it ends here.

Conspiracy theorists can look away now.

On Tuesday night, Barcelona became the first team in Champions League history to reach the semi-finals of Europe’s premier club competition for the fifth year in succession. And it had nothing to do with luck. Even Milan admitted it. Yes, Massimiliano Allegri questioned the second spot-kick awarded to Barca – as did Clarence Seedorf – for an Alessandro Nesta tug on Sergio Busquets after the Italian defender appeared to be fouled first by Carles Puyol. But both conceded that the Catalans had deserved to win, and few can argue with that assessment.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic might. The outspoken striker claimed he knew how Jose Mourinho felt at Camp Nou, alluding to the decisions going against his side, just as the Portuguese believes to be the case every time he returns to Catalunya. The Swede, however, has his own agenda, following a tumultuous time at Barcelona under Pep Guardiola.

The Blaugrana coach was unimpressed by his rival’s rant. “Mr. Ibrahimovic can say what he likes,” Pep responded in the press room. “Now he is making friends with Mourinho. But on the pitch, in the moment of truth, is where he has to speak. They were both penalties.”

In addition, the Barca boss remembered the first leg, when his side were denied two possible penalties (one for a clear foul by goalkeeper Christian Abbiati on Alexis Sanchez), while he also pointed out that at Camp Nou, the Catalans had shot at goal 21 times, compared to the visitors’ three efforts. It was a damning statistic.

Monna McDiarmid

i.
a long time ago
in mexico
my teacher-friend heather dowd
spoke of her time in japan
in a quiet voice
as if we were in church.

“it’s not possible”
she said,
“to take
a bad photo
in japan.”

i loved
that she thought that.

ii.
i confess
to a box full of bad shots
of japan.

i took them when we first arrived.

iii.
after two years in bangkok
(an extrovert’s city
where people never stop
talking)
we moved to japan.

our arrival
here
was not a gentle
touching down
but the crash-landing
of foreigners
who don’t yet know their way.

the first english we heard
a message on the airport shuttle
“please do not annoy your neighbours.”
too late.
we were cymbals and horns honking
while japan looked politely away.

time passed
in that gracious way
that time has.

we still can’t tell a taxi driver
how to…

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Not a surprise but worth it… (Academy Awards)

The Oscars were last night and I am here at the library writing this and as I write this, I think about all the nominees that won their awards. I tell myself that the winners were no surprise, though I must say that I did get some of my guesses wrong and their were a few surprises here and there. Overall, I am pleased with the winners and the surprises, well. I like surprises, in the not so disappointing way.  Of course the top winner came out to be “The Artist“, there was no surprise to this, this is Hollywood’s swan song. I am happy about this, I am taking a course in History of Cinema and talking about silent film for three hours makes me appreciate that some of this treasure is still available. Thanks Kino International and Criterion Collection, I am sure other studios will follow soon. As I watch these silent films, I am amazed at the wonder that we once had and always appreciated the old, classic films than the ones that out today. I love my Bergman, Godard, Rohmer, Welles, Chaplin and so forth. Now I feel like buying massive silent film collections on Amazon because of this class and The Artist. I came out the theater telling myself that this had to be the film to win Best Picture and if it did not, there was clearly something wrong with the Academy.  I went to watch my copy of Pandora’s Box and embody myself in the silent film goodness that Criterion had offered me.

So The Artist winning was a no shocker and the best moment of the night, though it was not original overall, it is original for our time, any director will know how big of a risk Michel Hazanavicius took with the film, also note that it was a bigger surprise that the studios took a shot at it. Well, God bless them for taking a good shot and in return, heaps of praise and awards.  I will be awaiting for the DVD, please release quickly.  I always thought that Hugo had the best shot, it started the night with a bang winning five awards, but those were all technical awards. I am quite disappointed that Emmanuel Lubeski did not win again. Clearly he is always nominated for Best Cinematography and loses, Children of Men, anyone? I felt he was robbed for that one and now for Tree of Life, Tree  of Life was wonderfully shot, though I am not blasting Robert Richardson and his work on Hugo, but it always seems when a fantasy film gets nominated for the award, that film wins, Pan’s Labyrinth beat Children of Men that year. I am even more surprised that Gulliame Schiffman did not win for his work for The Artist. A man that can bring a silent film to life also deserves the award. For the record, I believe anyone in that category deserved the award because the all did wonderfully for each film. So I guess that it was well deserved for anyone, hopefully next time, Emmanuel Lubeski will win, just representing the Latin community here.

When it came down to the categories in acting, no surprises, Meryl Streep, for the hundredth time she was nominated, finally got one, she last won in 1983. Ever since, she has been nominated so many times, I thought that if she lost on this night, Hollywood would just nominate her for fun. But she won, finally. though I have not seen The Iron Lady, I would have come to think that she made the movie and that without her, the movie would have been nothing.  All fingers were pointing to Viola Davis for this one, as she got hype for her role in The Help, but of course, no one can bring down the best actress alive right now. The Help did get some love through an emotional Octavia Spencer, which was well deserved, though to make the award night more interesting, Melissa McCarthy should have won. That would have provided a few gasps and laughs.

