Categories
Movies/TV

The Lighthouse – Film Review

It had only been a few minutes but the sound of the lighthouse was already stuck in my head along with the whooshing of the ferocious gray sea that covered the screen. “The Lighthouse” is a film by director Robert Eggers, whose previous project was the acclaimed 2015 film, “The Witch”. In this film, Eggers presents a story that can be classified as a thriller although it incorporates fantastical and surreal elements. Wake (Willem Dafoe) and Winslow (Robert Pattinson) are two lighthouse workers who arrive at a small desolate rock for four weeks. They are to live together in a tiny shack, while Winslow is in charge of the chores. The resulting dynamic of these two very different lighthouse workers living in the confines of a small house surrounded by the sea is one of constant tensions and arguments. 

Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe are problematic roommates who eventually bond over alcohol and over the dreadful weather that hits their tiny piece of land. Slowly but surely, Winslow starts a descent into madness that is made believable through Pattinson’s ability to completely let himself go through the performance. Dafoe is no exception as his look of an old sailor with some serious issues regarding his bond to the light adds to the overall somber atmosphere. The black and white cinematography and the movie being shot in square format creates a claustrophobic feeling, where there is no room for extra details. The contrast created allows the viewer to see every tiny detail and crevice in the actor’s faces. These dramatic compositions evoke german expressionism through the use of deep shadows and distorted images that create a nightmarish feeling. Sound is another element that stands out in the movie. There is clear attention to detail as many of the sound effects not only function as a mere background but allows the audience to feel part of the setting. The low and deep sounds of the lighthouse, the sea and sometimes, even the sound of screaming, will leave your ears ringing.

Once again, Eggers uses an animal as an ominous symbol for impending doom. The seagull in “The Lighthouse” can be compared to Black Philip from “The Witch”, only this time with no words. There is also slight silliness throughout the whole movie, whether it is through humor related to bodily fluids or through the frantic drunk dancing and singing of Winslow and Wake. “The Lighthouse” takes itself a bit less seriously than the “The Witch” yet it still is able to create a feeling of dread. 

“The Lighthouse” is another production by A24, everyone’s favorite independent movie house. It was named Best Movie at the Cannes’ Critics Week and Directors’ Fortnight by the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI). It also got some of the best reviews from the festival assuring once more A24’s vision for a good movie that is also a little bit creepy, interesting and completely fascinating. 

Read the review in Spanish here.

Categories
Art

Cardiff & Miller

The room is dimly lit. The only light comes from a small van right in the middle of the gallery. I can hear music from two megaphones on top of the vehicle. There is a guitar, a drum, and a soft voice. Inside the van, there are hundreds of marionettes that dance and write. Everyone seems to have stepped into an in-between state of fiction and reality. There is also a body. A replica of Janet Cardiff seems to be in a heavy slumber while the music becomes louder. It is through pieces like this one, huge installations with exceptional sound design, that Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller show their deeply rooted interest in storytelling.

The Marionette Maker (2014) was the welcoming installation at Janet Cardiff’s and George Bures Miller’s first exhibition in Mexico. Simply titled, Cardiff & Miller, it took place at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (MARCO) in the northern city of Monterrey.  They are both Canadian artists whose work is known for being closely related to film, literature, and theater. They create installations that incorporate sound, video, lights, sculpture. The technological aspect of their art is essential. Through automation, each piece is defined by a temporal frame that creates experiences with a start and end. 

Cardiff and Miller collaborate since they were students. Throughout their career, they have experimented with using sound to create environments that are anchored in memory. Each piece exists within its own universe. The Killing Machine (2007) inspired by Kafka’s In the Penal Colony and the American system of capital punishment, tells a story of society’s indifference towards killing. We see a chair draped with a pink tapestry and the robotic arms that attack the invisible person sitting there as the story is amplified and made immersive by an off-tune violin, eerie metallic sounds, and white noise.

