possible. He falls in love cute, he gets his chance at stardom in a way that only people in movies do. And even his death is not portrayed as it happened in real life. The fictional part of all this is confirmed in a wonderful book called "Past Imperfect": History According to the Movies".

But the strange thing is that the movie is truly entertaining. It makes for a wonderful, relaxed time. One senses the fiction but doesn't mind. So I must admit I can recommend this movie, but go to Wikipedia and learn about Houdini's real life.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Hooked on Hisptamatic

I am hooked on Hipstamatic shots. This is one amazing IPhone apps that turns your phone into the coolest camera in the world. You buy some "lenses" "films" and flash for less than $6.00 and you can turn ordinary shots into something special. You can choose lenses that imitate Holga cameras, that play with light, colors, textures. There is one film that imitates a Polaroid look, other that give photos a black and white grainy feeling. You shoot the simplest thing and it looks amazing. Anyone can be a cool photographer!

Soft core with breakfast

One of the most interesting things about our cable system is that it shows West Coast feeds of US premium channels which makes for an interesting thing: we get to see sof core porn movies while having breakfast. And truth be told, there are morning when I don't feel like watching the news, so I tune to these odd movies. And the oddest of these are the Busty Cops movies featuring Nikki Nova, a pastiche of silicone enhanced females having mostly lesbian sex. The plots are non-existent. I read online that many of them are edits of many movies and videos that through the use of a narrator are clumsily put together into a semblance of a movie. These movies are incredibly stupid, sometimes they are sexy, but they are always interesting in a " I can't believe Showtime is showing this" kind of way.

Corruption on TCM

Tonight I will record a movie I've wanted to see for a long time. In fact, I wanted to see it when I was 8 years old. At that time I was a fan of Peter Cushing Hammer movies. The old ones being shown on tv and the new ones at movie theaters. But there was this one that I was too young to see. It was rated R so it was off limits. I remember seeing the ads in the newspapers and wondering what the movie was like.

Well, tonight TCM will show it really late at night. And hopefully I'll see it tomorrow. I realize it's probably a terrible movie. The fact that it has never received a DVD release should tell you something. But still here it is. A "new" Peter Cushing movie in a way.

I will write about it tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I went back to Miami last weekend and had a wonderful relaxing time. I guess for me it works as a perfect weekend getaway. One to do very little except go to a spa, read a bit, take long walks, shoot a few photos here and there. Miami reminds me that a quiet, crime free, cool life is possible within a Caribbean Latino culture. It shows me all that Puerto Rico could have been but never will be. A place of quiet, respect and peace all set to a Latin beat. The best of both worlds. The order and respect of the United States and the fun things of the Latin American culture. Miami makes me happy, but it makes me sad to think of the island in which I live.

toxic things

I guess this is a follow up to my most recent post. I am taking what I did in Facebook and applying it to my life. I am staying away from the negativity and the toxicity of some people. And I seem to be trying to do the same with all things toxic: toxic food, toxic thoughts, toxic actions. Anything that goes against my physical and mental health is set aside.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Hiding Facebook contacts

These days social networks have become an outlet for political diatribes. Every person giving their opinion, most in a particularly aggressive way. And this was making my Facebook experience a real pain. Luckily I discovered a button that "hides" all the comments and updates from annoying people. And I basically 'hid" 90% of my contacts.

When I visit a social network, I want to see what's going on in that person's life. Maybe share a joke or a curious articles. But I don't care about what you think about the government, the governor, the president. I just don't

So now when I go into Facebook, it's a wonderful experience. It's an escape from the world, not a reinforcement of all that is bad in it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Deadly Affair

One of the great things about TCM is discovering forgotten gems. And I happened to catch one the other night. It is called :The Deadly Affair". It is based on a novel by famous spy thriller writer John Le Carre. It features his famous character George Smiley, but since Paramount owned the rights to that name, his name was changed. James Mason, a truly great actor plays an aging spy, married to a woman who doesn't love him. His job now is to investigate public servants for security concerns. One day he interviews someone who later commits suicide. Mason becomes convinced that it is a case of murder, not suicide.

