Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Martha Chapa

This is the start of one of the projects I have in mind. If you want to know more about Martha Chapa click on the picture and watch the teaser.

Slim Pornstar.

With the IFP membership, the Independent Spirit Awards ballot and an intent to watch a film a day, I've seen voluntarily:

Head On
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
Grizzly Man
Last Days
Hustle and Flow
Happy Endings
The Puffy Chair

This is not the order in which I saw them, but the order that I give them from best to worst. Head On and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada are the cause for this entry. These films left me buzzing, wanting more, identifying with the story and the way it's told. These films are complex but simple and forward. One is directed by a great actor and written by a talented Mexican screenwriter, the other is written and directed by a not so famous actor, but a soon to be famous young director.

The first four films that are listed called my attention in various ways, but they all have one thing in common: Death.

Head On - the death of love, of a relationship, wanting to die for something or someone

The Three Burials...- death and loneliness, mourning and melancholia, the lost of self.

Grizzly Man - scary to see how someone could die for grizzly bears...and he did.

Last Days - This is a beautifully shot film about the imaginary last days of famous Grunge star Kurt Cobain.

The other four films...
can't spend my precious time writing about, although I did like the art of the weird painter in Junebug and the Puffy Chair I saw cause I met Jay Duplass and Katie (that are dating in real life) in a going away party they were hosting in 2004.

There's so many things... I love that film plus the fact that the main actress was a porn star... great strategy, what a slim pornstar.

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Mexican Olympic commission

I know that everyone knows the Olympics will not be in New York. This topic caused mixed reactions among New Yorkers. Some felt relieved because they wouldn't have to reinforce their walking-fast-past-tourist skills, but others really wanted to be part of this international celebration.

This led me to the following question: How many Mexican athletes are training, chosen and going to the 2008 Olympics?

First, I came upon the Mexican Olympic commission website... ughhh... It's really sad to look at this site, maybe there's an update somewhere else. But if there's not...This page does not provide useful information, it takes a long time to load, forget about the design... Sad sad sad...

Can someone tell me more about the Mexican Olympics? I also found this story about a guy who wanted to go to the Olympics who trained with his own money and three days before, they didn't let him go.


Friday, February 24, 2006

Psychic Ills

Psychic Ills is my equivalent of Kinky when I used to go see them in Monterrey. I've seen this band more than 10 times in the past year. I will see them again today. I used to refuse, but now I like it. I am starting to get their psychedelia.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Barra Libre @ The Delancey

They have gotten way better!

Growing up in Mexico or somewhere in Latin America, attending an american school populated by mostly spoiled rich kids, other interesting internationals, and your friends as global misfits and outcasts thrown in the mix of this one surreal setting where political leaders to be (by pedigree), sons of corporate heads, diplomats and of world-class drug lords all sit in the same classroom, and we can only make sense of it with the fury of rock n roll, industrial music, new wave, twisted poetry and parties, raves, and sounds from the velvet underground to the local mariachi band, where jimmy hendrix, joe strummer, leonard cohen and the likes would try to make sense between this unfair third world-ish but immensely human and warm Latin setting and our much colder northern ruling neighbors and friends, where we make our journey towards. Drive on the fast lane and crank up the music!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Film Log: Bus 174 (a documentary)

Title: Bus 174
Maker: Jose Padilha
Release Date: 2002 Length: 150min Format: b/w & color, sound, video, audio
Credits: Yvonne Bezerra de Mello, Sandro do Nascimento, Rodrigo Pimentel
Luiz Eduardo Soares.

Narration, v/o and helicopter view of the city. Film, video, low-fi camera shots
Sandro – (main character) a kid that has lived on the street since he was 6, now twenty some, hijacked a street bus. Covered by the media, the director himself also covered with the street surveillance cameras I like the voiceover. The real footage, the specialist and sociologist explain what’s going on while we are waiting for things to happen in the bus. Interviews of people that knew Sandro, telling the back-story. ”La Candelaria massacre”. One declaration fills in the other, like a conversation. Cool drug dealer testimony, shooting on location, following Sandro’s face. Night vision camera in jail. This is only one of many stories of delinquents, and how that system doesn’t know how to deal with them. Slow motion in the tensest moments, dramatizing emphasizing the situation holding the moment, creating suspense, replay of the scene, in slow motion from different angles, a lot of red hues… dramatizing.

