I Am a Hypocrite, But So Are You

I love animals, all of them without the exception, except for snakes, fish and some types of birds, especially chickens, they freak me out almost as much as snakes do. Let’s start again, I love cute, playful animals the ones you can have as a pet and teach them a couple of tricks  – dogs, cats, bunnies, hamsters. I’m not totally crazy about hamsters, I wouldn’t like to own one as a pet but I don’t mind visiting someone who owns them and play around a bit if they are in the mood. Can you teach hamsters some tricks?

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Oh and I used to be obsessed with getting a skunk as a pet, that was my main goal for like a year or two, but I gave up eventually because my only pet at the time was a mentally unstable cat so I thought getting a skunk who is known to be at its most energized behaviour just before the sun comes out would be a bit of a drag to say the least. I postponed my ‘getting a skunk’ mission until my cat runs away or dies or whatever. One fine spring day the cat disappeared, which was normal because if you have been living under a rock and don’t know, cats are the biggest whores on the planet. He (my cat) came back after five days all wounded up and weird, which was normal, because of the whoremones and all, then disappeared again and never came back. A couple of deliberately petless years later, we got a labrador and fell hopelessly in love with that funny, droopy eyed, perpetually hungry creature. Again, skunks are out of the question.

But, I digress. I made my point, I am an animal lover and I think people are often behaving like ruthless idiots when they buy a dog and leave it alone in the yard when they go on a three-week vacation thinking: Oh well, he’ll manage! Sometimes buying a puppy for your 8-year-old doesn’t turn out quite the way you’ve expected because puppy’s are like human babies – annoying and aggressively needy. When Pongo (the dog) was a pup, we didn’t get a good night of sleep for the first month or two because he would wake up at 4 am, start eating the furniture very loudly, or scratching the door while whining because he needed to pee. Even though he didn’t sleep much, he was hyperactive during the day, we have photos of our hands covered in blood to prove just how much energy he had. So, when the 8-year old realises the dog is too much of a responsibility and leaves it  for his parents to take care of, they decide it’s time to dump the poor bastard somewhere on the road far away from home because god forbid he finds the way back.

That makes me very angry, for sure. But here’s the other thing – I love eating meat, wearing leather shoes, leather jackets and I buy leather bags. Poultry, pork, lamb, beef, game, doesn’t matter, I love it, not that I’m a huge carnivore, but I like to keep my options opened.  I tried horse meat once, I don’t remember the taste but I refused to eat it when I found out it’ s a horse. Where do we draw a line? It partially depends on the culture and your upbringing, I drew it right before the horse.  Although,  now I probably wouldn’t say no to it if someone prepared it for me in a fancy restaurant. I would definitely say no to dog or cat meat because it’s just too weird.

When I tell my friends I would wear a nice fur coat during dark, cold winters even though a whole pack of fluffy animals had to die for it to be made so that my selfish ass can get warm and look stylish, they look at me with shock and disgust. I don’t blame them, I’ve seen the videos of the torture hell animals go through before the fur is ripped from their bodies but somehow I manage to separate the horrible process from the final product and if you think that’s horrible, it is highly possible that you do the same, as well. I prefer buying a more expensive real leather jacket because I’ll wear it for the next 10 years, while eco leather can be a replacement, it’s never the same quality. And for me, the fact that a less quality alternative exists is not a good enough reason to stop buying genuine leather.  Your laptop, your clothes, iPhone, basically everything that is a result of mass production… guess who made that and in what kind of conditions? Just google Steve Jobs child labour and please don’t tell me those are just ‘conspiracy theories.’

The world is a horrible place and horrible things are happening all the time and often the system makes as a part of those atrocities without us being aware of the inclusion. We could be aware if we wanted to, but too much awareness would drive us crazy. The difference between me, a leather bag, fur lover and a friend of mine who is against killing animals for clothes, but regularly buys a new iPhone and orders stuff online? We are basically the same, the only difference is the moment when we decide to close our eyes and pretend we didn’t see inhumanity and injustice being used as a tool in order to satisfy our selfish needs. There’s no way of being a functioning part of modern society while being 100 % ethical on all levels. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try,  at least trying to be nicer to each other for a start and make sure we are not setting the moral bar low for ourselves while it’s unreachable for everyone else. We are all trying to swim through the shit the best we can while creating all kinds of distractions and occupations.

I wonder how well would my dog and a skunk get a long with a bit of training?

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Symptom Recitle

You know, sometimes I want to talk about complicated stuff in sincere, simple way, but that’s way harder of making plain facts seem super intelligent. And sometimes I try to project my state of mind directly on the paper/keyboard, but the words turn out to be embarrassingly weak when compared to the original line of thought I had in mind.

And sometimes, while I’m in that specific state of mind, like now – nervous, jittery and restless for no particular reason, but for all the reasons, I stumble upon a short story, a poem, song lyrics that I have never encountered before, and they manage to describe everything I feel. How weird is that? Specific emotions, detailed thoughts, moodiness, pain and boredom, it’s all there. That’s why great authors and storytellers are timeless, they manage to recognize parts of themselves in everyone else. Or at least it looks as if they are not completely self concerned. Even if they are thinking exclusively about themselves, the talent allows them to express feelings in a way that is so familiar to us mortals. There’s no greater feeling than finding a safe place in stranger’s words.