I have to say that George Clooney losing to Jean Dujardin was actually good. Someone that can act on emotion and body language without uttering a word deserves the award. That is all I have to say and there is no way around that. Woody Allen finally won an award for Midnight in Paris, of course he was not there, he was the fella that never believed in the Oscars and the Academy had to accept for him. But he will be very happy to add to his writing accolades as much of his latter films were a bit mediocre, always good to have the old Woody Allen back, now I want to see what film he brings out this year. He brings out a film every year, there has to be a quality one once in a while.  Alexander Payne won Best Adapted Screenplay for The Descendants, no surprise, he is another nominee that snags the writing category and always adapts from a book. He won for Sideways, so one can figure that The Descendants will reap this one.

I feel like last year was an ode to silent films and classics, and Hollywood took that into account. I am happy about that, not everything revolves around bad films like Twilight, thank God for the Razzies, but Hollywood will never get the message, these bad films win those awards for a reason, hopefully this year, the audiences will take that into account.

Mary Last Seen (Martha Marcy May Marlene short film)…

Upon going to Best Buy on Saturday, one thing was on my mind, Martha Marcy May Marlene. I had to have it, among the other films that are coming out on DVD in the upcoming weeks, Martha Marcy May Marlene is the first of juggernauts.  I saw this film in Times Square with my cousin and her boyfriend, who also happen to be film fanatics, also who I barely communicate with anymore. Of course the venue was empty, while everyone else was watching bad films like Breaking Dawn, we preferred the quality of films. I came out the venue with a certain relief, the film was something new and psychological.

So entering Best Buy, I went straight into the new releases and grabbed the film. Now, my Facebook Newsfeed was full of 20th Century Fox posts, yes, I befriended them on Facebook to keep up to date on movie goodies such as release dates and upcoming events. One of their posts was about a short film “Mary Last Seen” a short film that was made before Martha Marcy May Marlene. I was intrigued, Sean Durkin already captured my attention with MMMM, but I wanted to see what how he started out and what gave him the inspiration for MMMM. The short film was being shown at Lincoln Center with Sean Durkin being present. Unfortunately, I was not able to see it, but was happy to hear that the short would be featured on the DVD.

Upon viewing the DVD, the short film was the first thing I went to see. It was an 12 minute short and beautifully shot just like MMMM, what made the short film stand out was how dark the short felt, I do not mean in a literal sense, more like a Kubrick or David Lynch. The film was disturbing, what seemed like a couple having sex in the bathroom at a gas station and driving around, turned out to be far worse for our protagonist, the title of the film “Mary Last Seen” makes much sense after viewing the short film. It is not until the end that you figure what the title means and the last image of the boyfriend running into the field that stays in your mind and the fate of Mary.

 

“The Last of Us” and why this Oscar winning composer will make it a big hit.

So I picked up the latest issue of Game Informer, after a tiring Saturday running around Soho, it’s always great to come home to some video game geekiness. I sat on the couch and began to read, of course what stood out to me was the tense cover, featuring “The Last of Us” a post apocalyptic game about a father and daughter running around trying to survive the onslaught of monsters a la “I Am Legend”  For someone that like independent films and foreign cinema, I did like “I Am Legend” , the film had a good plot and it’s tensity of the situation always worked. So when I viewed this trailer last year during the broadcast of the VGA(Video Game Awards) on Spike, I was thrilled, though there have been many survival games and I can name tons, but this one will probably stand out, first off, it is developed by Naughty Dog, the same company that brought you the good ole Crash Bandicoot games, gee I miss those good PSOne days, Jak and Daxter series and of course the cinematic Uncharted series. I must say that the Uncharted trilogy was one of the best and Uncharted 3 would be a big hit if it were made into a film, it’s sense of action and dire situations made this game epic.

So I know that Naughty Dog is going to put every ounce of perfection into this game, I mean, the trailer in itself is really good, well, besides the Mass Effect 3 trailer that is going to premiere during the Walking Dead, caught a glimpse and it pays good homage. Second, the game looks like “I Am Legend” from the grassy areas of the destroyed metropolis, the lone survivors, the whole idea of being the only survivors, so to see how this plays out in game form should be interesting, I have my faith in the company, graphics is where it should be and the metropolis looks amazing. To see the gameplay mechanics is a different story, but it should be something like Uncharted, noting that there is going to be a lot of exploration.  Another thing to note is that the girl looks like Ellen Page, for those that don’t know who she is, yes, she is the girl from Juno. Just take a close look.