José Padilha’s foreword:
Talks about TV’s top ratings during this situation
Newspaper didn’t cover the story; he decided to make the film after he saw the kidnapping from TV. The other reason was to sensitize the people about violence. Observational documentary – current event. Two parallel stories 1. bus highjacked, 2, Sandro’s story. He created dramatic tension on purpose. The editing was based on Sandro’s speech during the bus high jacking moments. The system the director created to get good declarations from his subjects. Projected the stock footage, and then they talked about it in front of the camera. MANIPULATION…
He found out about Sandro’s family by doing research at the penitentiary. Control of visibility.

Bus 174 is the story of the highjacking of a bus in Brazil based on the real event that was broadcast live for 5 hours. Thru interviews, testimonies, stock footage and photographs, the director uses parallel storytelling, revealing minute by minute information about the highjacker’s social and economic troubled background.

Style: The style of this documentary could pass as a now a day regular reality TV television documentary . The aesthetics are simple and solid. Padilla combines old Hi8 stock footage, sharp colorful video HD aerial shots of the city of Rio, testimonials, stock footage from the Brazilian Networks and shots made by multiple surveillance cameras. Stock footage is all handheld, giving the film its sense of reality. During the most intense moment of the event, the director plays the actions in slower motion, adds a red hue to the image, and continuously replays the actions to emphasize and dramatize the event. The editing style is clearly parallel. Sandro’s back story and the event are interwoven. The cuts where guided by Sandro’s violent and desperate speech during the highjacking, guiding the viewer from Sandro’s troubled childhood and adolescence as a street kid from Rio. The film tries to be objective and informative, tries to flesh a character and not condemn him as someone who is “bad”, but as a rotten apple, a product of the social and economic problems of the country.

Formal and Technical Innovations: None, this is something that I’ve seen before on TV. I could maybe recall the way he got the victims to talk about the event. I think it was highly effective but at the same time manipulative. He projected the stock footage of the event ina dark room, they were able to stop the tape if they wanted, -apparently they didn’t- and that way they lived thru the situation again.

Significance/Contributions to documentary tradition:
It’s reality feel.

Personal Response: I think this is a very accurate portrait. It had good pace and kept my interest. I don’t feel its innovative, I’ve seen similar films made for television. It was very smart of the director to come up with the idea to make a documentary about the back story of what made Sandro highjack the bus and on the social and economic conditions of Brazil. Padilha also got his slice of cake from this disastrous event. I still feel the film is sensationalist, he picked a current event, did his research, manipulated the testimonials, and re-filtered the stock footage that was already mediated by TV, to once again give the event a new meaning, another layer, another point of view.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


I'm not talking about the infamous rapper who brought "Informer" to life. I forgot to post the pictures I took the day after the snow storm (a week ago). It was a good excuse to stay home and do all my readings.It would have been much better if the storm was during the week, no school and no work. Or maybe not.

I played with the snow, and admired its whiteness before it became grey slush. During the storm, the streets where quiet, as if time had stopped.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The art of getting ahead in New York

"The art of getting ahead in New York is based on learning how to express dissatisfaction in an interesting way. The air is full of rage and complaint. People have no tolerance for your particular hardship unless you know how to entertain them with it".

White Noise
by Don DeLillo


Battle in Heaven

On Wednesday I went to see Carlos Reygadas' "Battle in Heaven". It was part of the Film Comment Selects series (Lincoln Center). I thought it was an exclusive affair. I also thought that it had not been shown anywhere else other than in Film Festivals like Cannes, Rotterdam etc... Turns out, it was shown in Mexico but from the comments I've heard and read, the film is censored (might have blurs or the scene is cut).