This is my newest discovery, I’m sure it’s not a temporary fascination. Today we mark the date when I fell in love with American poet, writer and critic Dorothy Parker.

 

Symptom Recital

I do not like my state of mind;
I’m bitter, querulous, unkind.
I hate my legs, I hate my hands,
I do not yearn for lovelier lands.
I dread the dawn’s recurrent light;
I hate to go to bed at night.
I snoot at simple, earnest folk.
I cannot take the gentlest joke.
I find no peace in paint or type.
My world is but a lot of tripe.
I’m disillusioned, empty-breasted.
For what I think, I’d be arrested.
I am not sick, I am not well.
My quondam dreams are shot to hell.
My soul is crushed, my spirit sore;
I do not like me any more.
I cavil, quarrel, grumble, grouse.
I ponder on the narrow house.
I shudder at the thought of men….
I’m due to fall in love again.

 

All About My Favorite Director: 5 Reasons why Pedro Almodóvar is a Creative Genius

Cannes Film Festival is about to begin, introducing the impressive selection of films competing in different categories with everyone’s attention especially directed towards the potential Palme d’Or and Grand Prix winners.  What makes the 70th edition of the most acclaimed European film festival even more exciting is that Oscar-winning director Pedro Almodóvar  has been named president of the jury, becoming the first Spaniard to be given that honor.  The prolific director has had six of his films shown at Cannes throughout the last two decades, winning the best director prize for All About My Mother (1999) and best screenplay for Volver (2006).

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Even though his films are exclusively in Spanish, that didn’t stop them from getting worldwide recognition from both critics and the audience. What is so appealing and unique about Almodóvar’s films that makes everyone who has seen at least one always come back for more? I’ll try to break down the director’s trademark characteristics in 5 key points.

 

Every genre is his genre

The problem is that I work in more than one genre. It’s impossible for me to aim for a single one because, for me, comedy is mixed with tragedy. That’s very Spanish, the way in which comedy and tragedy are inextricable from each other.

Transferring his eclectic taste into movies turned out to be a big creative success.  There are no  boundaries in Almodóvar’s stories, the viewer is often surprised by the way in which the story is developing. Also, his films are a great example of how the art of movie making is all about freedom of expression and having fun while creating the amusing plots and characters. This blend of genres is evident in every period of Almodóvar ‘s career- the early love stories mixed with provocative eroticism and political statements, to his newer films that contain mystery,  thriller, black comedy and horror elements. No one incorporates romance and suspense as skillfully as Almodóvar  resulting in emotional romantic thrillers like Broken Embraces or mystery melodrama Volver. 

 

 Memorable female characters

I feel that I can tell a richer and more entertaining story with women.

It’s not jut that he puts women in the spotlight as main protagonists, he makes them believable and goes well beneath the superficial explanations of what drives a character to act the way she does. Penélope Cruz, one of Almodóvar’s favorite actresses praised him as someone who perfectly understands the female universe and makes them feel protected so that is why she enjoys collaborating with him. The key of this capability stems from director’s childhood experiences,  he explained many times that he grew up surrounded by powerful, strong women.

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During the promotion of his latest feature Julieta, the Spanish filmmaker criticized Hollywood for sexism and not creating enough complex roles for women of all ages. On the other hand, some of his critics say he focuses on women too much, while his heterosexual male characters seem questionable and incomplete.

 

Visual style

Almodóvar’s filmmaking style may not be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’, but no one can deny that he has an amazing sense for details and using colors as an important addition to storytelling. Quirky characters are not based solely on their dialogues and expression, the visual representation means a lot in how the viewers interpret their actions. The first example I think of is Lucia from black comedy Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown whose mental instability was emphasized by over the top make up and costumes, turning her into hilarious, almost grotesque character.

Almodóvar has never been afraid of using ‘too much’ color, he openly flirts with elements of kitsch evoking traditional Spanish culture,  but in a modern, progressive environment. Through years of making movies he learned how to control those exaggerated visuals in order to improve the film’s plot, but has continue to  employ the bright colors, no matter if it’s the clothes, make up, lightning, a chair, a telephone, etc.  The trademark of the majority of his work is the use of red which is directly connected to everything is so typically Spanish, but also draws attention to specific details, creating a tense atmosphere, and  simply works out so well in front of the camera. One of Almodóvar’s  most successful international features Everything about my Mother is the best illustration of the power of red. It represents strong, bold women and their life stories through dealing with broken relationships, love, motherhood, friendship, loss, etc.

 

Breaking the taboos

As much as he is not scared of colors, the Spanish filmmaker also doesn’t stray away from the unusual and hidden parts of human nature. A part from that, he creates space for characters who were in most cases pushed away from the mainstream – the homosexuals, transsexuals, transvestites. Ever since his debut 1980 film Pepi, Luci, and Bom Almodóvar  has been promoting artistic, individual and sexual freedom, questioning the social conventions and tackling stereotypes. It is impossible to forget elements like Gael Garcia Bernal’s transgender character Zahara and dealing with sexual abuse in Bad Education,  the deconstruction of identity in All about My Mother, challenging mother stereotypes in Volver, getting involved with the creepyness and obsessions in The Skin I live in, or experiencing painful feelings of guilt in Julieta.

