Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ice Bar

There are few things in London as visually amazing as the Ice Bar. Nestled in a gorgeous part of London, Ice Bar was an experience like no other. How often does one get to stand in a –5 degree temperature and sip delicious alcoholic concoctions from a glass made of ice? Not to mention, the designer parkas were fabulous. The group that went didn’t exactly know what to expect. Some wore sandals, which seemed to instinctually go against what one should wear to a room made of ice, but the below freezing temperature was bearable with our giant furry coats. The room itself was not very large, but there was amazing detail in the ice. On one wall there were giant wheels carved into the ice and the seats were interestingly beautiful. The lighting also added to the experience because it bathed everyone in a bluish light and made our drinks glow. Some ended up with neon green lips which made it even better! When our time came to end and it was time to return to a normal temperature, a few of us were thankful not to have lost toes, but I can honestly say I could have stayed longer and wished we had more time. We left with great pictures and a great story about how we drank in a room made of ice. How many other people can say the same? I think it is safe to say that the Ice Bar was one of the coolest places I’ve ever been, and yes, pun intended.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Banksy vs Bristol

Arriving outside the museum was a spectacle in itself... what a line! This shows how the anonymity of Banksy makes his work even more mysterious, therefore more appealing. It was made apparent that the audience would be in for quite a show early on by the display of a depressed, somewhat-suicidal looking Ronald McDonald adorning the entrance to the museum.
Numerous works spoke to me. In some of these pieces, the message was quite obvious, leaving no room for interpretation. But in many other works, ideas were simply proposed, leaving the viewer to draw their own conclusion. The lower level, all being Banksy's work, and ranging from social to political issues, bordered the line of humorous and disturbing. One of the more powerful pieces, depicting two fat white tourists being pulled by a young, dark skinned boy, gave me chills and made it difficult for my eyes to pull away.
Unexpectedly, this artist used robotic pieces in displays as part of the experience. The chicken-nugget display and the fish display, both poking at our culinary effects on the world and our environment, were not only fantastically constructed, but also relevant to today. This is what is so great about seeing Banksy's work, its directed towards todays world. Its relevant to our lives. Unlike seeing a wall covered in impressive golden frames, this work makes people think, and maybe even changes the way we respond to our environment.


It isn’t very common to drive over two hours to see a museum, but once we got to the Banksy exhibit it was obvious that the long ride and long line it was worth it. Banksy’s art is very “in your face” in a wonderful way. It speaks the truth bluntly and comically. Artists are always trying to capture the essence of cultural and political issues in a creative way, but I have never seen anyone achieve that goal with as much perfection as Banksy has. One piece that I really liked was of a young poverty-stricken boy pulling a fat American couple in a cart. The boy is looking out of the painting, at the viewer, while the couple is taking pictures with their camera phone. On one hand, it is comical because of the stereotypical way that the Americans are portrayed. But on the other hand, it is addressing very serious issues of poverty, child labor, and how industrial nations relate to third-world countries. Every piece that Banksy does has a similar effect and it is easy to see the purpose he puts in everything. The point Banksy is trying to make comes across easily and it seems so simple and yet genius at the same time. Overall, it was an amazing display of art and my only wish was that there was more to see!

Bansky vs Bristol Museum

Bristol was a very cool city. There were lots of younger college students, and the home of Bansky. The line was incredibly long and seemed to stretch out forever. After a quick two and a half hour wait we finally got to enter the Museum. You could tell even from the outside you were going to be in for a treat. The outside of the Bristol Museum had what appeared to be McDonalds spokesman Ronald McDonald, however he looked more like the clown from movie Clown rather than the happy clown in the commercials. If you thought that was strange and mesmerizing the inside was even more tantalizing. You enter the Museum and you see what looks like classic Greek statues, but are completely taken aback when you realize they are not. Bansky definitely likes making a statement in a humorous and satirical way on politics, social behaviors and anything controversial. The main exhibit of Bansky’s work displayed his stencils with a radio show recording discussing Bansky. My three favorite pieces in the gallery were the two fat tanned tourists in a carriage being pushed by a little poor boy. The picture was quite funny but made a very bold statement and was somewhat sad. The second one was the riot policeman in full gear frolicking through green gas holding a bunch of flowers was hysterical. But the best piece was the one of the Klu Klux Klan member lynched on the tree. After you left this exhibit you would enter a room of what looked like to be the “freak show” at a circus. There was the Tweedy bird in a cage all old and wrinkly, a monkey painting, fish sticks in a fish bowl, a rabbit putting on makeup in front of a vanity surrounded by pictures of young celebs, and hot dogs, and sausages glass cages all displayed like animals in a pet store or a freak show. Then one could wander around the rest of the museum and look carefully for Bansky’s hidden pieces among the other art collections. My friends who do graffiti would be incredibly jealous that I got to see Bansky’s work in the most unique way. The entire experience, out last cinetrek together with everyone was just fabulous.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Final Paper Fugitive Pieces

          The biggest aspect that comes to mind when thinking about the movie Fugitive Pieces is the great emphasis it has on memories.  Memories are the basis for the whole story.  The memories that the main character Jakob encounters are rarely pleasant, but he learns various ways to cope with the memories that constantly flood his brain.  The movie even provokes the audience to remember their own personal memories, even if it has nothing to do with loss.  While previewing the film I was personally flooded with various memories that I have of my parents who have both passed on.  Fugitive Pieces is a very powerful film when it comes to touching basis on the concept of memory and this view is shared in a journal article and a poem I found written by Elrud Ibsch and Averil Stedford.   Both authors give their own take on the original novel written by Anne Michaels and give their own take on the power of memories.

            Memories are very powerful when it comes to recalling them.  Memories can cause various emotions to arise in a person when they are reminded of the memory.  This is shown in Fugitive Pieces when the story of Jakob is told.  Jakob’s life revolves around the memories that he has of his childhood and the tremendous loss he faces when his parents and sister are killed by the Nazis.  The memories Jakob has of his traumatic event haunt him every night in his dreams.  These memories not only haunt Jakob, but they help him grow and become an amazing writer.  It is stated by Elrud Ibsch in the journal “Comfort And Scandal of Memory” about memory, “Anne Michaels tells the story of loss, describing the pain, necessity and healing power of memory” (Ibsch 1).  The memories Jakob have help him feel the pain that he needs to feel to go through the healing process of his loss, even though the healing process takes him a long time.

            The healing process that Jakob goes through is contributed to writing.  Jakob’s mentor Athos was an archeologist and he documented everything in journals.  Athos proposes to Jakob when he is a young boy that he should express his dreams and memories through the power of writing.  In the end Jakob finds comfort in keeping many journals and eventually publishes a book.  It is stated by Elrud Ibsch, “In Anne Michael’s novel, memory eventually brings faith, love, strength and the power to write poetry” (Ibsch 3).  Jakob writes beautiful poetry about his feelings and about the memories that he remembers.  The words he prints on paper become his therapy as the memories begin to surface.  This concept is expressed in a poem called “The Healing Pen”, written by Averil Stedford, which states:

“Writing can be a powerful therapy.  It raises curtains, brings the past to light.  Often what I write surprises me.  Dreams and fears that linger threateningly.  Appear in a new light in black and white.  Writing can be powerful therapy.”

