Monday, 24 April 2017

Quadrophenia

a film by Franc Roddam

There was a screening of Quadrophenia in Monopol as a part of, would you believe it, “St.George’s Week” (22—28 April), so Timur and I went to watch it.

The film turned out to be not quite what I expected, even though I didn’t exactly knew what to expect. I love the album which I bought back in my English life. Surprisingly little of it is heard in the film. But then, the album is the rock opera while the movie most categorically is not. The Who’s music is no more (albeit no less) than part of the soundtrack. Now if we forget for a moment about soundtrack, there is simply not enough story, or message, or lovable characters for a two-hour feature. In the same time, as movies go, this one feels very authentic, almost painfully so. For that reason alone, it is worth watching. Also, if anyone needs a cure from misplaced nostalgia for the “good old sixties”, Quadrophenia will supply it.

I mean, London we see is not exactly swinging — not yet, at least; “shithole” would be a more apt description. The idea of a well-spent weekend for Jimmy and his friends is to get high, ride to the seaside and to have a bit of a punch-up with Rockers. Fair enough, yet it all seems to be rather tame. The protagonists, being English, are perpetually embarrassed, on drugs or not, even when chanting “We are mods” (supposedly they have to be euphoric), even when they get lucky (sorry love, love does not enter here). Why, football hooligans must be more passionate. The only guy who has any class is “Ace Face” (played by Sting). Thankfully, there are sparks of humour which make the whole thing watchable.

A masterful film, but in the end I was grateful when it was over.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Más peligroso es no amar

by Lucía Etxebarria

According to the blurb, this is

el primer libro español que expone una investigación seria y profundamente documentada sobre el fenómeno del poliamor, una palabra que está de moda pero cuyo significado pocos conocen en profundidad.
(The first Spanish book that exposes a serious and profoundly documented research on the phenomenon of polyamory, a fashionable word whose meaning few know in depth.)
Wow. It really must be very deep when you find both profundidad and profundamente in one sentence! Wary as I am of the word “research”, I got intrigued.

In the first part of the book, El hundimiento de las estructuras tradicionales (“The collapse of traditional structures”), the author analyses “functional” and “fusional” models of relationships, debunks ten modern myths about romantic love, and embarks on her research on online dating. However flawed her approach may be (like, when she attempts to compare Tinder, Grindr and Wapa), it is fascinating.

The second part, Amar de otra manera (“Other ways to love”), which mostly consists of stories narrated by people who live or lived various alternatives to monogamy (including, believe it or not, celibacy), is even more exciting. Etxebarria insists that she did not invent anything, however the names and locations, understandably, were changed. (I really liked the story of a member of lesbian polyamorous commune who fell in love with a chap whom the rest of the commune at first believed to be gay; he tried, unsuccessfully, to teach these girls how to knit, but then gave up and made hats and scarves for all of them himself. You just can’t make this up.) The chapter dedicated to triads (triejas) is probably the best.

Some of these “non-standard” relationships work well, some don’t. There’s no warranty that any of them will last forever. Just like is the case with monogamy. And, while the author does her best to remain judgement-free (why, she even says that she knows some perfectly happy monogamous couples!), she does not make a secret that her ideal cup of tea is relationship anarchy.

The book is written in lively, colloquial Spanish and won’t present much of a problem for an intermediate-level reader. Sure enough, there are words that you are unlikely to find in your pocket dictionary — gafapasta, mariliendre, pajareo, putón, raruno, zorrón... — but that’s all part of the fun.

No me obsesiono con encontrar a una media naranja porque ya me siento naranja entera.
♥ ♡ ♥
El triángulo amoroso que forman la monogamia, la fidelidad y el amor romántico usa términos del propiedad y posesión para definirse. «Eres mío», «yo soy tuya», «te lo he dado todo», «te debo la vida», «me robaste el corazón», «voy a conquistarla», «te pertenezco», «me las pagarás». Y las palabras, lo sabemos, no son inocentes.
♥ ♡ ♥
Cuando perdemos el impulso de ser diferentes, perdemos el privilegio de ser libres.
♥ ♡ ♥

Friday, 14 April 2017

君の名は

a film by Makoto Shinkai

What, body swap and time travel in one film? What a treat! We all went to watch it in El Muelle last Sunday. Curiously, it was Spanish-dubbed but titled Your Name. (Naturally, I would rather watch it in Japanese but, after seeing the English-language trailer, I’d say I prefer the Spanish dub.)

For me, Your Name is an expanded and improved 5 Centimeters Per Second. Beautiful landscapes, snow, floating leaves, trains, loneliness... Gentle humour. The sequence of Taki’s friends accompanying him in search of Mitsuha’s hometown is priceless, and Mitsuha’s little sister, Yotsuha, provides consistent comic relief throughout.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Las 101 cagadas del español

by María Irazusta

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

When I saw this oft-quoted saying by Edmund Burke employed as an epigraph to this book, I thought I made a horrible mistake. In a typical grammar Nazi fashion, the author embarks on a crusade to protect the the language of Cervantes from numerous crimes committed by not only those pesky young internauts, but also “afiladas plumas”, no matter how erudite they are. Otherwise, you understand, the evil will triumph. These are Anglicisms, those are Frenchisms. Here she writes you can’t say that because RAE doesn’t permit it; there she criticises the very RAE for being too lenient to let the offending word slip into the dictionary. And so on and so forth.

