30 March 2005

Une affaire de femmes, France, 1988

Director Claude Chabrol is the French version of Hitchcock. His movies are always full of bad persons, or at least with someone with bad intentions and cruel motives. In Une affaire de femmes, we find actress Isabelle Hupert taking care of her two children while waiting for her husband to come back from war. The year is 1945, and half of France is under German control. She finds a way of making some money in these difficult war times: she performs abortions in her house! Not only that, she makes friends with a prostitute, to whom she will rent one room in her house. In that way, the prostitute has a place to “work”, while Isabelle charges for the rental. All this happens without telling her husband, who one day returns from war, nor to her children.
The suspense elements will keep you guessing what will happen to Isabelle, because at the end her husband discovers what she does and calls the police. At that time, such “moral crimes”, as the abortion, were punished with the death penalty. This film could not find a US distributor. The subjects the movies deals with were, and are still quite controversial in the States. When it finally opened in USA, thanks to the French producer who came and opened a distribution agency himself, the movie was a huge success.

29 March 2005

Juliet of the Spirits (Giulietta degli Spiriti), Italy, 1965

Federico Fellini ventured into the dream world of his characters in some of his films. In this story, Giulietta is a happy housewife who starts to suspect her husband is cheating on her. He makes up excuses to leave her alone in the house for several days, pretending he is on business trips. We then start to see strange characters appear in the house, who talk to Giulietta. We, as spectators, are soon drawn into these strange appearances, and it all looks like a circus show, with people appearing at every corner of the house, jumping and dancing all around. This is, of course, all in Giuiletta’s mind. This is interesting because Fellini wanted to show us what Giuiletta was thinking all the time with the help of these imaginary characters.

A private investigator soon confirms Giuiletta’s doubts about her husband: he is having an affair with a younger woman. Instead of freaking out and getting mad, she acts calmly and with no hurry. At the end, it seems these strange characters have helped her cope with her problem. At the end we see her leave the house. What will she do? Will she go away and leave everything behind, or is she just taking one of her usual walks thru her huge garden? Fellini will leave you guessing until the very end.

28 March 2005

Fanny and Alexander, 2003, Sweden

This film from Ingmar Bergman explores the life of an aristocratic family living in a small Swedish town during the 1900’s. The three-hour long film tells the story of Fanny and Alexander, two children, brother and sister, who witness their father’s illness and death. Their mother than marries a priest (!) and they all go to live with him. They soon realize that their stepfather is a cruel and harassing son of a b…. :) It is interesting to see all they go thru to escape from him. The cruel punishments that the stepfather inflicts on Alexander are difficult to watch, but it is all in the tradition of Swedish realism (see Ondskan). The first part is quite boring because they sing and dance while celebrating Christmas and New Year. This has little to do with the main story. The second part, on the other hand, is a good improvement from the beginning. This is an interesting family saga from one of my favourite film directors.

25 March 2005

Top 30 (week of 27 March 2005)

1. Mustafa Sandal feat. Gentleman – Isyankar
2. Baby Bash – I’m Back
3. Jem – They
4. Chipz – Chipz In Black
5. Lunik – The Most Beautiful Song
6. Nu Pagadi – Sweetest Poison
7. Tiziano Ferro – Ti Voglio Bene
8. Ashlee Simpson – La La
9. Jet – Look What You’ve Done
10. Nelly – Over And Over
11. 50 Cent – Disco Inferno

12. Keane – This Is The Last Time
13. Lemar – If There’s Any Justice
14. Girls Aloud – Wake Me Up
15. Akon – Locked Up
16. Ciara feat. Missy Elliot – 1,2 Step
17. T.I. – Bring Em Out
18. Xzibit – Hey Now (Mean Muggin)
19. 50 Cent feat. Olivia – Candy Shop
20. DJ Bobo – Pirates of Dance
21. Britney Spears – Do Somethin’
22. Amel Bent – Ma Philosophie

