I don’t love you anymore

Of all the memorable movie scenes, this is one of my very favourites: so straightforward, so descriptive, so harsh and life-like, so telling of women’s feelings…

It belongs to the film Closer (Mike Nichols, 2004. Very recommended). Dan and Alice have been arguing, and he leaves her hotel room in anger; but when he’s about to catch the elevator, he suddenly regrets and comes back to the room; back to Alice. But… unfortunately it’s too late. Wretched Dan! It’s simply too late:

— I don’t love you any more –she tells him, her eyes full of sadness, but determined, resolved, firm.
— Since when? –he asks. He is still unexperienced and has not gone through this before; so he doesn’t quite understand the full scope of her statement.
— Since now. It’s over. You can go.

Just like that. And Alice is completely serious. She means it. Oh, yes!, she does. In the lapse of a single minute she has gone from love to not-love. And there’s nothing, absolutely nothing he can do or say, make a fool of himself, now or later, for his years to come, to make her change back her mind. Thus young Dan learns tonight this little feature about women’s hearts, getting a wound that will never fully heal; while Alice, sweet Alice, will carry on her own way not ever thinking of Dan again; smiling; without looking back a single time…

Such is life, and such are women, indeed; for, what man in his thirties -leave aside his forties- has not gone through some I don’t love you any more or other? There are way too many Alices out there ready to perform on us this funny trick, and their passionate loves of a while ago, Continue »

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The visit

In my dream, I was watching a boy who, sitting on a stool at the kitchen table, silently and obediently nodded to every of this mother’s warnings, perhaps scolding or simply instructing him. He is a handsome boy of big dark eyes on a pale face and lank brown hair. Carefully he listens to his mother and, after each of her sentences, nods as a sign of understanding.

I witness the scene from very close, but — both knowing I am there, none of them seems to notice me, attentive to each other as they are; though in the bottom of his stare the boy has as if an absent air, like that of one who lives on two worlds at once: the inner and the outer. I gaze at him with a mixture of sympathy and infinte tenderness, and as lovingly as I’m able to: his childlike countenance, so familiar and so alien at the same time, and his deep, clever eyes that seem home to misterious thoughts, though perhaps they just reflect a most candid innocence.

I was feeling a great love for him and, mostly, an enormous pity: pity because all the sufferings he would have to undergone in life, pity that his tender and pure soul would age too early. Then, I came close to him and, taking his head between my hands, put my lips to his cheek and kissed him warmly, with the emotion of that who’s saying farewell forever — kissed him like my aunts in the village did when, by the end of every summer, we returned to the city. And the boy, still attentively listening to his mother’s words, received my kiss without a stare, neither of affection nor aloofness; not indifferently, but simply as if… as if he had not been kissed at all.

That boy — whom I was visiting thanks to the magic of dreams, that boy was myself.

And when I woke up, and the spell was gone, for a while I kept asking to myself, trying to remember: did I ever feel, as a child, the warmth on my cheek of a ghostly kiss?, did I ever shiver, being a boy, with the close breath of an invisible presence?, did I ever get the impression that someone was visiting me from beyond time?

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Dylan’s Nobel, a display of Jewish power

I swear I didn’t know.

And because I didn’t know, when I heard about Bob Dylan’s Nobel prize in literature I was as puzzled as the next, thinking what the heck?, what were those guys at the Swedish Academy thinking about?, is it a canard? But no; it was true, and they had come up with that implausible explanation — rather a justification: “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition“. Oh, please!

For a few minutes I wondered, like everybody around me, if there were really no better and worthier candidates out there who wrote real literature or poetry and beat Dylan by a landslide. But… ‘new poetic expressions’ or ‘Great American song tradition’? Give me  a break! Why should the literature jury at the Academy particularly care about the USAmerican song tradition? Whatever.

In any case, I got the hasty conclusion that the Swedish must have just been bootlicking the USA — like mostly everyone does.

Yet, this conclusion didn’t quite convince me; something didn’t tie in; since, if they were simply flattering ‘the great American nation’, there were other USAmerican authors, real writers, cultivated and praiseworthy artists who beat Dylan by a landslide, and whom to award the Nobel in literature, rather than to a — sure, remarkable, but just another singer songwriter among the crowd. Continue »

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Ropa motera Exulans; una opinión

Sorry, this entry is only available in Spanish.

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Tarkovski revisited


I was only a teenager when — by suggestion of a friend under the intelectual fever that, in the early 80’s, stroke some middle-class sectors in Spain — I went to an unlikely cineclub in a not so advisable district of Madrid, rather distant from home, for watching a so-called “independent” movie titled Stalker, supposedly of the science-fiction genre and directed by some exotic and unknown (for us) Russian filmmaker called Tarkovski.

Needless to say that, used as I was to the livelier -when not frantic- action pace of USAmerican or European films that (then exactly like today — nothing has changed in this respect) almost exclusively filled our billboards and TV channels, I found it desperatingly slow, mostly boring and virtually incomprehensible. Besides, since I was expecting a “proper” sci-fi work, I was rather disappointed.