Another important element is humor that is born out of unexpected, absurd, generally considered tragic situations showing the importance of context, for example the rape scene in Kika, or suicide attempt in High Heels. Despite of these chaotic events, the viewer continues to form emotional bonds and empathy towards the fabulously eccentric characters and that is what makes Almodóvar ‘s work authentic.

 

  The choice of music

It’s no secret that films in general wouldn’t be nearly as exciting and touching if they weren’t accompanied by music, so it’s no surprise that Almodóvar  doesn’t leave anything to chance in this department. He carefully chooses songs by his own preferences and is often led not by the artistic quality of music, but its references and emotional value. Original soundtracks for his movies have become hits of their own thanks to the collaboration with talented composer Alberto Iglesias.

Some of Almodóvar’s films are so strongly connected to their soundtrack that after watching them, we automatically connect actors and characters with a certain song proving music is inseparable from narration. When I think of the closing scenes of Talk to Her, I immediately hear the music, the dancing couples gliding through the stage appear afterwards. The most recognizable scenes have become so popular precisely for their musical intervals, like the incredible tunnel scene from All about My Mother which stays with you long after you’ve seen the film or Penélope Cruz owning that melancholic musical scene in Volver. For me, the most rememberable due to not only music, but costumes and incredible acting abilities is Gael Garcia Bernal’s performance of Quizas in Bad Education. 

 

Originally posted on Creators.co

 

 

 

The Ultimate Satisfaction

Be careful what you wish for, it might come true!

It’s exciting to daydream about future plans, but it can get a bit too exciting when all of a sudden it seems like it may actually come true. I want to do that… one day! If I had a penny for every time I said it, I would be moderately wealthy by now. Daydreaming in general is my safe place, it can be completely devoted to details like someone’s shoes and socks combination, or it can lead to making up hilarious scenarios in my head. The leading roles sometimes belong to people I know like friends and family, sometimes it’s random strangers or even completely invented personalities.

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It’s all about the Fear

I do feel like there was a certain change in my mindset, though. I no longer follow the familiar routine:

I’m not ready yet, I’ll do that after I’m done with this thing, and then I have to finish that other thing, and then I’ll go for what I have always wanted.

Solving the step by step puzzle becomes exhausting and in the end I’ll lose the primary goal from my focus and that’s that, until the next time when I start it all over again. What lies beneath it all is the fear that derives from two sources – the natural fear of failure and more complex and contradictory – the fear of success. Overthinking is the mother of all failures, it is even bigger than actual failure because it stops you from trying in the first place and that is when you feel unhappy. Overthinking is the opposite of the best Instagram filters – it brings out only the flaws and worst case scenarios, creating scary endings in our minds before we have even reached the beginning. It takes a lot of time to learn how to wrestle with the ‘overthink’ demon and finally pin him to the ground. We all have this image of our ideal self in mind, it can be more or less realistic depending on our ability to be an objective observer,  but the more you stray away from that image, the bigger the frustration.

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Never Complain, Never Explain

The best way of living a calm, fulfilled life comes from not comparing your own status, abilities and achievements with others. Sounds simple, but we all know it’s not always THAT simple, right? I suppose it was easier to achieve in the pre-Internet era, but when it comes to emotions and ambition, people weren’t that different 20, 30 years ago after all. Just the other day I had an interesting discussion with a friend that made me think about the absurdity of the social media persona most of us have created. It doesn’t mean we are all ‘selling’ that filtered image with a goal to become a brand and attract audience, but even the intimate moments serve as a representation of something we are trying to emphasize. What we seek with it, to be more precise, what our online persona looks for is approval. Approval of our life choices, looks, boyfriends, girlfriends, jobs, careers and lifestyles. The next step, if possible, is causing admiration and, although we are reluctant to admit it, jealousy. Just for a day, or maybe only for a couple of magical moments that are captured and enhanced through the lenses of our super smart phones, we are the winners. Yes. Look at me, I love life and it loves me back.

Don’t Follow Leaders

I don’t know what I think about it now, it used to annoy me much more before, I guess I’ve learned to deal with it. Also, I follow the imaginary line that gives me a ‘warning’ when someone crosses is it. My closest friends never cross that line of overly exposing themselves while begging for approval and I am very grateful for that. It makes me feel at peace and destroys the anxiety from its roots.

During our conversations we got to the conclusion how real satisfaction is achieved. I call it a ‘modern-day ultimate satisfaction‘. The recipe? I get goosebumps only writing about it, yet it’s so banal. When something (or someone)  special happens to you, you don’t immediately share it with the rest of the world. Maybe later,  but here’s a crazy idea,  maybe never.  You jealously keep that information for yourself and cherish the intimacy, there are no Facebook check-ins, photo albums  Instagram posts, screenshots,  etc.  Whether it’s just a shiny detail that made your day or grand life achievement that’s going to make a bigger impact,  don’t spill the beans just yet.  There is something so appealing in a dose of mystery, compare it to a sexy outfit that can be revealing, but it’s not really showing too much. This feel good experience can’t be overshadowed by any amount of attention. When it comes to making plans, I heard smart people conclude that the more you talk about your goals and dreams,  it is less likely they will come true.  So, once again,  be careful.

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Honoring Bram Stoker’s Dracula with a Vampire Movie Chronology

As soon as it seems we have seen it all when it comes to vampire thematic, a new movie or series comes out proving that, just like its characters, the genre is immortal.  To honor Bram Stoker, an author best known for his gothic horror novel Dracula which actually paved a way for vampires entering the popular culture, I created this historic overview of the most interesting. Each one features pale, more or less attractive blood sucking mythological creatures who keep inspiring filmmakers and attracting the audience’s attention.