23. Saybia – I Surrender
24. Sarah Connor – Living To Love You
25. Avril Lavigne – Nobody’s Home
26. Blue – Get Down On it
27. Mousse T – Right About Now
28. The Game feat. 50 Cent – How We Do
29. Destiny’s Child – Soldier
30. Jennifer Lopez feat. Fabolous – Get Right (remix)
31. Riot Act – California Soul
32. Papi Sanchez - Enamorame

22 March 2005

Ararat, Canada 2003

For Canadian director Atom Egoyan, this story is very personal. It deals with his past relatives and culture, the Armenians. The film deals with the Armenian genocide of 1915, when the Turkish army systematically killed more than a million Armenians east of Turkey. Up to this date, the Turkish government denies these events, but the account of many witnesses is enough for director Egoyan to make a story of an Armenian family living in Toronto, descendants of the painter Achylle Gorki. The film explains the tragic events of 1915, and how Gorki escaped the massacre. The existing conflict between Turcs and Armenians is also exposed, and how these events still affect the lives of many people.

The 2-hour long film is very interesting, especially if you are like me, and don’t know anything about this genocide. This remains, according to critics, Egoyan’s most controversial film.

21 March 2005

The White Sheik (Lo Sceicco Bianco) Italy 1952

Federico Fellini is perhaps the most famous Italian director of all times. His film TheWhite Sheik, is a little comedy piece about a couple who travel to Rome to meet the husband’s family. The wife feels a little awkward with this visit. While her husband takes a nap, she escapes to visit the editorial office where the famous short stories of “The White Sheik” are written and published. She is a fan of these stories, and needles to say, in love with the Sheik. Soon enough, she is taken by the crew to see the filming of a Sheik movie. She meets him and fall in love. Meanwhile her husband goes crazy trying to find her in Rome, while making up excuses to his family for her mysterious absence.

I love when the wife makes references to dreams, and how life is better in dreams. She is a dreamer alright, and she escapes from reality by visiting the film location for the Sheik movie outside of Rome. Fellini will later introduce more concepts of dreams and realities intertwined in the plot of his movies.

19 March 2005

Miquel Barceló

Esta muestra exhibe diversos trabajos realizados por el artista en las más de dos décadas de su trayectoria. La obra de Barceló refleja un notable interés por los motivos procedentes de la naturaleza terrestre y marítima, tratados con una paleta densa y espesa, generalmente oscura. Una de sus principales características es el tratamiento de la materia pictórica, que empasta para lograr efectos de relieve. De este modo, la representación convencional del objeto pierde importancia a favor del propio proceso pictórico, con el que el artista pretende superar dicha representación para llegar a su esencia.

Museo MARCO, Monterrey, hasta mayo de 2005

17 March 2005

Nightlife in Germany

I haven’t seen a better website for clubbing and parties than Nitebeat.de. You might think Germany has no nightlife. Well, you are way wrong when it comes to the city of Freiburg and other nearby cities. Check out the website (
www.nitebeat.de) it has all the information regarding clubs, bars and special events in Freiburg and surrounding areas. There is at least one nightclub open everyday of the week. That’s too much for a city with a population of aprox. 200,000!

15 March 2005

Cheap airlines

We don’t have cheap airlines in Mexico, that is for sure. Except perhaps “Magnicharters” if you desire to go on vacations to a beach resort anywhere in Mexico. So I was curious to find out how cheap it would be to take a flight with Easyjet, Ryanair or AirBerlin. The price with Easyjet was almost 80 euros, from Freiburg to Berlin, while the train costs 100 euros. I thought it would be much cheaper, but it actually isn’t. And when I wanted to buy my plane ticket to Basel with Expedia.com, I got a very good price, but beware! Once you get to the airport, you will have to pay the extra taxes (the famous fuel taxes) that do not appear in the internet website. At least that’s what the sales lady at American Express told me, and she convinced me to buy her the ticket, for 50 dollars more. That’s a good sales strategy. It is the exactly the same kind of strategy I used in my first job (I sold sea and air freight) to get a little more out of the client: always try the “fuel tax”!