The Murder of Crows (2008) is a 98-speaker installation that explores the narrative aspect of their art. Janet’s voice comes from a speaker in the middle of the room while the audience sits down. Janet narrates a series of disturbing dreams, each accompanied by sound effects, effectively inviting the audience to feel part of it. There is a severed leg beneath sheets and an army along the sound of marching. One of their newest pieces is Sync No Sync (2017). Made up of a video and three audio recordings, the installation shows the artists discussing their ideas for a new piece. As the video is projected, three tracks of audio come in and out of the speakers showing an insight into their collaborative process.

Their use of binaural sound adds a layer that acts as a catalyst for an experience that is immersive and multidimensional. Cardiff and Miller are storytellers in the way that each piece included in the exhibition evokes a feeling of being in a specific moment of a story in a world that isn’t completely similar to ours. Their art allows spectators to just “get it” even if they don’t know the whole story. The fragment presented completely allows the viewer to fill in the gaps with their own memories.

Interested in more art reviews? Tomás Saraceno: architecture, insects, and the universe

Categories
Literature

What to read if you only like self-help books

Most of or perhaps everything you find in self-help books is stuff you already know. 

It doesn’t take much to write down that the secret of life is knowing what you want. It also isn’t necessary to be a spiritual guru in order to tell you that positive thinking is the key to success as Rhonda Byrne mentions in her best – selling book The Secret. 

Wanting to be a better person is something natural and often necessary for our overall development. However, in a world in which the self – help market is one of 9.9 billion dollars, we must look for books whose lessons are really useful and are not just a result of a million-dollar marketing campaign. 

There is so much to read and so little time. Here are some recommendations about books along the lines of self-help that I believe are worthy of your time and are infinitely better than Who stole my cheese?

You are not so smart – David McRaney

David McRaney is a writer and researcher that explains to us why our mind doesn’t work the way we think it does and how easily we fall in self-delusion. McRaney also has a podcast (you can find it on Spotify with the same name) which is based on the book. In each episode, he invites an expert to discuss the ways in which our brain fools us. 

Moral letters to Lucilius – Seneca

¿What better advice than that from a stoic? Seneca was a famous stoic philosopher that was born in the year 4 B.C. In this book, he writes letters to his friend Lucilius about many different topics. He gives him advice regarding happiness, time management, fear of death, loneliness and many more. The OG self-help. 

Meditations – Marcus Aurelius

In this book, Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor from the year 161 until his death in 180, writes a series of thoughts and reflections on life, death, morality, human condition and so on. This is a short and easy-to-read book, with lessons that continue to be relevant today. 


(Besides, it is the #1 most sold Philosophy book on Amazon, in case you need some external reassurance based on capitalism)

Amador: A Father Talks to His Son about Happiness, Freedom, and Love – Fernando Savater

A very simple and straightforward book that focuses on the lessons that, philosopher and professor Fernando Savater, gives to his son Amador. Short and easy to ready with lessons that are explained through examples of great thinkers and philosophers. 

On Confidence – School of Life

School of Life is an organization that focuses on education for emotional intelligence. On Confidence teacher readers how confidence isn’t something innate, but instead something that needs to be worked on. School of Life also has other similar books such as On Being Nice, Calm, Small Pleasures and many more. 

The Consolations of Philosophy – Alain de Botton

I think this is the book that is closest to the structure of other famous self-help books. Alain de Botton, the founder of the organization School of Life, explains how certain everyday problems can be solved through the teaching of old philosophers. 

This is just a short list of self-help books that I consider are worth reading. There are a million self-help books but it is important to realize that most of them are not going to change your life. If by reading this type of book you want to “work on yourself” be aware that the lessons that you are receiving are actually worth it. 

Also, it is important to explore fiction. Fiction can help us more than we think on our journey to becoming better people. There are many fiction books that contain lessons that we can apply to our everyday lives while we learn to be more empathetic at the same time. 

Here are some recommendations of Latin American authors that you could read: 6 books by Latin American women

Keep on reading. 