Stoker died on the 20th of April 1912, but his legacy lives on, although some of the vampires we have gotten used to today are nowhere near the original book version of count Dracula who is described as a thin, old, white-haired predator with sharp teeth and pointy ears.

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Book cover by Laura Birdsall

Nosferatu (1922)

First we go way back in time to Germany and F.W. Morneau’s adaptation of Stoker’s novel. The character’s names and some facts and locations have been altered because the film studio didn’t manage to obtain the rights for the use of original Dracula content. After finding out about the movie, Stoker’s widow filed a lawsuit against the creators of Nosferatu and demanded that all of the copies need to be destroyed. Luckily, some of them were copied, saved and managed to survive. Even after all those years, Count Orlok  (Max Schreck) remains one of the most chilling characters on-screen, he is so convincing that many viewers at the time thought he could be a vampire in real life as well. An absolute must see for true horror movie lovers, especially if you can get your hands on the restored Blu – ray edition.

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Dracula (1931)

This is an official version, the one that had no lawsuit and copyright issues. More importantly, it features the legendary actor Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula, the role that marked his career forever. Also, Lugosi’s thick Eastern European accent influenced the future portrayals of the character in the same manner, turning it into one of the most recognizable Dracula’s features, even though the novel description clearly states his English was flawless. Lugosi’s deep voice, clean-shaven face with not much make up and simple elegant clothes have become a mandatory part of the iconic Dracula portrayal that would be copied and used as a reference for many generations to come. Apparently, at first he wasn’t Universal’s first casting choice, could you imagine that?

 

 

The Return of the Vampire (1943)

The 1931 horror classic has turned Bela Lugosi into a star, but it was also the one he couldn’t escape from as he continued to get typecast for the rest of his career. This was supposed to be a Dracula sequel, but due to possible copyright problems and lawsuit threats, the names were changed even though everything else remained familiar. As a  cool fun fact it should be noted that this is the first movie ever that features both vampires and werewolves in it.

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Lust of the Vampire (1957)

The plot of this Italian horror movie (I Vampiri is the original title) takes a different turn as it doesn’t revolve around the classic vampire monster antagonist. Instead, there is a mad scientist who kills young women and draws blood which his lover uses in order to stay alive and maintain a youthful appearance. This the debut film for Italian master of horror Mario Bava who didn’t get credited as a director because he continued the work startted by Ricardo Fredda who left before it was finished. Here you’ll get to appreciate Bava’s talent in creating amazing visual effects, knowing how to properly use lightning and creating a chilling atmosphere.

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Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

It would be impossible to go through this list without mentioning the Hammer Horror Film series who’s first three sequels were all directed by Terrence Fisher. Also, this series brought the iconic role to Christopher Lee,the second most famous Dracula of the 20th century‘. For the first time he appeared as the mysterious Count in 1958 adaptation of Stoker’s novel, for some reason skipped the following Brides of Dracula, and then came back for the Prince of Darkness.  This part of the franchise is particularly interesting because Dracula doesn’t really speak, he only hisses, and the reason? Christopher Lee claimed he refused to talk in the movie because the lines sucked, while the screenwriter Jimmy Sangster said it was his idea, that he didn’t even write any lines for Dracula because vampires don’t chat. Even if the lines were THAT bad, that didn’t stop the legendary actor from taking the Count Dracula role in 8 more movies.

 

 

The Vampire Lovers (1970)

The 70’s era delivered some classic adaptations, but also a whole range of really weird vampire inspired movies like Love at First Bite and Dracula Sucks, taking the genre to a whole new level.  To completely step away from the original Dracula plot, I chose another title from the Hammer Film Company – The Vampire Lovers. This one is inspired by the story that was written earlier than Stoker’s novel, it deals with not only vampires, but includes eroticism as well. It means there’s nudity and lesbian sex scenes, while vampires are no longer ugly, but sexy and seductive. Placed in the 19th century Austria, the plot centres around beautiful female vampire who is constantly looking for new victims. Even though the movie can’t be declared a masterpiece, it has gathered a cult following among horror fans.

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The Lost Boys (1987)

There’s horror, there’s comedy and there’s some romance and awesome soundtrack in this Joel Schumacher‘s movie, and it all works pretty well together.  Three teenagers and their mom move to a small town in California where they hear rumors about vampires and mysterious deaths that could be connected to them. At first they think those are just funny stories, but after one of the brothers starts behaving suspiciously, it’s time to get serious. I love the make up and special effects, the bloody and gore scenes look convincing, especially when you consider it’s an 80’s movie. A great cast and an entertaining, modern approach towards the ‘vampire’ subject makes this one definitely worth watching.

 

 

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

The 90’s offer another gothic, back to roots view of the genre in Coppola’s 1992 Dracula or luxurious blockbuster Interview with the Vampire, but my favorite work from the decade lies on the other end of the spectrum. I am not a George Clooney fan, but nevertheless, Seth Gecko remains one of my favorite movie characters ever. Over the top, violent, rude, not afraid to be trashy, those are the characteristics of many Robert Rodriguez’s movies. Two brothers who have just robbed a bank and are on their way to Mexico. A father and his two kids are going on a holiday in their RV until the Gecko’s take them hostage and they manage to pass the border all together. When they make a stop in a bar, after sunset they realize they will have to fight for their lives… What I love about From Dusk Till Dawn are the creative dialogues, humor and ridiculous gore moments. And of course, that Selma Hayek scene.