My opinion on this film does not matter much. It certainly pushed buttons, especially during all those moments when Reygadas shows maids, soccer, the Guadalupe pilgrimage and the drunk rich kids. I admire his storytelling skills, his sound design, the photography and the "actors".

What calls my attention is the fact that he is critiqued because he was brought up in a prominent household, because he didn't study film, and because he is doing things differently... Why is it so hard for people to admire difference? Why is it tough to accept a new vision? I can certainly see that film in Mexico struggles because people haven't been educated to see and enjoy something different. Of course everyone wants to go see the film, just because of the nudity and the social critique...But since it is a very realistic and raw portrayal, people hate it and declare the director is being pretentious.

Of that eye-catching sex scene, Reygadas says: "We are all naked when we go to the shower. At least twice or three times a day we are naked. And most of us have sex, once a week or more. It's a thing that occurs often. But it's not represented ever on film. So the normal thing to do would be to ask every other director why they don't have sex in their film and not ask me about it. I am the only normal one."


Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Is absence presence? Or is presence absence?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


The person becomes, for a time, mereley his physical self and so absolves the painfulness of the existential paradox and the guilt that goes with sex. Love is one great key to this kind of sexuality because it allows the corpse of the individual into the animal dimension without fear and guilt, but instead with trust and assurance that his distinctive inner freedom will not be negated by animal surrender.

Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death

That doesn't sound so romantic, but it makes a lot of sense!
This would be written on a card sent to you with a human heart (B.S.)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Paper Cuts?

Sign in for my new workshop INTERNING 101 - or INTERNING for Dummies!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Overload (Jan 27 - Feb 3)

My new year is really kicking in...

Number of Classes: 4 (Death and the Media, Different Directions in Documentary, Video Production, Identity and Difference in Film Narratives)

Semester: 4 (MA: Media Studies and Film @ New School)

Graduation Date: May 19th, 2006

Internships: 2 (HDNet Films www.hdnetfilms.com, Manhattan Neighborhood Network www.mmn.org)

Books I'm reading:
White Noise - Don DeLillo
Down and Dirty with Movies - Peter Biskind
The Denial of Death - Ernest Becker

Movies I've seen:
Sunrise - F.W. Murnau
Cat People - Jacques Torneur
Happy Endings - Don Roos
Thumbsucker - Mike Mills

Famous people I've met, encountered or seen 4ft away from me:
1. Wed Feb 1st, I met Mark Tusk, former teamster of Miramax acquisition's team. He works at HDNet now.

2. Thurs Feb 2nd, I saw Harvey Weinstein standing outside The Mandarin Hotel...I almost approached him to ask him for a (paid)position (for my practical training year).

Parties, Gigs, Travel...
1.WOMAN @ Lit (Jan 26, 9:30PM)
They looked great, sounded great and...I have proof.

2. Miami, FL (Jan 27 - Jan 30)
Cheesy... I can't believe some like the place so much. Lot's of fashion victims, boob jobs, face lifts, botox, and eurotrash.I enjoyed the architecture. We did go to a very cool restaurant called Wish. It's in The Hotel (Tiffany building, on Collins Ave.) The beach is OK but I rather go to a Mexican beach. The food sucked, its not nearly as good as any regular restaurant in N.Y. I didn't even take pictures... well, I do have one.

3.Jaiko's Mon Amour, Mon Amour party at La Caverna. (Feb 2, 11:30AM)
Very original... This kitchy italian restaurant-bar on Rivington make me feel as if I was in the Natural Bridge Caverns in Texas although it didn't smell like humidity...it smelled like hookas and crappy inscense. Italian (or Soviet) mafia in charge. Good looking cokeheads dancing like Spike Jonze in that Fat Boy Slim video. Your regular gang of mo's, Japan's exhiles and high end vintage shopping hipsters.The music was an amaxing mix of 60's mod, french pop (Go-Go) and some soul.
*Jaiko is Tres's girlfriend, Tres is Brett's friend, and the leader of Psychic Ills.

Cd's I wanna buy:
1. Thumbsucker soundtrack
2. The Life Pursuit - Belle and Sebastian (Matador!!!!!YEAH)