this still exists!

hi boys. hope this finds you all well, especially those of you i don’t get to see on fb! tell me something about you!

for about 10 years — gosh that’s a fuck of a long time — i haven’t been able to watch movies at the theater, and only sporadically at home (that’s one of the things extreme agoraphobia can do to you). a couple of days ago i managed to watch Jason Bourne, which was awesomely rewarding (it took two tries so i paid double; also, the movies have become so expensive, and there are no longer people to sell you tickets). my first time in the theater in a decade. strange strange strange.

i wanted to ask if you have movies that are not hugely depressing (like say the dardenne brothers, or lukas moodysson, or Fruitvale Station), that happened in the last ten years that you would recommend. mike started a best-ten-movies-of-the-last-10-years list on fb but i can’t find the thread. also some of you are not on facebook.

about Jason Bourne, well the sheer joy of the big screen was pretty overwhelming, in spite of also feeling a bit anxious. i don’t care for car chases and twisted metal in general, but all the chases (car and otherwise) were so balletic and so beautifully choreographed, i felt great pleasure in watching the film in spite of the thin thin plot and the fact that the head of a major division of the CIA is played by a 25 y.o. woman (the only female character), when all the male characters are played by potential or actual grandfathers.

finally, since this blog was last active, tv and web series have taken over our lives, so i am wondering if anyone feels like a resurrection?

hugs to all of you!

rodrigo garcía

it is indeed a shame that a man with such lineage (he’s the son of gabriel garcía márquez) should be so distinctly untalented. i’ve seen two of his films, albert nobbs and things you can tell just by looking at her, and while i appreciate his attempts to present life from women’s point of view, i have to bemoan his utter failure.

a separation

has anyone reviewed this? i can’t see it. regardless.

this film starts with a couple talking to a judge. the camera is on the couple. the judge is invisible throughout but we can hear his questions. he sounds very reasonable. the couple discusses heatedly the question of their separation. the wife wants to leave the country; the husband says it’s impossible because he has to take care of his ill elderly father. they are both fetching (the wife is beautiful), articulate, passionate. they mostly look at the judge. neither gives an inch. the judge says that the only option is for them to separate. enter the problem of the 11-year-old daughter. the wife wants the daughter to go with her. the husband says the daughter doesn’t want to go. the judge (if memory serves) leaves it at that. the film starts as a family drama. Continue reading a separation

watched. liked.

i would like to start a thread for movies we liked but may not be worth writing whole reviews about. i will start with Welcome, a Film Movement french movie about an iraqi boy who wants to get to england but is stuck in calais. it’s a slight, watchable, and rather sentimental movie, but it highlights pitilessly something i didn’t know, namely that denizens of calais (and presumably other french towns) are forbidden by law from befriending illegal immigrants. it is literally illegal, and severely punished, to give them rides, buy them food, or host them in your house. and it is legal, on the other hand, to bar them from shopping in supermarkets. someone at some point mentions history books. the similarity with nazism are appalling. no wonder the whole islamic world is seething with fury. they are eating brutality and humiliation for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all over the world.

omg The Maid (chile)

opening scene. raquel, a youngish-looking maid in a wealthy chilean household, is thrown an after-dinner birthday party by the family she has been serving for 20 years. turns out it’s her 40th birthday. you do the math. twenty years? 40 years old? dang. half a lifetime spent living with these folks. as if to flesh out your perplexity, shock even, at this extraordinary but all-too-common fact of human existence — people indenturing themselves to others — the director, sebastián silva, segues with a merciless look at the routine of raquel’s life, which consists of focused, meticulously practiced, down to a T, not-a-second-of-rest work. Continue reading omg The Maid (chile)


quick plug for Ajami, the israeli/palestinian film that was nominated for an oscar last year. it takes place in the eponymous section of jaffa, where christians and muslims live uneasily together. the tension, though, is not so much between christians and muslims as between crime gangs whose ruthless illegality intersects with the equally ruthless israeli occupation. even though jaffa is an israeli city, the occupation permeates the movie — through the presence of the wall (which is handily penetrated by cross-border drug and weapon smuggling), through illegal border crossings of migrant workers, through legal border crossings of israelis who need to get into west bank, and through the general violence perpetrated by israeli security forces against arabs (muslim or not).

in the meantime, we also get a sense of the way in which arab justice structure and community support systems continue to operate in what would otherwise be a waste land of violence and lawlessness. elders of both christian and the muslim faiths get together and figure things out, brokering precarious truces and stopping seemingly unstoppable carnages. Continue reading ajami

brideshead revisited, an education, and lorna’s silence

sadly, i haven’t read the evelyn waugh novel, but i gathered from the reviews of the eponymous 2008 movie that the gay theme is vastly heightened with respect to the novel, where it is only hinted at. yet, it is easily the most engaging aspect of the film, thanks to ben whishaw’s great performance. emma thompson is not to scoff at, either. i wish i could say that brideshead, or castle howard, is the true protagonist of this film (it is after all meant to be), but i’m afraid i have to give that prize to the film’s terrible representation of catholicism as stunting and stultifying and deadly. catholicism tends to get a bad rap in films (it is not popular to be catholic these days), but this is the film that has made me most successfully angry at my religion by far. anyway, i recommend it, in spite of the fact that matthew goode is fairly annoying in his blandness (you have a constant sense that he — his character i mean — should be up to something, but no, he isn’t, he is up to nothing at all) and that venice is shot in the entirely wrong light.

i didn’t enjoy, instead, an education, which seemed to me to amount to nothing. what the heck is this film about? loss of innocence? give me a break. i agree with the oscar nomination for the preternaturally talented carrey mulligan, but the other two? i don’t get it.

i saw lorna’s silence some time ago, but it’s a heck of a good movie. the dardennes can do no wrong in my book, and their sparsity of gestures, the poignancy of the brief, often tense exchanges, and the time they spend just following the characters around while they negotiate their impossibly difficult lives are positively sensual to me. still, this may be the most didactic of their films, and the end is remarkably bizarre.

now tell me what you think of these three movies. don’t be shy.


sugar, directed by anna boden and ryan fleck (female director alert!!!!), is a feature film but could have been a documentary about the meat market that thrives on the dominican republic-US border and draws poor young men to the great country to the north with a hope and a prayer of hitting it big in the baseball world. from what i understood (and from listening to a great fresh air interview with the directors), possibly talented kids get signed for a pittance while they are still in the DR. there, they participate in rigorous baseball camps where they can end up being parked for as long as a couple of years. these camps are owned by big US teams, which send regular scouts to see how the chickies are doing. occasionally, some talented young guy gets picked and sent to the minors. there, he either makes it or he crashes. Continue reading sugar

damages (+ nurse jackie)

simon and i have been watching damages and nurse jackie. the first two season of the former are available on dvd, so we basically gorged on them and absolutely loved them. the series is built like a long film broken into episodes, like the wire, and starts with a small, tantalizing taste of what happens at the end. this is also the format of each episode: we get a minute or so of the end, then a caption says, “six months earlier,” and the story resumes chronologically. every episode closes the gap between the chronological story and the end, which is in the meantime doled out to us in greater portions. of course, the end is entirely shocking and you have absolutely no idea (though by the end of the season you have your suspicions) how the show will get from where it is in the narrative present to the preposterous conclusion. Continue reading damages (+ nurse jackie)