However, there was something indefinably interesting about it that outstood; not just the fact that it was different from any other movie I had watched before, but something else that I could not quite grasp; and despite my uneducated taste of those times and my little knowledge of the world — let alone the Russian soul, I had the feeling that it contained some message worth apprehending, and that some kind of art was involved worth being understood. Continue »

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17 moments of spring

seventeen-moments-of-springThere are so many TV series out there, one can’t watch them all; not even just the ‘best’ ones (supposing ‘best’ makes any sense when it comes to tastes). Unlike films, series are very much time consuming, and often addictive (actually, for the consumerism cultures we’re totally immerse in, such addictiveness is the ultimate goal of producers, and it is much preferred over quality), and unless you’re as sickly overcritical as I am, or have thrice my free time, you’ll be simply overflowed with the offer and just pick whichever serial is made the easiest for you to watch, or the ones more aggressively distributed and publicized.

And this is how, hadn’t you come across this post, you would miss one of the most and true unforgettable TV series ever: 17 moments of spring (Semnadtsat mgnoveniy vesny); an excellent twelve-chapter Soviet production from the 70’s directed by Tatyana Lioznova that relates, in a WWII historical background,  the vicissitudes of fictional character Colonel Maksim Maksimovich Isayev, a Soviet undercover agent infiltrated as an officer into Hitler’s SD under the name of Max Stirlitz. The plot covers seventeen moments spread throughout February and March 1945 (not really spring, but well), narrating how Stirlitz struggles to carry out a mission he’s received from Moscow: to ascertain whether some high-rank German officers are trying to secretly negotiate a separate peace deal with the allies in the Western front (that would allow the Germans to concentrate their forces in the East) and, in case affirmative, to try to foil any such agreement. Continue »

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Winter in Finland

After a last tantrum of unusual warm days for the season, this long autumn, child of burnt hydrocarbons, has finally given way to winter. Bright white days. Twenty five below.

Even before coming into contact with the air, my breath freezes inside my nostrils, causing an unpleasant feeling of dried up boogers. Eventually, a chance tear congeals in the corner of my eye as a rheum, or if I blink, it welds my eyelashes and I can’t then open my eyelids. Under the soles of the footwear and under the rubber of the tyres, the snow cries its loud creak of trampled grave. At night, the air humidity sublimates on the thinnest tree branches, coating them in a perfect, uniform frost layer like in the Christmas cards. At noon, after the weak warming up of a sunny day, that same frost thaws and falls from the branches in a myriad microscopic ice crystals sprinkled from above in a soft snowfall of sparkling diamond dust. The flowing water in the canal or by the wharf, that never freezes, constantly smokes a ghostly mist of boiling cauldron that vanishes into thin air only a few feet above the surface, evoking a fabulous landscape of enchanted swamps. And at dusk, the bluish white of snow and the whitish blue of sky blend together in a borderless horizon.

The lake, now lethargic, has finally silenced its otherworldly moans.

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That very Münchhausen

totsamyyThis Russian version of the renowned Munchhausen adventures is, by far, the best of them all, both in print and on stage — though perhaps ‘the best’ doesn’t mean much in this case, since a one-eyed person can always be the king in the blinds’ realm. No: The very same Münchhausen is far above other attempts to bring Raspe’s literary work to screen, and the script by Grigoriy Gorin is also far above the book.

Baron Karl Hyeronymous von Münchhausen was an interesting, real-life German personage from 18th century who, as history has it, used to entertain his audience with the exaggerated tale — nay, with blatantly impossible stories about his travels and adventures, though these were told in such matter-of-factly way that it would be quite unfair to designate him as a mere liar. Out of this baron and his tales, another no less interesting character surnamed Raspe, an ‘impudent scoundrel’, wrote and sent to print a number of editions of a book (whose authorship he wouldn’t acknowledge) under titles like Outrageous adventures of baron Munchausen that, in years to come, would became a classic in the genre of marvelous travels, in par with Gulliver or Crusoe.

munchausen One century and a half later, Raspe’s book was taken to stage, and throughout the following decades several films were made, the most relevant of which are a 1943 German production, a Czech animated version in 1961, this Russian movie for TV (Tot samyj Mjunkhgauzen), dated 1979, and an obscure Hollywood production from 1988 (Uma Thurman and Robin Williams in the cast). But, as I say, the Russian beats them all by a landslide, in every possible way: direction (by Mark Zakharov), scenography, interpretation and, most of all, the script: while the others, targeted to a children’s audience, barely reproduce some of the baron’s adventures, without aiming any further or deeper, Gorin’s script tells us a nicer, linear story meant for adults, and takes a more ambitious approach — though thankfully not pretentious, brilliantly playing with absurd or paradoxical ideas, more or less mindblowing, hilarious or dramatic, ultimately aimed to offer us a series of moral dilemmas. Continue »

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