Why then, you might ask, did I bother to read the whole thing, let alone to write a post about it? Because, if you can ignore for a while that crusader attitude, this book is bloody brilliant. Because when one is passionate about language and writes well, this passion is infectious. Because it is funny. Because the author admits that a vulgarism could be more elegant and evocative than an accepted form (as is the case with vagamundo vs “correct” vagabundo). Because she goes to great lengths to rescue some beautiful words from oblivion. Because, maybe for the first time, I understood what’s the difference between la/s and le/s. Last but not least, or maybe indeed first, because of its untranslatable title.

So... where exactly is el quinto pino? Why anyone would want to find gato encerrado? Is it appropriate at all to hacer el amor in public? Read the book.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Three music documentaries

Last week, Timur and I went to watch these movies at the Monopol Music Festival. In English, with Spanish subtitles.

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years

a film by Ron Howard

I’ve been listening to The Beatles for as long as I remember myself. I can’t honestly say that I learned a lot of new stuff about the Fab Four from this film. But I enjoyed it all the same. As for Timur, I hope his curiosity about The Beatles is not satisfied. The version we watched in Monopol (as we were warned beforehand) lacked half an hour or so of 1965 Shea Stadium concert. Thank goodness for that, it must have been terrible. Most of The Beatles footage was. On the other hand, the interviews are brilliant.

The film covers, so to speak, The Red Album years. (It also includes, for reasons unknown, a fragment of the famous rooftop concert which was the last public performance of the band but has nothing to do with “touring”.) John, Paul, George and Ringo were getting tired of the gigs but not of each other (yet). Brian Epstein was still alive. The future looked bright.

Score: A Film Music Documentary

a film by Matt Schrader

We went to see this film on Timur’s suggestion and it proved to be much more interesting than its description or trailer would suggest. Not only because, or even not so much because of giants like John Williams or Hans Zimmer who appear there. I was much more impressed by other composers — too many to list here and frankly I forgot most of the names — who also happen to be great musicians, arrangers and/or conductors. Perhaps inevitably, being an American movie, it mainly focuses on American film scores. (By and large, I find American movie music too intrusive for my liking. I wish there were separate volume controls for music, dialogue and ambient noises on the remote.) Even the scenes in London’s AIR and Abbey Road studios show “making of” Hollywood music. It would be interesting to see the idea of Score applied to contemporary European cinema.

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster

a film by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky

This 2004 documentary portrays Metallica in the middle of their creative, existential, or midlife (delete as appropriate) crisis. I didn’t know much about the band before and watching the film didn’t make me a fan.

First, Lars Ulrich emerges as a biggest asshole in rock history (to his credit, Lars admits that himself) thanks to Metallica vs. Napster lawsuit. Then James Hetfield goes to Russia to hunt bears and drink vodka. Then Lars decides to sell his godawful paintings at Christie’s to raise some cash (quite a lot of it). All the while, they don’t stop bickering. The whole thing looks like they are unwittingly remaking This is Spın̈al Tap without being nearly as likeable as Spın̈al Tap. And they don’t show too much wit either.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Carmen Souza Trio live

Sometimes, life in Las Palmas presents impossible choices for a jazz lover. For example, yesterday. Should I go to see Xerach Peñate with her new project Tizziri in CICCA or Carmen Souza in the Auditorio Alfredo Kraus? (Incidentally, the tickets cost exactly the same, so that did not help.) I was pondering this dilemma for a couple of weeks till it resolved itself on Tuesday when Xerach wrote that her event was sold out. This finally prompted me to rush to the box office. Luckily, there still were five or six tickets left for Carmen Souza. So Timur and I headed to the Auditorio.

And it was good. The Trio (Carmen Souza: guitar, piano and vocal; Theo Pascal, double bass and electric bass; Elias Kacomanolis, drums) were presenting CS’s latest album, Creology (as in “creole”), but also some of oldies-goldies such as Parker’s Donna Lee, an up-tempo drum-less, vocal+guitar+bass version of Moonlight Serenade, and Calú Princezito’s Lua (which, until now, I only heard performed by Mayra Andrade). Carmen was charm incarnate, chatting away in fluent Spanish, making the audience laugh, clap, sing (in, I presume, Cape Verdean Creole) and dance. For an encore, the band played probably the most beautiful song of the set, Xinxiroti.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Un monstruo viene a verme

a film by Juan Antonio Bayona

There’s a big difference between Un monstruo viene a verme and A Monster Calls, as if they were two different films. The former was the best première of 2016 in Spain and proceeded to win eight Gaudí Awards and nine Goya Awards and other Spanish goodies. The latter was a box office disaster in the United States and wasn’t even nominated for any American award of note. Could it be that over there they just have difficulty to place this movie into a category? It’s not that child-friendly and it’s not violent enough. And the end is not exactly happy. Wait, it’s a European film. Or two.

Anyway, last week Timur and I went to see the former one. (There was a screening in the library.) I liked the story and the beautiful watercoloury animation segments. On the other hand, I found the Spanish dub as irritating as ever (in live action films). I guess I still have to watch the English-language version to appreciate it fully.