Categories
Uncategorized

Monterrey Travel Guide

You can read the original piece in: https://travelista.club/guides/8-places-to-visit-in-monterrey-mexico/

“In the northeast of Mexico, just below the Texas border, you can find Monterrey in the state of Nuevo León. Although it isn’t specifically known for its tourism, more and more foreigners are visiting Monterrey as multinational companies continue to settle in this industrial hub. Monterrey has many places that are worth visiting and that will provide you with a good time. From gorgeous mountain views all around to the colonial city center, there is something for everyone. So if you ever find yourself wondering what else to visit in Mexico besides Mexico City or Cancún, head north. These are some of the places you can’t miss if you ever visit Monterrey.”

Categories
Literature

6 books by Latin American women you should read

Since forever, the literary works of women have been ignored. Their work has been subjugated and classified almost as a subgenre; “women’s literature”. In Latinamerica, this can be seen quite clearly. Literature by women is not considered to be part of the canon nor have they received the attention and public praise that other Latin American male writers have such as Octavio Paz, Juan Rulfo, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel García Marquez and so on. What is true is that the literature of Latin American woman has shaped the way for many others. The importance and influence that they continue to have is undeniable and it is not limited to geographic frontiers. 

The following list includes some of the authors I believe are definitely worth knowing.

(The list includes Amazon Associates links. If you are interested in buying any of the books, please use the links that are in each book name or cover. By using them I receive a tiny percentage and I can buy myself  ⅓ of a cup of coffee in order to continue writing. Thank you. )

Recollections of Things to Come – Elena Garro

Elena Garro was a Mexican playwright and novelist. Her writing showed new ways to manage time in stories and presented a hybrid genre that years later would be classified as a predecessor of  “magical realism”. She is known for exploring in her work the cosmology and way of life of Mexico’s indigenous people. Elena Garro’s novels and stories resemble long dreams, sometimes absurd and always filled with symbols. 

The Shrouded Woman – María Luisa Bombal

María Luisa Bombal was a Chilean writer mainly known for her novel La Amortajada published in 1938. La Amortajada tells the story of a woman named Ana María, who narrates her death through an interior monologue. This novel, due to its dreamlike environment, its ambiguous time frame and an internal monologue that fluctuates between life and death, is considered to be an antecedent to Juan Rulfo’s novel, Pedro Páramo, which was published almost 18 years later. 

The Houseguest: And Other Stories – Amparo Dávila

Amparo Dávila was born in the Mexican state of Zacatecas in 1928. Her work is inspired mainly by authors such as Edgar Allan Poe and she has also been compared to the American author, Shirley Jackson. Her stories never completely fall into a fantasy genre but they are often immersed in a state of mystery and uncertainness. You should definitely read her most known short story: “The Houseguest.”

Fever Dream – Samantha Schweblin

Now adding something more recent to the list, Samantha Schweblin. She is an Argentinian writer that has been widely read and known from a few years back. Her novels and short stories have been translated into multiple languages and have received various international awards. Fever Dream is a short novel that explores the bond between a mother and her daughter through a surreal and mysterious environment. 

Now adding something more recent to the list, Samantha Schweblin. She is an Argentinian writer that has been widely read and known from a few years back. Her novels and short stories have been translated into multiple languages and have received various international awards. Fever Dream is a short novel that explores the bond between a mother and her daughter through a surreal and mysterious environment. 

No One Will See Me Cry – Cristina Rivera Garza

Cristina Rivera Garza is a Mexican writer and academic whose novels and research have been of great importance to Hispanic Literature. No One Will See Me Cry, published in 1999, takes place in the La Castañeda General Asylum in Mexico City. The story set in 1920, tells the story of Joaquin Buitrago and Matilda Burgos, a photographer and a patient at the asylum, through the use of multiple narrative tools such as police reports. 