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Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Probably the one that stands out the most from the list, and it’s no wonder since it’s Jim Jarmusch‘s take on vampirism and the meaning of life. In its specific way, it is a great contribution to the genre. Even vampires struggle with existential crisis, get depressed and worry about the future of our society. This is not really a horror, but not really a typical romantic film or drama, neither sex or violence are at its core, the most important place is reserved for cultural references that could be found everywhere. The pace is slow, but amazing cast, soundtrack, atmosphere and dialogue keep the viewer focused throughout every minute. Movie lovers and pop culture enthusiasts will know how to appreciate it. If I had to choose living as a movie character for the rest of my life, that would be Eve (Tilda Swinton) from Only Lovers Left Alive.

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Originally published on Creators.co

 

The Exploitation of Frida

One day in the late 1940’s you find yourself wandering around Coyoacán, Mexico and stop by at La Casa Azul where the rebellious painter lived and ask her: Frida, my dear,  what do you want to be remembered by after you are no longer living on Earth? What do you think the answer would be? I have a couple of versions on my mind, they are all connected with freedom and free love, determination, passion and obsession with life with all of its epic, exciting, moments, but also the inevitable downfalls, pain, sickness and sleepless nights. 

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I am happy that the legendary artist is getting more popular than ever, social media created an important passage for new generations towards her art, words and thoughts about honest love and intimate suffering. The aftermath is amazing, even though Frida passed away 63 years ago, her image and spirit are present while she’s considered as a role model and inspiration to girls and women (and some boys and men, because why not?) of all profiles, especially the underprivileged, misunderstood ones.

Commodification as a norm

Every medal comes with two sides, and the thing that is happening with Frida’s persona, just  like with many other important figures who represent resistance to the system of exploitation, is that they are all being turned into something completely opposite, they’re becoming objects of advertising propaganda. Just think of the irony of Che Guevara, the best example of modern era’s distortion of values – his face selling T-shirts, travel agency deals, coffee mugs, key chains, door mats, towels… There’s even a ‘Che chic’ expression for a fashion inspired by the great revolutionary’s image! The real person and the idea behind is lost, irrelevant, to a great number of people his face is merely a caricature, a pop art commodity.

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To answer the question from the  beginning of the post, I’m positive that Frida Kahlo would never accept the role of a commercialized poster girl, a capitalist icon connected to various products in most ridiculous ways. The last example I saw today, the one that ‘triggered’ me to write this down was a billboard presenting a young model wearing Frida inspired traditional Tehuana like dress with a flower crown and a parrot sitting on her hand, all very rich, colourful, with a big white 10 % SALE banner screaming from the top right corner. Naturally, there is no manifest mention of Frida, but the resemblance is uncanny. Oh, and when I zoomed in towards the bottom right corner of the image, I could finally see it is a commercial for a newly opened furniture store. What is the connection? What do Frida’s face, style and that poor parrot have to do with the new sofa or a lamp they would like you to buy? I have no idea, I’m pretty sure that the ad creators are equally clueless.  That’s the idea, to keep everything floating on the surface, as soon as you dig deeper, try to find any meaning, there’s a dead-end.

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Fake feminism

In Frida’s case the story is even more complicated because it all has a lot to do with commercialization of feminism and empower yourself ads. Empower yourself by buying our shoes, empower yourself by getting that perfume in a drugstore near you, empower yourself by choosing hair extensions from our salon, empower yourself… Ok, just stop for a second there and let me unnecessary analyse it. What does it mean exactly –  if I buy a T-shirt from a brand that currently doesn’t have the ’empower’ or ’embrace your beauty’ campaign going on, am I degrading my self – worth? And what about next month, when the brand I bought the shirt from turns to a different, for example ‘YOLO!’ campaign style while the others begin to embrace the ‘love yourself, be unique, but look just like everyone else while wearing our clothes’ mantra? Damn, it’ s like you can never win and reach 100 % on the empoweredness scale. Should I worry about it, probably not, but I do sometimes. I feel like I have to. Would Frida care? I think not, she would just continue marching on using her talent as a weapon of mass destruction in fighting every stereotype there is on her way to immortality.

Wearing Frida or Che’s face on your shirt is not really a problem, the question is: Do you know who those people are, how they lived and what they stand for? Or are you just wearing it because you like the colors and it looks kind of cool and edgy while their polished images are somewhat familiar and also you saw someone wearing it on a Instagram photo just the other day? If the answer to the second question is yes, take the shirt off and do some research.

Now I need to chill, hand me that Pepsi, Kendall! Cheers!

Bubble Trouble

There are people who ‘get it’, also there are people who just don’t,  no matter how much you try to explain something.  I’m the one that likes all the best stuff – the best films, TV shows, books… If I stumble upon a classic movie that is praised by everyone, finally watch it and get disappointed because it didn’t live up to all the hype, I’ll tell you it’s overrated and worthless because my opinion truly matters, and if you don’t agree with me…

Well, you are entitled to your opinion and I respect that, but I will secretly judge you because I KNOW STUFF, I GET STUFF better than you do.