Just like it is stated in the poem, writing can be a therapy that some people need, like Jakob, to express the memories they have when talking about them is too hard.

            While viewing Fugitive Pieces I was reminded of my own memories I have of my parents who have passed on.  My mother passed away when I was six in a car accident and my father passed away when I was twenty after having a heart attack in his sleep.  Both events were traumatic to me and were hard events to come to peace with.  Just like Jakob, I was haunted by memories of my parents that would take my breath away and make me instantly feel sorrow.  I have come to terms with both deaths now and I realize that I must push on to make them proud.  The memories that once gave me so much pain still bring a tear every once in a while, but also make me smile.

            The fondest memory I have of my mother is when she would get me ready for school in the morning.  I have never been a big morning person and I use to pretend I was still a sleep when my mother would come in to wake me up.  She would simply pick me up out of bed and set me in a chair that sat in the corner of my room and give me my favorite cereal bar.  In order to eat the cereal bar I would have to open my eyes and see what I was doing.  This method always worked and got the mornings started around the house.  My mother would always do my hair in the mornings and would dress me in matching outfits.  She took pride in presenting me looking nice, even if I was just going to go to school and get all messy from playing outside during recess.  My hair would always be done up in a sideways ponytail or decorated with various barrettes in the same color as my clothing.  Looking back I can’t help but laugh.  Looking back though also makes me realize how much she loved me and took care of me.

            A memory that was recalled about my father while watching Fugitive Pieces is a simple one, but a very powerful memory.  My father was a very caring man and he loved me more than anything in the world.  I would be reminded of this and still do to this day from various family members.  My dad had a ritual of always coming into my room in the morning before leaving for work, even when I was older and in high school, to give me a kiss on the forehead and tell me he loved me.  I would usually still be a sleep and I wouldn’t wake, but he still did it to show how much he cared for me.  My father was never afraid to show his love for me and before I would leave to go anywhere I would always get a hug and an “I love you” before leaving the house.  It is just the simple memories that bring back the most emotion.  It still brings tears to my eyes to think about these particular memories, but while watching Fugitive Pieces these memories came back  and the pain of loss came back as well with them.

            Fugitive Pieces was a magnificent movie with a powerful message.  Memories can be powerful means for pain and suffering, but can also empower someone to heal from a traumatic experience and move on.  Jakob is a prime example of someone who is haunted by his memories, but finds therapy in writing about them and helps heal from them.  While watching Fugitive Pieces you cant help but recall your own personal memories and experience the emotion they once gave you.  Fugitive Pieces was a wonderful movie and well worth the resurfacing memories, even if they did bring back old emotions.


Works Cited:

A Jay.  Journal of Medical Ethics.:  Medical Humanities London:Jun 2003.  Vol. 29,  Iss. 1,  p. 21 

Ibsch, Elrud. Journal of Modern Jewish Studies; Jul2006, Vol. 5 Issue 2, p203-212, 10p

Final Paper- Fugitive Pieces

The Movie Fugitive Pieces is a piece if cinema that takes the viewer in depth to not only a boy and his extremely difficult childhood but to a time in history where all of Europe was in chaos. This movie does a superb job at telling the story of Jakob and his life, but it also goes into further detail about the struggles of the Jewish people during the Second World War. When we first see Jakob he is running through a forest trying to escape from the Nazi’s who have just stormed into his house and murder his entire family. This symbolic part of the movie comes back many times throughout the movie were see Jakob having repeated flash backs and visions of his family and early childhood. In a way they are a painful reminder of his past, a past that he can never truly leave behind and seems to be haunted by throughout most of his life. During the 1930s to the mid 1940s was a very dark time for Europe and in particular the Jewish community. Being blamed for Germany’s struggles and oppression by the Third Reich they faced a growing discrimination and it put members within this community in a very difficult place. Some were force to leave not only their homes but their country in order to escape the Nazi’s and their ever growing power, but there were those who could not leave and ultimately would pay the heaviest price. In Fugitive Pieces we get a firsthand experience of someone who has gone through this horrific event, seeing the psychological damage that it has caused Jakob and his struggle to truly fit into society and really start feeling emotions again.
After Jakob’s family gets murder the audience sees a boy that is truly devastated with his family being killed, something no person should ever see. As Jakob finds a little ditch in the forest to rest in he attracts the attention of a man who is working at a construction site. When the man walks over to see the boy he is shocked to find a little child out in the forest all by himself. As the man faces this dilemma of what to do with the boy he decides to risk his life and take the boy as his own. The relationship between Athos and Jakob is one that seems to fit perfectly, both having lost the ones they love the most this is the dynamic that allows the relationship to be so successful. As Athos takes Jakob home to Greece he truly does not know how to raise him, and during the first years of their friendship Jakob becomes very quiet and does not like to leave the house. These being the likely affect of having watched his family get murder Athos learns to be very patient and understand with him. In a way Athos becomes the farther to Jakob, taking him underneath his wing and as he gets older they become best friends. As the Nazi forces expand their campaign they reach the town of Zakynthos where Athos and Jakob live, it becomes another painful reminder for Jakob about the lost of his family and as he states “I truly do not know why I cannot get this vision”(Fugitive Pieces). As time wears on the dreams for Jakob become more intense and he starts to have flashbacks of his Mom and Dad but more particularly his sister Bella. This suggests the bond he had with her before she died and in a way she took him underneath her wing and raised him. These type of flashbacks and memories seem to haunt Jakob during his life and are always a reminder of his past.
Jakob starts to open up as a person but he also starts to expand his relationship with Athos a bit more. Jakob learns that Athos use to have a wife and that she died awhile back, Athos being entirely caught off guard when Jakob bring this up. During this scene the viewer truly sees the relationship come full circle that even though these two people from different places and immensely different backgrounds the one component that truly unites them and that is their loathing for a companion and someone else to feel their pain. For the first time where Jakob realize that he must take care of Athos because they are both damaged in their own ways. During this stage of the movie that Nazi’s have retreated out of Greece which allows more freedom for Athos and Jakob to travel. One day Athos receives a letter for a school in Toronto asking him to come and teach at their university. Athos sees this as an opportunity to start over and leave the past behind. When both Jakob and Athos arrive in Toronto it is a total new experience for one another and in way it pushes them out of their comfort zone. As time goes on Jakob starts to establish a sense of normalcy going to school and meeting people his own age. One day he meets a girl by the name of Alex, that sweeps him off his feet by the simply fact the she gives Jakob an escape. Jakob evens claims that when Alex and him are together he "longs for the loss of memory", but only for the time being. This relationship runs its course due to the simple fact that Jakob cannot get by his past and becomes obsessive about what happened when his family was murdered.
Jakob and Athos stay in Toronto for quite a long time and in some ways Jakob wishes he could escape and go somewhere new but he knows that Athos cannot travel because he is too old. One night Athos is working on his book Jakob comes in and wishes him goodnight, but in the mourning Athos dies of old age. At this point Jakob reaches a cross road in his life not sure what direction he want to go he decides to go back to Greece to bury some of Athos belongings and honor him on last night. Jakob realizes that he both likes Greece and Toronto so much he ends up splitting time between the two. While back in Toronto he meets a woman by the name of Michaela who later establish a relationship of caring and nourishment. Michaela and Jakob end up getting married and a main reason that they do is that Michaela helps Jakob forget about the painful past. Michaela does truly understand him, very similar to the way Athos was to Jakob when he was younger.
Fugitive Pieces simply a great movie! The audience sees the character of Jakob come full circle from a scared boy who had nowhere to live or no one he could trust to a man who has overcome the trauma of watching the Nazi’s murder his family. In the beginning Jakob life is a constant struggle but with the help of Athos and Michaela he learns to live a normal life, but will never forget his past.