14 March 2005

September, Germany 2003

Max Färberböck graduated from the Munich school of visual arts and cinema. His film September, was born out of the September 11 tragedy in New York, is quite an original project. He began to write the story right after the events occurred; one month after to be exact, in October. The film portrays the life of five different persons in Germany and how this terrorist attack affects their lives, although they were not directly involved. .
Mmh, doesn’t sound very interesting, right? Well, it actually is. Each person has its own problems, from divorce settlements to an interracial marriage between a German girl and a Pakistani café owner. I specially like one of the characters who is so shocked because of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center, that she actually starts to drift away and somehow lose her mind. There is even one dancing scene, just like a film from India. This is a nice original film

11 March 2005

Casa de Gobierno part 2

So we went again, the Consulate staff and I, to the Casa de Gobierno, to further discuss some projects with government people. Bodyguards all around me (although they were not protecting me), I felt like an important guy. As soon as the meeting started, I wrote down as much as I could, writing like crazy on my little notebook; just like a journalist. I should have taken a small recorder with me, but what the hell, I completely forgot. Another nice thing I personally like, I don’t have to drive because the chauffeur takes us.
This blog will change your life: surrealistic exercise #1

It is estimated that 40% of the world’s oil reserves are yet to be discovered. Geological ultrasoundings by NASA suggest that much of these lie not in the “traditional” terrains of the Middle East and Central Asia, but in so-called nanofields, not far underground in semi-urban or even urban areas. In other words, in your backyard! Even a small well with an output of 5 tonnes of crude a year would still make its owner rich. So start digging today! Take care not to fracture water mains or gas pipes.

08 March 2005

My new title

I have a new job title at work. That’s what they told me today. Here is what a work colleague said to me:

Colleague: After a series of meetings and lengthy reunions, where many different people, including assistants, heads of programme, heads of office, department managers, got together to discuss (typical Canadian!) and standardise the titles of everyone. So yours, for instance, has now been changed.

Me: Oh! Is that true? Am I still a “trade assistant”? What am I called now? What is my new title? I can’t wait to hear it!!!

Colleague: After a lengthy discussion involving the translation of title into English and French, and after authorization from the Embassy, you are no longer a “trade assistant”, but a “trade commissioner assistant”.

Me: Oh, so much discussion for that? Give me a break!

07 March 2005

Jacques Derrida

I just read about Jacques Derrida, a famous French philosopher who recently passed away. I had no idea of who he was, but apparently he is one of the founders of a movement called “deconstruction”. What does it mean exactly? It is more complicated than you think. The only thing I can say is that it involves the analysis of situations by comparing different points of view, and analyzing each part separately. It can be an analysis of whatever situation or concept. Derrida published many essays and also worked as lecturer in many universities around the world. Sorry I can’t give you more information; that’s about everything I remember from the article I read.

03 March 2005

We never use the dictionary

"We never use the dictionary" said my Russian teacher today. "What do you mean?" I ask. "When we read a book, we never look up word in a dictionary, everything is clear and comprehensible." So I thought about it and could not come up with a reasonable conclusion. She said, "When I first came to Mexico, I found it really strange that people look up word in the dictionary because they find words they cannot understand, that they have never perhaps seen in their lives!. In Russia that would never be the case. We have no problem understanding every word. It's your mother tongue; you should know it all" Wow, how about that?? I said to myself. Food for thought...

02 March 2005

Masks (Masques), France, 1987

Director Claude Chabrol is considered the French version of Alfred Hitchcock, specializing in suspense and tragic, sometimes depressing stories, always with a slight touch of comedy. Chabrol was actually a fan of Hitchcock, with whom he maintained a good friendship relationship.

In “Masks”, a man who works as a TV host takes care of her adopted daughter. He lives as a rich guy. No one suspects that he is actually living off her adopted daughter’s money. Her real parents died in a car accident, and the TV host realizes she has inherited a fortune. He makes her believe she is sick, he does not allow any visits from doctors, all with the sole purpose of keeping her ignorant of her fortune, and the way he is profiting from this situation. Soon enough, a detective uncovers the truth and convinces the daughter to run away. But the TV host will not let her go away that easily, and Chabrol will keep you guessing until the very end.