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This is an exaggeration of course, I’m not really a delusional narcissist, at least not a serious one.  I’m sure everyone has similar thoughts occasionally, even when we’re unaware of it.  We are born with a self-defence mechanism that keeps us in a bubble which helps us maintain confidence in our intellectual capacity and skills. Some bubbles are thicker, some are very fragile, they vary from being stable or changing from time to time. For instance, you know those days when you feel like things are perfectly falling into their place and with a little effort and focus, you can do whatever you set your mind to… and then there are the dog days when the gut keeps telling you it’s just not worth it, you’re going to die anyway, etc.

A piece of art about nothing

Nothing is everything. Experiences and routines we go through every day, people we meet and talk to, casual coffee breaks, business lunches, awkward first dates, sleepy late TV nights, not so casual sex encounters… Whatever you go through on a daily basis can be turned into a story for a broad audience.

In modern TV era no one had done it better than Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David. Seinfeld will stay forever relevant because it deals with those little daily ‘nothingness’ moments that can be so familiar. Even if you’re not a comedian who lives in NYC and hangs out with three equally crazy friends who are all, just like you, incapable of forming meaningful relationships while getting into absurd situations, and… oh well, you get it, even then, those Seinfeld stories seem ridiculously close and personal.  When the series came to an end after nine amusing seasons, Larry David placed himself in front of the camera, but this time in a much more aggressive and politically incorrect version starring in Curb Your Enthusiasm. Some even consider the show better than Seinfeld, but I can’t fully agree even though I enjoy every minute of it. I’ll never stop rewatching Seinfeld whether I’m going through each episode starting from the beginning, or just clicking on a random one, but sometimes you need to move on. I think Curb Your Enthusiasm is the answer as it represents a natural follow-up for every Seinfeld fan which comes in a more direct, more absurd, hard-boiled form.

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I have seen some of the Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Jerry Seinfeld’s way of creating a talk show with famous guests by literally driving them in a car, talking, then stopping at a coffee shop where they continue to, you guessed it, talk. I mentioned this to a friend who watched a Larry David as a guest episode and asked me ‘what the fuck was this all about, they’re just having a random conversation about basically nothing. And then it ends. And that’s it.’

Why is nothing bad? Why can’t nothing be enough? Of course it can, Seinfeld is a big pile of nothing in particular, but it didn’t stop it from rewriting the history of TV sitcoms. Obviously, there are people who ‘get it’ and those who don’t, no matter what.

This brings me to a completely different genre of films that are very important to me.  I hear people complaining a bunch of times about Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise – Before Sunset – Before Midnight trilogy being overrated because, as it’s written in the plot description:

‘The plot is considered minimalistic, as not much happens aside from walking and talking.’

And then it ends. And that’s it. What some people don’t like or don’t want to realise is that walking and talking can be more than enough. Whenever I watch any part of it, I am left with a big smile on my face overshadowed by melancholic yearning towards something or someone I have not necessarily met. Sometimes it’s clear to me that what I’m feeling is a complex set of mixed emotions towards a fictional construction, like living in a parallel universe for a while. I guess it’s because I strongly  identify myself with Céline, a character played by Julie Delpy, an actress who deserves a separate post so I won’t start going on about her right now. She is a careful romantic, kind of awkward because she thinks and (sometimes annoyingly) overthinks stuff and desperately looks for a conclusion even if the question is not easy or even impossible to answer. Completely rational and irrational and dreamy at the same time, that’s what draws me in every time, I guess.

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My conclusion would be, after years of trying to explain things I like to people I like in a way that doesn’t suit them doesn’t really make sense. If a couple just walking and going through all kinds of banal and complicated topics while contemplating the meaning of life and relationships isn’t someone’s cup of tea, what can you do? Tell them they are missing something very important? Tell them there’s more to movies than adrenaline packed action thrillers or dumb romantic comedies? No. We find what we like or it finds us eventually, it’s not that the other’s ‘don’t get it’, they just ‘get’ things differently and there’s nothing wrong with that as much as I would like to scream otherwise. 

Chin up, make sure your bubble stays strong, but peak out every once in a while to see more clearly what’s really going on.

 

My Coffee Addiction and Why I Love It

Finding photos to accompany this post will be the easiest task in the world. The small piece of visual heaven is made with a perfect arrangement of a nice, round cup filled with hot, dark, bubbly beverage surrounded by ‘casually’ placed books, blank sheets of paper or recently turned on laptop waiting for you to start getting shit done. Even though I am aware those photos are staged (I mean, who reads 5 books at the same time and aligns their markers by the shade of their colour?), I love them and can’t stop looking at them because they make me feel at peace.

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I sometimes imagine I am the one who just took that alluring photo, although my current surroundings are nowhere near that photogenic. I know that everything I plan on doing will have to wait just a few moments longer until I take at least a couple of sips of my morning/afternoon coffee. I take mine dark, unfiltered with a couple of drops of milk or cream, this is what I consider to be ‘a real cup of coffee’. Everything else that is prepared with too much milk and sugar is coffee for babies,  tasty but doesn’t have the ability to get creative thoughts flowing or giving me a clear perspective and focus.  If I’m alone, it is a ‘wake up’  peace and quiet morning coffee, while another cup much later in the day is closer to ‘work’ coffee most of the times, meaning I expect from myself to start or finish something I’ve been thinking about, it’s often something to write about or coming up with new ideas. Or at least try to, make notes and sketches, sometimes only starting something without finishing, but nevertheless, a necessary energy boost.