The movie works very well. It keeps you guessing and it has some wonderful character actors such as Roy Kinnear and many others. It is not available on DVD so if you want to see it you may have to wait for TCM to show it again.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


There's a site called 'Eccentric Cinema" that I visit regularly. Because it keeps me informed of the DVD release of really strange movies. Like this one called "Girly", also known as "Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny and Girly" . It was directed by Freddie Francis, the director of photography of classics such as "The Elephant Man". And it is quite a treat. Imagine the Addams Family with homicidal tendencies and you get a sense of this perverse, little movie. It is funny, it keeps you guessing. It is a movie that surprises you with it's weird atmosphere, but it never descends into gore or anything like that. And Vanessa Howard turns in a really amazing performance as the sexy member of the clan. But then again, the movie avoids nudity or anything explicit. Further proof that sometimes less is more.
All in all, a fine way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Color me Kubrick

There are very few movies that intensely hate. And last night I saw one of them. It is called " Color me Kubrick", a movie about a man who fooled many people pretending to be Stanley Kubrick and taking money away from them. The premise is interesting, but the execution is awful. John Malkovich is one of the most insufferable performances ever plays the main character. The movie is constantly winking at you, letting you know that this all a joke. But the problem is that the joke is not funny. I saw 45 minutes of this awful movie and decided to turn it off. 45 minutes that I completely wasted.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Crazy Heart

I'm a sucker for small movies. Perhaps because my formative cinema years were the early 1970's when small, personal films were the norm. So it's wonderful when a new movie reminds me a bit of that era. This movie about an alcoholic country singer who suddenly finds love and realizes that he must change his life is a low key affair centered by a good performance by Jeff Bridges. I must admit it's one of those performances tailored made to win awards. And I'm never too fond of those. but in this case it's fine. Colin Farrell's uncredited performance here is perhaps better.

But the movie is a fine one and has an ending that for once does not seem to be pandering to focus groups. It is real, bitterweet, more on the bitter side. "Crazy Heart" is not a masterpiece. It is not a great movie. But it is a wonderful, unpretentious one. And in these days of 3-D bombast, it's such a damn change of pace.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


One of the pleasures of European travel is the enjoyment of the wine culture. I never drink wine with a meal over here, but over there one almost feels a duty to have two glasses with dinner. And I had forgotten how wonderful that is. One enjoys the meal in another way. I ate it slower since I was pausing to really savor the wine. And maybe I'm exaggerating here, but once I had finished it, I felt so good. And falling asleep a few hours later was no problem. The relaxation after a busy day was complete. Everything was right.

There are no fat people in Paris

Last week while walking the streets of Paris, a friend commented "Have you noticed that there is not a single obese person in this city?". And it was true. There was not a single overweight individual in the damn city. And it was not because of exercise since one had to look hard to find a jogger around in the morning. We started talking about theories and the one that seemed to make the most sense involved the fact that there were few fast food joints in Paris. So maybe that is the secret. Stop eating that stupid junk food. Forget about KFC, Burger King and others and you will become a healthier person. You can eat your croissants and your butter. But forget about the Whoppers.

A theory that made sense when we went to Barcelona, a city brimming with fast food places. And there they were. The obese people. The overweight kids.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Pacific

I almost never get caught up in television series, but the HBO series "The Pacific" has me completely hooked. It is one the best works of art about the brutality of war ever made. There are scenes that seem not to happen in the Pacific islands, but in some kind of hell. These scenes are also even harder to watch because this series gets you to know these characters and you have seen them travel from the naivete of their upbringing to this place where death, blood and hopelessness is everywhere.
It is specially harrowing because the characters are not fictional, but real.

This amazing series is also about what war does to the mind. How it simply cause so much damage that nobody can return to normality again. Some of them simply break down in the middle of battle.

But is is also about the high cost of war in human terms. And when one sees that the Japanese were unwilling to surrender, it shows why the United States had to resort to the atomic bomb. If taking small islands meant thousands of deaths, takeing Japna would have meant close to 500,000 casualties.

