Monday, April 26, 2010
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
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"
Thursday, April 01, 2010
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.