Compare and Contrast: Modesty Blaise's "Swinging London" with Today's London Social Scene

There are many similarities and differences between the social scenes of the swinging London period of the 1960s and London’s present social culture. London was an exciting place to be during the 1960s with an economic boom in the later half of the decade allowing for increased experimentation in color, style, and way of thinking. The 1966 camp movie Modesty Blaise is a clear example of what the social scene was like during the “swinging London” period. Like Modesty Blaise’s hair color, everyone and everything was changing continuously in the film hinting at the fact that this was a period where people altered the way they dressed, thought, and spoke on a constant basis. Mod subculture also played a prominent role in the film influencing Modesty Blaise’s bold outfits and imagery of all-night clubs. Sexuality was also beginning to become more accepted with references to the gay community through flamboyant characters like the evil mastermind Gabriel and his male servants in the film. In comparison to today’s social culture, there are still some remaining influences from “swinging London” but differences still. Experimentation is still a vital part of London’s social scene today with fashion, music, and art constantly taking on new forms. Mod subculture is still a prominent group, leaving its mark on London with the miniskirt bigger than ever and all night clubs far more popular. Sexuality, such as the present gay community, is bigger and more accepted than ever. Londoners, however, have become far more frugal since the economic recession compared to the economic boom during the 1960s. In this essay, I will compare and contrast Modesty Blaise’s “swinging London” social scene with London’s present social culture through ways of style, social subcultures, sexuality, and ways of thinking.

Modesty Blaise is the epitome of what “swinging London” was like during the later half of the 1960s. The lurid fashion clothing and prints to the influential mod culture to the witty and outrageous personalities and ways of thinking all added to this social phenomenon taking place at that time. The “swinging London” period resulted from an economic boom “after post world war II austerity and rationing” (1960s Fashion and Textiles). After London having to spend such a great deal of time recovering from war, Londoners finally had a chance to immerse in the social areas of their culture. In a scene from the film, Modesty Blaise and her partner in crime Willie Garvin drive carelessly on a desert road, enjoying ice cream and joining together in song all while being chased by their employers. The viewer is filled with a sense of liberation through the characters’ fearlessness and carefree attitudes in the film. This was the universal feeling during the later 1960s because Londoners finally had a chance to not worry and just enjoy what London had to offer. With new ideas sprouting left and right, fashion became an asset to individual expression during this period. The style during the “swinging London” period was heavily driven by the younger crowd where pricey couture was out and more affordable outfits were in (1960s Fashion and Textiles). The mod subculture also played a part in what was fashionable at the time popularizing “the simple geometric shapes” and “tailor-made attire” for maximum impact (1960s Fashion and Textiles). The youth were finally beginning to be recognized as an influential generation partly due to their impeccable taste in fashion. There no longer was a demand to pay high prices for pieces of clothing and younger people were one of the first to make affordable clothing look hip and fashionable. Another fashionable trend was “boldly colored garments” and miniskirts which were sold cheaply all over London (1960s Fashion and Textiles). In the movie Modesty Blaise, Modesty dons many of the popular trends of the time such as a tightly fitted hot pink dress in one scene while running through the streets of London.  Textiles in “brightly colored large-scale geometric repeats” were incorporated into clothing, furnishing fabrics, and even home decor.  When Modesty is held prisoner by Gabriel in the film, he places her in a groovy dungeon filled with a swirly, colored wallpapred room. Another influential factor to the “swinging London” social scene was the mod subculture. Mods were not only known for their fashion but for their “amphetamine-fuelled all-night dancing at clubs” (website). They believed in rejecting the "dull, timid, old-fashioned, and uninspired" culture of London that surrounded them (The Mod Generation). The Mods opened up a whole new way of social life for the younger crowd that was a complete digression from what was considered proper in British culture. The 1960s was also considered an era of “sexual freedom” where the pill was a “reliable method for contraception”, abortion became legal, and homosexuality was “decriminalized” (1960s Fashion and Textiles). The 1960s helped pave a new way for what was considered sexually acceptable. In Modesty Blaise, there are many references to sexual exploration such as the evil mastermind Gabriel and his male servants who are extremely flamboyant in their style and manner. The “swinging London” period broke all barriers for sexuality where things that would have been shunned in society before were finally beginning to become accepted. Not only was this era influential in its own time, but remnants of the “swinging London” period can still be seen in present British culture today.

Although there are still many remaining influences from the “swinging London” period in London’s present social culture, there are still some differences between the two eras. For instance, since this year’s global financial crisis, London has been hit since it has such a “prominent global role” where there is an expected loss of “70,000 jobs” in finance will be lost (1960s Fashion and Textiles).  From personal observation, there no longer seems to be that carefree attitude that was once so highly regarded during the “swinging London” period. Londoners have become far more serious which is what the reality of an economic recession can do versus the economic boom during the 1960s. However, there are still some aspects of the “swinging London” period that are still heavily present in today’s social scene. Mod style and subculture, for example, have made a comeback in recent years. The miniskirt is an essential in any girl’s closet and one can never fail finding geometric prints at affordable boutiques like Top Shop. Even all night clubs that were so popular in the 1960s are a still a huge part of today’s London night scene. Today a mixture of “21st century mods” form today’s “Mod Generation” where mods from the “late 70s/80s revival and original mods from the 60s” come together and arrange “club nights and events” similar to those in the 60s (The Mod Generation). Even today, the mod subculture is being kept alive and still is a strong presence in the growing nightlife of London. Sexuality has reached even greater acceptance over the decades especially for the gay community. Just recently there was a Pride London parade right here in London where over 1,000,000 came and participated which makes it the “largest LGBT event in the UK” (Pride London). This shows how prominent a role the gay community still plays in London and has continued to grow since the “swinging London” days where homosexuality was just starting to be accepted.

London has continued to evolve since the “swinging London” era but also maintain some of the social culture that took place during the later half of the 1960s. There are remaining influences of “swinging London” in today’s social culture because it was such an experimental time in London’s history, despite the differences that have accumulated over the decades. However, there is one thing that can be agreed on: London is a social mecca that is constantly changing and molding to its current yet still knows how to mix old with modern.

 Works Cited

“1960s Fashion and Textiles”. The Victoria and Albert Museum. 23 July 2009.            

 “Pride London.” 23 July 2009.

 “The Mod Generation.” 23 July 2009.

Banksy has to be the most genius contemporary artist today. His pieces are enticing to look at when on display in the Banksy vs. Bristol Museum exhibit.  Everything from his painting of Michael Jackson luring children into a gingerbread house to his zoo display of “animals” is hilarious to see in person. His ability to draw on all major aspects in life: politics, culture, and ethics just shows how far his humor extends.