Now I know that the trailer is old and this post is long overdue, but while I was reading the magazine, they had a portion dedicated to the score of the game. Music in a game is really important, this is what made Elder Scrolls: Skyrim feel like you were on a journey of epic proportions. The score brought the environment to life, the battles, the characters, but of course, if your story is strong, then the need for music is really obsolete, that of course is rare. Unless anyone can name a few, I would gladly appreciate it. As I was reading, the portion said that an Academy Award winning composer would score the game. Who? John Williams? Hans Zimmer? Howard Shore?…Trent Reznor?! Anyone of those choices would have been great, but it is even better than those, I personally feel, well, because I am Spanish and to have this two time Oscar award winning composer brought me to smile. None other than Gustavo Santaolalla. For the gamers, this would not be a big deal, but for people that appreciate the film and game mediums, would love this. Gustavo won two Oscars one year after another, one for the Brokeback Mountain and the other for Babel. Both wonderful film soundtracks that I recommend people should listen to, among his other works such as The Mototcycle Diaries, Biutiful, Amores Perros and 21 Grams. Check below for a sample of his greatness.

That is a track from The Motorcycle Diaries which is an account of Ernesto “Che” Guevara before he became the revolutionary hero. One can notice the similarities.

His style never changes, but it never fails. This could be a winning formula, as you hear the music, one can feel emotions that only music can bring, but you can also feel struggle and humanity, this is what makes his music powerful. I feel like his score will fit perfectly with The Last of Us, because it is a survival game, it is a game of dramatic bonds and I am sure there will be many segments that will have you feeling the characters and their situation, no one wants to be in a situation where you are alone, and when you hear Gustavo’s score, that is all you hear, loneliness. So I am thrilled to see his work in this game and in the magazine, he stated that “he had to be part of this project” That’s true dedication. I post the trailer here, so you can hear some of his score. The music plays at the end when the girl does her voiceover.

And here is the main theme, hopefully.

You can not say that this score will not be perfect for the game. Any one disagree. Now one can only hope that the game will live up to the music.

Untitled.

 

The power of art.

Model

 

 

I can’t help but think that there was a model in me.

Two examples of why women should stand up…

Even though I was not in class last week, I am quite familiar with Parks and Recreations and An Education, being one of my favorite films. Both are great examples on feminism, not only the sole examples and feminism seems to be a big thing in media today, many directors taking the idea of feminism and turning into a sole plot. Back then  the idea of woman having any sort of power was taboo, only looked upon as a house wife, the image has gradually changed from time to time, in many films, they are viewed as the victim, the emotional, the bring down, or even the sex object, but never the hero. It wasn’t until Angelina Jolie started hitting the screen with her action films, have we seen such roles being changed. The female seems to be the dominat one and female leads have taken suit. One can look at Ray’s Bigger Than Life and see that the wife always listened, always obeyed, although worried, never questioned the authority of the man, the Bible even states, that is should be like this. But with directors like Pedro Almodovar who has a liking to making woman powerful and stating that there is a woman in all of us, even Ingmar Bergman, making Liv Ullman his muse and giving her powerful roles, where her life is altered around the weak male. Godard and even Woody Allen make a case out of this. A viewer can look at Manhattan or Annie Hall, and Diane Keaton’s characters always seem to have Allen’s character always losing to his love for her, making her the dominat character. Well in Parks and Recreations, we see Amy Poehlor who plays dominat deputy Leslie, gives an example of a female that leads her staff, also including Tom who is played by Aziz Ansari, leads her staff to fill in a pit after Ann (played by Rashida Jones) boyfriend Andy breaks his legs. The show is humorous taking cues from The Office in it’s mockumentary style. While the Office is led by Steve Carroll, Parks and Recreations is led by Amy Poehlor and she plays the part well, the show often explores many themes, mostly showing a woman can lead.

An Education on the other hand, seems to show this in a different light, in a more dire situation. based off an autobiographical account, tells the story of Jenny, a schoolgirl in 1960’s London, who falls in love with a conartist David. David is the shady character, often trying trying to romance Jenny, who lives in a strict household, also wanting to go to Oxford. Now this film deals feminism in a weird way, not as upfront as Parks and Recreations, as Jenny is young and naive to her own ideals on love what life is really about. But Jenny can represent the ideals of feminism in the sense of her style and beliefs, often denying David’s advances but gives in with all his fancying that David does to her, thus losing her virginity. But throughout the film, she relaizes his shady antics and his marriage, she finally has the courage to stand up, while other woman would lavish this lifestyle and easily forgive for the luxury, Jenny knew that regret was part of her guilt and lost to her own feelings, but never had the will to back down, knowing that she felt her life was thrown away. A teacher was willing to help her out, never moping, she porgressed her life and got accepted to Oxford, starting anew and being strong and foward, a lesson that many women need today. Image

streetsofsalem

Heart-shaped maps are one thing, but maps of the human heart are quite another, and I’ve got both on this Valentine’s Day.  The charting of emotional territory, as opposed to physical space, has resulted in the production of several interesting maps from the seventeenth century to the near-present.  Below are the companion Map of the Open Country of a Woman’s Heart and Map of the Fortified Country of a Man’s Heart, ostensibly and anonymously drawn “by a lady” and published by the Kellogg Brothers of Hartford, Connecticut in the 1830s.  These heart maps, along with lots of other examples of the Kellogg’s impressive lithography, can be viewed at the online gallery of the Connecticut Historical Society and Museum.

I’ve brightened and cropped both maps so that you can better see the different regions that make up these human hearts. It’s very interesting that the woman’s heart is an “open”…

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