Hurricane Season – Fernanda Melchor

Finally, one of the most honest and shocking vooices of the recent years is Mexican author, Fernanda Melchor. Through her novels such as Hurricane Season and This Is Not Miami, she paints a picture of the violence in México over the last decades. A country that has been submerged in a total state of emergency but that has never explicitely said so. Hurricane Season talks about the violence that arises from poverty and the cruelness that hides within us all. It is not a light read but Fernanda’s story-telling abilities makes it worth every second.

Categories
Art

Tomás Saraceno: architecture, insects, and the universe

A connection between science, architecture, and the universe isn’t something that is easily found in contemporary art. The capacity to create art out of something that people may view as a scientific project is a part of what makes the work of Argentinian artist Tomás Saraceno so valuable and impressive. 

Tomás Saraceno (Argentina, 1973) is an architect that graduated from the National University of Buenos Aires and later decided to approach art with his unique point of view. His projects are characterized by their focus on themes related to nature, the cosmos and our role as humans living on earth. 

Among his most impressive projects, we can find In Orbit. This installation took place in Kunstsammlung museum in Germany and it consists of various webs that imitate those of a spider. From a height of 20 meters, the spectators walk through the webs that at the same time simulate models of the universe and the interconnection between planets, black holes and an infinity of molecules. 

On Space Time Foam is another one of his projects, this time presented in Milán. It consisted of giant plastic sheets that were suspended in the air and where, once again, visitors could climb up and walk through the artwork. From below, it looked as if they were walking in the clouds. Saraceno’s art is focused on creating experiences for the public that encourage reflexion and that allow for a fusion between architecture, science, and art. 

Saraceno worked with MIT as a guest artist with the goal of expanding his investigations regarding meteorology and the possibility to create solar globes for transportation. He also developed his investigation in different types of spiders and how they can transport through the air with their own webs. He was responsible for a new method of scanning spider webs in 3D in order to study them with more detail. Once he saw the architectural brilliance of these as well as its resemblance to structures in space, Saraceno was inspired to create new pieces. 

In his most recent installation “Ciento sesenta y tres mil años luz” (163,000 light years) found in the Museum of Contemporary Art of Monterrey (MARCO), Saraceno shares his fascination not only for spiders and their webs but also its resemblance to the cosmos. Within the exposition, we find a movie that lasts exactly 163,000 years, which is the time that it takes light to get to earth from the Great Cloud of Magallanes. Saraceno explains that as we see the movie, we are actually seeing the past. 

Tomás Saraceno is an artist that explores our doubts of existing in the cosmos. Through his art, he wants the public to understand the connection that exists between nature and men. Saraceno’s work goes beyond the gallery of a museum, he wants to show us that everything is connected. 

You can explore more of his work on his website: 

http://tomassaraceno.com/

And on his Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/studiotomassaraceno/

Interested in more art reviews? Cardiff & Miller

Categories
Art

Childhood and art

The following text (originally written in Spanish) was awarded the first place in MARCO’s (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey) short story contest in 2016. The prompt was to write about how museums can be places of inspiration. I don’t know how, but this piece was written in about an hour. This type of quick inspiration has not repeated itself ever since.  

My reflection moved in the water’s surface as it filled the central space in MARCO. I was kneeling on the floor, trying to get my nose to touch the water while my mom pulled at my blouse, trying to stop me from falling head first into my fragmented image over the marble floors. 

It was one of many Sundays that my parents had accepted to buy a ticket to the museum in order to please their annoying daughter that wanted to see again the same paintings. At that time, they were nothing but colors to me. 

It could have been 2001, 2002 or 2003. I could have been 4, 5 or 6, yet in the end, the days and the years are the same for children. I don’t know how many, but there were multiple years of my life in which most Sundays were reserved to grab lunch with my aunt and uncle at MARCO’s restaurant. Sundays in which the paintings and the ramp near the entrance where my main entertainment. 

I walked through art exhibitions that I had already seen a thousand times. The paintings changed even though they were the same. Sometimes it was the colors that caught my attention, sometimes I just walked straight into the next gallery. I wasn’t tall enough to see the paintings face to face. I saw them the way you look at an adult, the way you look at a giant. A girl with her nose turned upwards trying to understand why adults were in trance with those framed figures. 

