Caminando por Dolores Hidalgo

En el auto llegamos hasta el centro de la población. Caminamos cruzando en diagonal el amplio atrio de la parroquia. Desde la escalinata, a las puertas del templo, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla convocó a la Guerra por la Independencia de lo que ahora es México, en el amanecer del 16 de septiembre de 1810

A un lado del atrio está uno de los monumentos que marcan la ruta de los insurgentes que lucharon por la independencia, la llamada Ruta de la Libertad. Son cabezas de águila.

Caminamos hasta el Museo Casa de Hidalgo. Luego fuimos a lo que fue la cárcel, de donde fueron liberados los presos para que se unieran al incipiente Ejército Insurgente. Ahí es ahora el Museo de la Independencia Nacional.

Para refrescarnos de la caminata saboreamos nieves en el parque central. Después de comer frente al parque fuimos a conseguir artesanías de cerámica. Una de las herencias de Hidalgo fue la enseñanza de la alfarería a los artesanos de principios del siglo XIX. Y partimos.

ill Manors.

Ben Drew, never afraid to give an opinion (he must be a Londoner!)

Ben Drew is an interesting character: born Benjamin Paul Balance Drew in Forest Gate East London in 1983 he is celebrated professionally as Plan B. Primarily known as a rapper and a singer songwriter. His second studio album was the very well received The Defamation of Strickland Banks (2010) a soul record that went straight to number one in the United Kingdom album charts. Another string to Drew’s bow is his talents as a movie actor appearing in Adulthood(2008), Harry Brown (2009) (2010) and as George Carter, Detective Inspector Jack Regan’s sidekick, in the film version of The Sweeney (2012)

East End youth culture!

This rather talented young man has now written and directed his own movie ill Manors (2012). It presents a different take on the London we have all seen during this summers Olympic games. Set in Forest Gate it attempts to illustrate the gang culture of this part of East London and depicts the type of young people
who could have been involved in the inner city riots that took place during the summer of 2011. A great deal of the back ground for this movie is contained within the words of the songs written and performed by Plan B which gives us the equivalent of a spoken narrative but in song. The director giving a unique insight to a side of life which most of us only experience from the news, juxtaposing the lives of various disenfranchised young people in a very skilful manor but without glamorisation or exaggeration.

Part of this culture is the power of the gun.

Aaron (Riz Ahmed who gets better every time you see him) brought up in a children’s home is trying to stay clean and wants to locate his biological mother, his best mate Ed (Ed Skrein) a tough small time dealer, has lost his mobile phone which has got the numbers of his drug contacts. Suspecting the crack addicted prostitute Michelle (Anouska Mond) of stealing the phone he literally drags her round the streets pimping her until she has raised enough money to pay him back. Kirby, ex king pin dealer of the area has just been released from prison and now has to wrestle control from his former apprentice Chris who has taken control of the ex prisoners turf.  Chris in the mean time is trying to extract revenge for the shooting of his young sister while the teenager Jake is determined to prove himself to Marcel so he can join his gang. Katya (Natalie Press one of the few professional actors) is pregnant and trying to escape from Russian sex traffickers.

Both Chris and Jake are victims of the culture.

I think from this brief description you can ascertain the general essence of the movie. The original idea came from a short film that Ben Drew made with the help of Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas 1995) in 2008 for the London Film Festival. Beginning with a 20-page script, reduced to 5 pages it became Bisness Woman. Which in turn led to a longer film called Michelle, which demonstrated that Drew was an up and coming director of some merit.  Expanding the same character’s found in Michelle Drew went on to make ill Manors.

..... as is the young trafficked  Russian girl Katya.

Initially having to contend with 2009’s credit crunch, finance was hard to come by but eventually making the film with a micro-budget provided by the Film London Microwave scheme. Making the film on location in Forest Gate was also a problem because the local gangs, who were none too keen on them ‘invading’ their turf to make a movie, constantly monitored the crew who attempted to be as unobtrusive as possible.

Are Aaron and Ed forced into this culture by a birth lottery?

This is a fall-on hard-hitting slice of gritty entertainment based on reality that attempts to give reasons for the attitude of this disfranchised section of society. It also sets out to disprove the platitudes put out by our out of touch rulers that preaches to the gullible that staging the Olympics in East London would change the perceptions and the lives of the local inhabitants? An excellent first feature from our rap star but one that will leave you feeling you have been battered both mentally and physically.

Dreams of a Life.

It was when writer and director Carol Morley read an article in the Sun newspaper that carried the haunting headline “Woman lays dead for three years” that she became intrigued.

On 25 January 2006, officials from a north London housing association repossessing a bedsit overlooking the busy Wood Green Shopping City owing to rent arrears made a grim discovery. Lying on the sofa was the skeleton of a 38-year-old woman who had been dead for almost three years. In a corner of the room the television set was still on, tuned to BBC1, and a small pile of newly wrapped Christmas presents lay on the floor. Washing up was heaped in the kitchen sink and a mountain of post lay behind the front door. Food in the refrigerator was marked with 2003 expiry dates. The dead woman's body was so badly decomposed comparing dental records with an old holiday photograph of her smiling was the only way to identify it[1]. This was the body of Joyce Carol Vincent.