This is a series worth watching.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A night to remember with McCartney

Talk to anyone who went to the Paul McCartney concert in the Coliseo and they will tell you it was the best concert they have ever seen. And I completely agree. It was truly a magical night. Puerto Rico is going through so many problems. Everyone seems to be fighting and arguing about things. And on this amazing night 13,000 of us, people from all ages, sang with Paul. There was such a great vibe when everyone sang "Hey Jude", "Obladi-Oblada" and "Give Peace a Chance". And when he sang "Yesterday" everyone sang along quietly, with a profound sense of knowing what those lyrics meant. For a moment, everyone was longing for yesterday.

Personally I was amazed that I was watching Paul in my hometown. I never thought it would really happen. There were times in which I had to take the whole experience in and simply enjoy the moment. The Beatles have been a part of my life since my teenage years. Back then their music helped me make it through that era. And in most instances in my life, the music has been there for me. How fitting that the exact night when I was turning 49, Paul was there singing live. Here I am, entering another stage of middle age and The Beatles were there for me. There were moments in songs like "Let it Be" and "Yesterday" in which I got a bit teary-eyed. But interestingly enough, that night the song that meant the most to me was that silly "Obladi-Oblada"...I am 49 and "life goes on, la la how the life goes on"

I'm back

I seem to have abandoned this site. But here I am again. My workload has increased a bit and I feel less and less like sitting at home and writing.

I have seen quite a few movies. I went to the McCartney concert. And I will be writing this weekend.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Good Friday at the movies

Tomorrow is Good Friday. And I decided to take a look back at a time when this date was celebrated in Puerto Rico in a very peculiar way. That is movie theaters would stop showing regular movies and they all would show a religious movie that day. Even the porno houses would do that!

I recall vividly seeing "The Ten Commandments" at the Radio City and the Regency. The movie houses were always full and everyone was at their best behavior. Seeing those movies was part a moviegoing experience and part a religious ritual, so everyone acted as if they were at church. As a boy, I found this movie to be kind of long, but I recall being amazed by the parting of the Red Sea scene.

I also saw "The Robe" in one of those Good Fridays. The first Cinemascope production, this movie tended to be less grueling to watch. It has some action scenes and all in all, it was ok.

"Ben Hur" was my favorite as a kid. I guess because it is more of an epic action movie than a religious movie. The chariot race was and still is a joy to watch. It was a long movie, but the payoff was great. I recall seeing this movie in a packed house at the Music Hall in Santurce.

The last movie I remember seeing was "The Greatest Story Ever Told" a star studded movie who was kind of boring, except for doing the "spot that star" quality of it. As a kid, I kind of liked it, but I really don't recall why. Or maybe I do. I think it was the fact that it was a Good Friday kind of movie and even though I was young, I realized there was something that people found special about that day,. Or maybe the fact that it was cool to watch old movies in a movie theater. Or perhaps, that the movies were so different.

I've seen some of these movies on DVD. I can still watch "The Robe" because of the colors and the scenery. I can watch "Ben Hur" and realize it is a fun movie. "The Greatest Story Ever Told", I can see as a product of its era, a time when Hollywood was heading into the wold late 1960's and this movie is still refusing to accept that fact. And Spotting the star is still cool. I mean the blond guy from "Man from UNCLE" is in it!

"The Ten Commandments" is kind of problematic. It is the cheesier one. The sets look kind of tacky. The acting and dialogue is really bad. And it has very little historical value. Still, it takes me back to a Friday afternoon with may mother and my late grandmother. And to a period of my life that I recall with much nostalgia.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Make Way for Tomorrow

I saw one of the saddest movies ever last night. It's a forgotten classic from 1937 called "Make Way for Tomorrow." It's about a husband and wife who lose their house to the bank when they are in their 70's. Their children cannot take them both into their homes and they must separate. It sounds like melodrama but it isn't. It's a thoughtful, wonderful movie. And for a movie made 70 years ago, it feels so modern.

