28 February 2005

Evil (Ondskan), Sweden 2003

Erik Ponti has problems at school: he just likes to fight too much. He finally gets expelled from school. He also has problems at home. His stepfather finds the slightest excuse to beat him up. This physical abuse is naively tolerated by his mother, who remains silent the whole time. She sends Erik to a boarding school. In this place he learns the true meaning of discipline. Unfortunately, a group of students control the conduct codes and rules of this institute, and they do as they please, inflicting unfair punishments to all students. Eric will not put up with this, and fights against these bunch of students until the very end. He also confronts his stepfather, and he does this in a truly exceptional way.

Director Mikael Hafström has made a quite violent and graphic depiction of life in a boarding school. The fight scenes help enhance the message of the film, where the name Gandhi comes out several times during the dialogues. The story is very intriguing, guessing until the very end what will happen to Erik. The acting is also very good. It is definitely worth checking it out.

26 February 2005

TOP 30 (week of 27 February 2005)

1. Keane – This Is The Last Time
2. Lemar – If There’s Any Justice
3. Girls Aloud – Wake Me Up
4. Akon – Locked Up
5. Ciara feat. Missy Elliot – 1,2 Step
6. T.I. – Bring Em Out
7. Xzibit – Hey Now (Mean Muggin)
8. 50 Cent feat. Olivia – Candy Shop
9. DJ Bobo – Pirates of Dance
10. Britney Spears – Do Somethin’
11. Amel Bent – Ma Philosophie

12. Saybia – I Surrender
13. Sarah Connor – Living To Love You
14. Avril Lavigne – Nobody’s Home
15. Blue – Get Down On it
16. Mousse T – Right About Now
17. The Game feat. 50 Cent – How We Do
18. Destiny’s Child – Soldier
19. Jennifer Lopez feat. Fabolous – Get Right (remix)
20. Riot Act – California Soul
21. Papi Sanchez - Enamorame

22. Anastacia – Welcome To My Truth
23. Kylie Minogue – I Believe In You
24. Gwen Stefani feat. Eve – Rich Girl
25. Ciara feat. Petey Pablo – Goodies
26. Speedy feat. Lumidee – Sientelo
27. Snoop Dog feat. Pharrell – Drop It Like It’s Hot
28. Mr. Vegas – Pull Up
29. Jay-Z & Linkin Park – Numb / Encore
30. Ice Cube – You Can Do It
31. Macy Gray – Love Is Gonna Get You
32. Uniting Nations – Out Of Touch

25 February 2005

My videoconference

Today we had at work our first videoconference of the year. I was in charge of inviting pretty much everyone. I had to fill up the room with at least 10 individuals. It sounds easy, but it isn't actually. You have to convince people to waste two or more hours of their worktime to come and hear two Canadian companies talk about their products and services. Well, I actually got 17 persons to come at 9am, and they were all pleased with the event. So I feel good about that because it is the first time I organize something like this. The funny thing is that I was sitting right in the front and everyone saw me through the TV monitor the whole time. I was feeling like a TV show host sort of translating questions and answers to my audience. It was really cool!

22 February 2005

This journal will change your life

Have you seen this book? It comes from the UK, and it’s a book-type daily agenda called “This Journal Will Change Your Life”. Everyday there are instructions to be followed. The goal is to make everyday a special one, and to get out of the ordinary. Yesterday, Monday, for example, the journal ordered everyone to get rained on. Some other activities from last year’s book include: not answering the phone all day long, avoiding yes or no answers, writing a letter to a serial killer, and inviting a cup of tee to the first stranger you see walking in front of your house. It is really hilarious. I wonder if there are people who follow all the instructions everyday, it should really be fun, and even dangerous. It seems to me like a surrealistic approach to everyday routine. You will read more about them as the year moves along.

Check out the website:

21 February 2005

Canada Week

It's that famous week once again, twice for me now. Canada Week is a series of cultural events that take place in Monterrey. The official inauguration will take place today at 8pm, with a concert from the Canadian Jazz Trio Dave Young. On Wednesday, the MARCO Museum will host the opening ceremony of artist Ed Pien, who will showcase his newest work of art, "Tracing Night". He combines visuals and sounds in an interactive environment where visitors experience the work of art by walking through the tunnels the artist has set up. A very original concept that I hope will catch the attention of a more than a few.