My favorite satirical piece had to be the zoo display where he pokes fun at the food industry with chicken nuggets imitating live chickens and frozen fish sticks floating around in a fish bowl. In order to see all of Banksy’s pieces in the museum, you have to go on a scavenger hunt because he cleverly hid some of his pieces all around the museum. His artwork, personally, was worth the two-hour line one had to wait in. And that is another thing that makes Banksy so wonderful. He chooses to remain anonymous and provide a completely free exhibit for the public because he does not believe one should have to pay to see his work.

Some say that Banksy’s work is controversial or that his work should not be considered true art. When leaving the exhibit, a man shouted, “I like ice cream but I don’t consider ice cream art” alluding to Banksy’s graffiti on an ice cream truck in the museum. Despite Banksy being both ridiculed and acclaimed for his work, Banksy is a true artist in my eyes who left me laughing all the way through the exhibit.

Banksy vs. Bristol

The SDSU clan wakes up for its final coach excursion at eight in the morning for departure at eight thirty.  Driving that two hours to Bristol, minds were full of wonder regarding this Banksy character, an artist that we had heard about but had never truly experienced.  The two and a half hour line in front of the museum entrance says heaps about Banksy’s influence.  There is a fascination with him because he is an anonymous figure who wishes to keep his artwork free of charge.  This is an enormously admirable trait because it shows that he is not interested in wealth or fame, only in providing art to the public that will move them and capture their attention.  Not only does he hold these noble intentions, he is also an amazing artist.  He does not solely flourish as a grafitti artist, but his paintings and sculptures are brilliant as well. 

Journeying through the Bristol Museum was like a one of a kind scavenger hunt.  The name splashed on the walls was “Bristol vs. Banksy”, a title that demonstrates the intention of the exhibit.  Entwined between more traditional pieces of artwork were works that stood out when you looked closely.  All of these works had “local artist” printed on the plaques beside them, undeniably standing for Banksy because he is thought to have grown up in Bristol.  Viewing more conventional art beside the radical art that Banksy offers is a blatant contradiction that makes the mind reel.  This is rarely experienced inside an art gallery and is a much more stimulating way of viewing art.  As I walked through the hallways on this art hunt, I could not help but look at the people in the gallery as well.  Was one of these innocent art viewers the brilliant Banksy himself?  One can never know.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Y Tu Mama Tambien

Although we “cinetrekked” through many films this term, the two that struck me the most were Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Y Tu Mama Tambien. It was very interesting because while the films had some similarities, they had many differences as well. The directors both chose to portray stories of adventure and exploration, but the plotlines take their own twists and turns while intriguing the audience. Throughout this paper, I will explain some of the differences and the similarities between these two films in the areas of location, acting, directing, plotlines as well as several other aspects.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona chronicles the adventures of two female friends, Vicky and Cristina, in Barcelona. They meet the mysterious painter Juan Antonio and Cristina is immediately drawn to him. Vicky, while more close minded, has a brief fling with Juan Antonia as well and ends up falling in love with him. When Juan Antonio’s ex-wife is thrown into the mix, things get complicated and Vicky and Cristina return home, both having learned about themselves. In Y Tu Mama Tambien, two friends, Tenoch and Julio meet an older woman named Luisa who is desperate for an adventure, and set out on a road trip to a beautiful beach. Along the way, they learn a lot about life and each other with Luisa’s help.
Both of these films are set in Spanish speaking countries. Vicky Cristina Barcelona is set in the beautiful countryside of Spain, and Y Tu Mama Tambien is set in Mexico City, Mexico. In Vicky Cristina Barcelona, the setting is absolutely stunning. Beautiful architecture and landscapes throughout the whole film accent it and really make Spain look like a wonderful place to go. The director, Woody Allen, chose to do this to glorify Spain, and set the film in a very romantic setting. He wanted the audience to understand how easy it may be to fall in love in such a beautiful place. We find ourselves rooting for Vicky and Juan Antonio to be together, although she is engaged to be married. The setting of the film has a lot to do with this romantic feeling this film seems to emanate, and that is exactly what the director wants the audience to feel. Y Tu Mama Tambien, is set going throughout Mexico city. There are many scenes of poverty throughout the film. While these scenes are not actually important to the plotline of the film, they draw attention to the political issues going on in the country at the time as well as the issues with poverty. The director chose to do this because he wanted to make this film seem very realistic. The characters in the film seemed almost unfazed by some of the surrounding images of poverty, like they have seen it all before. He in no way tried to beautify Mexico, like Woody Allen did to Spain in his film. This lets the audience relate more to the characters in the film, because they know this is a realistic story. In Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Hollywood kind of takes over, making the story seem more of a fantasy than a reality.
The actors for both of these films were very carefully picked out. The casts in both films were actually very similar to each other. Both films featured two young people as the stars, and one slightly older person costarring alongside. In Vicky Cristina Barcelona the director chose Scarlett Johansson as one of the lead characters, which is a popular actress in many of his films. Also in many of Woody Allen’s films “The male protagonist is often older (sometimes a lot older) than the women he pursues. He clings to the role of teacher and guide, flaunting his wit, erudition and self-deprecating humor” (Holden 2008). Likewise in Y Tu Mama Tambien, the director Alfonso Cuaron puts an older actress in the film with the two younger boys to sort of guide them through their journey. She offers them advice through her own personal experiences on life, sex, love and friendship. Both the boys in Y Tu Mama Tambien and the girls in Vicky Cristina Barcelona learn from these older characters in the films and are changed people by the end of the films. The older characters, Juan Antonio and Luisa, also take the younger characters on a sort of “vacation” away from real life, and by the end of both the films, when Juan Antonio and Luisa are both gone, real life resumes and the younger characters have almost begun a new type of life. The directors choose to use this type of cast to show their audiences that some of the most important lessons of life are learned from unexpected places and people.
Another aspect of both the films that both the directors used is the background narration. Both films have an unknown narrator that reveals certain things abut the characters that may not be obviously apparent to the audience. The reason the director chooses to have an unidentified author instead of one of the characters in the film, is so that their position is objective. They are not supposed to know more about one character than the other, and not have an opinion on any issue in the film. They are simply there to inform the audience. In Y Tu Mama Tambien, “Cuaron interrupts the proceedings often so that a narrator can inform viewers of the companions' secrets, the histories and fates of the people they meet, and, finally, what happened after the trip ended” (Hornaday, 2002). Likewise, in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, the narrator explains how the characters are feeling and what they hope to find in Spain. The narrator also lets the viewers know of the past and current relationships of the two women, therefore making it easier for the audience to understand the viewpoints each woman sees on love, and this actually causes viewers to relate themselves to one character in particular. The narrator is important too because it does not leave readers asking questions about what happened after the film ended. It gives a very short type of epilogue to the films, leaving the audience with a better understanding of what will happen to the characters. For Y Tu Mama Tambien, one critic notes: “Rather than take the audience out of the movie, these interludes open the film up, so that the final effect of "Y Tu Mama Tambien" is one of expansive, almost spiritual power”(Hornaday, 2002). Both films end in a way very different than they started. The directors do this to create an ending different from most conventional films, leaving the audience to go home and think about the films for the days to come.
Overall, the directors of both these films were very careful and specific in selecting their casts, locations, and plotlines. Each part of the film was put together carefully to create the effect the director was aiming for. Both directors want to show that it is easy for people to learn and grow, and sometimes they do so unwillingly. All the characters in these films learned more about themselves, simply by traveling to a new place and meeting new people. Both directors want to remind their audience that life can be very refreshing, and when looking for a change maybe all one really needs to do is have a change of scenery.

