Monday, February 26, 2007

A Tale of Two Cinemas

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Mixed Media collaboration
Designed by Maseman, Lindsay, and myself

I have a confession for you, my little green comrades. I know that this admission of weakness may shock you to your core, but it’s time to come clean. I have a personal problem – a dilemma really: Decision-making. It’s not my strong suit. Some situations prove less a challenge than others. Por ejemplo, movie selection is one particular area of verdict distress. To go, or not to go? Will it disappoint? Is the sadness that my pick is sure to evoke worth the insight it may provide?

When it comes to foodie follies, there are certain key ‘order me!’ signs of selection that are sure to satisfy – artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, tequila-lime sauce, tequila in general. Similarly, the ‘see me’ triggers for decisions of cinematic nature are ‘indie’ ‘foreign’ and ‘controversial.’ Usually, unfortunately, this translates to ‘depressed’ ‘emotionally exhausting’ and a prelude to the sheer embarrassment of ducking out of a theater sobbing and sinking into a general hopelessness about our lives, futures and decisions. I credit my mother's lack of interest in initiating our once-beloved ‘movie dates’ with my faulty history of picture selection.

I’ve been seeking shelter from the bustle of life’s traumas in The Alamo Drafthouse – an Austin gem. This local cinematic haven provides Austin’s drifters with an array of indie films and a constant calendar of unique attractions, such as ‘Mike's Sick & Twisted Animation' series and a plethora of docu- and mock-u-mentaries from the recent and distant past. The psychedelic previewing sessions and extensive menu of booze and gourmet grub offer moviegoers a unique treat.

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Pan's Labyrinth

I was coerced into seeing this film by misleading reviews which compared the it to a childhood tale of mishaps and discovery, likening Pan’s looking-glass view to Alice’s adventures in Wonderland. To my dismay, I found Pan’s Labyrinth to be a gruesome tale of devotion-gone-wrong. The ‘labyrinth’ in this fear-flick resembles those creepy maze gardens like the one in The Shining more so than that of The Secret Garden, and there was no tea-party. The proverbial ‘rabbit hole’ is a treacherous trail in Ofelia’s quest for the Underworld. The fact that critics referred to this film as ‘an adult fairy-tale’ frightened me. In fact, the film itself frightened me, and if you have not been to hell’s purgatory or lived under the brutal wrath of Franco’s regime, it will frighten you too.

A film I will recommend, however, is Babel. An intriguing tri-hybrid of Syriana, Lost In Translation, and Crash, this film is a heart-wrenching depiction of the vast differences in today’s cultural mores, values, fears, expectations and stereotypes. These are characters with whom every breathing soul can find a level of relation, creating emotionally overwhelming scenes and story lines. The self-destruction of these characters is brought on by their own [our own] ignorance. It is both honest and heartbreaking.

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The always sexy Gael Garcia Bernal (Amores Perros, Science of Sleep, Bad Education) plays Santiago – a party-crazed free-spirited, troublemaker who breeds the connection between upper class white society and that of the immigrant Mexican, between which we see an unfortunate lack of compassion and understanding.

Director Alejandro González Iñárritu does an exceptional job of illustrating the destructive political views of immigration and the heartbreak these ensue. His previous flicks have carried strong familial themes, particularly that of a father and son, and his third feature flick is no different. The age-old biblical tale in the book of Genesis foretells a story of man’s self-fulfilling efforts destructed by cultural and linguistic rifts. Iñárritu brings viewers this tale of similar concepts with an eerie reality of our times.

Here, my friends, I present the official SXSW 2007 line-up. If you haven’t already been exposed to this information, you must have been hanging out with the sun-scared grub worms under the rocks in our yard.

Get with the program, and get ready for some good times to come.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Love is all you need

We are loving creatures. Love is all around us. It exists in the most pertinent cross sections of our beings. It’s in our music, in our streets and in the wild. Love even appears in outerspace - where man’s science has not yet discovered the simplest forms of understood existence.

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A work of love (video link)
Designers - Maseman and yours truly

We can harbor love for anything. Children know only love and pain. Somewhere in our ‘progression’ of history and adulthood, these lines become vague - for some, unrecognizable. What force is responsible for quieting the political activism in the sixties? This hopeful voice of peace and love and getting back to the garden was not hippie-babble, rather an honest cry for the hemorrhaging hearts of a fallen nation. Why have we separated the negativity of Napalm from the present-day wars, which hone greater bloodshed with each passing moment? In our selfish rush and rhetoric, we have neglected the single aspect of our existence that permeates the boundaries and connect our cores.

Where is the love?

I read this somewhere [apologies for the lack of attribution] and at this ambiguous time, I was compelled to jot it down…
We were trying to change a competitive, violence-based society into a peaceful, democratic one; where social cooperation would be a norm. Where, love thy neighbor would be a natural thing. So the idea of LOVE for some of us, took on a different meaning than some might have been using it. You can’t have love if your country is bombing the hell out of innocent men, women and children and sending its own children to kill or die trying.

All of this said as it should be, and with much greater eloquence by the literary genius of childhood love himself, the late Shel Silverstein. This - my favorite poem of the goodness of love - is my Valentine’s gift to you.

I will not play at tug o' war
I'd rather play at hug o' war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses
And everyone grins
And everyone cuddles
And everyone wins.
© 1974

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Happy Valentine's Day 2007.
Spread the love.

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