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An ancient ritual vs. modern age

Wikipedia taught me that coffee first appeared and was prepared as a beverage we know today in 15th century Yemen and a century later started its journey towards Persia, Turkey and Africa. Europe didn’t stand a chance, people got hooked, everyone started to talk about this magic potion and the rest is history.

The preparing process is a ritual of its own, after brewing it, as we all know, coffee can be made in numerous ways according to individual taste and culture it derives from. It’s funny how a banal detail like a single cup of coffee can differ from country to country, for example I learned a long time ago that according to classic Italian recipe espresso needs to be served with a slice of lemon. I haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t judge in advance, but if Italians say so, it should work, right? I found a short, informative article with some other specificities, for example, I am not so excited about the coffee + garlic combination, but this Moroccan ‘grinding a mixture of spices — including sesame seeds, black pepper and nutmeg — together with ordinary coffee beans produces an unusual, but a very strong drink’ is now on my ‘to try’ list!

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This multicultural coffee spirit is something that should be protected from corporations like Starbucks who are limiting the creativity and imposing the same products on worldwide markets. Commercial success of well-known brand seems to create an approval among us, the customers, making us feel like buying an overpriced pumpkin white chocolate mocha latte is totally worth it. Some countries feel like their national identity and tradition are so strongly connected to coffee consuming culture they look at Starbucks and similar companies as a threat to their core values. Ok, we can all relax and agree that those companies are not really about the coffee, of course that is not a first place you will look for an espresso, but still it feels like a small earthquake that is about to leave its mark.

Coffee is not JUST a product. You can spend a looong time in company of a one cup or you can finish up your small espresso in two seconds, in both cases it is a ritual because it gives context and meaning to different  social encounters.

 

Cigarettes and coffee, man. That’s a combination.

Jim Jarmusch won my heart once again with his 2003 classic  starring legends like Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Bill Murray, Roberto Benigni.  What he did was show the series of conversations around a table while drinking coffee. Couldn’t be simpler, but yet so complex because the range of topics is unlimited and unpredictable, just like in real life. The film embodies what I’m basically trying to say here, but in a much more coherent way.

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In my country, when you want to invite someone to hang out and talk about serious stuff or just to relax, you say:

‘Let’s go and have some coffee!’

Notice the use of verb ‘have’ instead of ‘grab’ or ‘take’, it’s not about taking two coffees to go and chat while walking down a busy street like Seinfeld characters would do. No, sitting in a  café bar having a cup of coffee can be a therapy session, a date, a trip through memory lane, political discussion, you name it… The point is, it can last for hours. Some say it is decadent and call it a deliberate waste of precious time due to laziness, but I call that a great time investment, a custom that needs to be preserved at all costs.

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Quentin Tarantino’s Badass Female Characters

Gender pay gap, hyper sexual objectification, dumbing down of female characters, lack of quality screenplays for women, these are just some of the issues film industry is still dealing with. Lately it seems things are moving forward as more actresses are candidly speaking up about the problems they are facing and bringing them to international spotlight.

Although Quentin Tarantino holds an image of the ‘enfant terrible’ of American cinema, his movies are often labeled as too violent, brutal and unnecessary bloody, he is also one of the most important modern directors and screenwriters. In opposition to all the violence and hundreds of gallons of blood , there is an interesting fact I appreciate very much – when you ask someone to name five iconic characters from Tarantino’s films, more than half would most certainly be female. Intelligent, cool, independent, strong, sometimes very dangerous, sometimes caring and sensual, we admired them all. Who would have thought after Reservoir Dogs came out that Tarantino would become a sort of a feminist hero.

To honour the Hollywood’s favorite ‘basterd’ on his 54th birthday I am bringing you some of his most remembered heroines that continue to inspire.

Jackie Brown

Aw, the milk went bad while I was in jail.
This is his third film, but the first in which Tarantino decided to place a woman in the lead, and oh, what a wonderful decision he made. During the ’90s period actress Pam Grier was used to appearing in smaller roles, but came back in style with a captivating performance in crime thriller Jackie Brown where she managed to outshine acting legends like Robert DeNiro and Samuel L. Jackson. Jackie is a middle-aged flight attendant who is actually working for a gun dealer Ordell Robbie by smuggling money across the border. After she gets caught, Jackie agrees to cooperate with the police in order to catch Ordell and avoid jail time. At the same time, she realizes her crazy boss wants to kill her, so that’s when she comes up with a not so simple plan… Smart, daring and charming woman who doesn’t want to depend on anyone, that’s why Jackie Brown will always deserve an important place on a groundbreaking female roles lists.
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 Shosanna Dreyfus

My name is Shosanna Dreyfus and THIS is the face… of Jewish vengeance!

Tarantino made Inglorious Basterds so that he could play with the darkest part of the 20th century and deliver his version of WWII events in his distinctive, attractive way. The key character is Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent), a young Jewish woman who happens to be the only surviving member of her family that was murdered by Nazi’s. Years after the soldiers found them in their hiding place and committed a bloodbath, she meets a German war hero and gets an idea for a revenge plot with a goal to kill the Nazi top commanders like Hitler and Goebbels. Her will power and fearlessness is astounding, along with her ability to keep focus on the way of reaching her final objective.