17 February 2005

Fast postal service

I don't want to talk bad about the Mexican postal service, but it took four weeks for a postcard from Sweden to reach my house in Monterrey, whereas it took Amazon.com, via Deutsche Post (German postal service) two weeks to send me four books from Germany to my house, how about that? Maybe it has to do with the fact that the German postal service is working together with DHL for international shipments. They sort of have an agreement. On the other hand, I am not sure the Mexican postal service is even working by itself!

16 February 2005

Quiero destruir cosas

Compañera de trabajo: A mí me gusta quemar cosas.
Yo: !! Cómo está eso?
Compañera de trabajo: Todos los recibos y papeles del banco después de un año los quemo. Ya quiero que sea final del año para quemar todo esos papelitos.
Yo: A propósito, a mí me gusta destruir cosas.
Compañera de trabajo: En serio???
Yo: Sí. Algo que siempre he querido hacer es entrar a un supermercado y destruir toda la tienda. Que me den un bate de beisbol y que me digan: "aquí tienes todo el supermercado para tí solo." Sería lo máximo, un sueño hecho realidad!
(es en serio)

15 February 2005

Arquitecto: Mies van der Rohe

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe nació en 1886 en Alemania. El legado arquitectónico y su labor académica le han asegurado una gran reputación en el mundo d ela arquitectura, sólo comparable a la de Le Corbusier y Frank Lloyd Wright. Comienza con el diseño de muebles en general, especializándose en sillas y sillones. Entre sus proyectos más importantes se encuentran el Edificio de Viviendas de Weissenhof, en Stuttgart, y la Villa Tugendhat en Brno, República Checa. Además, se le comisionó el diseño del pabellón alemán para la Exposición Internaiconal de Barcelona en 1929. El fue un pionero en el uso y la combinación de vidrios y acero en los diseños de edificios. En sus diseños de sillas se utiliza una sola pieza de acero doblada de manera que forme un asiento ortopédico y sencillo. De los arquitectos alemanes es uno de los más famosos del siglo pasado.

Exposición "Mies van der Rohe" en el Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, hasta el 28 de febrero. Los miércoles la entrada es gratuita!

14 February 2005

Hero USA/China, 2004

This film tells a traditional epic story set up in imperial China, at a time when the country was divided into different kingdoms. I will spare the story because it may not be that interesting without the action and visuals that the film has. The fighting scenes are nicely coordinated, the visual effects are subtle and rythmic, and the colors used in several scenes look rich and vivid, making the whole a visual feast. A lot of emphasis is put on calligraphy, the art of writing. The actors compare this art to that of sword fighting (go figure!). My favorite scene is the sword fighting on a lake. You know it's a Chinese movie when the actors float above the water, barely touching the surface. I learned that in order to film this on location, the crew had only two hours per day, because after that the water in the lake would start moving with a strong current. What you see in the movie is just a beautiful calmed lake. Advice: look for the biggest TV or screen to watch this film.

11 February 2005

The numerological interpretation of my name

This is what I found today in a friend's book about the meaning of names. Although I don't believe in this stuff, I like what it says about the name"George", and some of the things apply to me:

"There are two distinct facets to the name George. A communicator with a wide range of freinds and interests, George can be counted upon to add his intelligent comments to any gathering. He thrives on mental stimulation and is eager to share what he knows or has recently discovered with friends and associates. On the other hand, he has the tendency to be reclusive and enjoys spending long hours alone. There are times when he absolutely seeks out an upbeat party with loud music, while on other days, only peace and quiet will do."

10 February 2005

Leningrad Cowboys Go America, Finland, 1989

Perhaps Karismäki's most famous film to date, Leningrad Cowboys tells the story of a music band, you can figure out the name of the band by now, who travel to the US to experience the American dream. The group (composed of nine musicians!) starts off with traditional Russian folk music, since they come from Russia or somewhere in northern Finland. Their musical style evolves according to the places where they sing. They do rock & roll, and gradually change to country music. As soon as their US manager listens to one of their songs, they are thrown out to the street; they are really that bad! He suggests travelling down to Mexico (all the way from New York) to sing in a wedding. By the end they are even able to sing Mexican "rancheras" with their mariachi outfits and all, balalaika in hand. This is Karismäki's best comedy about, according to him, the worst music band ever. The Leningrad Cowboys actually existed. The film is based on a true story. Karismäki uses his ability to portrays strange behaving characters and absurd situations to make it as less realistic as possible. This film has become a cult among connaisseurs. It's a fun Finnish ride.