To start from the end, to walk sideways, to walk backward. I got lost as a child between the paintings of the Great Mexican Masters, the sculptures of Robert Therrien, and then in Frida and Julio Galán. 

I think the silence was what bothered me the most, just like it would bother any small child. I saw people walking alone. I saw them look at the paintings and then leave quietly. I had the need to talk, to create the stories behind every panting while I ran from one gallery to the other. 

16 years have gone by and the silence doesn’t bother me anymore. It now accompanies me as a guide that lets me understand each piece. Pieces, that although I can now look in the eyes, remain as giants. 

The water in the center of the museum continues to show my reflection. A reflection that moves and is constantly transformed but that brings me back to the same feelings I had when I was younger. 

The dove that has received me at the entrance for so many years watches me from a distance. 

The curiosity that awoke ever since I ran through Sunday’s buffet and down the ramp near the main entrance, that admired the high ceilings and the bright pink and yellow walls, has followed me now to the exit. It will be waiting for me again next Sunday.

Categories
Movies/TV

Knock Down The House or my addiction to U.S. politics

Originally published in https://www.bitterblush.com/blog/current-events/knock-down-the-house

Knock Down The House, the documentary film following the primary campaigns of progressive Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, and Paula Jean Swearengin, was released on Netflix on May 1st, 2019. A few weeks prior, I watched the trailer on Facebook and was honestly very excited for its release. I had heard about AOC mainly through social media, and I instantly became a fan because of her tweets denouncing serious social and economic problems. For many, this might seem completely normal. I mean, what’s not to love about a film that shows how women are able to break boundaries and strive to make a change? The thing is, I started to realize that I had been actively consuming stories regarding U.S. politics for quite some time now while not even being an American.

Continue reading at bitterblush.com

Categories
Movies/TV

Mindhunter and our obsession with true crime

During the last few years (thanks to Netflix and the rise of podcasts) we have seen a notable increase in true crime content. Making a Murderer, The Confession Tapes, Casting JonBenet, Amanda Knox, are just a few of thousands of true crime productions that have managed to captivate audiences around the world. Mindhunter, from the producer and director David Fincher, is one of the most recent series of this genre. It came out on October 13th and easily gained a large audience. As of November 1st, the series has been approved for a second season. 

Playing detective

Mindhunter follows the story of the first FBI agents who took on a wide investigation about murderers such as Ed Kemper and Richard Speck in order to develop a psychological profile that would help understand and find similar criminals. The idea for the series came from a book with the same title that was written by one of the actual agents that came up with the term “serial killer”. 

Besides this series being praised for having a good story, good narrative and overall great character development, much of its attraction comes from it being a true crime show. In an interview for Times Magazine, David Fincher said that the success of true crime series and movies comes from the vision that we have of ourselves as detectives. We are deeply interested in this genre because we easily fall into a game of trying to decipher clues and then become addicted to the emotion of finding out what “really happened”.

Mindhunter: serial killers plus a great story = not so guilty pleasure

The certain thing is that Mindhunter makes a great job at reuniting all of America’s most famous serial killers and then focusing on the actual procedures behind their classifications, their investigations and so on. By taking a step back from the crimes themselves, we can see how culture starts to change as these types of crimes happen more and more often in the ’60s. Mindhunter does a great job at taking advantage of the true crime genre, while not leaving behind the importance of great storytelling. 

Of course, it is also our morbid fascination with obscure and sometimes disturbing topics that make us drawn to true crime. For many, learning about serial killers falls in the category of looking at videos of traffic accidents or natural disasters. We just can’t look away. Mindhunter and in general, all series of this genre are often “guilty pleasures”. We know that it is wrong to be entertained and excited about murderers that committed atrocities. After all, these are real tragedies that happened to real people. 

Edit 2019: 

Almost two years later, the second season of Mindhunter is about to be released on August 16.