Works Cited:
Holden, Stephen. “Sex (and Love and Death): Woody's World Steams Up” The New York Times, August 20th, 2008.

Hornaday, Ann. “'Y Tu Mama': The Ride of Their Lives; On a Drive to Nowhere, Boys Find Themselves” The Washington Post, May 3rd, 2002.

Ice Bar: A Chilling Experience

Who would have thought that being in a room with a temperature below zero could be so much fun! Ice Bar was a completely different take on the social experience of going out and drinking with friends. The gear is the most fun part putting on consisting of a stylish parka , a furry hat, and even gloves to keep warm in this arctic environment. Everything in the room is made out of ice from the bar to the seats to the cups that you drink your cocktail out of. It is also a race to see who can surivive the entire 45 minutes in the Ice Bar which is a tad bit hard when you have sandals on.  Once in the bar, the cold hits you so one must make a dive for the bar immediately. The bartenders are serving up drinks all while dressed up warmly with some cute furry hats on to top off their eskimo-esque outfits. The selection of drinks were enticing with names like The Furnace that would warm anybody right up just thinking about the name. With drink in hand, you wonder around which is pretty much all you can do to keep warm in the Ice Bar all while trying to finish the delicious concoction chosen. This was a once in a lifetime experience that someone can only handle once depending on your tolerance for the cold.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Discovering Life Through Music

In these modern times where technology rules the globe and money makes the world go round, it is easy to lose sight of the real purpose of life: to live it.  People’s brains spill over with insignificant worries and wants that do nothing but delay the potential to gain true happiness.  For instance, many women tell themselves that if they could just lose that last ten pounds, they would be happy.  But it doesn’t work that way.  Happiness is a phenomenon that must be rooted internally by experiencing the simplicity of life.  Jamie Catto and Duncan Bridgeman find happiness through music inside their documentary What About Me?.  These two wise men travel the world to a variety of cultures, illustrating the vast diversity of humankind on this planet.  Significantly, however, they utilize music to illustrate that regardless of this diversity, there is a common thread that unites us: being human. 

A noteworthy aspect of the movie is that Bridgeman and Catto are using music to illustrate connections that cultural groups have, despite differences in ideals having to do with marriage or religion.  With all of the wars and confrontations that have occurred throughout history, it is easy to see that many cultural groups do not desire to be associated with one another.  This film unites melodies of typically opposing cultural clusters and creates beautiful music that sounds better together than apart.  “The emphasis on music as a tool for mutual understanding and expression gave the whole 1 Giant Leap project a greater dimension, one far removed from the commercial concerns of just about everyone else caught up in the music industry” (Megahey).  As this quote hints, the directors are trying to emphasize something bigger than just the music itself.  They are using music as the mechanism by which to achieve their main goal: presenting the joyous simplicities of life regardless of race, class, sexuality, etc.  There are people of every culture smiling, singing, dancing, and doing other of the simplest human acts, no cell phones or plasma screens required.  The way that the directors interweave music with various themes of humanity (e.g. love, death, God) is a stunning way of demonstrating what it means to be human.

Although the obvious reason for making the documentary is to create brilliant music that reflects the various musical styles across the world, the deeper meaning has to do with many philosophies of life.  Thus, many philosophers, authors, and even celebrities were interviewed to offer their insights.  One such individual was world-renowned philosopher and author Eckhart Tolle whose work focuses on an inner transformation of the human consciousness by removing the ego (Tolle Biography).  His words hit home for many people who live in modernized communities.  In the film, he states: “Part of the madness is to live as if the future were more important than the present moment, which is how most people live.  It’s completely insane, so you miss the aliveness of life for some projected future aliveness of fulfillment” (What About Me?).  Countless youths in this world are constantly pressured into preparing for their futures.  Many students are so stressed about getting into a good university that their social lives suffer.  Businessmen and women work countless hours away from their families striving for a promotion that may never come.  People are constantly climbing and climbing for the more affluent lifestyle and all the while that precious thing called life is passing them by. 

Although many of the interviews in the documentary are incredibly deep, there are also many parts of the film that are filled with laughter when it comes to lighter matters.  Laughter is an important prerequisite for happiness and so it is not surprising that humor would be utilized in this film.  Particularly entertaining was the portion of the film that focused on the differences between men and women.  Many women from different cultures, famous or not, were interviewed on this subject and had similar teasing answers regarding men and their habits.  The same is true when men were asked about women.  It is remarkable to see members of different cultures all agreeing and laughing about these matters and, as a viewer, it is hard to keep a smile off your face.  This film consistently reinforces the harmony that human beings share when it comes to fundamental matters.

This documentary is one of a kind and truly has a way of touching your soul.  When the SDSU program went to Bricklane to see this production, the host for the night, a shaggy-haired cowboy hat-wearing gentleman, gave some insight about the power of the project.  He informed us that he knew Duncan Bridgeman personally and said that before the project Bridgeman discovered he had cancer.  After the filming ceased, and without any medical treatment, the cancer was gone and he was cured.  Perhaps this is just coincidence, but at the same time there is some magic in knowing that Bridgeman was living his life in such a spiritual and joyous manner.  No stressful deadlines in sight, the only stops for Bridgeman on the road ahead were music and true happiness.

What About Me? is a musical masterpiece that celebrates the real life joys that most people forget about in their rushed and scheduled daily lives.  Music and philosophy are used to unite the diverse cultures of the world and reveal, quite beautifully, that human beings in different cultures are not that different from one another.  Seeing women in poverty-stricken villages relate to prosperous women in business suits is perhaps a future glimpse into a world that could be based more on peace than on war.  It also highlights that life is for living and that people need to remember to appreciate significant moments.  Molly Zapp puts it perfectly in her article The Art of Persuasion: “embrace the silly painful madness of simply living joyfully” (Zapp).  The engaging words spoken by the interviewees combined with the utterly blissful music that was created simultaneously make this documentary a celebration of life that should not be missed. 


"Biography." Official Website of Eckhart Tolle, Author of A New Earth. Web. 23 July 2009. .

Megahey, Noel. "1 Giant Leap What About Me'" N. pag. DVD Times. 06 Dec. 2008. Web. 23 July 2009.  .

Zapp, Molly. "The Art Of Persuasion." N. pag. Metrosantacruz. 13 May 09. Web. 23 July 2009. .

Final blog

Woody Allen and Joseph Losey are both renowned filmmakers, who each have a distinctive style all their own. One uses humor and the other use melodrama to portray different stories with themes of sexuality, satire and human relationships. Vicky Christina Barcelona, and Modesty Blaise are two very different genres of films but both are funny have an interesting use of satire.

Woody Allen has created a unique genre all his own a mixture of drama and screwball comedies that formulates into his distinctive style. He captivates his audience by integrating intellectual ideas and real-life scenarios into a film using the channels of human instinctual drives for lust, love and happiness (Philaretou). In the film Vicky Christina Barcelona, a tale of young naïve beautiful ladies on the trip to Barcelona for the summer and meets an attractive Spanish man named Juan Antonio, whom they both have an affair with. Vicky is practical and traditional and Christina is spontaneous and is unsure of what she wants from life or love. Both women discover through this moral journey of their emotions of love, and lust that love is what you make it out to be. The film looks into these two women who are very different, their sexual momentum and self-identification from “falling in love.”