I especially enjoyed the last 30 minutes when the couple decide to spend a last day together. I don;t want to spoil it, but I can say that there are so many touching moments in that half hour. And the ending, the ending of this movie must rival "City Lights" and "The Third Man" as one of the most heartbreaking in movie history. The DVD from Criterion has some great extras , especially an interview with Peter Bogdanovich.

A true gem.

Friday, March 12, 2010

McCartney in Puerto Rico: can't wait!

Paul McCartney is finally doing a concert in Puerto Rico. I am so thrilled. I've seen him a couple of times love, and they were the best concerts I've attended in my life. And you can ask anyone who has seen him live and they will probably say the same. SOme people are complaining about the price, but one has to understand that seeing Paul live is a privilege. A true living legend. One of the greatest composers (if not the greatest) of the 20th century. Seeing it is something you can tell your grandchildren.


I seem to have been away form this blog for a while. The company that I work at has a new blog and they are "encouraging" me to write in it. Oh, well. I will do more writing here.

Bright Star

This fine movie based on the three-year romance between 19th century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, which was cut short by Keats' untimely death at age 25. It has excellent photography, good acting and one does get involved in the love story. Unfortunately, this movie seemed to have been forgotten by the public. But it is a nice movie to watch on DVD. It's not a great movie, but an interesting little one.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Shutter Island: Go see it!

It's sometimes fun to see a world class director take material that is, in a way, beneath him and see him turn it into great fun. That's what Hitchcock did many times and this is what Martin Scorcese does with "Shutter Island"
From the very first shot you realize you are in the hands of a master: the music, the oppresive atmosphere. This a movie about insanity, doubt, violence, traumas. It is over the top but in good way. I remember a professor from my college days who used to say that the best pop culture was "intelligent fun". And this is exactly what the movie oozes.

Saying anything about the plot will basically spoil the fun. So I'll just talk about the acting. Leonardo Di Caprio is amazing in a role in which he is competing with such strange things happening around him. And there is a scene with Jackie Harley which is truly unforgettable.

Grab some popcorn, get a Coke, and sit down and let yourself be carried away by the best living director in the world.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


A few weeks ago a married woman I work with got too drunk at a Christmas party bus and decided to start pole dancing like a stripper. Several people took photos of the whole event. This same woman also decided to sit on men's laps during group photos. Next day at work there was widespread panic that someone would put those photos on Facebook. I had actually taken video of her stripper-like antics ( I love my Canon G10!) and she was really freaked out. I, of course, told her that no one would see that video online.

So this gets me to the how technology has changed our lives. A few years back, nobody would carry cameras around. Now everyone does. And hell, everyone has a phone with a small camera. A couple of years back there was no Facebook. Nobody had a place to post these photos. Now everyone can.

I am all for technology. I love my digital camera and I love taking photos of random things with my IPhone. But I do realize how different things are these days. And I think twice before posting something that could wreck a marriage or someone's reputation. It's all about responsibility.

Tomorrow I have a bachelor party in which strippers will surely be invited. I was already warned: Please don't take photos. I won't. But I'm sure someone will.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Catcher in the Rye

A week ago I decided to read "Catcher in the Rye" once again. I had not done so in over 30 years. I really did not recall much about the book. But it was interesting to note what I did remembered. And that was the scene in which Holden hires a prostitute and decides he does not want to have sex with her. I guess when I read it I was still a virgin and any scene in which sex was involved was attractive due to the mystery that sex represented to me. I thought about what I would have done in that situation and figured I would have tried to have sex with the prostitute. Anyway, that was the part of the book that I recalled.

Reading it more than three decades later, that section of the book is the least interesting. Reading it now, the wonderful part of the book are those in which Holden spends time with his sister. In a book that basically consists of a teenager whining about everything in life, those scenes emphasize the best things in life. The small, wonderful moments that happen once in a while when we are with friends and family. Those are the sections of the book that I really enjoyed. In fact, there were passages that made me go back and read them again.