It took Carol Morley five years to research and make her first documentary feature film Dreams of a Life (2011) about a young woman of which so little was originally known. She placed adverts in newspapers, the internet and even placed one on London’s black taxi cabs to find people who knew this friendly good looking sexy young women who so easily became a forgotten person. Eventually friends and colleges gradually came forward, but not her four sisters who wanted to remain anonymous, and it’s these people who the director skillfully interviews to give us a framework to Joyce Vincent’s short existence. Morley also gives us reconstructed elements of her life showing the very young schoolgirl (Alix Luka-Cain) with her mother and father and the older Joyce who is convincingly played by Zawe Ashton, we also get to witness the Wood Green flat in which the body was found.

This film raises many fundamental questions including how easy it is to get lost in a crowded city and how this vibrant young women can disappear without her so called boyfriends, family and wide circle of friends appearing to care. Where were the local authorities and utility companies that let the outstanding bills mount up for three years while a lonely corpse was allowed to rot? This must be one of the most heartbreakingly depressing but eye opening documentary films I have ever seen and one which evokes the true meaning of Christmas for many people: loneliness. The bright lights are not always as attractive as they seem?

[1] Carol Morley The Observer 9th October 2011.

Anna Karenina

This is the third time Keira Knightley has collaborated with Joe Wright.

I would like to think that Joe Wright had seen Rita Azevedo Gomes artistic treat A Woman’s Revenge(A Vinganca de uma Mulher) 2011 before he made the latest adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s bittersweet love story Anna Karenina (2012). That was based on a 19th century story adapted for the screen and it was also very theatrical, resembling a stage play with visuals that at times looked like work’s of art. Wrights third period drama after Pride and Prejudice in 2005 and Atonementin 2007,which also stared the beautiful photogenic Keira Knightley, also has a stage setting in a rather grand theatre where most of the film is based although unlike the Gomes film it feels that it could have included song and dance numbers! But credit to our London born film director he presents a familiar story in a completely different way, a trifle long winded but beautifully made and shot by Seamus McGarvey the DOP responsible for We Need to Talk about Kevin (2011) and The Hours (2002) and many other very well known movies.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson play's a very unpleasant Count Vronsky

It must have been difficult even for a playwright of Tom Stoppard’s unique talents to produce a screenplay from a novel that apparently contained 950 pages. But he made a good job of transposing the obnoxious characters from the written page to the big screen. A story of upper-class tsarist society that become scandalised by the extra marital affair of a married women (a very well cast Keira Knightley) to a young Count Vronsky (a miss casted Aaron Taylor–Johnson) but are not scandalised by the death of the wheel tapper killed by a train on a busy railway station. To my mind it’s not surprising that within 40 years this privileged society was destroyed by the Russian Revolution an event that eventually lead to a Bolshevik government. 

Novo dono

"Sair da toca?" - Sofia Beça em co-autoria com Vitor Hugo
Grês, engobes, oxidos, técnica da lastra, cozedura a gás a 1180ºC com redução. 2010.
40 x 40 x 9 cm
Esta peça encontrou um novo dono e vai "viver" para a Costa Rica.

Billion Dollar Brain.

In the third of Len Deighton’s books Harry Palmer returns to save the future of mankind. A fanatical billionaire, a cold fish called General Midwinter (Ed Begley), devises a fail safe plan to destroy Communism and the Soviet State. For many years Midwinter has channelled his vast resources into the construction of a fantastic computer that is intended to trigger a Third World War. The very British MI5 officer Colonel Ross (Guy Doleman) discovers Midwinters devilish plan. Ross is no fool and immediately attempt's to reinstates that rouge British agent Harry Palmer (Michael Caine) back into the secret service after 'sacking' him in the previous film knowing full well that Harry's the only man that is capable of saving the day! Of course our hero comes up against the obligatory attractive female, in this case it's Signe in the barely disguised form of Franscoise Dorleac, who along with her partner the dull witted Newbegin (Karl Malden) are mixed up in the affair to satisfy their own ends.  Dorleac, the elder sister of Catherine Deneuve, died in a horrendous car crash in 1967 shortly after completing what was to be her last film.

Harry Palmer. (Michael Caine)

This is the second feature film directed by Ken Russell and the only time he directed a film as a 'gun for hire' but even so there are still plenty of Russell’s future trademarks that would become familiar over his body of work, even if there's not a Nun in sight, the flamboyant interiors and strong sexual images for example, the parody of The Battle of Ice said to have been lifted direct from Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky (1938) and one can't ignore the 'over the top' character of General Midwinter with Russell content to make the USA the villain with their Nazi style uniforms and badges with the Soviets, under the leadership of the jovial Colonel Stok, portrayed as the goodies!

Signe. (Françoise Dorléac) 

Colonel Stok. (Oscar Homolka)
Filmed in Finland and at Pinewood Studios Billion Dollar Brain (1967) is great fun and a lot different, due I believe to having Russell in the directors chair, from the previous two films The Ipcress File (1965) and Funeral in Berlin (1966) which to my mind where two of the very best British spy films of their era and certainly had a lead character that gave an over the top James Bond a run for his money.