Allen creates his movies into very real scenarios with issues of sexuality very present in Vicky Christina Barcelona. Allen likes to break down barriers of sexual tension “through sexual satire…audiences are enabled to unmask the private, embarrassing, shameful, and forbidden areas of their sexual lives, thereby becoming better able to come to terms with their sexuality in a relaxed, nonthreatening matter (Philartou).” There are women out there who would be offended if a man like Juan Antonia asked them if they would like to join him ménage trios. Vicky was extremely insulted when Juan Antonia asked such a preposterous proposition to them. However, Christina was interested and curious in the sexual offer. It is funny to see how these two American women deal with a European man in the search for the meaning of life, love and passion.

Vicky and Christina are two innocent American’s who find themselves in a situation with a handsome stranger they are not used to. In the movie the phrase being “European” was like being sexually liberated, like when Christina confesses that she Juan Antonio and Maria Elena were in a relationship. There is this idea that European are more sexually opened, and it might be true. Allen also plays with that idea especially when it comes to the attitudes of Vicky and her fiancé Doug. Doug is very portrayed as very New York American and he disapproves of Christina very European relationship. Vicky is someone who could never imagined herself having an affair with a Spanish man when she is engaged, however at the end of the films no longer can deny her feelings and confesses them Juan Antonio.

Allen films present a dialectical method “to the study of human sexuality as good and bad, humorous and dramatic, lustful and emotional, fearful and fearless, fulfilling and frustrating (Philartou).” Allen utilizes the deconstruction and reconstruction of traditional gender roles awakens the audience of the historical, social and cultural influences that compel “human affairs as well as the vicissitudes, ambiguity, and melodramatic nature of human sexuality (Philartou).” Vicky and Christina return home, Vicky returns to her married life with Doug, and Christina remains where she started unsure of life and love. Allen attempts to provoke in his audience that things are simply, simplicity of emotions, love and affection.

Joseph Losey might not have the same sense of humor as Woody Allen but he is still a prominent filmmaker with an eclectic collection of movies. He is know as a very controversial figure even today as his films or regularly taught in cinema study classes (Callahan). Losey liked to find depth in even the most absurd situation and used liked spotlight on the human relationship (Callahan). There were dominant themes in Losey’s work, such as emotional instability, emotional and physical violence and perverse sexual power plays. He liked to put unconventional love stories in his films (Callahan). Instead of talking about Losey’s most beautiful films I want to discuss his most underestimated and sometimes called the “worst movie of all time,” the 1966 spy movie Modesty Blaise.

Timing is very important in a release of film, and Modestly Blaise was ahead of its time. It set in the “Swinging London and the whole movie is in a modish camp style. Modish camp means it had “bright colors, lurid colors, surreal plotting, trendy star, kinky sex and funny violence, and spy joke jammed to its fills with pop music, bizarre gadgetry, and self-parody, all wrapped up in the rule-breaking technique to which the French New Wave had by 1966 (Richards).” The film is uncharacteristically a Losey film in story line and “essential lightheartedness,” but the film still deals with real issues that are still with us today (Richard). The movie is filled with forgettable story lines, weird jokes, fast paced mise-en-scene, ridiculous fighting scenes and exuberant surrealism.

The movie is satire on the other secret agent movies of the 60’s for example James Bond. The movie reminded me of Get Smart the television show and also Mike Meyers Austin Power even more. Both movies had weird, preposterous and had unusual scenes where things don’t seem to make sense tended to happen. In Modesty Blaise you would notice that her hair color would change randomly and also her clothing color would also change. They both also have weird gadgets that come out from obscure places, and would also have random bursts of song and dance.

Losey plays with sex and sex gender roles in Modestly Blaise. There are few scenes in the movie where we see Willy in bed with different beautiful women. However, we can’t deny the sexual tension between Willy and Modesty. Willy is very subservient to Modesty and calls her Princes, and is always willing to help here when she needs him. There is also an odd relationship with the villain of the movie Gabriel and the extremely tough Clara Fothergill. She is tough and fights, and Gabriel seems to have more flamboyant character. Although completely straight in sexual preference he is always so well groomed, with his funny cocktails and pastel color umbrellas. There is a scene when MCWhirter asks Gabriel, “Do you ever wonder about MR. Fathergill?” and Grabriel’s reply is matter-of-fact “I am Mr. Fothergill (Richard).” Losey play on sex gender roles is an interesting one. Another example is how Abu Tayir likes to call Modesty his son, when she is clearly a woman. It shows very sexist attitudes of society.

One of the issues of the 60’s and an important issues addressed in the Modesty Blaise is oil. The music sings “Ice….gimme ice, man…real ice,” while the sun is blazing down on the oil, and you see small children looking impoverished and hungry playing by the oil. At the end of the movie it definitely takes a different turn, and more serious turn.

Losey’s film was uncharacteristic for him, however is a very brilliant piece of work no matter what critics might say. Woody Allen always creates funny movies with great sense of humor and satire. Both directors liked to create more than movies and they did with Vicky Christina Barcelona and Modesty Blaise, they both liked to dive into the complexities of the human relationship and breaking of social rules and norms.

Callahan, Dan (2003). Joseph Losey. New York,

Philaretou, Andreas. (Spring 2006). Learning and Laughing about Gender and Sexuality through Humor: The Woody Allen Case. Journal of Men’s Studies. Harriman, Vol. 14, Iss. 2; pg. 133.

Richards, Peter (Jul 1995). ‘ Real ice , man’: Joseph Losey’s Modesty Blaise. New York. Vol 31, Iss. 4; pg 60.

St. Paul's Cathedral

For someone who was raised in a non-religion household attending high mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral was the most fascinating experience next to the play at Gate Theatre Medea Medea. St. Paul’s Cathedral is beautiful church for mass to be held in, the white walls, the gold details, and spectaculars painting were breathtaking. Mass as the entire worship service was like a ceremony and worship combined, but more of a worship with “praise almighty lord, Jesus, heavenly father, God.” From what I hear I heard that it was very formal and traditional. Mass back the states is not as formal, not much singing, more involvement with the people, shorter, not in Latin, and in a less extravagant and theatrical. At one point during mass the organist started to play really dark moody music, and I thought the Phantom of the Opera was going to pop at any moment and it seemed really uncharacteristic. The Orchestra and Choir sand beautiful and was the major highlight of the cinetrek.
Medea Medea was also an extraordinary experience. Both cinetreks were almost surreal. Medea Medea was very confusing and did not what was going on the entire time. There was one stage setting the entire time, and every prop in the setting was used at one point in the play. There were unusual things going on the whole time, all of which did not make sense to me at all! Both were very odd experiences, for one I’ve never attended mass nor attending a play abstract and surreal like Medea Medea. Both opened up my eyes to new things and new experiences.

Spirited Away: Beneath the Spirits

There is more than meets the eye in Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film Spirited Away. Miyazaki breaks free from conventional cinema to bring his audience an imaginative fantasy world filled with grotesque monsters and images of delightful enchantment. Rather than clash, these two opposing images gracefully unite to create the backdrop for the film’s heroine Chihiro. Beneath the surface of the film lie deep and meaningful lessons about life, love, friendship, and also insight into Japanese life and culture.