The fleeting moment. The idea that one has to enjoy the moment because everything is destined to change. In a way, I know understand the title. We are catchers in the rye, trying to hold on to moments, to people and situations. We may be foolish for doing so. But it's one of those things that make us human.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

A Nun's Story

I have no idea why I decided to see this movie. Maybe it was because it was directed by Fred Zinnemann, Maybe because I read somewhere that it was pretty good. And perhaps because I was trying to figure out what was so great about Audrey Hepburn. Well, I was really surprised by my reaction to it. I loved it. This movie tells the story about a young woman who becomes a nun, only to find out that she wasn't meant for that kind of life. I know it sounds awful. But the movie is so accurate in describing the whole insanity behind the convent walls. A life of chastity is crazy enough but, al least in those years (the 1930's), that was just the beginning. We are talking about things like avoiding things such as happiness, contentment, a sense of success is called "pride". Everything that makes one human is considered a sin.

I was surprised at how this movie is able to expose the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church, especially considering when this movie was made (1958). Today this movie would be condemned. So maybe we have become a more close minded society when it comes to discussing religion.

Then it struck me, that maybe it was really the presence of Audrey Hepburn that made this whole palatable for people. She is such a symbol of honesty and down to earthness that no one could criticize this rather rebellious movie. A movie to check out. It plays on Cinemax and on Turner Classic Movies rather frequently. It also on DVD. And by the way, the DVD looks great.

Good Netflix news!

Netflix is finally allowing its Puerto Rico subscribers to stream movies to their computers and TV's. That is great news. One more company that stops treating us a foreign country.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

20 years later

The other day I was looking at some old photos in a friend's Facebook account. It seems that more and more people are posting old there. These photos were taken 20 years ago and consisted of snapshots taken at various places such as pubs, beaches. It was so strange looking at those photos. I looked at each, trying to figure out where they have been taken and trying to remember the names of people. Funny how time erases so many names from our memory. We recall the faces, but the names fade away.

Looking at them, I also tried to remember how I was and how I felt during those days two decades ago. And that is even harder. Have I changed? Does anybody really change? Tough questions and ones that are impossible to answer.

Of course, when one gets involved in this type of nostalgic trip, there is always one photo that makes one want to stop and look at it again and again. This time around for me, it was a photo of a woman that used to work with me all that time ago. I remembered her name. I forgot her last name. She was incredibly beautiful. Sexy. And she was funny and intelligent. Everyone at the office was in love with her. Of course, I was too. People would tell me to ask her out. That she would say yes. And yet I did not do it. And quite honestly I can't recall why I didn't. Maybe I thought she was too hot for me (my self esteem was in the dumps back then). Maybe that she would turn me down and I would be crushed. Yes, that was it. I was avoiding being crushed.

Funny thing how life is though. Because looking at her photo again, 20 years after my decision not to ask her out, I felt a bit nostalgic, a bit sad and a bit crushed.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Lady Chatterley's Lover

The other day, I woke up early and found the Just Jaeckin-Sylvia Kristel version of "Lady Chatterley's Lover" on a premium cable tv channel. And I decided to have breakfast while watching this rarity. This movie was made in 1981 by the notorious Cannon Group, a movie studio from way back headed by the hack team of Golan and Globus. They were heavily into exploitation movies such as the "Death Wish" sequels. And once in a while they would try to come up with a prestige movie that ended up being worse than their cheap, violence filled movies.

But maybe "Lady Chatterley's Lover" is not that bad, as compared to other versions of the novel. They all have that "this is serious literature" attitude. But the fact is that the novel, which is a serious study of human sexuality, involves a lot of the character's thoughts and feelings. And movies are not so great doing that, so invariably movies based on this novel end up being "Woman is married to impotent cripple. Woman fucks gardener." The wonderful DH Lawrence prose is gone.

Anyway, I enjoyed it, I must admit. Shane Bryant is pretty good as Clifford and Sylvia Kristel is actually not so bad as Lady Chatterley. Her nude scenes, especially remind one, that she was a true beauty. No implants or surgery.