08 February 2005

Reconstruction, Denmark, 2003

Danish director Christopher Boe has created a nice surrealistic jewel with Reconstruction, his second film. The story is simple, but at the same time hard to follow. Two people meet at a bar, Alex and Aimée. Alex asks her to come with him on a trip to Rome. Obviously, Aimée does not know what is going on. They end up spending the night together. But the strange thing occurs next day, when Alex returns to his appartment. The door is locked, his neighbors do not recognize him, nor his friends or family. He goes to his girlfriend, Simone, and she does not know who he is. He then meets Aimée at a restaurant for lunch, and as expected, she does not recognize him at first, but she asks if she can sit with him to eat. They sort of "meet again" at this restaurant. Alex cannot understand these strange cirumstances. Both Alex and Aimée decide to escape together to Rome (are you still following the plot?) and agree to meet at a café the same day in the evening. Alex arrives late at the café, by which time Aimée has already left feeling utterly disappointed. Alex runs out to the street to look for her. He finds her, but it is already too late. A voice tells the viewer that Alex has lost Aimée forever, his only true love.

Aimée is married to August, a famous fiction writer. Throughout the movie, August is writing a story that is very similar to what is happening to Alex, and he also finds out Aimée is seeing another person, but who? Obviously we know it's Alex. So, wait a minute! Are we watching August's ficiton story, or is this really happening to Alex? Is it real or fiction? In the first scene of the movie we are reminded that it is all fiction, all reconstruction.

There are many night scenes, where only a street lamp serves as the only source of lighing. The music (mostly chords and classical pieces) adds up to a beautiful dream effect in many scenes. In fact, the musical score is a very important element in this film. It is at the end a love story between two strangers that meet in a city (Copenhague). The way the story is told, with a slight touch of surrealism, is perhaps what makes it so unique. This is definitely the best film I saw in 2004.

07 February 2005

Maria Full of Grace, 2004, USA

This film tells the story of Maria, a 17 year-old Colombian girl who gets involved in drug trafficking from her country to New York. While working at a flower factory, Maria gets fired by her boss. Her strong personality does not help her put up with local rules and customs. By means of a friend, she meets the person who will hire her to take drug to New York. But just how will she take drug on a plane without getting caught? Easy, you put the valuable product in latex pills and swallow them. Director Joshua Marston shows the painful and stressful trip Maria makes, along with all the difficulties they encounter. Her best friend gets also involved (see photo) and a third young woman take the same flight. There is also a social commentary implicit in the film: how immigrants struggle to find a decent and well payed job, and their almost inevitable settlement in the United States, notwithstanding their separation from family and friends back in their native countries. The film is suspenseful and thrilling; it's worth watching it.

04 February 2005

A rainy week

It has been raining since Monday, and the sun has not showed up during the whole week. It's funny how people always talk first about weather. But writing about it is really boring. That's why I will tell you that yesterday, 3 February, on a nice rainy and cold day, I went with my boss to meet the Governor of Nuevo Leon. What impressed me the most was the place (one of two) where he works. La Casa de Gobierno (the Government House) as it is called, is a modern villa in the middle of Valle, the most expensive part of town. The predominant color is white: white doors, white furniture, white walls. Most of the rooms have windows facing the inner courtyard, which has a nice garden and it is left open for people to see the mountains and the sky at a distance. At the entrance you are greeted by a couple of beautiful young girls who look like fashion models. Once the girls sit you down in a room, a waiter comes in and offers you something to drink. We were treated very well, I can say that. I like the Casa del Gobierno, I'd love to live in that house, why not.

02 February 2005

Hamlet Goes Business (Hamlet Liikemaailmassa) Finland, 1987

Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki tries to come up with an adaptation to the original Hamlet written by Shakespeare. This version is adapted to modern times, greedy, whimsical and absurd at times. Kaurismäki is well known for portraying people in despair, depressed and alone. In this film, Hamlet's family owns many different industries. The most profitable is the factory of rubber ducks from Sweden. The story is a satire on greed, corporate materialism and corruption. Shot in black and white, the drastic light contrasts are well executed. Kaurismäki's characters are expressionless, they convey no physical gestures or emotions, with cold emotionless dialogues. This does not mean the film is boring, on the contrary; this gives the film an absurd and comical tone. About his films, Kaurismäkis says: "In Finland no one recognizes me as a director because my films are so true to the real world of the Finnish people, that they have no interest in watching them. However, the European public has rescued me. When I try to make a tragedy, the public thinks it's a comedy, and viceversa"

01 February 2005

Pump it or dump it!

I have two songs for you people. Should they be included in my top 30 list or not? You get to decide.

Keane - This Is The Last Time

Lemar - If There's Any Justice