Chihiro begins the film as a typical 10-year old girl who is upset about leaving her familiar surroundings behind and moving to a new suburban home. Upon arrival at the abandoned theme park Chihiro is leery of taking food from a restaurant with no workers. It becomes clear that Chihiro is obedient, unlike her parents who gorge themselves without worry. This compliant behaviour saves Chihiro as she begins her work in the bathhouse. Obedience corresponds to another theme found in the film and that is the blurred line between good and evil. Most of the characters have a good and bad side to them. Two examples would be Zeniba and Yubaba. These two character teach Chihiro that both evil and good exist in the world and also that they can exist in the same person. Although Yubaba symbolizes evil, she also honours her word and demonstrates a kinder side with her baby, Boh. Zeniba too, seems quite malevolent when she threaten to kill Haku for stealing her seal, but after visiting with Zeniba, Chihiro quickly realizes what a kind and gentle woman she really is.

Miyazaki also makes clear his reference to some basic Japanese cultural values and more specifically to the Shinto religion. The Shinto religion is based on the worship of Kami, which are spirits of almost anything here on Earth ( According to the Journal of Religion and Film, followers of the Shinto religion hold rituals wherein villagers call forth the local Kami and invite them to bathe in their baths (Boyd & Nishimura). This practice is quite similar to the bathhouse in the film that welcomes various spirits and symbolizes the Japanese ritual. The tunnel at which Chihiro and her parents go through to enter the spirit world also has significant meaning in the film. It is believed in the Shinto religion that in order to benefit form the presence of kami or “spirits”, one must be open and willing to believe in their existence. One way this can be achieved is by moving oneself from the everyday world into a new and more receptive environment. Cleverly, in order to return to one’s natural state, he or she must be “re-formed” as a person in some way (Boyd & Nishimura). The tunnel into the spirit world and Chihiro’s transformation into a strong and capable young woman can be seen as a metaphor for this Japanese belief. The tunnel itself symbolizes a doorway into a magical, fairy-tale like world. This doorway into the unknown is comparable to Alice in Wonderland who falls in a rabbit hole and ends up in a dreamlike realm. Both Alice and Chihiro are forced to enter the unknown in a world where nothing is really as it seems.

Followers of the Shinto religion also believe that all phenomena become contaminated and impure at some point and therefore need to be bathed in order to resume their cleanliness. Miyazaki demonstrates this philosophy with his extraordinary creatures that come to the bathhouse to be bathed. The stink spirit in particular, whom Chihiro is ordered to prepare a bath, is cleaned of all kinds of garbage and debris. This serves as a metaphor for an impure kami or spirit. Once cleansed of all his impurities, “No Face” fervently tries to offer Chihiro gold, where upon she politely refuses. This angers “No Face” and for a short time makes him mad. Fortunately, “No Face’s” anger is short-lived. Toward the end of the film Zeniba helps “No Face” to be kinder and at one point he even helps her spin thread.

In his article for The Los Angeles Times, Film critic Kenneth Turan discusses the opposition Miyazaki’s creates between disturbing images such as creatures throwing up and delightful images of purity and serenity. For instance, the image of the train gliding across submerged tracks in a seemingly endless body of water, Turan compares to a painting by Rene Magritte. Turan argues that these opposing images come together and highlight the oneness of things and demonstrate “how little distance there truly is between these seemingly disparate states”. I could not agree more with Turan and found that images and characters that at first appeared evil or grotesque ended up being two-sided. I feel that Miyazaki deliberately created this harmonic relationship to illustrate that we are all capable of both evil and good.

By drawing on some of the basic struggles that we as humans face in our everyday lives and also on certain Japanese customs and beliefs, Miyazaki creates a world that will evoke a genuine sense of wonder for all of those who watch his film. The film’s heroine, Chihiro inspires audiences with her transformation into a brave and capable young woman. She successfully overcomes the shock of entering the adult world and having to work in order to survive. Chihiro maturely learns her responsibilities at the bathhouse and is rewarded by Yubaba. Through Chihiro’s character, Miyazaki is able to convey an important message about growing up and one that is rarely dealt with by movie creators. Miyazaki emphasizes all of the important and admirable qualities that young children or adults can possess with his creation of Chihiro.

Overall, I think Spirited Away is a remarkable work of cinema whose bold and imaginative tale will leave its audience wishing for more. Its incredibly relatable motifs make it perfect for persons all ages and backgrounds. Whether you are young or old, or somewhere in between, there is surely something you can learn from Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film Spirited Away.

Works Cited

Boyd, James W., and Tetsuya Nishimura. "Shinto Perspectives in Miyazaki's Film

Spirited Away." Journal of Religion and Film 8 (2004). Oct. 2004. 19 July 2009


"Religion & Ethics." BBC. 25 Oct. 2006. 20 July 2009.

Turan, Kenneth. "Prepare to be Astonished by Spirited Away." Los Angeles Times. 2002.

20 July 2009.

Extended Blog

Y Tu Mama Tambien was a dramatic change from the features the class has previously enjoyed. The story revolves around the lives of two young men who are forced to fill the space created by the boredom that dominates their summer. Their boredom however soon changes when they meet Luisa, and set out on a journey that they soon will not forget. The director brings the audience on this journey in a rather unique way, and allows the audience the opportunity to view these teenager’s lives from an outside perspective, with constant clarification and reference to political and coming of age insight.

The directing style of Alfonso Cuaròn enabled an intense intertwining of these messages conveying the meaning of politics and maturity between friends and families. The roles these boys play, as well as the overlaying narration, accentuates the meaning behind the director’s message and ultimately creates a vastly profound piece of cinematic work. There are many ways that Alfonso Cuaròn exploits these ideas, the most prominent being his usage of a narrator, because “not only does he use narration to inform us of character traits, and intent, but the characters, in their actions, clarified heterodiegetically, inform us on the political landscape and many times in doing so it allows us insight into an unseen conflict between what the actors are doing and saying, versus the true meaning or motivation of the scene—oftentimes creating a sense of irony” (Kemet). This ultimately makes the narration a huge part of the film and allows for a structured and specified understanding of the messages. However the directors also uses the incorporation of the boy’s manifesto, and the overwhelming character development of Tenoch and Julio as their story progresses with Luisa to clarify the underlying meaning behind his story.

Through the narration the director is able to touch upon a few main messages he meant to portray. First being the political ideologies of the two families these boys come from and how that influences their friendships both throughout the story and after, and the political ideals that ultimately run the country that these young men spend their everyday lives in. For example, the story begins with these gentlemen and their girlfriends with an immediate overlay of narration introducing the characters and their lifestyles. This is preceded by an explanation of their girlfriend’s parent’s views of them socially and personally. This allows for critical character development that is able to unravel later in the story. One of the most interesting aspects of these first scenes is that Julio is the only Mestizo in the entire film, which is a predominantly working class ethnicity in Mexico, however he meshes well into the higher cultures. This however is ultimately a problem waiting to happen and eventually causes tension between Julio and Tenoch who is Criollo, a predominantly wealthy demographic. It is the incorporation of subtle undertones such as this that gives the audience an inside look at what is really going on in these kids heads, and the reasons behind their reactions and outlooks on life.