So, if you wake up early one of these days, give it a shot. Or Take advantage of your DVR and record it.
By the way, a piece I wrote on Sylvia Kristel two years ago is the most visited page in my blog. So it will be interesting to see how this piece does.

these days

In a few days, a friend is coming over for the last time. I really can't write too much about it. But that is a fact. I will still see her, but I will have to visit her in New York or talk to her on the phone, something I do quite frequently. So i'ts no big deal.

But still, I will miss the times when she was over here. The Saturday morning talks at Starbucks. And the nighttime talks drinking a bit of wine. I will miss her wilder, freer perspective about life. I tend to go the safer route on most subjects, so her more liberal views are refreshing. They remind me that there is that other side. The one where feeling dominates over thought. Where craziness is ok. It's not always the most advisable route, but one that she reminds me, we have to visit once in a while.

We will have our last Puerto Rico wine talk next Friday. We will be having red wine while watching the ocean. I can't wait.

Monday, January 18, 2010


For a while the words "science fiction" and "intelligence" have not been together, at least in regards to movies. All sci-fi movies have been basically about aliens, blood and guts. I admit some of them were fun. But I was missing the spirit of movies like "Silent Running" and "2001" that touched upon the human aspect of space travel. Well, amazingly enough here is a new movie that is inspired by those two movies I just mentioned. It is called "Moon". It stars San Rockwell as the sole worker in a moon project. He is to stay there for three years. And well, after a while, one can lose it in those lonely circumstances. Or maybe not. I really can't say much more about the movie without giving away key plot points. What I can say is that Sam Rockwell is amazing carrying the movie alone. And that the robot with him is the most memorable since HAL. This is an interesting movie that dares to be different, that doesn't go where one expects it too. Yes, it does get kind of slow sometimes, but then again that is the whole idea behind the movie. I can't believe this movie was able to get made in this Avatar age. But it did. I just hope it makes some money on DVD or else it will be the last of its kind.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Eric Rohmer dies

It is interesting that in the day that a big, dumb movie became the 7th highest grossing film in history, the director of small, intelligent movies passes away. Eric Rohmer, the director of such wonderful little movies such as "Claire's Knee", "Pauline at the Beach", "The Green Ray" and "Boyfriends and Girlfriends" died during the weekend.

I discovered his movies years ago, when a small VHS video store near my home started renting his movies, perhaps thinking that they were sexy comedies. Anyway, I fell in love with his type of low key moviemaking right away. I love his ability to create interest based on the smallest, most mundane situations. A man in love with a woman's knee. A woman trying to find happiness while vacationing. Two couples who decide that maybe they should switch partners and find happiness.

When I watch his movies I become as relaxed as the setting of his stories. It is the equivalent of sitting at a quiet beach and listening to people nearby go about their lives. One realizes there is nothing outstanding about them, but one is still interested in how things will turn out. They are movies that stress in a delightful, easygoing way, that the small things are the ones that matter. The word said or unsaid. The small gesture. The short, quick gaze at a young woman's beautiful knee.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Puerto Rico left out of Netflix, Amazon downloading

Today Netflix announced that they have reached an agreement with Warner to be able to get access to their back catalog pf movies so people can download them. Unfortunately because of Puerto Rico's confusing political status, Netflix considers us an international market and does not allow people in the island to download movies directly to our homes. The same thing is true with This may seem like a silly thing now, but in a couple of years, downstreaming will be the main way of getting access to movies and people in the island will be left out. I don't know what the solution will be short of becoming a state, but I wonder if our legislators and our resident commissioner in COngress can do something about it.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Secret Diary of a Call Girl" Third Season on Showtime January 25

Nobody I know watches this show. I guess they must think it's a sleazy soft-core cable series. But it's not. It's actually a funny, witty, extremely clever British made tv series about the adventures of a high class call girl in London. It explores sex in an intelligent way and at the same time it makes you laugh, it makes you realize many things about the hypocritical way people deal with their sexuality.
And the star of the show, Billie Piper, is the hottest woman in the world. I love her sense of humor and the sexy gap between her two front teeth. I love that. But that's just me.