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Mia Wallace

Three tomatoes are walking down the street-a poppa tomato, a momma tomato, and a little baby tomato. Baby tomato starts lagging behind. Poppa tomato gets angry, goes over to the baby tomato, and smooshes him… and says, Catch up.
This small tribute can’t be completed without HER, the ultimate style icon and every girl’s dream Halloween costume choice. Uma Thurman and Tarantino surely had a special chemistry between them on the set, and we can all be grateful for that. She is not a main protagonist, but is the most recognizable one, her face is the visual and spiritual representation of Pulp Fiction. Mia is a mobster Marsellus Wallace’s wife who wanted to be an actress, is totally in love with Amsterdam, smokes a lot and also likes to snort cocaine. Her style is simple, but seductive, she is smart, has a great sense of humour and she’s definitely got a way with words. And as you already know, she can dance like no other.
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Zoë Bell

You guys look like shit. Who died?

One of the leads in Death Proof, maybe not Tarantino’s most acclaimed work, but certainly the most ‘girl power’ statement movie . Also, Zoë is the only one starring under her real name because she is actually playing herself – an energetic, talented stunt double who made me want to get out more and get involved in a sports activity for a change. Tarantino was amazed by the skills she presented while doubling for Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, and how could he not be – just remember those crazy adrenaline-filled Death Proof scenes where she’s strapped on the hood of a speeding car. Zoë also appeared in other Tarantino’s works: Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight, showing a range of talent, breaking stereotypes and just staying true to her cool, bold presence.

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The Bride

Those of you lucky enough to have your lives, take them with you. However, leave the limbs you’ve lost. They belong to me now.

Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman), code name Black Mamba is one of the greatest action movie characters of all times which means a lot because that kind of roles are usually reserved for male actors only. She is a former member of an elite team of extremely well-trained assassins who finally wakens from four years spent in a coma after she was shot in the head by her former boss and lover called Bill. Kiddo creates a list of former colleagues who have betrayed her and begins her ruthless mission of killing every one of them showing impressive fighting skills along the way. Her dynamic, blood soaked quest for vengeance is divided into two volumes, culminating in an epic ending. That kind of firm determination in a character is rarely seen and has to be appreciated, Kiddo is passionate and dangerous, scary, but makes you sympathize with her after all the trauma she’s been through. Finally, the list of awesome women who are not afraid to attack first is what gives this movie a big credit in establishing a different kind of a female presence on the big screen, showing everyone that women can kick ass, as well.

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Originally posted on MoviePilot

Hey, what’s up? How about no.

In the street, at Uni, work, supermarket…

Random acquaintance or a colleague, definitely not a friend: Hey, what’s up, how’s going? Tell me what’s new? How are things?

Those are the basics, choose additional follow-up by specific preferences: How’s your boyfriend, when are you getting married? * the person laughs hysterically because of their impeccable sense of spontaneous humour* What about your sister/brother? And your parents, what did you say they do for a living? (I never mentioned that.)

At that very moment I am grabbing a gun from a special emergency compartment in my bag, clutching the weapon with my sweaty, but determined hand and BAM!, the person hits the ground. I’ve just killed them. It all went smoothly because I have been rehearsing this in my mind for about 15 years. Scenarios may vary in details, sometimes it’s a hand grenade, or I simply set myself on fire to avoid the stupid conversation, the common goal is always the same: I want to get away, please gods save me from this annoying hell of words exchange.

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Of course, I understand those are just formal expressions, ice breakers, conversation starters (or enders in my case). We use them because we are stuck up, unimaginative, overly attentive and are used to forming superficial relations with each other. I’ve been through many awkward silences and weather discussions in order to keep a dead conversation going, but I am proud to say that I have never directed that kind of interest aggressively into my ‘opponent’s’ face. The only acceptable version is the informal greeting that goes like this:

Random person: Hello, how are you?

Me: Hey, oh greeeat! (dying inside but smiling)

         And you?

Random person: Pretty good.

And that is it, the end, fin, it will not be continued.

A while ago I never remembered to add the additional ‘and you?’ into my answer, I would simply answer about how I’m feeling, I didn’t know that is an unwritten rule until I heard my younger sister using it many years ago in a grocery store, so I added it into my conversational repertoire.

Many years later, I turned out to be a pretty good talker, I can turn awkward silences into witty, but yet not too funny jokes, just enough to keep a drained conversation breathing.The best thing in life is that close friends, family or lovers don’t use the What’s up, how’s life? type of questions that often, when they do, it has a funny or sarcastic undertone. On the other hand, the classic How are you? gets a new, honest dimension as soon as you start talking to someone you like and feel totally comfortable with.

I wish I were braver in cases like, for example, when a nosy neighbour parks her ass right next to mine in public transport and starts questioning me about every living member of my family. At the same time, she will expect a great amount of interest from my part towards her affairs and family, so as soon she realizes I am not going to ask her anything remotely connected to her exciting daily life events, she’ll start talking about it nonetheless.

Look, I really don’t care!

That simple 5 word sentence could get me out of any conversation and label me forever as a quirky lunatic at best, or  a hearthless bitch in a worse case scenario, but oh what a small price that would be in exchange for a lifetime of peace and cozyness.