The next scene is one that touches upon the families of these men, and allows for the audience to gain a better understanding of the up bringing each of these boys endured for the past eighteen odd years of their life. Whilst driving in the car the narrator discusses Tenoch’s dads work as a politician and then the information stated is molded into a face and a persona as Tenoch emphasizes his dads response to his failing of a class. The narrator throughout the story builds a frame and the boys mold the skin, and give the audience a clearer understanding of their lives and the lives of the everyday Mexican citizen and the upper class Mexican citizen.

In contrast to the political insights that Cuaròn, he dedicated a significant portion of his film to the understanding of growth, and the process of coming of age. By incorporating Luisa into the story (a mature married women), he is able to build a contrast between what and where the boys are at in their lives, and where Luisa is. “[Luisa] provides the movie's ballast and maturity, a kind of mediating influence between the boys' puppyish vigour and the cold, pitiless detachment of Cuaron's voiceover - and she has the best line in the picture, exasperated with her quarrelling travel companions: "Play with babies and you end up washing diapers!"(Bradshaw). This single phrase depicts the carefree and almost ignorant outlook Tenoch and Julio have on life. However throughout the film this discrepancy between the infantile boys and Luisa is seen dwindling down until ultimately it is no more. When Tenoch and Julio sit in the coffee shop and discuss the death of Luisa towards the conclusion of the film, they realize that not only are they not children anymore, but they aren’t invincible and their lives will never be the same again.

Luisa however was not the only depiction of the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Through the structure of the film Cauron is able to draw the audience into the lives of these young men and make the transition with them as they mature. For example, the movie begins with the boys partying with their friends and trying to meet girls, which was explicitly emphasized by the narrator through their manifesto. However throughout the movie the joy and manifesto Tenoch and Julio hold so dear, begins to lose meaning and credibility, and is eventually dissolved all together. Although it takes time for this to happen, each event on the journey to God’s Mouth is one more straw that would eventually break the camel’s back. It is through this unique and artistic style that the director is able to simultaneously illuminate ideals of politics and growth with very specific and subtle remarks or actions.

Ultimately the film was a masterpiece, and the shock and awe that undoubtedly followed every scene was icing on the cinematic cake. The director did a tremendous job highlighting his key points without boring or overwhelming the audience. It is this style of almost complex simplicity that gives Y Tu Mama Tambien such an extraordinary reputation.

Bradshaw, Peter. "Y Tu Mama Tambien." The Gaurdian 12 April 2002, Web.22 Jul 2009.

Kemet, Mateen. "An Examination of Race and Class in Modern Mexico." Y Tu Mama Tambie (2006) Web.21 Jul 2009.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Vicky Cristina Barcelona- Blog Revisit

This film is filled with the “idea of love”, sex, domestic life, and uncertainty, and is the perfect blend for any seeker of self discovery and happiness. The beginning of the two girls’ trip is explained by the narrator as a kind of quest, a journey for two people at two completely different phases in their lives. This portrays the idea that they both need some sort of escape, maybe even just a change of scenery. With the description of their separate ideas of love, the film aims to make the viewer believe they will both make some grand discovery. But that failed to occur. This may be the reason the film is so appealing, because it’s real! Hollywood often aims at making us believe that all things will eventually make sense in life (or by the end of the film). The characters will, in most cases, have some form of an epiphany which reveals some great truth about themselves or others. And as beautiful as that may be, it’s not always true, is it? A trip to Barcelona doesn’t always solve ones problems with life and love and happiness. The ending of the movie at first left me disappointed, but after reflecting on it, I realized something: the two girls ended up exactly as they began. In a strange way, this is beautiful.
Vicky and Cristina, although are at a similar age, find themselves to be on completely opposite sides of the spectrum in regards to love. “One is a pragmatist in love, and knows what she wants; the other is ruled by all-consuming passions that flare up and just as suddenly fade” (Robey). These contrasting attitudes and lifestyles can make up the majority of human interaction and love. In numerous ways, people can identify with both of these characters. There is a side of all beings that longs for some form of companionship, especially in a uniquely intimate way. On the other hand, there is a part of us that seeks something greater, unknown, and uncertain. Cristina, with her attitude of “knowing only what she doesn’t want”, can speak to all people in some way or another. It is hard to define what one needs if one hasn’t experienced it yet. And Vicky, with her certain, yet excitement-lacking love life, speaks to many people who have been in this situation. This lifestyle can spark many to seek out excitement, wherever and whenever it may arise.
The cities depicted in this story appeared to come to life through views of the architecture, art, color, and music; and played a monumental part in the overall feeling of the film. “Allen makes Barcelona a character in the film, rather than merely a location, creating an almost fable-like setting for Vicky and Cristina…[which] opens them to possibilities they’d previously never imagined” (Voynar). This movie seems to be just as much about Spain as it is the main characters. Engulfing his viewers in Spanish culture, Allen creates a beautiful, yet realistic view of Spanish life, with an emphasis on artistic expression and sexual tension. The powerful scene in which Juan and Vicky visit the flamenco guitarist lacks dialogue, but that scene could say more about the Spanish lifestyle and culture than any talented narrator or actor ever could.
This film spoke to me in numerous ways. First of all, the life led by Juan Antonio directly projects the artistic, bohemian lifestyle that has become ever-so-appealing throughout the years. In one scene, Juan Antonio is seen, cigarette in hand, splashing paint on a black canvas. This is the way some people actually live! The passion and dedication that is portrayed by this character explains why we have so much beautiful, creative artwork in this world. Basically because some people are able to completely commit to a cause or expression regardless of the monetary rewards. In comparing the revelations experienced by the characters to my own experiences traveling in London, I find many similarities. The sole idea that these two characters, although at very different phases in their lives, wanted to get away and see a different part of the world hits home. My longing for taking this trip, regardless of the school requirements it fulfills, began with the simple need to see the world and experience new cultures. Part of this trip is fueled by the motivation to cease to focus on the things that used to give me identity, and create identity by having an open mind towards new experiences and people. By experiencing new cultures, people, architecture, ideas, etc. one learns valuable information about how the world works outside of one’s geographical (and mental) “bubble”.
Another important element of this film was the depiction of Vicky’s husband. A golfing business man, this character fits the stereotypical frat-boy image that seemed to be the exact opposite of what Vicky was looking for. The film gives off the impression that by experiencing a new lifestyle, Vicky begins to realize that she may need more out of her life, friends, and significant other than she previously thought. It has been increasingly easy for me to identify with these feelings. The mundane lifestyle that I continuously attempt to navigate away from seems to inevitably creep up in one form or another. But I guess that’s just a part of life at times. Maybe the real trick is learning how to deal with that, and continue. But there is a point in every person’s life when they have to take a look around, whether it be at the people they surround themselves with or the environment in which they spend their time, and ask a question: Does this make me happy? It is easy, especially in today’s world of constant indulgence and narcissism, to get stuck in a rut. But the real trick is getting out. And, in regards to the ending of this film, that’s what the audience usually expects to see… a breakthrough… a revelation. But Allen didn’t give us that.

Voynar, Kim. "Cannes Review: Vicky Cristina Barcelona -." Cinematical. 22 July 2009 .

Robey, Tim. "Vicky Cristina Barcelona, review - Telegraph." news, business, sport, the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Sunday Telegraph - Telegraph. 22 July 2009 .