Fuera de Carta: Another awful Fine Arts theater hit

The more a movie plays in the Hato Rey Fine Arts, the more it sucks. FIrst, it was the the horrendously corny "Elsa and Fred" playing one whole year and now it's "Fuera de Carta" a mediocre and predictable comedy from Spain. The first I couldn't even see more than 20 minutes before I turned off the tv. And last night I saw a DVD of the latter.

"Fuera de la Carta" is a comedy featuring actors from Antena 3 tv series. And this movie is just that, a feature length sitcom about a gay man suddenly faced with the appearance of two kids he had when he had married years earlier. This set up has potential for an interesting comedy, but it is played for cheap, easy gags. The acting is almost theatrical in its complete lack of subtlety. The gay man is one big cliche. And he is probably the most realistic of all of them. The rest are such caricatures that it is truly painful to watch.

But, is it funny? Well, it has two funny , sitcom style laughs. So why was it so popular here? My guess is that the Puerto RIcan people's tendency to laugh at gay stereotypes and at non-stop Spanish language cursing made it a smash hit here.

Anyway, I wonder what the next big Fines Arts hit will be. How about a movie about two gay old people who fall in love and curse all throughout the movie. Hell, I better tell that idea to a movie director I know. He may have a blockbuster with that plot.

Monday, January 04, 2010

soft spot for soft-core oldie

The other day I woke really early. So when I turned on the tv, the soft core movies from the West Coast Showtime feed were still on. Normally I don't watch them. There is something so boring about them. But a movie was on from long ago. It was "Private Lessons" a movie starring gorgeous Sylvia Kristel of "Emmanuelle" fame. I recall seeing this movie at the Regency theater in Santurce. It is still as bad and cheesy as I remembered. But something was different now. I now realize how this movie could never be made today. After all it tells the story of a woman seducing a 16 year old boy in order to implement some sort of blackmail scheme. First it couldn't be made today because of the central premise. And it is kind of amazing that they could get away with scenes like the one in which Kristel invites the boy to share her bathtub. In fact, it is cringe worthy.
But most important it could not be made today because movies like these were made independently and were released to theaters by small companies. Today, all the major studios control 100% of the screens in the US. There is no space for a movie such as "Private Lessons".
Anyway, I enjoyed the movie. It is nostalgic and well, Sylvia Kristel was truly a sexy and beautiful woman. She did not make many movies and most of them don't play on cable tv. So it was kind of cool to see her in all her glory, beauty and sexiness.


I made a promise to myself to write more this year. I used to write so much more, but then for one reason or another I stopped. And it is always interesting to do so. Mainly because it is interesting to look back at what one wrote long ago. And I did just that the other day. Around 4 years ago I had started a personal blog about my daily life and thoughts. It was a private blog, only visible to me. I wrote for around 3 months in it. I had forgotten all about it. And then the other day I remembered it and decided to read it. There were things in it that I recall, but 90 % of it was completely new to me. I did not recall the events I write about and in many ways I do not recognize myself in those words. It was a truly strange experience. An interesting one nevertheless.
It shows how all our days tend to blend into one gigantic hole, only a few days here and there standing out. It also shows that despite what we think and what writers and philosophers tell us, we do change. The changes are subtle but they are there.

cool horror movie shot in Puerto Rico

I've always been a sucker for B movies. And when I was a teenager there were plenty of them around. Not so much now though. So it was refreshing to see a brand new B movies...and filmed in Puerto Rico! It is called " A Perfect Getaway" a story about newlyweds in Hawaii (panoramic shots are shot there, the rest was shot in Puerto Rico) who find out there is a serial killer couple loose in the island. The newlyweds are, of course, doing some hiking in a place with no cellphone reception, you get the picture. The movie is fun, not gory at all, and keeps you guessing as to the identity of the serial killers. I won't say too much more because I don't want to ruin it.

The movie stars Chris Hemsworth, Milla Jovovich, Kiele Sanchez, Timothy Olyphant, Steve Zahn and all of them are fine doing B movie acting. I specially liked Hemsworth and Sanchez.

This movie actually received positive reviews when it played theaters. Unfortunately it was a flop. It is now available in DVD and is really worth a look.